The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) was dismayed to learn about several incidents in recent days that included violence towards journalists and human rights activists in Belarus.
Citizens have been taking to the street to protest against a new law in the country, which in turn has caused a rise in the number of journalists, activists and media workers being detained and attacked while they report from the scene.
On 25 March, while covering the Liberty Day events, journalists in Minsk and other cities (Homel, Viciebsk) were detained by police members. Most of them were held for several hours, asked to provide their documents and were then released, but several experienced physical violence, beatings, and longer detentions.
On the same day, a special police unit burst into the headquarters of the human rights center Viasna, maltreating and detaining over 50 people for more than two hours. One person suffered a brain concussion and bruising. On 18 March, at least 9 journalists were detained while covering protests in towns across the country.
“SEEMO is expressing deep concern for the safety of media workers in Belarus” Oliver Vujovic, SEEMO Secretary General stated. “We call on authorities in Belarus to cease their oppressive behavior against journalists, and stop persecuting those who are helping spread information” Vujovic added.
SEEMO is a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in South, East and Central Europe.