On the morning of Tuesday 16th of February, authorities in Belarus have arrested journalists and human rights defenders all over the country. The homes of at least 25 journalists and human rights activists, as well as several of their relatives’ homes, have been searched.
The offices of BAJ – The Belarus Association of Journalists and human rights house Viasna have been searched. Equipment, membership forms and other documents have been seized. The charges are made as per article 342 of the Criminal Code on “organising and preparing actions that seriously violate public order”. Since the election in August 2020, the Belarusian people have protested peacefully against widespread election fraud and re-election of incumbent president, Alexandr Lukashenka.
Today’s coordinated attack on the Belarusian civil society is very grave. The regime continues with full strength to scare and silence the critical voices of Belarus.
PEN Norway fully supports the civil society organizations BAJ and Viasna and their employees. We condemn President Alexandr Lukashenka’s oppression of writers, journalists and free speech advocates. We demand human rights to be respected, so that the civil society can continue its work for a more democratic Belarus.