Since the undemocratic election in Belarus on 9 August, the situation for the country’s journalists has deteriorated. Even before the election, freedom of the press in Belarus was severely restricted and it is now clear that President Alexander Lukashenko is doing everything he can to silence the country’s journalists.
The people of Belarus have raised their voices and demanded democracy. The journalists who cover and report on the protests cannot work freely. They can be stopped at any time and taken into custody by the police.
Foreign journalists have also suffered in Belarus. For example, on August 12, the Danish photojournalist, Asger Ladefoged, and his colleague were attacked by the police in Minsk. And last week, the Swedish photojournalist, Paul Hansen, was arrested and later forced to leave Belarus.
During August a total of 151 journalists were detained in Belarus. This was reported on the 1 September by the Belarussian Association of Journalists (BAJ) who are continuing monitoring new cases of detention of journalists in Belarus.
It is clear that Alexander Lukashenko’s attacks on both domestic and foreign journalists are a part of a deliberate strategy. Without the work of independent journalists the outside world will not know what is happening in Belarus.
Nordic governments have reacted promptly on this situation, and it is important that the governments now keep the focus on Belarus.
The Nordic Federation of Journalists demands an end to the attacks on journalists in Belarus. We stand in solidarity with our colleagues in BAJ. Journalism is not a crime!
- the Belarusian authorities to free all detained journalists immediately, and to lift all charges and prosecutions against them. All journalists, domestic as well as foreign, should be allowed to work freely and safely in Belarus.
- The EU and OSCE to take a clear stand for press freedom and condemn attacks on journalists in Belarus.
Ulrika Hyllert, president, Swedish Union of Journalists
Tine Johansen, president, Danish Union of Journalists
Hanne Aho, president, Union of Journalists in Finland
Hege Iren Frantzen, president, Norwegian Union of Journalists
Hjalmar Jonsson, president, Union of Icelandic Journalists