Published 28 January 2021, Belarusian PEN’s With no Right to Culture: Belarus 2020 monitoring report gives an account of arrests, detentions, ill treatment, dismissals and other retributions against 593 writers, musicians, performers, and other cultural workers who had taken part in the protests against the August 2020 Presidential elections. The scale of the repression against the cultural sector, alongside that of many others from across civil society and the media who also took part in mass protests, is unprecedented in the recent history of Belarus.
The 18-page report is based on research by Belarusian PEN from the start of protests that gathered momentum following the 9 August presidential election that saw President Alexander Lukashenko, in power since 1994, controversially enter a sixth five-year term of office. The election has been widely criticised from within Belarus and by leaders of numerous states across Europe, as well as by the European Union and the United Nations.
Theatre workers, musicians and writers were the most targeted<>, the study found. Their only ‘offence’ was to be present at the largely peaceful protests, to stage theatrical performances, play music or stage readings in the streets, becoming targets for arrests and beatings by police and pro-government supporters. Others found themselves forced to resign or dismissed from their jobs, losing contracts and having performances and readings cancelled because of their engagement in the opposition.
The scale of the arrests and the heavy-handed attempts to crush peaceful and creative dissent in Belarus, which is continuing into the new year, is cause for deep alarm. PEN International will continue to support Belarusian PEN and all writers and others in Belarus struggling for their right to freedom to peaceful assembly, protest and expression.
Read, download and share the report:
With no Right to Culture. Belarus 2020
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