At 18:30 GMT on Tuesday the 5th April 2016, ARTICLE 19 hosted the former presidential candidate & political prisoner Andrei Sannikov in a discussion of the situation in Belarus on the occasion of the release of his memoirs.
This discussion took place in English at 60 Farringdon Road, Clerkenwell, London (Free Word Lecture Theatre).
In 2010, Andrei Sannikov, an opposition activist in exile and Belarus’ former deputy minister of foreign affairs (1995-1996), ran a prominent campaign against the incumbent Aleksander Lukashenko in the Belarusian presidential election. Lukashenko, in power since 1994, went on to claim victory, while Sannikov, who garnered the second highest percentage of votes, was promptly arrested post-election for participating in a peaceful protest against perceived electoral fraud.
Sannikov would remain behind bars for the next 16 months, gaining international recognition as a political prisoner and suffering a harrowing ordeal at the hands of Belarus’s criminal justice system. After his release in 2012, he was forced to flee the country, receiving political asylum in the UK, where he continues his work for a free and democratic Belarus.
To mark the launch of his memoirs My Story: Belarusian Amerikanka or Elections under Dictatorship, ARTICLE 19 invited guests to an evening of conversation and discussion with Andrei Sannikov, where they could hear about his journey from the top echelons of political power to the pro-democracy opposition movement, his campaign as a presidential candidate and his experiences in the Belarusian prison system. This evening also explored the methods and effectiveness of international pressure, which Sannikov believes contributed to his release.
ARTICLE 19 takes its name from Article 19 of the United Nations Declarion of Human Rights and envisages a world where people are free to speak their opinions, to participate in decision-making and to make informed choices about their lives
For this to be possible, ARTICLE 19 asserts that people everywhere must be able to exercise their rights to freedom of expression and freedom of information, as without these rights, democracy, good governance and development cannot happen.
ARTICLE 19 therefore campaigns around the world in defence of these rights. With offices in Bangladesh, Brazil, Kenya, Mexico, Myanmar, Tunisia, Senegal, the UK and the USA and in collaboration with 90 partners worldwide, they:
– work on behalf of freedom of expression wherever it is threatened
– advise on the development of legislation to protect freedom of expression and freedom of information in countries emerging from conflict, war and genocide.
– campaign to safeguard pluralism, independence and diversity of views in the media
– champion freedom of expression, including freedom of information, as a fundamental human right that is central to the protection of other rights
– and advocate for freedom of information legislation to ensure transparency and to strengthen citizens’ participation.
To find out more about ARTICLE 19, visit their website at https://www.article19.org/
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