Belarus activist Ales Bialiatski, Russian and Ukrainian organisations get Nobel Peace Prize

Russian human rights organisation Memorial, and the Ukrainian human rights organisation Center for Civil Liberties have been awarded Nobel Peace prize.

October 07, 2022 02:32 pm | Updated 03:14 pm IST

Belarus human rights advocate Ales Bialiatski. Creative Commons.

Belarus human rights advocate Ales Bialiatski. Creative Commons.

Human rights advocate Ales Bialiatski from Belarus, the Russian human rights organisation Memorial, and the Ukrainian human rights organisation Center for Civil Liberties are being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 2022, the Norwegian Nobel Committee announced on October 7, 2022.

The Nobel Peace Prize laureates represent civil society in their home countries. They have for many years promoted the right to criticise power and protect the fundamental rights of citizens. They have made an outstanding effort to document war crimes, human right abuses and the abuse of power. Together they demonstrate the significance of civil society for peace and democracy, the avademy said.

With this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, the Norwegian Nobel Committee wishes to honour three outstanding champions of human rights, democracy and peaceful co-existence in the neighbour countries Belarus, Russia and Ukraine, the academy said.

Ales Bialiatski was one of the initiators of the democracy movement that emerged in Belarus in the mid-1980s. He has devoted his life to promoting democracy and peaceful development in his home country. He founded the organisation Viasna (Spring), in 1996. Viasna evolved into a broad-based human rights organisation that documented and protested against the authorities’ use of torture against political prisoners.

Government authorities have repeatedly sought to silence Ales Bialiatski. Since 2020, he is still detained without trial. Despite tremendous personal hardship, Mr Bialiatski has not yielded an inch in his fight for human rights and democracy in Belarus.

Human rights organisation Memorial, was established in 1987 by human rights activists in the former Soviet Union who wanted to ensure that the victims of the communist regime’s oppression would never be forgotten. Memorial is based on the notion that confronting past crimes is essential in preventing new ones. The organisation has also been standing at the forefront of efforts to combat militarism and promote human rights and government based on rule of law.

During the Chechen wars, Memorial, gathered and verified information on abuses and war crimes perpetrated on the population by Russian and pro-Russian forces. In 2009, the head of Memorial’s branch in Chechnya, Natalia Estemirova, was killed because of this work, the academy said.

The Center for Civil Liberties was founded for the purpose of advancing human rights and democracy in Ukraine. It has taken a stand to strengthen Ukrainian civil society and pressure the authorities to make Ukraine a full-fledged democracy.

After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, the center has engaged in efforts to identify and document Russian war crimes against the Ukrainian population. The center is playing a pioneering role in holding guilty parties accountable for their crimes.

The Nobel Peace Prize in 2021 was awarded to two journalists — Dmitry Muratov of Russia and Maria Ressa of the Philippines — for “their efforts to safeguard freedom of expression."

The Nobel Prize announcements kicked off on Monday with Swedish scientist Svante Paabo receiving the award in medicine for unlocking secrets of Neanderthal DNA that provided key insights into our immune system.

Three scientists — Frenchman Alain Aspect, American John F Clauser and Austrian Anton Zeilinger — jointly won the prize in physics on Tuesday for their research on quantum entanglement, that can be used for specialised computing and to encrypt information.

The Nobel Prize in chemistry was awarded on Wednesday to Americans Carolyn R Bertozzi and K Barry Sharpless, and Danish scientist Morten Meldal for developing a way of “snapping molecules together” that can be used to explore cells, map DNA and design drugs that can target diseases such as cancer more precisely.

French writer Annie Ernaux was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature on Thursday making her the first female French Nobel literature winner and just the 17th woman among the 119 Nobel literature laureates.

The 2022 Nobel Prize in economics will be awarded on Monday.

The prizes will be handed out on December 10. The money comes from a bequest left by the prize's creator, Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel, in 1895.

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