(NEW YORK)—PEN America issued the following statement today in response to the announcement that Belarusian human rights activist Ales Bialiatski, the Russian human rights group Memorial, and the Ukrainian Center for Civil Liberties are the 2022 recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize:

“Today, the Nobel Committee recognized the courage and activism of Belarusian, Ukrainian, and Russian advocates who continue to stand up for human rights and democracy in the face of repression and ongoing efforts to silence their voices and undermine their credibility  The Nobel Committee has recognized and honored the important role that civil society must play in securing freedom and dignify and the centrality of essential liberties.

While warmly applauding all the winners, PEN America particularly congratulates Ales Bialiatski, a writer, literary critic, head of the prominent Belarusian human rights organization, Viasna, and a member of PEN Belarus. Bialiatski is the only individual to receive this year’s Peace Prize.  On July 14, 2021, Bialiatski was arrested on trumped up  “tax evasion” charges, targeting his and Viasna’s work documenting and monitoring human rights violations in Belarus. Bialiatski’s arrest is part of a systematic effort by the Belarusian regime to stamp out free expression and dissent by jailing activists, artists, writers, and scholars.

“Living under a government determined to break the will of even its most stalwart critics, Bialiatski has fought for human rights unflinchingly for decades, sacrificing his freedom, safety, and wellbeing to speak out,” the PEN America statement said. 

By bestowing this award on Bialiatski, the Nobel Committee recognizes the essential role that writers play as truth-tellers, visionaries, and bulwarks against authoritarianism.

In PEN America’s latest Freedom to Write Index, Belarus is amongst the world’s top ten jailers of writers and public intellectuals, with 10 individuals detained or imprisoned in 2021.  


About PEN America

PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible. Learn more at pen.org.

Contact: Suzanne Trimel, [email protected], 201-247-5057