Responding to the news, Ma Thida, Chair of PEN International’s Writers in Prison Committee, said:
‘Uladzimir Mackievič is guilty of nothing but peacefully expressing his views. His plight is a stark reminder of the relentless repression faced by dissenting voices in Belarus, where the Lukashenko regime will seemingly stop at nothing to crush any forms of criticism.
PEN International strongly condemns the conviction of Uladzimir Mackievič. We call for his immediate and unconditional release, and for his sentencing and conviction to be overturned on appeal.
The Belarusian authorities must urgently end their crackdown on independent voices. All others already behind bars simply for exercising their right to freedom of expression – including writer and human rights defender Ales Bialiatski – must also be released.’