PEN International and PEN Belarus urge once again for an end to the relentless and violent crackdown that continues to sweep Belarus

‘Today, the PEN Community reiterate its solidarity with the brave people of Belarus, who continue to fight for their human rights despite the authorities’ relentless campaign to crush all dissent. The brutality of the Lukašenka regime knows no limit, and its brazen support for the Russian Federation in its war against Ukraine puts independent voices at further risk. We urge the Belarusian authorities to 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 stop at once’,

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

Today, the PEN Community stands once again in solidarity with writer and human rights defender Ales Bialiatski, who was arrested on 14 July 2021 and who remains in pre-trial detention in Minsk. Bialiatski is chairman of the Human Rights Center Viasna, a leading human rights organisation whose work and members have been repeatedly targeted by the Belarusian authorities. Bialiatski faces up to seven years in prison on trumped-up charges of tax evasion, under Article 243 (2) of the Criminal Code of Belarus. PEN International calls for his immediate and unconditional release. To take action, and send him solidarity messages, please click here.

The PEN Community further stands in solidarity with philosopher Uladzimir Mackievič, who was sentenced to five years in prison on spurious grounds in June 2022. His trial took place in Minsk behind closed doors. Mackievič said he would not appeal against his sentencing, as he no longer believes in the independence of justice system in Belarus. PEN International continues to call for his immediate and unconditional release.