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Joint statement of Belarusian PEN and Union of Belarusian Writers about cultural workers' repressions

Last update: 26 October 2020
Joint statement of Belarusian PEN and Union of Belarusian Writers about cultural workers' repressions
Every week we receive alarming reports about the detentions of our friends – writers, journalists, and cultural workers.

Paviel Sieviaryniec [Pavel Sieviaryniec] and Dzmitry Strocaŭ [Dzmitry Strotsau] stay behind bars.

Volha Šparaha [Olga Shparaga], released on October 24 after 15 days in jail, had to leave Belarus after receiving another sentence notice.

Źmicier Daškievič [Zmitser Dashkevich], a writer, a former political prisoner, one of the organizers of the “Night of executed poets” and laureate of Francišak Aliachnovič Literary Award founded by the Belarusian PEN Center and the Belarusian Service of Radio Liberty/Radio Free Europe, was detained in Minsk on October 25, (then, on October 27  he was sentenced to 15 days in jail). On the same day, Doctor of Historical Sciences Aleś Kraŭcevič, an outstanding researcher of the Grand Duchy of Lithuanian history, laureate of Francišak Bahuševič Award founded by the Belarusian PEN Center, was arrested in Grodno (Aleś is free now, he spent 72 hours in jail, court imposed a fine of 10 basic units – about 106$).

On the same day, several cultural figures engaged with the Belarusian PEN Center were detained: a musician of the “Luty sakavik” band and the Yanka Kupala National Academic Theater orchestra Eryk Arloŭ-Šymkus [Eryk Arlou-Shymkus] (at Arloŭ-Šymkus’s trial, he received a 12 day sentence), camerawoman and filmmaker Alaksandra Babkova [Aliaksandra Babkova] (court imposed a fine of 7 basic units – about 75$), arrested together with her mother, the former director of National State TV and Radio Company Natalia Bibikava (her case has been remanded).

Such actions of the power structures are unduly repressive. They aim to suppress an individual’s rights for freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, guaranteed by the Constitution of the Republic of Belarus.

Creative organizations have repeatedly called for an end to the violence, but the repression against cultural workers continues to intensify.

The Council of the RPO “Belarusian PEN Center” and the Secretariat of the NGO “Union of Belarusian Writers” once again demand to:

– stop violence against peaceful protesters;

– release all detained before and after the presidential election 2020;

– elect new members of the Central Election Commission of the Republic of Belarus given the categorical distrust of the current one;

– hold new transparent democratic elections, with the obligatory participation of representatives of the civil society, independent international and Belarusian observers.

Long live the general strike!

Long live Belarus!

Belarusian PEN Centre Board
Sviatlana Aleksijevič [Svetlana Alexievich]
Taciana Niadbaj
Andrej Chadanovič [Andrej Khadanovich]
Maryja Martysievič [Maryja Martysevich]
Uladzimir Arloŭ [Uladzimir Arlou]
Siarhiej Dubaviec
Lavon Barščeŭski [Liavon Barsceuski]

Secretariat of the Union of Belarusian Writers
Barys Piatrovič [Barys Piatrovich]
Aleś Paškievič [Ales Pashkievich]
Usievalad Scieburaka [Usievalad Scieburaka]