On 9 August, the Supreme Court of Belarus ruled to close down the Belarusian PEN Centre. Responding to the news Jennifer Clement, PEN International President, said:
‘The PEN Community strongly condemns the closure of the Belarusian PEN Centre. That the Belarusian authorities moved to shut down the Centre on the one-year anniversary of the country’s disputed presidential elections last year is a tragic reminder of the myriad violations faced by the brave people of Belarus in recent months, and their resolve in the face of adversity. The PEN Community stands by the Belarusian PEN Centre and all the people in Belarus who continue to tirelessly fight for their rights. We call on the Belarusian authorities to immediately reverse the dissolution of the Belarusian PEN Centre, and to urgently uphold the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly’.
PEN International calls on the Belarusian authorities to urgently end their crackdown on freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly. All those held for peacefully expressing their views must be immediately and unconditionally released. The harassment and criminal prosecution of independent media and civil society must be stopped, and the arbitrary dissolution of NGOs, including that of the Belarusian PEN Centre, must be reversed.