As many as 25 people including journalists and human rights activists have been arrest by police in Belarus, after raids at their homes and offices on Tuesday.
This appears to a crackdown on dissenters opposing the controversial re-election of President Alexander Lukashenko on August 9, 2020. His main opponent Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya had called the election rigged and protests had broken out across Belarus, demanding Lukashenko’s ouster.
On Tuesday, police raided the offices of Belarusian Association of Journalists (BAJ) and the Viasna human rights centre in Minsk. Euronews reports that BAJ’s Andrei Bastunets was among those initially arrested, and as many as 10 people are now facing criminal charges.
Viasna activist Valiantsin Stefanovich told Euronews, “This is an attempt to intimidate journalists and human rights activists who have been telling the world about the unbelievable scale of repressions.”
Human Rights Watch has also taken note of the protests:
Meanwhile, the Czech Republic has denounced the crackdown and demanded the immediate release of all political prisoners:
Meanwhile, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) issued the following statement demanding, “Belarusian authorities should cease their raids against journalists and journalistic associations and return confiscated reporting equipment, records, and money.”
“Belarusian police must return all equipment and money seized from the Belarusian Association of Journalists and its employees, drop any trumped-up criminal investigations into the group, and allow it to continue its work unhindered,” said Robert Mahoney, CPJ’s Deputy Executive Director. “Belarusian authorities must put an end to their relentless harassment of journalists and press freedom organizations,” he added.
Anti-Lukashenko protests have been going on for close to 200 days, journalist Hanna Liubakova tweeted pictures of women protesters braving the cold on Tuesday.
*Feature image by Homoatrox via Wikimedia Commons.