BAJ Calls on the KGB to Withdraw Legal Claim against "Belarus Press Photo 2011"
The Board of BAJ today adopted the text
of an appeal to the head of Hrodna region KGB Ivan
who initiated the court hearing on recognizing the Belarus Press
Photo 2011 albums extremist. BAJ asks the KGB to withdraw the case
Here's the full text:
“A court hearing is scheduled for 17 April, 11 am in the court of Ashmiany district, Hrodna region (Savetskaya str., 39) concerning the case started by the KGB department in Hrodna region "On recognizing informational products as extremist materials. It deals with the 41 photo albums Belarus Press Photo 2011.
We consider that the fact of a court hearing over extremism in photos is absurd. The photos of the album do not contain calls for extremist actions and do not propagate it. The photos do not create, but only reflect the reality. They by definition cannot contain “intentionally distorted false insinuations on the vital activity of the Republic of Belarus” (the quote from the document that you signed).
The fact that the expert group found claims against the compilation of the materials in their total sum only testifies to the biased standing of the experts themselves, but not of the creators of the albums.
Belarus Press Photo 2011 is an open independent contest of press photography in Belarus. It is held every year since 2010; the results of the contest are published in an album (or a calendar).
The photo album Belarus Press Photo 2011 was published in 2012. It was sold freely in Belarus. The photos from the album were published in Belarusian periodic and appeared in the feeds of informational agencies, both state-run and non-state, because the winning journalists were from different kinds of mass media. The contest is held in various nominations – news, daily life, traditions, art and entertainment, portrait in reportage, sports, nature etc.
How the whole range of thematically various photos can lead to the conclusion about their extremist character?
The jury of the contest includes famous photographers – awardees of prestigious international competitions, heads of the leading world informational agencies. They choose the winning photos guided by the desire to find the most professional works, but not only “to illustrate the negative aspects of vital activity of the Belarusian people” or to “humiliate the national honor and dignity of the Belarusian citizen” (the quote from the document that you signed).
It is the trial on such an absurd case, and not the contents of the album that can “undermine trust to state bodies from foreign states, foreign or international organizations” (the quote from the document that you signed).
In this regard we ask you to withdraw you case file from the court in Ashmiany district, Hrodna region.
On behalf of the Board of BAJ
Chairperson Zhanna Litvina