STATEMENT
Belarus: Index strongly condemns actions against journalists and human rights defenders

Belarusian Association of Journalists and the Human Rights Centre "Viasna" have been targeted

16 Feb 2021
BY INDEX ON CENSORSHIP
Protetss in Belarus. Photo: Max Katz/CC BY-SA 2.0

Index on Censorship strongly condemns the politically motivated police raids and detentions that have been carried out against dozens of human rights defenders and journalists across Belarus this morning. The offices of the Belarusian Association of Journalists (BAJ) and the Human Rights Centre “Viasna” were among those raided by the authorities.

“We are once again appalled at the actions of the Belarusian authorities,” said Jessica Ní Mhainín, senior policy research and advocacy officer at Index on Censorship. “We express our solidarity with our colleagues in Belarus, who should be celebrated for their courageous and relentless work – not facing such repression.”

Since fraudulent elections last August, which triggered mass opposition protests and crackdowns by the regime, the work of journalists and human rights defenders in Belarus has been more important than ever. They have worked tirelessly to document and publish the blatant human rights violations being carried out by the Belarusian authorities, and have kept up-to-date lists of unjustly imprisoned journalists and political prisoners. As of 16 February, there are 256 political prisoners in Belarus.

“The regime is trying to kill the opposition movement by intimidating human rights defenders and journalists into silence. We cannot allow this to happen. We urge the international community to immediately and unreservedly condemn the actions of authorities and to ensure that civil society in Belarus are supported to continue to carry out their vital work,” Ní Mhainín said.

Index calls for the immediate release of all human rights defenders and journalists who remain in detention in Belarus, including our former colleague Andrei Aliaksandrau, who has now been in detention for 36 days.

Please sign the petition calling on the Belarusian authorities to free Andrei Aliaksandrau and his girlfriend Irina Zlobina. 

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