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Notes from Behind the Bars Ales Bjaljacki

A selection of texts by Belarusian dissident Ales Byalyatski, the first winner of the Václav Havel International Human Rights Award (2013). The book can be downloaded for free ZDE.

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    • Ales Bjaljacki (also Ales Bialiatski, bel. Алесь Бяляцкі) was born on 25th September 1962 in town Vyartsilya in Russian Karelia, where his parents came from Belarus to earn money. In 1964, the family returned to Belarus and settled in the city of Svetlahorsk.
    • In 1979, Bjaljacki enrolled at the Faculty of History and Philology of the Gomel University and during his studies he took part in various literary and civic activities. In 1984 he received a pedagogical  diploma. Before starting his postgraduate studies at the Institute for Literature of the Academy of Sciences of the BSSR, he worked as a teacher in a village school in the Gomel region.
    • From 1985 to 1986 he carried out a military service. After his return, he continued his postgraduate studies, engaged in a scientific work, and literary and civic activities. In 1986, Byalyatski became one of the founders of the Tuteyshya Association of Young Writers, and was later elected chairman of the organization (1987-1989).
    • In 1988, he was one of the organizers of the first mass demonstration in Belarus, co-founded the Belarusian Martyrology Human Rights Association, was a member of the organizing committee of the Belarusian People's Front Revival, later also its secretary secretary (1996-1999) and vice-chairman (1999-2001). Since 1996, he has been the chairman of the Vyasna Human Rights Center and the vice-president of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH).
    • He worked as an assistant professor at the Museum of the History of Belarusian Literature. In 1989, he was by a careful selection proces elected to the position of a director of the Maksim Bahdanovič Literary Museum, which he held until August 1998. From 1991 to 1995, he sat in the Minsk City Council.
    • Ales Bjaljacki is also a member of the following creative organizations: the Belarusian Writers' Union (since 1995), the Belarusian PEN Club Center and the Belarusian Association of Journalists. He is an author of six books.
    • In August 2011, Byalyatski was arrested. Prior to the trial, he was held in Detention Center No. 1 in Valadarského Street in Minsk and also in the Detention Section No. 8 in Žodzina. He was serving his sentence in Correctional Colony No. 2 in Babrujsk.
    • In November 2011, he was sentenced to four and a half years in prison on charges of tax fraud. He insisted on his innocence, as all the funds he collected in his accounts were used for human rights activities. European Union countries, the United States and international human rights organizations have recognized Byalyatski as a political prisoner and a the court ruling as politically biased. In June 2014, Byalyatski was amnestied through an extensive international solidarity campaign. He spent 1,050 days in prison.
    • Byalyatski has received many international awards for his brave and consistent stance in defending human rights in Belarus and elsewhere in the world, including the Vaclav Havel Prize for Human Rights (January 2013). He has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize several times.

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