NEW YORK (October 7, 2022) — Today, Ukraine’s Center for Civil Liberties, Belarus’ Ales Bialiatski, and Russia’s Memorial were awarded the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize. This award highlights the importance of their efforts to promote human rights and hold those who violate them to account. It comes as Russia is waging a brutal war in Ukraine, and Alexander Lukashenko continues to commit human rights abuses in Belarus.
“By honoring these laureates, the Norwegian Nobel Committee has turned the world’s attention to the momentous work of human rights defenders in Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia,” said HRF Chief Executive Officer Thor Halvorssen. “Today, as Putin and Lukashenko continue their relentless attacks on human dignity and freedoms, the work of these advocates is as important as ever. We urge the international community to continue supporting defenders of democracy and to stand in solidarity with the people of these countries.”
Oleksandra Matviichuk of the Center for Civil Liberties and Ales Bialiatski are previous Oslo Freedom Forum speakers.
The Center for Civil Liberties was founded in 2007 to promote human rights and democracy in Ukraine. Since the start of Russia’s full-scale war in February 2022, the Center has focused on documenting and raising awareness of war crimes and atrocities committed in Ukraine by Russian forces.
Oleksandra Matviichuk leads the Center for Civil Liberties. In May, Matviichuk spoke at the 2022 Oslo Freedom Forum about the horrors of living during the war, Russia’s atrocities in Ukraine, and the importance of recording such atrocities to bring perpetrators to justice. She also spoke at Oslo Freedom Forum in New York earlier this week.
“Common people have a much greater impact than they can even imagine… The joint voice of common people in different countries could change world history quicker than UN intervention,” Matviichuk said in response to receiving the prize this morning.
Ales Bialiatski is a Belarusian human rights advocate whose work dates back to the 1980s when he was a leader of the Belarusian democracy movement. In 1996, he founded the Viasna (Spring) Human Rights Center. Viasna, one of Belarus’ most prominent human rights organizations, has promoted human rights, documented gross abuses and torture in Belarusian prisons, and supported political prisoners and their families. Bialiatski was jailed for his activities from 2011 to 2014.
In 2021, amidst a brutal crackdown on civil liberties in Belarus, Bialiatski was arrested again and is still held in inhumane conditions without formal charges. Since 2020, most members of Viasna have either been arrested or forced into exile. In 2009, Bialiatski spoke at the Oslo Freedom Forum, highlighting Alexander Lukashenko’s tyranny and human rights abuses in Belarus.
The Committee also awarded Memorial with the Nobel Peace Prize. Established in 1989 by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Andrei Sakharov and other dissidents, Memorial aimed to shed light on the harsh repression of the Soviet Union, becoming one of Russia’s most prominent human rights organizations. In 2021, it was banned in Russia amidst rapidly worsening conditions for human rights defenders. The crackdown on Memorial, which worked tirelessly to document Stalin’s crimes in the Soviet Union, underscored Russia’s return to a totalitarian system that silences criticism of the country or its Soviet past.
HRF is proud to support the work of brave individuals who put themselves at risk to advocate for freedom. Each year, the Oslo Freedom Forum unites leaders from academia, advocacy, business, media, politics, social entrepreneurship, and technology to address the world’s most challenging humanitarian issues. Our objectives are to expose unfree and closed societies, spotlight the work of activists and innovators, raise human rights to the top of the world agenda, inspire action through the exchange of ideas, build a vibrant international community, establish a human rights axis for journalists, and network participants with allies and supporters.
Click here to learn more about HRF’s work in Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia.