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Attacks on the book sector in Belarus: “The state must cease the persecution of critical voices and allow for public debate”

For several weeks now, the Belarusian government has been stepping up its crackdown on criticism being voiced by the cultural and book sectors. The Interest Group for Freedom of Expression calls on those in power in Belarus to allow a democratic debate.
Erstellt am 04.02.2021


For several weeks now, the Belarusian government has been stepping up its crackdown on criticism being voiced by the cultural and book sectors. In mid-January, security forces temporarily arrested several people from the publishing and bookselling community - the literary translator, Volha Kalackaja, remains in custody. A sense of fear and insecurity currently prevails among intellectuals.
 
Jürgen Horbach, spokesman for the Interest Group for Freedom of Expression associated with the Börsenverein (German Publishers and Booksellers Association) commented:

"The latest wave of threats against publishers, booksellers, translators and writers is another step by President Lukashenko's regime to restrict fundamental freedoms and human rights in Belarus. The creation and distribution of written works, be they journalistic, literary or essayistic, are an essential pillar for civil liberties movements. Consequently, members of the book sector are often quickly targeted by the ruling powers in such countries that repress fundamental freedoms. We call on those in power in Belarus to cease the persecution of booksellers, publishers and all those associated with the book sector and to allow public debate on social developments, as is customary in democratic states. To our colleagues in Belarus, we call out: You are not alone, we stand behind you and will do everything we can to support you.”

Those temporarily detained in January include graphic designer Anatol Lazar, two publishers from Minsk, Hienadź Viniarski (Knihazbor Publishing House) and Andrej Januškievič (Januškievič Publishing House), and online bookseller Aleś Jaŭdacha. They have meanwhile been released, albeit with an agreement not to speak about the accusations brought against them.             

 

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