Ales Bialiatski welcomes “excellent” decision to strip Belarus of co-hosting Ice Hockey World Championship
Press releases 18.01.2021
Leading Belarusian pro-democracy activist and 2020 Right Livelihood Laureate Ales Bialiatski has welcomed the International Ice Hockey Federation’s decision to strip Belarus of co-hosting the upcoming Ice Hockey World Championship.
“In recent months, Lukashenka has unleashed an unprecedented level of repression on the Belarusian people,” Bialiatski said.
“Millions of Belarusians have been protesting against fraudulent presidential elections, demanding democratic change. I am pleased to note that these gross violations of human rights in Belarus have not gone unnoticed by the international community. As a result, it was decided to move the 2021 Ice Hockey World Championship from Belarus. This is an excellent decision that will hurt the dictator’s pride and show that the human rights situation in Belarus has not been ignored in Europe. Through this example, all dictators should clearly understand that sports are not done with dirty hands and will not be used to improve the image of an abhorrent dictatorship.”
Bialiatski and his organisation Viasna, the country’s leading human rights group, have long demanded that Belarus be stripped of the World Championship due to the violent crackdown on peaceful pro-democracy demonstrations in the country.
Since August 9, 2020, over 33,000 people have been detained, with over 1,000 of those having been subjected to torture, sexual violence and other inhumane treatment, according to Viasna. Prominent athletes are among the hundreds that have been injured during indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks by law enforcement officials.
Bialiatski and Viasna received the Right Livelihood Award, also known as the “alternative Nobel Prize,” last December “for their resolute struggle for the realisation of democracy and human rights in Belarus.”
Videos and photos of Ales Bialiatski are available here.