BAJ Demands Violations of the Freedom of Expression to Be Stopped
20 May the Belarusian Association of Journalists (BAJ) made a statement in which it expresses its indignation because of a new wave of repressions against the freedom of expression in Belarus. The wave started 18 May with another police raid at offices and private apartments of civil activists.
«20 May marks the second day our colleague, a member of BAJ Board and the editor of Tovarishch newspaper Sergey Vozniak has been detained. A charge has not been brought against him, but he remains a suspect in a criminal case, initiated according to Article 250 of the Criminal Code on distribution of bogus information," the BAJ statement goes.
Two more civil activists, Uladzimir Niakliaeu and Andrei Dzmitryeu, are also detained.
Besides, several more BAJ members were searched and interrogated 18 May during the police raid, namely Yury Aleinik, Yury Varonezhtsau, Larysa Nasanovich, Aliaksandr Ulitsionak, Aliaksandr Fiaduta. Their private equipment and information carriers were also confiscated.
The Belarusian Association of Journalists considers the raid of 18 May to be entirely in the context of the previous actions of the authorities aimed at suppressing the freedom of expression in Belarus. In March 2008 a series of searches followed by confiscation of equipment was carried out at private apartments and offices of independent journalists around the country under a pretext of investigation of a criminal case on slander against the President of Belarus. The situation repeated in 2010, when another wave of searches and confiscations was connected to another criminal case on slander against a high-ranked KGB (State Security Committee) officer. 19 May 2010 Belarusian journalists, BAJ members Natallia Radzina, Sviatlana Kalinkina and Maryna Koktysh were once again summoned by the police. Most of their professional equipment that was previously confiscated has not been returned to the journalists yet.
According to BAJ, the real aim of the raids is to interfere with free flow of information in the Belarusian society.
The journalistic association demands immediate release of all the persons detained after the raid of 18 May, returning all the personal belongings confiscated and ensuring by the state of the constitutional right of the freedo of expression and the freedom of thought.
«We call upon the Belarusian society and the international community to express their protest against violations of the freedom of expression in Belarus," the BAJ statement goes.