Open Letter To Imprisoned Journalists And Media Workers In Belarus by Eamon Gilmore, EU Special Representative for Human Rights
Dear Belarusian journalists and media workers,
On this day, we remember Vitold Ashurak, and call for an enquiry into the circumstances and cause of his death in prison.
On this day also, the European Union remembers your own imprisonment and suffering. We wish to assure you that we continue to raise at every opportunity, all those who have been imprisoned in Belarus, for doing their job as a journalist or for speaking out about the political circumstances in Belarus.
Over the past several months, we have been bringing to the attention of the authorities in Belarus and that of the wider world, the dire prison conditions which you are enduring.
We repeat our call for the immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners. Your continued imprisonment demonstrates, not the strength of the Lukashenko regime, but its weakness, because it fears the truth and it cannot handle freedom of expression.
I realise that this is a difficult time for you, your family and your friends. I want you to know that your European family stands by you in the quest for democracy. I am confident that this effort shall prevail.
I wish you well personally and I assure you that we will continue our efforts to secure your freedom.
EU Special Representative for Human Rights
Names of imprisoned journalists and media workers in Belarus:
- Katsiaryna Andreyeva, journalist
- Darya Chultsova, journalist
- Ihar Losik, blogger and media consultant
- Siarhei Hardziyevich, journalist
- Kseniya Lutskina, journalist
- Andrei Aliaksandrau, journalist and media manager
- Dzianis Ivashyn, investigative journalist
- Andrzej Poczobut, journalist
- Maryna Zolatava, editor and media manager
- Liudmila Chekina, media manager
- Alena Talkachova, journalist
- Valeryia Kastsiuhava, blogger, editor, political scientist
- Aliaksandr Ivulin, journalist
- Yahor Martsinovich, journalist, editor, media manager
- Andrei Skurko, editor, media manager
- Iryna Leushyna, journalist, media manager
- Dzmitry Navazhylau, media manager
- Henadz Mazheika, journalist
- Iryna Slaunikava, media manager
- Andrei Kuznechyk, journalist
- Siarhei Satsuk, investigative journalist, editor
- Aleh Hruzdzilovich, journalist
- Aksana Kolb, journalist, media manager
- Yury Hantsarevich, journalist
- Dzmitry Luksha, journalist
- Kanstantsin Zalatykh, media manager
21 May is the Day of the Political Prisoner in Belarus.
On this day last year, the activist Vitold Ashurak died in prison under suspicious circumstances. The cause of death has not yet been established. The autocratic regime of Aleksandr Lukashenko has imprisoned thousands of people for political reasons. Currently over 1200 persons behind bars are recognised as political prisoners. Some of them were convicted for attending protests, others are volunteers, coordinators, civil society leaders and political activists seeking a free and democratic Belarus. Currently 26 media workers and journalists are in prison for doing their duty – reporting the facts. Now, they have been cut off from society and labelled “extremists”, “a danger to society”, and much more. In jail under false, made-up charges, they suffer inhumane and degrading treatment, some even torture.
It is even more concerning that recently the Lukashenko regime introduced the death penalty for “attempted acts of terrorism”, giving the possibility for further serious abuse. Many of the accused are tried in secret, unfair and biased trials, often under fabricated charges and with no legal safeguards. Now they also risk the death penalty.
Today, I am writing to the imprisoned media workers and journalists to express my support and solidarity. These political prisoners must know that we have not forgotten them. After falsifying the presidential elections in 2020, Lukashenko continues his war against the Belarusian society. We stand against the repressive regime of Lukashenko, which not only violates human rights of its own people, but also supports and abets Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine.
Join me in showing support and solidarity to the 1200+ political prisoners. Write to them, let them know that their suffering will not be in vain. Read more about the political prisoners and learn how to write to them here.