Speeches from the laureates
Human rights require a certain mindset, a specific perception of the world that determines our thinking and behavior. Human rights become less relevant if their protection is left only to lawyers and diplomats. So, it is not enough to pass the right laws or create formal institutions. Societal values will always prevail. This means that we need a new humanist movement that would work with meanings, educate people, build grass-root support and engage people in the protection of rights and freedoms. This movement should unite intellectuals and activists from different countries, because the ideas of freedom and human rights are universal and have no state borders.
Read the full acceptance speech of Oleksandra Matviichuk (Center for Civil Liberties).
Memorial’ is precisely a union of people who voluntarily assume civic responsibility for the past and present and work for the future. And maybe we should take this award not only as an assessment of what we have managed to do in thirty-five years, but also as a kind of advance on what we aim to do, because we are not giving up and we continue to work.
Read the full acceptance speech of Yan Rachinsky (Memorial).
Not only is Ales in prison but there are also thousands of Belarusians, tens of thousands of repressed, unjustly imprisoned for their civic action and beliefs across the country. Hundreds of thousands have been forced to flee the country for the mere reason that they wanted to live in a democratic state. Unfortunately, the war of the authorities against their own people, language, history, and democratic values has been waged in Belarus for years. I say this here with supreme pain and vigilance as today’s political and military events threaten Belarus with the loss of statehood and independence.
Read the full acceptance speech of Natallia Pinchuk, delivered on behalf of her imprisoned husband Ales Bialiatski.
Absent from this celebration of human rights is our dear colleague Ales Bialiatski who we greatly miss. He should be here to accept his award in person, but instead, he is unjustly behind bars in Belarus as a reprisal for his legitimate human rights work.
We repeat our call for his release, and for the release of all political prisoners in Belarus.
Following the award ceremony, people marched through the streets of Olso in a peaceful torchlight procession in support, solidarity and celebration of the incredible human rights work of the laureates.
The torchlight procession was organised by Amnesty Norge, Forfatterforeningen, Human Rights House Foundation, The Norwegian Human Rights Fund, Helsingforskomiteen, Norges Fredsråd, Norsk PEN, SAIH, Razam, SmåRådina.
Photos from the torchlight procession can be found here.