Statement of the Belarusian PEN Center and the Union of Belarusan Writers in connection with the repressions against freedom of thought and creativity in Belarus

In Belarus, in the post-election period, there has been a targeted pressure on freedom of expression, thought, and creativity. We draw attention to the unprecedented repressions against cultural workers and the members of Belarusian creative organizations.

On October 4, Volha Šparaha [Olga Shparaga], a philosopher and PEN Belarus member, was detained during a protest march. She spent a day behind bars. Later, on October 9, Šparaha was once again detained. On October 12, at Šparaha’s trial,she received a 15 day sentence. Volha Šparaha is currently imprisoned in Žodzina.

On October 21, starting at 11am, family and friends were unable to contact Dzmitry Strocaŭ [Dmitry Strotsev], a poet and member of the Union of Belarusian Writers and PEN Belarus. In the evening, Strocaŭ’s wife announced his disappearance. Later that night, his daughter wrote on her Facebook page that Strocaŭ’s name had appeared on the list of detainees in the Akrescina [Okrestina] prison. The next day, at his trial, Strocaŭ received a 13 day sentence. Strocaŭ had taken part in protests against the fraudulent August election results and wrote openly about his participation. In his works, he also spoke out about the situation in Belarus.

Through actions such as these, the regime seeks to prevent cultural figures from exercising their legal right to freedom of speech and thought, as well as the right to peaceful assembly.

We express our strong opposition to the repression of the intellectual and creative elite.

We call for an end to the persecution of culture workers and all Belarusian citizens imprisoned for political reasons during the pre-election and post-election period.

Belarusian PEN Centre Board
Sviatlana Aleksijevič [Svetlana Alexievich]
Taciana Niadbaj
Andrej Chadanovič [Andrej Khadanovich]
Maryja Martysievič
Uladzimir Arłoŭ
Siarhiej Dubaviec
Lavon Barščeŭski

Secretariat of the Union of Belarusian Writers
Barys Piatrovič
Aleś Paškievič
Usievalad Scieburaka