Today, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to three champions of human rights in Europe: the Ukrainian Center for Civil Liberties (CCL), a USAID partner; Belarusian human rights activist, Ales Bialiatski; and Memorial, a Russian human rights organization. At a time when authoritarians believe they can rule with violent impunity and unleash death on peaceful neighbors, this year’s winners underscore that the universal fight for human rights, freedom, access to the truth, and the fundamental dignity of every individual can never be extinguished.
In Ukraine, CCL has meticulously documented potential human rights abuses, defended anti-corruption champions, and organized international campaigns calling for the release of political prisoners. As Putin continues his brutal war, CCL’s expertise in documenting human rights violations and abuses, including atrocities and war crimes, and the organization’s commitment to telling the truth, have never been more important. USAID is privileged to support CCL, along with several other Ukrainian organizations that are documenting human rights abuses and war crimes in hopes of one day holding to account those responsible.
Ales Bialiatski, sixty years old, has devoted his life to the people of Belarus. He worked for Belarusian independence from the Soviet Union, served on the Minsk city council in the early post-Soviet era, and founded the human rights group, Viasna. His extraordinary courage in the face of the Lukashenka regime’s overwhelming oppression – including his jailing from 2011 through 2014 and his ongoing imprisonment without trial after the fraudulent 2020 elections in Belarus – is an inspiration. The U.S. government continues to call for his immediate release.
Memorial, a Russian human rights organization founded in the final years of the Soviet Union, has spent over 30 years documenting how the Soviet Union mercilessly silenced individuals they deemed a threat to state power, while also exposing abuses committed in post-Soviet Russia. The group has also championed the cause of the hundreds of political prisoners held by Russian authorities. Last year, the Kremlin forced Memorial to close as part of its strict crackdown on human rights defenders, independent media, and voices critical of the Russian Federation.
All three winners of the Peace Prize are a testament to the fact that the fight for truth, democracy, and respect for human rights will never be suppressed. They serve as inspirations for all the brave Ukrainians, Belarusians, Russians, and countless other peoples around the world, who are struggling to promote and protect these shared values. The United States stands with them and commends them for their courage and indomitable spirit.