Bialiatski joins a small group of imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize laureates
STOCKHOLM (AP) — Belarusian pro-democracy activist Ales Bialiatski, who shared the Nobel Peace Prize with human rights groups in Russia and Ukraine, is the fourth person in its 121-year history Nobel Prize winners to receive the award in prison or detention.
Bialiatski, 60, who founded the non-governmental organization Human Rights Center Viasna, was arrested following protests in 2020 against the re-election of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko. He remains in prison without trial and faces up to 12 years in prison if convicted.
Nobel committee chair Berit Reiss-Andersen urged Belarus to release Bialiatski, but acknowledged the chances of it happening in time for the December 10 awards ceremony were slim.
Here’s a look at what happened to other Nobel Peace Prize laureates who were in captivity when they received the award.
CARL VON OSSIETZKY
The German journalist, a staunch opponent of militarism, was imprisoned for revealing secret plans for German rearmament in the 1920s. He was released after seven months but re-arrested and sent to a concentration camp after the capture of the power by the Nazis in 1933. Despite a campaign to free him, the government refused to release Ossietzky, who was suffering from tuberculosis.
His 1935 Nobel Peace Prize infuriated Nazi leader Adolf Hitler so infuriated that he banned all Germans from receiving Nobel Prizes.
According to biographical notes on the Nobel Prize website, Ossietzky was prohibited from traveling to Norway to accept the award and was kept under surveillance in a civilian hospital until his death in 1938. He was the first Nobel Peace Prize laureate to die in captivity.
AUNG SAN SUU KYI
The Burmese opposition leader was under house arrest for participating in anti-government protests when she received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991. Her husband and sons accepted the award on her behalf.
The Nobel Prize helped galvanize international support for Suu Kyi, but she remained under house arrest until her release in 2010.
After her return to politics, the glory of her peace prize faded and she faced international criticism for ignoring and sometimes defending atrocities committed by the Burmese military, including a crackdown on Muslims. Rohingyas in 2017.
Suu Kyi was arrested again after a military coup last year and has not been seen in public since, despite calls for her release by the Norwegian Nobel Committee and others.
The decision to award jailed Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010 deeply angered Beijing, which responded by suspending trade talks with Norway.
Liu was serving an 11-year sentence for inciting subversion by advocating sweeping political reforms and strengthening human rights in China. No friend or relative could accept the award on his behalf. His wife was placed under house arrest and dozens of his supporters were prevented from leaving the country.
Liu’s absence was notoriously marked by an empty chair at the awards ceremony in Oslo. The award prompted the world, leaders including President Barack Obama, to call for Liu’s release, but to no avail. He died of liver cancer in 2017.
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