"Viasna" Is Now Considered to Be an Extremist Formation

The Human Rights Center "Viasna" is recognized as an "extremist formation". This decision is posted on the Interior Ministry’s website. The news of Viasna's classification as an "extremist formation" became public on August 23 through pro-government Telegram channels. These sources reported that the decision was reached due to the "organization [by Viasna] of activities aimed at undermining the sovereignty and public security of the Republic of Belarus, discrediting and insulting its officials." The organization was officially added to the list of "extremist formations" on August 24.

The list specifies that the “extremist formation” refers to a group of individuals associated with the Human Rights Center "Viasna," engaging in extremist activities, including through online resources under the same name, encompassing regional branches as well.

The UN has commented on the designation of "Viasna" as an extremist formation. “This week’s decision by authorities to declare the country’s leading human rights organisation Viasna as 'extremist' is a further disturbing sign of the ongoing crackdown on civil society, media and other independent voices”, wrote UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk.

The Right to Defense project wishes to extend its support to our colleagues at Viasna and emphasize that Article 1 of the Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (Declaration on Human Rights Defenders) states: Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels.

Simultaneously, this Declaration provides that the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the Declaration. Through the designation of a human rights group as an "extremist formation," Belarus overtly breaches this commitment.
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