People of Word (32)

Belarus: Website of the Belarusian PEN Centre blocked

PEN International condemns the latest attempts by the Belarusian authorities to stifle any remaining independent reporting, including the blocking of the Belarusian PEN Centre's website within the country. PEN International urgently calls for an end to the crackdown that has swept Belarus since the disputed presidential elections of 9 August 2020.

On 4 November 2021, the Ministry of Information of Belarus blocked the websites of several civil society organisations, including the Belarusian PEN Centre, the Belarusian Association of Journalists (BAJ) and the Union of Belarusian Writers. The websites can only be accessed from abroad or using VPN. The move comes in the wake of sustained attack on any remaining independent voices within Belarus, targeting journalists, media outlets, civil society and cultural actors alike. The Belarusian PEN Centre was officially dissolved on 9 August 2021, yet its members continue to issue groundbreaking research, including a report documenting over 1000 cases of cultural rights and human violations documented between January and September 2021.

‘The Lukashenko regime is clearly seeking to muzzle any remaining independent voices within Belarus. We stand once again by our brave colleagues at the Belarusian PEN Centre and call on the authorities to allow their work to be accessed within the country. The harassment and criminal prosecution of independent media and civil society must stop at once, and the arbitrary dissolution of NGOs, including that of the Belarusian PEN Centre, must urgently be reversed’,

said Ma Thida, Chair of PEN International’s Writers in Prison Committee.

Read more on the PEN International website.