Belarus: RSF joins BAJ’s marathon of solidarity with imprisoned journalists as judicial persecution of the media continues
As two of the most prominent journalists in Belarus, Maryna Zolatava and Liudmila Chekina, are back in court, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has joined the Belarusian Association of Journalists’ (BAJ’s) marathon of solidarity, uniting its offices around the world in the call to release the country’s imprisoned journalists.
With the Supreme Court scheduled to hear the case against TUT.BY editor Maryna Zolatava and manager Liudmila Chekina on 31 July, RSF has joined BAJ’s marathon of solidarity with imprisoned journalists, showing support from 12 RSF offices around the world for the 35 journalists currently detained in Belarus.
“Nearly three years after the Belarusian authorities unleashed a brutal crackdown in the aftermath of the country’s 2020 presidential election, their judicial persecution of the media shows no sign of stopping. At RSF, we stand with our partners at the Belarus Association of Journalists, in support of courageous Belarusian independent media, in this important action calling for the immediate release of the country’s dozens of jailed journalists.
Representatives in RSF’s Paris headquarters, along with its country offices in Berlin, Brussels, Dakar, Geneva, London, Rio, Stockholm, Taipei, Tunis, Vienna, and Washington DC, took part in the action, posting team photos holding images of the dozens of journalists currently behind bars in Belarus
“The repression of the media that covered the post-election protests in Belarus in 2020 continues, despite the fact that almost 3 years have passed since they were suppressed. Today, representatives of the media sector still ends up behind bars, convicted for the performance of their professional duties for terrible terms - up to 14-15 years in prison. And the flywheel of repression does not stop. But journalism is not a crime. The crime is repression against journalists.
RSF has launched a global campaign focused on the emblematic case of Maryna Zolatava, the editor of leading Belarusian media outlet TUT.BY. Zolatava and TUT.BY manager Liudmila Chekina were sentenced to a staggering 12 years in prison on 17 March, following a closed trial that lasted two months. The two are viewed as symbols of press freedom in an embattled media climate. They are among the 35 journalists currently detained in Belarus, among them 10 women journalists.
Belarus is ranked 157th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2023 World Press Freedom Index.