The Belarusian authorities should end the “witch-hunt” of the media

This statement was originally published on baj.by on 10 May 2021.

Statement of media sector representatives addressed to the Belarusian authorities

On May 3, the civilized world celebrated World Press Freedom Day. And the next day, May 4, the Ministry of Information of Belarus issued an official warning to the regional newspaper Intex-Press (Baranavichy) for publishing an interview with Sviatlana Tikhanouskaya. At the same time, “Belpochta” [Belarus Post, the national postal service] refused to include the newspaper in its subscription catalog, and “Belsayuzdruk” [the state-owned distributor] declined to sell the paper through its kiosks.

Moreover, for months, the Belarusian authorities have been discriminating against independent newspaper Narodnaya Volya. Recently Narodnaya Volya made another attempt to break the blockade and sign a contract for printing in any state-owned or private press. All for naught – all responses were negative.

The newspapers BelGazeta, Svobodnye Novosti Plus, Komsomolskaya Pravda in Belarus, Novy Chas, Hazeta Slonimskaya, and Brestskaya Gazeta have all had problems with printing and distribution.

Most of the papers have suspended publishing print copies and only run their websites. But even online freedom of expression is severely restricted. TUT.BY has been deprived of its “online media” status. In the past authorities have blocked access to the majority of independent news websites, and they continue to persecute bloggers, administrators of YouTube and Telegram channels and local chat groups, and people who leave comments in social networks.

The pressure on journalists has only increased. There were almost 500 detentions and 100 arrests last year alone! Every day journalists are persecuted for doing their jobs. Currently, 11 journalists are behind bars. Three of them – Katsiaryna Andreyeva (Bakhvalava), Daria Chultsova, and Katsiaryna Barysevich – have already been sentenced to imprisonment merely for carrying out regular journalistic duties.

The situation regarding media legislation, which is deteriorating rapidly, is also alarming. The government seeks to make journalism a service trade. State-owned media are increasingly using strong hate speech, accusing people who can not defend themselves of all manners of crimes, spreading false propaganda under the guise of news, and that includes pro-Russian propaganda (at the expense of public funds of Belarus) – they are acting in fact as “media hit squads”.

We, representatives of the media sector, urge the government to stop the “witch hunt.” The right to express one’s opinion is enshrined in the Constitution of the Republic of Belarus and in numerous international documents signed by our state.

We demand that the authorities:

– stop the criminal prosecution of journalists, release from prison all members of the media and other citizens who are imprisoned for performing their professional duties or for expressing their opinions;

– allow independent news media to access printing and distribution networks;

– restore access to the websites of independent media;

– put an end to the unjustified interference by state bodies in mass media activity and cease administrative pressure on journalists and the media.

Signed

Andrei Bastunets, chairperson of the Belarusian Association of Journalists
Iosif Siaredzich, Belarusian journalist, chief editor and publisher of Narodnaya Volya newspaper
Uladzimir Yanukevich, Intex-Press chief editor
Mikalai Kazlovich, Chief Editor of Onliner.by
Barys Haretski, Deputy chair of the Belarusian Association of Journalists.
Valery Ruselik, journalist, blogger
Yanina Melnikava, chief editor of Greenbelarus.info
Aliaksei Dzikavitski, Deputy Director of Belsat TV
Aliaksei Shota, chief editor of Hrodna.life
Irina Krylovich, editor of belrynok.by
Alina Skrabunova, freelance journalist
Nastassia Rouda, editor, director of marketing and advertising department of Nasha Niva
Tatsiana Niadbai, writer, human rights activist, cultural and media projects manager
Mikola Kananovich, chief editor of Hazeta Slonimskaya
Yahor Martsinovich, chief editor of Nasha Niva
Siarhei Skulavets,  Belsat journalist
Zhanna Nohina, journalist, BAJ member
Iryna Leushyna, director, chief editor of BelaPAN
Viktar Marchuk, Chief Editor of Brestskaya Gazeta
Andrei Mialeshka, journalist, member of BAJ
Artsiom Harbatsevich, deputy chief editor of Nasha Niva
Alena Yakzhyk, editor of gazetaby.com
Yulia Matuzava, Euroradio journalist
Ryna Slaunikava, representative of Belsat TV channel in Belarus
Anton Surapin, member of the BAJ Board
Andrei Aleksandrovich, editor-in-chief of the Belorusy I Rynok newspaper
Siarhei Satsuk, chief editor of EJ.by
Aliaksander Ulitsionak, founder and editor-in-chief of the SNplus (Svobodnye Novosti Plus) newspaper
Anna Jakshtas, Editor-in-Chief of Strong News
Piotr Kuzniatsou, founder of “Strong News – Homel.Today” and Mogilev.Online
Aleh Aheyeu, Deputy Chairman of the Belarusian Association of Journalists
Snezhana Pahodzina, Strong News journalist
Tatsiana Piskur, Deputy Director of Brestskaya Gazeta
Aksana Palazhenets, editor of the media resource DeafSportBelarus
Aksana Kolb, editor-in-chief of Novy Chas newspaper
Volha Khvoin, head of the information service of the Belarusian Association of Journalists, editor
Sviatlana Kalinkina, Editor-in-Chief of BelarusPartisan
Diana Seradziuk, journalist of Novy Chas newspaper
Volha Neviadomskaya, editor of Vitebsk Courier News
Tatsiana Smotkina, freelance journalist, member of the BAJ Council
Dzmitry Dzmitryeu, photo correspondent of the Novy Chas newspaper
Valiantsina Veshtart, member of the Belarusian Association of Journalists, journalist
Alena Prykhodzka, Radio Unet journalist
Dzmitry Yahorau, Belsat journalist
Andrei Buka, web editor of Krynica.info
Siarhei Pulsha, Deputy Editor of Novy Chas newspaper
Anna Kruchkova, journalist, member of the Belarusian Association of Journalists
Iryna Kuptsevich, journalist of Reform.by
Aliaksandr Ziankou, freelance journalist
Maryna Zolatava, editor-in-chief of TUT.BY
George Stankevich, poet, teacher
Anatol Sanatsenka, editor-in-chief of the Bobruisk Courier, writer
Henadz Sharypkin, journalist of “Belarusy I Rynok”
Kiryll Zhyvalovich, Editor-in-Chief of BelGazeta
Alina Koushyk, editor, Belsat
Volha Shparaha, philosopher
Kastus Shytal, blogger, member of the Belarusian Association of Journalists
Kastus Lashkevich, journalist, member of the Belarusian Association of Journalists
Eugenia Dolhaya, Reform.by journalist
Alena Naskovich, head of the Luninets branch of the Belarusian Association of Journalists
Siarhei Vahanau, journalism “old-timer”, member of the BAJ Ethics Commission
Dzmitry Padbiarezsky, Deputy Editor-in-chief of Art Magazine
Nadzeya Belakhvostik, Editor-in-chief of MediaIQ
Fiodar Pauliuchenka, editor-in-chief of Reform.by
Natalia Belikava, Project Manager, Press Club Journalism Workshop
Tamara Zenina, Solidarity journalist
Vitaut Rudnik, Chairman of the Board of Third Sector Center
Natalia Pravalinskaya, editor-in-chief of dev.by
Ihar Ilyash, journalist, Belsat
Ina Dobratvor, teacher, freelance journalist
Mikalai Maminau, documentary filmmaker. Photographer for international news agencies
Maryna Kharevich, BelaPAN journalist
Taras Tarnalitski, editor of av.by projects, freelancer with budzma.by
Katsiaryna Siniuk, Imena platform (“Imena Media”), founder, journalist
Alexander Kornyshau, co-owner of Vitebsk Courier news
Uladzimir Kryuchenia, journalist of natatnik.by, member of BAJ
Aliaksander Mantsevich, Rehiyanalnaya Hazeta, editor-in-chief
Hanna Azemsha, editor, Belsat
Zoya Khrutskaya, Deputy editor of Rehiyanalnaya Hazeta
Natalia Makushyna, journalist
Dzmitry Salavyou, Editor-in-Chief of “Mahiliou Region” (6tv.by)
Mikola Bianko, journalist, chairman of the Homel branch of the Belarusian Association of Journalists
Volha Yermalayeva-Franko, member of the Belarusian Association of Journalists
Angela Espinosa Ruiz, poet, teacher, publicist
Mila Poliak, founder of EX-PRESS.BY
Aleh Supruniuk, editor of 1reg.by
Stanislau Korshunau, journalist of TUT.BY
Aleksander Klaskouski, head of analytical projects of BelaPAN
Alena Shabunia, freelance journalist
Iryna Novik, editor of Hrodna.life special projects
Zmitser Kazakevich, freelance journalist
Andrei Liankevich, photojournalist
Siarhei Hrudnitski, Interfax-West columnist
Piotr Huzaeuski, editor-in-chief of Hantsavitski Chas newspaper
Yulia Katarzynskaya, Manager, Member of the BAJ Board
Alexander Koktysh, freelance journalist
Sviatlana Stankevich, journalist of Reform.by
Alesia Vazhnik, BelaPAN
Hleb Liapeika, journalist of Mediazone.Belarus
Katsiaryna Karpitskaya, journalist
Maksim Berazinski, Tribuna.com
Maria Kalesnikova, editor of the European Radio for Belarus
Yauhen Kazartsau, Euroradio journalist
Iryna Vidanava, member of the BAJ Board, co-founder of CityDog.by
Anastasia Rubanava, editor of novychas.by
Yury Plotkin, editor-in-chief of the portal “Masheka” (masheka.by)
Halina Ulasik, editor of TUT.BY
Alena Sadouskaya, editor, journalist
Ludmila Kotchyk, Deputy Editor-in-Chief of Brestskaya Gazeta
Aliaksei Kairis, member of BAJ, journalist, historian
Aksana Yarashonak, journalist of Rehiyanalnaya Hazeta, Maladechna
Artsiom Sizintsau, freelance journalist
Alexander Liushkevich, Deputy editor-in-chief of the Belarusy I Rynok newspaper
Katsiaryna Hardzeyeva, photojournalist
Daria Spevak, Onliner journalist
Sviatlana Tsishko, editor-in-chief of kraj.by
Pauliuk Bykouski, journalist
Valery Sliapukhin, civil activist
Ksenia Halubovich, director, photographer
Anastasia Zakharevich, freelance journalist
Maria Rode, correspondent of Arte TV channel (Germany-France)
Tatsiana Harhalyk, freelance journalist
Vialeta Sauchyts, photojournalist of BelaPAN
Yulia Hunashvili, Deputy Editor-in-Chief of BelGazeta
Marat Haravy, journalist of Novy Chas newspaper
Dzianis Burkouski, journalist of TUT.BY
Alla Burkouskaya, TUT.BY
Yauhen Merkis, freelance journalist
Alena Spasiuk, journalist of BelaPAN, Naviny.by
Andrei Vyshynski, Editor-in-Chief of Inform-Progulka
Larysa Malakhava, journalist of the “IMENA” platform
Irena Katselovich, journalist of Nasha Niva and Belsat
Iryna Kozlik, journalist
Siarhei Zianko, journalist
Alexander Velitchenka, freelance journalist (“GreenBelarus”, “Novy Chas”)
Yauhen Sukhaver, freelance journalist, author of the “Racing Psychopathy” blog
Andrei Kukharchyk, editor of the “Virtual Brest” site
Aliaksei Khudanau, Media IQ journalist
Anastasia Zanko, editor of the Onliner.by department
Larysa Shchyrakova, freelance journalist
Vadzim Vezhnavets, Editor-in-Chief of Radio Ranak
Viktar Yarashuk, freelancer
Maksim Sarychau, photographer, SHKLO platform
Volha Shavela, journalist of the newspaper Belarusy I Rynok
Siarhei Zenko, journalist
Andrei Shantarovich, freelancer
Yulia Vauchok, freelance journalist, producer of media and cultural projects
Henadz Kesner, member of the BAJ Council

The post The Belarusian authorities should end the “witch-hunt” of the media appeared first on IFEX.

Source: MEDIA FEED

HRNJ-UG Admin

Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda) is a network of human rights journalists in Uganda working towards enhancing the promotion, protection and respect of human rights through defending and building the capacities of journalists, to effectively exercise their constitutional rights and fundamental freedoms for collective campaigning through the media.

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