A monthly chronology of repression and resistance in Belarus, based on the work of IFEX members and other international and domestic actors.
The President of the Belarusian Association of Journalists Andrei Bastunets and his Vice-presidents Aleh Aheyeu and Barys Haretski described how they were searched and what the organization is doing now. Early in the morning of 16 February, security forces raided the homes of heads of the Belarusian Association of Journalists (BAJ)- a registered non-governmental public organization that protects the rights of the journalists. The association’s office was also searched. Later it is revealed that other raids were conducted against human rights defenders, journalists and activists almost throughout the country. The Investigation Committee reported that the procedure was initiated “to establish the circumstances of funding for the protest activities”. Today BAJ works under extremely difficult conditions: the office was sealed, the bank account was arrested, equipment, financial documents and a seal were seized. The material was prepared within the framework of the Press Club Belarus project "Press under the press", which contains evidence of repressions against independent media and journalists in Belarus.
Belarus: Prosecution of journalists for “organising violations of public order” infringes international human rights standards
ARTICLE 19 is deeply concerned about the criminal charges pursued in Belarus against Belsat TV journalists Ekaterina Bakhvalova and Daria Chultsova. Both journalists were covering the peaceful protests taking place on 15 November 2020 that demanded a change of the ruling government and of the president, and accountability for the tortures and killings of protesters like Roman Bondarenka. Journalists are now facing criminal charges for organising actions that grossly violate public order, and active participation in them. ARTICLE 19 argues that journalists are simply prosecuted for carrying out their role – gathering and sharing important information about protests and ensuring accountability of public bodies for their actions. We call on the Belarusian courts to immediately and unconditionally drop these charges and refrain from bringing similar charges in the future.
Three Belarusian journalists — Katsiaryna Barysevich from TUT.BY, Daria Chultsova and Katsiaryna Andreyeva from "Belsat" are in custody now, on criminal charges. Barysevich quoted an emergency hospital doctor and medical records when reporting that Raman Bandarenka was sober when taken to hospital — and was charged with disclosing medical secrets, "which led to serious consequences". Andreyeva and Chultsova were livestreaming from the Square of Change — and have been charged with organizing and preparing actions that seriously breach public order. TUT.BY is telling their stories, what their criminal cases are about, where they are now and what their colleagues know them for.
In light of recent findings on Belarus by both the OSCE’s Moscow Mechanism and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, organisations express concern about ongoing abuses carried out by agents and supporters of the government of President Alexander Lukashenko and call for immediate investigations and redress.
After nearly 450 press freedom violations registered in Belarus in the past four months, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is recommending 15 ways to end what is an unprecedented crackdown on the media in a European country.
BAJ receives Canada-UK Media Freedom Award This was announced during the Global Conference for Media Freedom 2020. In his remarks, Andrei Bastunets, chairman of the Belarusian Association of Journalists, stressed that the Award reflects the high opinion of the work of Belarusian journalists who are now working in extremely difficult conditions. During the ceremony, Dominic Raab, First Secretary of State and Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs of the UK, pointed out that the Award is a fitting tribute to courage, sacrifice and determination of Belarusian journalists. Below are BAJ acceptance remarks during the Global Conference for Media Freedom 2020.
The wife of political prisoner Ihar Losik told the media about the conditions of her husband's incarceration in Zhodzina jail. Daria Losik is sure that the jail administration is deliberately creating unbearable conditions for Ihar in the hope to break him and make him incriminate himself and other people. RFE/RL published a video with Daria's story in its Telegram channel.
A cameraman Uladzimir Luniou was filming peaceful protest actions in Minsk. On August 10, he was besieged by police near the ‘Pushkinskaya’ metro station. He was detained at about 11.30 pm, despite wearing a vest with the word “Press” and trying to explain that he was an independent journalist. According to the reporter, he was kept 'in inhumane conditions' in custody for 34 hours. He was released later, but his personal belongings were not returned to him. Moreover, he had to visit the detention center again, in order to get his passport back. The court ruling of August 21 has not been sent to him yet.