Our daily team meetings at Index are an opportunity to touch base, to make sure that everyone is coping in the current lockdown and to discuss the latest aggressions by too many authoritarian leaders. Unfortunately the last of these is never short and sweet.
Where is today’s misery? What has Lukashenko done now? What’s the latest in Hong Kong? What the hell happened in Catalonia? Has anything changed in Kashmir? Where are we with Myanmar?
And it goes on, every day a new atrocity: a new attack on media freedom, another arrest of an artist or an activist, another family devastated, another person hurt.
It would be too easy for Index to become a grievance sheet – just listing country after country and each infringement on freedoms. But behind each repressive action there is a person, a family, a story and we owe it to them to make sure the world knows their names, understands what they are trying to do and of course know how outrageous the treatment is that they are being subjected too.
But sometimes our job is much harder. Sometimes it is one of our correspondents who has been arrested, someone that we know well. And sometimes it is a member of the Index family that is suffering for their commitment to our collective human rights. Every person we cover is special but when it’s someone you’ve been to the pub with it’s just that little bit harder.
Last month I wrote about Andrei Aliaksandrau, a former member of our team. Today marks 39 days since his arrest and incarceration in Belarus. Andrei is one of 255 political prisoners imprisoned by Lukashekno’s regime (as of today) since the crackdown on civil society began 193 days ago. The world has condemned his arrest but he remains in a Belarusian jail.
This simply isn’t good enough. We need action. We need Andrei home. We need the other 254 human rights activists released. We need media freedoms reinstated in Belarus and we need a guarantee that the right to peacefully protest will be protected.
We need action.
This week has seen Lukashenko’s regime double down on their critics. We’ve seen human rights organisations raided across Belarus. The offices of the Belarusian Association of Journalists has been raided. Human rights activists and journalists have had their homes searched by police. This is happening in Europe, in 2021 and the world is simply too distracted to act.
We need to stand in solidarity with the people of Belarus.
You can sign up to support the campaign for Andrei’s release here.