Raisa Mikhailouskaja, the chairwoman of the Belarusian Documentation Center, won in the nomination “The human rights defender of the year”.
“Raisa Mikhailouskaja during one year and a half led and directly participated in the process of development and promotion of the Principles on human rights work in Belarus. For 18 years she has been helping families of the disappeared Belarusian politicians, engaging all national and international protection mechanisms. One of her most significant achievements in 2017 is the work with Uljana Zakharanka cases in the UN HRC (right to life and recognition of Yury Zakharanka as dead)”, said Tatsiana Reviaka, the President of the Barys Zvozskau Belarusian Human Rights House, while presenting the laureate. Raisa Mikhailovskaya was presented award by the last year’s winner in this category, head of the Office for the rights of people with disabilities, Siarhej Drazdouski.
Halina Abakunchyk, the correspondent of the Belarusian “Radio Svaboda“, won in the nomination “Journalist of the Year”. In her work, Halina regularly raises issues of human rights in Belarus.As Tatsiana Reviaka noted during the presentation of the prize, the human rights community appreciates the professional work of Halina Abakunchyk , impact of her work on society and her solving problems in the field of human rights.
While receiving the award, Halina Abakunchyk thanked her colleagues and the whole society for solidarity: “It is very difficult to work without solidarity for human rights defenders, journalists, and civil society activists in this world. We all work in inhuman conditions of Belarusian laws related to journalists, and this is why the support is needed very much. I’m sure that the work of all of us in civil society is not in vain. We bring closer the time when the human and human rights will be the main value in the country. The time when laws will be laws, and human rights will be truly human rights.”
In the nomination “Campaign/initiative of the year”, the campaign By_Help was recognised as the best. This campaign emerged as reaction to mass repressions in the spring of 2017, with the aim to help the repressed people. It was initiated by civil society activists Andrei Stryzhak, Julia Darashkevich and Aliaksei Liavonchyk. The campaign managed to raise about $ 60,000 for attorney fees, fines, for supporting the families of the repressed. The campaign had impact on attracting attention of the wide circles of the population to the problem of violations of fundamental human rights and has received great support from thousands of people.
Julia Darashkevich received the award on behalf of the campaign. The diploma was given to her by the representative of the organization “Solidarity” Tamara Sidarenka. Julia Darashkevich, in her turn, thanked the human rights community for such a decision: “I share this award not only with my colleagues, creators of the campaign, but also with thousands of people from different parts of Belarus and even from different countries, who helped to raise the wave of solidarity and thus laid another brick in the foundation of our civil society.”
In this year, 27 Belarusian human rights organizations and initiatives, as well as organisations that have human rights component in their work, took part in determining the winners of the Prize.
The National Human Rights Prize for the achievements in the field of human rights was established by the “Human Rights Alliance” in 2008. Since 2011, the prize is common for all of the Belarusian human rights community, which nominates “The Human rights defender of the year”, “The Journalist of the Year”, “The Lawyer of the Year” (until 2015) and for the first time in 2016 – “The campaign/initiative of the year.”
Co-founders of the award are Belarusian Association of Journalists, Belarusian Documentation Centre, Barys Zvozskau Belarusian Human Rights House, Belarusian Helsinki Committee, Public initiative against lawlessness in courts and prosecutor’s office, Committee for Protection of the Repressed “Solidarity”, Human Rights Alliance, Human Rights Center “Viasna”, Legal assistance to the citizens, Legal Initiative, Center for Legal transformation.