People of Word (32)

Statement of the Belarusian arts and culture community in defense of art workers affected by the violence of the authorities

Mass peaceful protests caused by the unprecedented election fraud have continued since 9 August in Minsk and throughout Belarus.

Peaceful protesters faced violence from the security forces. The authorities used tear gas, rubber bullets, stun grenades, assaults using cars, arbitrary detentions, arrests, beatings, and torture in the places of detention, as well as abductions. The actions of the security forces led to victims among the protesters. Belarusian society was shocked by the evidence of torture in the institutions belonging to the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

Being part of the civil society, creatives and art workers have become one of the essential currents of the protests. Along with the other citizens, members of the arts and culture community have been subjected to repression as participants of the peaceful actions. Creative statements of writers, musicians, artists and many other representatives of the cultural field in Belarus have also been the reason for the repressions. Songs have become a natural component of the overwhelming majority of protests.

Cultural workers were detained not only at the rallies: police officers took them from their homes. At the same time, their relatives have been suffering psychological harm. As a result of the psychological pressure and intimidation, some prominent creatives were forced to leave the country.

Over 50 members of the art and culture community have been arrested and beaten by the authorities throughout Belarus since the beginning of the election campaign. Among them are musicians, writers, artists, and designers. More than 80 people have lost their jobs in the field of culture because of their civic position. We also shouldn’t forget about those who, due to their civic position, have had limited opportunities for creative implementation in Belarus for decades.

We as representatives of the cultural community of Belarus are proud to be a part of this movement built on dignity, conscience, and peaceful protest. We are convinced that repressions will no longer stop the time. The shifts in the society are irreversible, solidarity knows no borders.

We express our support to all the victims of the peaceful protests in Belarus. We express our confidence in the Coordination Council which represents the interests of the Belarusian people and acts within the legal framework exclusively.

We demand the observance of rights and freedoms and insist on the fact that the development of Belarus needs respect for the voice of the people, accountability for violence, change of the government, and independence of the courts.

We call on the Belarusian authorities to stop repressions and violence. We demand to bring to justice all those responsible for the violence, release all the political prisoners and arrested persons, and hold new fair elections.

Sviatlana Aleksijevič [Svetlana Alexievich], Nobel laureate, President of the Belarusian PEN Centre;

Taciana Niadbaj, poet, translator, Vice President and Board Member of the Belarusian PEN Center;

Maryja Martysievič [Maryja Martysevich], poet, translator, Board Member of the Belarusian PEN Center;

Andrej Chadanovič [Andrej Khadanovich], poet, translator, Board Member of the Belarusian PEN Center;

Uladzimir Arloŭ [Uladzimir Arlou], poet, historian, prose writer, Board Member of the Belarusian PEN Center;

Siarhiej Dubaviec, writer, journalist, Board Member of the Belarusian PEN Center;

The Statement was signed by Board Members of the Belarusian PEN Center as well as 53 others Belarusian creatives and art workers.

It was also supported by Mr. Daisuke Ishizu from The Japan Pen Club.