• Actual
  • Law and the media
  • Helpful
  • Work areas and campaigns
  • Reviews and monitoring
  • Open Letter of BAJ and EFJ against Prosecution of Our Colleagues in Vitebsk

    Before November 5, the day of the international campaign Stand Up For Journalism, a team of BAJ members from Vitebsk took a photo at the background of a famous graffiti in Vitebsk – the image of paper-cut birds flying out of cage. This was a symbolic action to join the international campaign of the EFJ and the campaign of BAJ in support of journalists prosecuted for their professional activities. 

    Now the peo­ple in the pho­to have been sum­moned to the Chy­hu­nach­ny dis­trict police depart­ment of Viteb­sk. They have admin­is­tra­tive reports against them accord­ing to art. 23.34 of the Code of Admin­is­tra­tive Offences (par­tic­i­pa­tion in an unsanc­tioned action); they are to be brought to court soon.

    BAJ and the EFJ con­sid­er these accu­sa­tions to be absurd.

    The year­ly cam­paign Stand Up For Jour­nal­ism was held by the EFJ for the sev­enth time. On this day, jour­nal­ists across Europe hold meet­ings, pre­sen­ta­tions, sem­i­nars etc. to build up sol­i­dar­i­ty and mutu­al under­stand­ing among jour­nal­ists. Team pho­tos is one of the most wide­ly used coop­er­a­tive actions.

    The sit­u­a­tion when peo­ple are brought to court with charges of an unsanc­tioned action for a pho­to­graph at the back­ground of an ordi­nary city wall could look anec­dot­ic and fun­ny, but for the real impact that it can make on the people’s lives. The pho­to ses­sion was held in a prac­ti­cal­ly desert­ed place – near an aban­doned build­ing closed for restora­tion, far from the city cen­ter. It is not required to file an appli­ca­tion for hold­ing a pho­to ses­sion, because a pho­to ses­sion is not regard­ed as a mass action accord­ing to the Law on Mass Actions of Belarus. How­ev­er, the police offi­cials inter­pret­ed the pho­to ses­sion as pick­et­ing. The par­tic­i­pants of the pho­to ses­sion dis­agree with such arbi­trary inter­pre­ta­tion of law.

    BAJ and the EFJ also protest against such arbi­trary inter­pre­ta­tion of the law.

    We call on the Belaru­sian author­i­ties:

    to the Chy­hu­nach­ny dis­trict police depart­ment and per­son­al­ly its head Ali­ak­san­dr Rybak­ou – to drop the charges against par­tic­i­pants of the pho­to ses­sion ded­i­cat­ed to Novem­ber 5.

    to the main police depart­ment of the Viteb­sk Region Exec­u­tive Com­mit­tee and per­son­al­ly its head Ali­ak­san­dr Kali­nous­ki – to with­draw the rul­ing from the Chy­hu­nach­ny dis­trict police depart­ment about hold­ing the peo­ple account­able for an out­door pho­to ses­sion.

    to courts that might fur­ther hear the cas­es – to con­sid­er the sit­u­a­tion impar­tial­ly and use com­mon sense.

    Adopt­ed by the Board of BAJ Novem­ber 25, 2014

    Sup­port­ed by Ricar­do Gutier­rez, the EFJ Gen­er­al Sec­re­tary, and Renate Schroed­er, the EFJ Direc­tor.

    The let­ter is to be sent to the respec­tive author­i­ties on Novem­ber 26.

    Both IFJ and EFJ con­demn the police charges, say­ing they raise fur­ther con­cerns over press free­dom in Belarus, a coun­try with a poor record of respect for jour­nal­ists’ rights.

    “This kind of actions sad­ly reminds us of the impor­tance of keep­ing cam­paigns such as Stand Up For Jour­nal­ism, to sup­port jour­nal­ists pros­e­cut­ed for their pro­fes­sion­al activ­i­ties but also to urge gov­ern­ments to respect these work­ers’ rights in their search for truth,” says EFJ Pres­i­dent Mogens Blich­er Bjer­regård. “We back our col­leagues from Belarus and urge the nation­al author­i­ties to drop the charges against them imme­di­ate­ly,” added IFJ Deputy Gen­er­al Sec­re­tary, Antho­ny Bel­langer.  

    The most important news and materials in our Telegram channel — subscribe!
    Most read
    Every day send to your mailbox: actual offers (grants, vacancies, competitions, scholarships), announcements of events (lectures, performances, presentations, press conferences) and good content.


    * indicates required

    By subscribing to the newsletter, you agree to the Privacy Policy