European Federation of Journalists

Belarus: an act of state terrorism to arrest a journalist

Picture credit: Petras Malukas / AFP.

On Sunday 23 May, the Belarusian authorities forced a civilian plane to perform an emergency landing in Minsk. The Ryanair plane, flying between Greece and Lithuania and carrying more than 100 passengers, was forced to land by a Belarusian military aircraft. One of the flight passengers, Belarusian journalist Raman Pratasevich, was retained by the Belarusian authorities and prevented from boarding the plane at the Minsk airport to its original destination. The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) denounces this act of air piracy and state terrorism. It demands the immediate release of Raman Pratasevich and the 28 other journalists currently detained in Belarus.

“Every week we denounce, together with our Belarusian affiliate BAJ, the increasing repression of human rights and press freedom in Belarus,” said EFJ President Mogens Blicher Bjerregård. “In a few days, the number of journalists behind bars has almost doubled. Sunday’s act of state terrorism was predictable and we regret that the international community did not take our calls for action against dictator Lukashenko seriously.”

“The EFJ calls for the immediate release of Mr Pratasevich and the 28 other journalists and media actors currently detained in Belarus”, added EFJ General Secretary Ricardo Gutiérrez. “We call on the European Union, the Council of Europe and the OSCE to take measures against dictator Lukashenko and those responsible for the repression of press freedom and human rights.”

The EFJ calls for an official international mission to meet with the 29 detained journalists and launch an international investigation to punish all those involved in the repression of journalists and media in Belarus. The political authorities, law enforcement agencies and the judiciary in Belarus must be held accountable. The EFJ and its affiliates are ready to collaborate in this investigation.

The following journalists and media actors are detained at the moment in Belarus (updated list, here):

  1. Raman Pratasevich
  2. Katsiaryna Andreyeva
  3. Daria Chultsova
  4. Yulia Slutskaya
  5. Alla Sharko
  6. Siarhei Alsheuski
  7. Petr Slutski
  8. Ksenia Lutskina
  9. Andrei Aliaksandrau
  10. Dzianis Ivashyn
  11. Andrej Pachobut
  12. Maryna Zolatava
  13. Volha Loika
  14. Liudmila Chekina
  15. Alena Talkachova
  16. Anzhela Asad
  17. Iryna Rybalka
  18. Ala Lapatka
  19. Darya Danilava
  20. Maria Novik
  21. Aliaksandr Daineka
  22. Andrei Audzeyau
  23. Katsiaryna Tkachenka (lawyer, under home arrest)
  24. Iryna Kastsiuchenka (lawyer, under home arrest)
  25. Aliaksandr Burakou (administrative case)
  26. Uladzimer Laptsevich (administrative case)
  27. Liubou Kaspiarovich (administrative case)
  28. Arciom Mayorau (administrative case)
  29. Ales Silich (administrative case)