Loreen meets human rights defenders in Belarus

Valiantsin Stefanovich meets Loreen

Valiantsin Stefanovich tells Loreen about the situation for political prisoners in Belarus. Photo Andrei Shavlugo.

Press release 13 June 2012

In Minsk today, Friday 13 July, Loreen met with some of the most prominent human rights defenders in Belarus. They are fighting for human rights in a country where the authorities crack down on any form of critical expression. In connection with the 2010 elections, over 600 activists were arrested. Several of the opposition presidential candidates were jailed, two of which remain in prison along with several other critics of the regime.

Natalja Pinchuck meets Loreen

Natalja Pinchuck, wife of imprisoned human rights defender Ales Bialiatski, meets Loreen in Minsk, 13 July 2012. Photo Andrei Shavlugo.

Ales Bialitski, Chairman of the organisation Viasna, and one of Belarus’ most well-known human rights defenders, was also arrested last year. On 4 August this year he will have been incarcerated for a year, and the pressure directed against him is now mounting. At today’s meeting in Minsk, Loreen spoke with Ales’ wife, Natalia Pinchuk, who expressed her concern at how the authorities recently restricted Ales’ food rations and visiting hours.

Valiantsin Stefanovich, who is vice-Chair of Viasna, was also present at the meeting. He told Loreen about the humiliating treatment and torture that political prisoners in the country’s prisons are subjected to at the hands of the Belarusian security service, the KGB.

Watch an interview with Natalia Pinchuk and Valiantsin Stefanovich in Civil Rights Defenders’ video report from Belarus.

Loreen is concerned about the human rights situation in Belarus and encourages all her fans to get engaged and speak up.

“Without freedom of expression I would never have been a singer. I wish that there were no political prisoners in Belarus, and that human rights defenders like Ales Bialitski could continue their important work. He and his colleagues are sacrificing everything in the struggle for human rights and they deserve support from the outside world,” says Loreen.

Journalist at meeting with LoreenA number of independent journalists were also present at the meeting with Loreen. One of them was Iryna Vidanava, founder and editor-in-chief of 34 Multimedia Magazine, who described how freedom of expression in the country is severely restricted. A small number of alternative media outlets are struggling against the state-controlled ones, which spread regime propaganda. Prior permission is required to hold public demonstrations, and unauthorized gatherings are met with police truncheons. Working for a non-registered human rights organisation can lead to imprisonment.

The meeting with the Belarusian human rights defenders left Loreen deeply touched, but also very impressed by the fantastic work they do despite the difficulties they have to deal with.

“These brave people risk all they have in the struggle for human rights. That is why I have decided to donate 75,000 SEK of my performance fee to Civil Rights Defenders’ work to support human rights defenders at risk,” Loreen concludes.

The Executive Director of Civil Rights Defenders, Roberth Hårdh, is very pleased with Loreen’s dedication:

“It is important that the grave situation in Belarus is given attention. For persecuted human rights defenders like Ales Bialitski, it is literally vital. Loreen is making an invaluable contribution by using her public status to highlight the work of these brave people.”

For more information, please contact:
Robert Hårdh, Executive Director, Civil Rights Defenders, cell +46 709-14 63 14
Torbjörn Sten, Loreen’s manager, cell +46 70-839 14 00

For high resolution pictures from the meetings please contact:
Natasha Jevtic Esbjörnson, Head of Communications, cell +46 709 14 63 43

Categories: News.
Tags: Ales Bialiatski, Loreen, and Valiantsin Stefanovich.
Regions: Belarus.