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Ales Bialiatski, Memorial, CCL: Who Are the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize Winners?

The Nobel Committee has awarded this year's Peace Prize to civil society groups working in their home countries.

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Ales Bialiatski, Memorial, CCL: Who Are the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize Winners?
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Human rights advocate Ales Bialiatski from Belarus, Russian human rights organisation Memorial and Ukrainian human rights organisation Center for Civil Liberties were awarded the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize on Friday, 7 October. 

The Norwegian Nobel Committee has awarded this year's Peace Prize to civil society groups working in their home countries. 

“They (The Peace Prize) have for many years promoted the right to criticise power and protect the fundamental rights of citizens. They have made an outstanding effort to document war crimes, human right abuses, and the abuse of power.” 
Norwegian Nobel Committee Press Release

On being asked if the prize was “a timely birthday president” to Russian President Vladimir Putin, Berit Reiss-Andersen, the head of the Nobel committee, said that the prize is not being addressed to him, The Guardian reported.

"We always give a prize for something and to somebody and not against anyone," she said.

Who are the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize laureates? What are their achievements?

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Ales Bialiatski

Ales Bialiatski was one of the initiators of the Belarusian democracy movement in the mid-1980s and devoted his life to promoting democracy and peaceful development in Belarus. 

He founded Viasna (Spring) in 1996 in response to controversial constitutional amendments in the country which gave President Alexander Lukashenko dictatorial powers and triggered widespread protests and demonstrations. 

Bialiatski’s organisation provided support to jailed demonstrators and their families. In subsequent years, Viasna transformed into a broad-based human rights organisation which protested and documented the use of torture against political prisoners in Belarus. 

Ales Bialiatski has repeatedly defied attempts to be silenced and was imprisoned from 2011 to 2014. 

He was subsequently arrested in 2020 following large-scale demonstrations against the Belarusian regime and remains detained without trial, continuing to fight for human rights and democracy in Belarus. 

Bialiatski’s wife, Natallia Pinchuk, told news agency AFP that she was "overwhelmed with emotion."

"I express my deep gratitude to the Nobel committee and the international community for recognising the work of Ales, his colleagues and his organisation," she said.

"He has devoted his life to promoting democracy and peaceful development in his home country," Reiss-Andersen said, announcing the three Nobel Peace Prize winners.

"Government authorities have repeatedly sought to silence Ales Bialiatski,"  Reiss-Andersen said.

"Despite tremendous personal hardship, Mr Bialiatski has not yielded an inch in his fight for human rights and democracy in Belarus," she added.

The West has long described Lukashenko as Europe's last dictator, who has ruled Belarus with an iron fist since 1994.

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Memorial

Human rights organisation Memorial was established by human rights activists in the former Soviet Union in 1987.

Its establishment was aimed to ensure that victims of the communist regime’s systematic oppression would be remembered.

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Andrei Sakharov and human rights advocate Svetlana Gannushkina were among the founders. The organisation is based on the notion that confronting previous crimes is essential in preventing new criminal activity

After the Soviet Union collapsed, Memorial grew to become Russia’s largest human rights organisation in Russia. Not only did Memorial establish a centre of documentation on victims of the Stalinist era, it compiled and systematised  information on political oppression and human rights violations in Russia. 

Memorial went on to become one of the the most authoritative sources of information on political prisoners in Russian detention facilities.

It has also been standing at the forefront of efforts to combat militarism, promote human rights and government based on rule of law.

During the wars in Chechnya, memorial gathered and verified information on the abuses and war crimes against civilians by Russian and pro-Russian forces.

The head of the Memorial's office in Chechnya, Natalia Estemirova, was killed because of the organisation’s work. 

Early on, Memorial was stamped as a “foreign agent,” a new narrative in the course of the government’s interference and alleged harassment. 

In December 2021, the Supreme Court of Russia decided that Memorial was to be forcibly liquidated and the documentation centre was to be closed permanently because of the alleged violation of the 2012 foreign agent law. 

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While the closure became effective in the following months, the organisation’s members refused to close their doors. 

In a comment on the forced dissolution, chairman Yan Rachinsky said, “Nobody plans to give up.”

Ukrainian Center for Civil Liberties

The Ukrainian Center for Civil Liberties (CCL) was founded in Kyiv in 2007 with an aim of advancing human rights and democracy in Ukraine.

The center has consistently taken a stand to strengthen Ukrainian civil society and apply pressure on authorities to make Ukraine a full-fledged democracy. 

They have also monitored political persecutions in occupied Crimea, Ukraine's southern peninsula annexed by Russia in 2014.

The centre has actively advocated that Ukraine become affiliated to the International Criminal Court, in an attempt to develop Ukraine into a state governed by rule of law. 

Subsequent to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, the CCL has engaged in widespread efforts to identify and document Russian war crimes against Ukrainian civillians.

Moreover, in collaboration with international partners, the centre is playing a pivotal role in pushing for the guilty parties to be held accountable for their crimes. 

The CCL said it was "proud to be awarded" the Nobel Peace Prize.

(With inputs from AFP and The Guardian)

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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Edited By :Ahamad Fuwad
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