BAJ Addresses Information Minister with Open Letter
On November 1 the Belarusian Association of Journalists addressed Information Minister Uladzimir Rusakevich with an open letter, requesting to cancel the order about suspension of Mestnaya Gazeta. The editor-in-chief of this independent newspaper has been on hunger strike for already 13 days.
BAJ calls on the minister to meet with its leadership and editors of independent printed editions in order to discuss the situation in the sphere of mass media.
According to BAJ, since the beginning of 2004 the Information Ministry suspended 19 independent newspapers. “Such strict measures were grounded on violations, which in some cases were not proved by anything”, -- highlights the appeal, - “Even if some of the violation really existed they could be easily corrected”. Also, violations mentioned in the order to suspend Mestnaya Gazeta, “are an insufficient reason for closure, although temporary, of the newspaper which is awaited by 8.5 readers”, BAJ believes.
“In general, we are against extra-judicial suspension of newspapers. We think that such decisions… violate the international legal obligations of the Republic of Belarus in the sphere of the freedom of speech and hinder implementation of the rights to free receipt and delivery of information, declared in the Constitution”, -- says the appeal of BAJ.
The authors of the appeal stress that journalists of Mestnaya Gazeta, left without work by the Minister’s order, are ready to join their chief editor Andrei Shantarovich in the hunger strike.
“Publishers and journalists of independent newspapers do not ask for and do not expect economic support from the authorities. They just want to work without being hindered”, -- stresses BAJ.
Press Service of the Belarusian Association of Journalists