Ukrainian Solidarity with the Belarusian Association of Journalists
The civic movements “Stop Censorship!” and New Citizen express their support for the Statement issued by the Belarusian Association of Journalists regarding widespread violations of journalist rights which have been continuing since the presidential elections on 19 December 2010.
As Ukrainian journalists and members of civic organizations, we demand the release from custody of our Belarusian colleagues, an end to harassment, persecution and intimidation of journalists, the right to freely express ones views, as well as to received, gather and circulate information. We furthermore consider that the searches and removal of equipment and information memory drives are inadmissible and demand that property is returned to the Belarusian journalists.
According to the Association’s information, at least 27 journalists were detained and over 20 journalists suffering from police violence. 10 journalists were charged with administrative offences and imprisoned for terms from 10 to 15 days. Six journalists and members of the Belarusian Association of Journalists are presently in custody accused of organizing mass disturbances and taking part in them.
The journalists in custody are: Irina Khalip from Novaya Gazeta (Russia); Editor of Charter-97 Natalya Radina; publicist Oleksandr Feduta; Editor of the newspaper “Tovaryshchi” and member of the Board of the Belarusian Association of Journalists, Sergei Voznyak; members of the Council of the Belarusian Association of Journalists, Pavel Sevyarynets and Dmitry Bondarenko. They face up to 15 years imprisonment.
Searches with removal of technology have taken place in the editorial office of the newspaper “Nasha Niva” and in the home of its Chief Editor; in the Belarusian PEN Club; in the editorial office of the newspaper “Borisovskiye Novosti” and the home of its Editor; in the flat of journalists Kateryna Tkachenko; Andrzej Poczobut (Gazeta Wyborcza); Viktor Fedorovych (BelaPAN). The Editor of the newspaper “Novy chas”, Oleksiy Korol, the Chief Editor of the newspaper “Narodnaya Volya”, Svitlana Kalinkina; journalist Iryna Chernyavka and others have been interrogated. Campaigns are continuing in parallel to publicly discredit all the above-named people.
We are convinced that such actions will have serious adverse consequences both for the Belarusian leadership, and for the country as a whole since they can lead to Belarus’ international isolation.