The members of the Human Rights Center Viasna (Viasna), a human rights organization based in Belarus, were arrested in different incidents in 2020 and 2021 and charged with different infractions. The true reason was assisting victims of political repression, for which they can be imprisoned for 7 or 10 years.
The Belarusian government is systematically silencing civil society voices. On 16 February 2021, law enforcement officers raided Viasna offices in Minsk, Homieĺ, Mahilioŭ, Viciebsk, Brest and other cities and opened a criminal case into Viasna’s activities. The reprisals against Viasna are just a part of a broader crackdown on civil society in Belarus. On 22 July 2021 alone, the Ministry of Justice ordered the closure of 53 organizations. At present, more than 200 civil society organizations have been shut down or are in the process of being closed down.
Founded in 1996, Viasna is a leading human rights group in Belarus and has been actively monitoring and documenting human rights violations following the August 2020 disputed presidential elections. Viasna has faced harassment and interference from the Belarusian authorities throughout its existence. In 2003, the authorities deregistered the organization, and despite numerous attempts to re-register, Viasna has been forced to continue its work without official registration.
Belarus features on CIVICUS Watchlist as a state with serious concerns. Sign the petition to call for the immediate release of the Viasna human rights defenders and for the respect of a free and open civil society space.