For immediate release
Calgary, November 30, 2011 – As part of his cross-Canada tour, Ales Michalevic, winner of Rights & Democracy’s John Humphrey Award, made a stop at Calgary’s City Hall, where he met with Naheed Nenshi, the Mayor of Calgary. Mr. Michalevic took the opportunity to denounce the precarious situation regarding freedom of assembly and association in Belarus, where people are still arbitrarily arrested, spied upon and thrown in jail for wanting to establish associations that defend human rights. According to The Economist’s 2010 Democracy Index, Belarus ranked 130th out of 167 countries and thus falls under the category of “authoritarian regimes.”
In recent years, the regime has intensified its pressures and several human rights organizations have had to close. “Democratic institutions are weak in Belarus, because they are controlled by the President,” explained Mr. Michalevic during the meeting. “The President won a fourth consecutive term with over 80% of the vote, but many international observers, including the European Community, have not recognized the results of the 2010 presidential elections. How can we hope to build a democracy under these conditions?”
While at the City of Calgary’s City Hall, Mr. Michalevic was recognized and warmly applauded by the City Council’s members. The tour ends tomorrow in Ottawa where Mr. Michalevic will meet with representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade.
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