Human rights advocates from Russia, Ukraine and Belarus win Nobel Peace Prize

Human rights groups from Russia and Ukraine – Memorial and the Center for Civil Liberties – have won the Nobel Peace Prize for 2022, along with the jailed Belarusian advocate Ales Bialiatski.

According to the Norwegian Nobel Committee, the winners have for many years promoted the right to criticize power and protect the fundamental rights of citizens,” the Committee said in a statement

“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 Committee said.

The Nobel Peace Prize was one of five prizes created in the will of Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel. Awarded for the first time in 1901, it’s meant to honor the efforts of those who seek to expand peace and cooperation in this world.

The announcement of the winners comes seven months after Russia waged a full-scale war on Ukraine, with the assistance of Belarus. That ongoing conflict loomed heavily over this year’s award, and it had been speculated that the committee would seek to pay tribute to activists in the affected nations.

The Ukrainian group, Center for Civil Liberties, has “engaged in efforts to identify and document Russian war crimes against the Ukrainian civilian population” since the invasion was launched in February.

The Committee noted that in collaboration with international partners, the center is playing a pioneering role with a view to holding the guilty parties accountable for their crimes.

Memorial was founded in 1987 and, after the fall of the Soviet Union, became one of Russia’s most prominent human rights watchdogs. It has worked to expose the abuses and atrocities of the Stalinist era

Bialiatski, meanwhile, has documented human rights abuses in Belarus since the 1980s. He founded the organization Viasna, or Spring, in 1996 after a referendum that consolidated the authoritarian powers of president and close Russia ally Alexander Lukashenko.

The activist was arrested in 2020 amid widespread protests against Lukashenko’s regime. “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,” the committee said.

Belarusian opposition politician Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya congratulated Bialiatski. “The prize is an important recognition for all Belarusians fighting for freedom & democracy,” she wrote in a tweet. “All political prisoners must be released without delay.”

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen applauded the “outstanding courage of the women and men standing against autocracy.”

And French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted that the Nobel committee had honored “the unwavering defenders of human rights in Europe.” “Artisans of peace, they know they can count on the support of France,” Macron added.

Credit: CNN

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