Rights & Democracy

Rights & Democracy

November 22, 2011 08:00 ET

Exiled Belarusian Presidential Candidate Ales Michalevic to Receive Rights & Democracy John Humphrey Award in Ottawa

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Nov. 22, 2011) -

Editors Note: Two photos for this release will be available on the Canadian Press picture wire via Marketwire.

The 20th annual Rights & Democracy John Humphrey Award will be presented to Belarusian pro-democracy leader Mr. Ales Michalevic during a ceremony at the National Art Gallery in Ottawa on November 22, 2011. A candidate in the 2010 Belarusian presidential election, Mr. Michalevic was arrested and wrongfully imprisoned by the government before the end of his campaign. He was held along with five other opposition candidates for more than two months and subjected to torture for the duration. Since March 2011, he has been living in exile in the Czech Republic and Poland after fleeing Belarus for fear of reprisals and his life.

"The judicial system in Belarus is not independent. I was wrongfully arrested by a regime that wants to censor all opposition," said Mr. Michalevic. "During my imprisonment by the Belarusian government I was tortured and freed only after agreeing to sign a document forbidding me to provide details about my time in prison. Despite this, I am in Canada to denounce the treatment I endured and to demand the release of my comrades in Belarus. No one should be imprisoned for wanting to participate in the democratic process of their country."

In presenting the award to Mr. Michalevic, Rights & Democracy's international jury highlights his courage, determination and perseverance, and also recognizes his ongoing efforts to make Belarus a free and open democracy. Mr. Michalevic joins the list of previous John Humphrey Award winners including Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (2008), Su Su Nway (2006, Burma) and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Carlos F. X. Belo (1995, East Timor).

"This year we are proud to present the 20th edition of the John Humphrey Award to a champion of democracy from a country that has never truly known it, Belarus," said Dr. Aurel Braun, Chairman of Rights & Democracy. "By running for election in an environment hostile to any opposition, Mr. Michalevic has displayed courage, resilience and determination, inspiring others fighting for democracy and the protection of human rights of citizens around the world."

Following the award ceremony in Ottawa, Mr. Michalevic will begin a tour of major Canadian cities, where the public is invited to meet him and learn more about his work and actions. His cross-Canada tour includes stops in the following cities:

  • Toronto, November 23 – 25
  • Vancouver, November 25 – 28
  • Calgary, November 28 – 30
  • Ottawa, December 1

Proposed Release for Radio: An exiled presidential candidate from Belarus is the latest to receive the annual John Humphrey award from Canada's Rights & Democracy. Mr. Ales Michalevic's was wrongfully detained, persecuted, tortured, and eventually exiled from his homeland because of his pro-democracy views. His courage and determination in the face of adversity will be celebrated during a ceremony at the National Art Gallery, this evening in Ottawa. He will be the twentieth recipient of this award which was named in honour of the John Humphrey, a Canadian law professor and diplomat, who drafted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights over sixty years ago.

For more information, please visit www.dd-rd.ca and www.michalevic.org.

About the John Humphrey Award

2011 marks the 20th year Rights & Democracy (International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development) proudly presents the John Humphrey Award to an organization or individual from any region of the world including Canada for outstanding achievement in the promotion of democratic development or respect for human rights. The Award consists of a $30,000 grant and a speaking tour of Canadian cities to increase public awareness of the laureate's work. The award is named in honour of the late John Peters Humphrey, the Canadian law professor who prepared the first draft of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

About Rights & Democracy

The International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development (Rights & Democracy) is a non-partisan, non-profit organization created by the Parliament of Canada in 1988 to encourage and support the universal values of human rights and the promotion of democratic institutions and practices around the world.

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