Updated at 13:53,16-05-2022

“Belarus is like Albania without democracy!“


What do foreign human rights defenders think of Belarus? How are civil activists persecuted in other countries?

"In Chechnya, the human rights situation is close to the one in Belarus. However, we haven’t got our own Vietnam here yet," representative of the human rights center "Memorial" Libkan Bazayeva surprises Euroradio correspondent.

In the eyes of human rights activists from all around the world Belarus looks like a living hell. Especially after Vice-President of the International Federation of Human Rights Ales Byalyatski got to the Belarusian prison. Euroradio has decided to find out how the authorities press human rights defenders in other countries.

Vietnamese journalist and blogger Pham Doan Trang says that in her home country the number of political prisoners is calculated by hundreds. A person who criticizes the government could be arrested under the denunciation of their neighbors.

Pham Doan Trang: "Another way to put pressure on a dissident is to make him involved into a car accident. This situation in itself is unpleasant, this is pressure. However, a car accident is also an occasion to take a person to the police station. And there, anything can happen. Two years ago, one of the HR defenders lost seven teeth in a similar situation."

Albanian Dorian Matilia says that you do not have to knock a journalist’s teeth out to make him fear.

Dorian Matilia: "Our authorities are practicing small but regular pressure. If this does not work and the person pays no attention to them, they start a campaign to destroy his public image. This is usually enough to make self-censorship start working... "

The reputation spoiling campaign is held not only in the media controlled by the state, but also in the Internet. According to Pham Doan Trang, something similar is happening in Vietnam, where the political climate is strongly influenced by China.

Pham Doan Trang: "They create a lot of fake accounts at the news sites and social networks. The so-called “50 cent commentators” and “ rumor managers” log in. According to our calculations, no less than 900 people are engaged in leaving positive comments about the Communist Party in the Internet and discrediting the people who criticize the party."

A big cyber army also works for the government of Ethiopia.

"Web pages of human rights organizations and non-governmental publications are blocked in the universities. Once 1000 400 people sent abuse reports to Facebook technical support service, and the service removed the page with the live broadcasting of the opposition action, due to misunderstanding," says HR activist from Ethiopia Tewodros Yalew.

Kosovo authorities practice financial pressure. The public officials have great influence on both employers and trade unions, say human rights activists from Kosovo:

"If your father works at a state enterprise, you'd better say nothing “unauthorized”. We have a very small country! "

The most unexpected kind of pressure, which Euroradio correspondent has learnt, is flourishing in Albania. When a civil activist begins talking too much, the communist authorities publicly announce him ... a Communist! The organization in which such "communist" is engaged may lose foreign funding, and, in the end, close down.

"Belarus is like Albania, but without democracy," Albanian HR defender Vasilika Laci compares her Homeland with our country for some reason. It is a disputable point whether Albania really has democracy. Still, the fact that there are grounds for comparison of Belarus and Albania, Kosovo, Ethiopia, China and even Vietnam is, unfortunately, undeniable.