Left: Ales Bialiatski (Spring96); right: logos for Memorial (top) and Center for Civil Liberties (bottom)

Zonta International commends Nobel Peace Prize 2022 winners for their dedication to human rights

As an organization dedicated to women's rights, Zonta International congratulates the Nobel Peace Prize 2022 winners: human rights activist Ales Bialiatski and human rights organizations Memorial and the Center for Civil Liberties.

"The Peace Prize laureates represent civil society in their home countries," The Norwegian Nobel Committee said in a press release. "They have for many years promoted the right to criticize 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. Together they demonstrate the significance of civil society for peace and democracy."

Bialiatski, 60, has championed democracy in Belarus since the 1980s. In 1996, he founded Human Rights Center Viasna (viasna means spring in Belarusian) to monitor elections, help political prisoners and promote human rights.

In 2021, he was detained after massive street protests following what many believe were rigged elections that kept Belarus's authoritarian leader Alexander Lukashenko in power. Bialiatski is currently being held in prison without trial.

Human rights organization Memorial was founded in the Soviet Union in 1987 by Nobel laureate Andrei Sakharov and other activists to document the community regime's oppression. Last year, a Russian court ordered Memorial to close.

"It's important. It's a show of solidarity," Memorial member Svetlana Gannushkina told NPR when asked about the Nobel Prize. "An acknowledgment that not all Russians are bad and that there are those of us who are against the war in Ukraine."

The civil society group Center for Civil Liberties was founded by Ukrainian activists in 2007 to advance democracy and human rights in the country. When Russia invaded Ukraine in February, the organization began documenting war crimes against Ukrainians.

Oleksandra Matviychuk, head of the organization, told The New York Times that the Nobel was a recognition that "ordinary people have far more influence than they think."

Zonta International agrees with Matviychuk's statement and is grateful for our more than 26,000 members who work tirelessly to protect the rights of women and girls and ensure they receive the equality they deserve.

14 OCTOBER 2022