Police in Belarus carried out 22 raids on the homes and places of work of journalists, human rights activists and commerce union members on Tuesday. The raids have been half of an investigation into mass anti-government protests, officers mentioned.
The former Soviet nation has been gripped by weekend protests ever since strongman President Alexander Lukashenko claimed victory in a disputed election on August 9, 2020.
But authorities clamped down exhausting on the general public resistance, detaining tens of 1000’s of demonstrators and opposition members.
Who was focused?
The house of Belarusian Association of Journalists (BAJ) chief Andrei Bastunets was raided. According tot he BAJ, Bastunets was detained by police, however later launched.
The human rights group Viasna additionally mentioned it was focused. Authorities seized telephones and different gadgets, and a number of other members have been detained, the group mentioned in a press release.
Belarus justifies the raids
Belarus’s Investigative Committee, a physique charged with probing main crimes, mentioned they have been half of a probe into the “organization and preparation of actions that grossly violate public order.”
“As part of a preliminary investigation to establish the circumstances of the financing of protest activities, investigators initiated searches on organizations positioning themselves as human rights defenders,” the Investigative Committee mentioned in a press release.
Crackdown provokes anger
Harassment by way of searches, arrests and felony prosecution of journalists and human rights defenders, together with Council of Europe (CoE) and UN companions is unacceptable, tweeted the CoE’s Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatovic.
“Freedoms of expression, association and assembly should be ensured according to international human rights standards,” she added.
“A sad new climax of harassment against journalists has been reached” with the raids, Germany’s Journalist Union, the DJV mentioned in a press release to DW. “The repression against independent media must end. Arrested journalists must immediately be released.”
Belarus’ anti-press stance
The authorities has come down exhausting on impartial media throughout the anti-government protests.
Belarus canceled all accreditation for international journalistsin October 2020, in response to EU sanctions.
Police detained journalists a complete of 477 occasions final 12 months, in accordance with the BAJ.
Several at the moment are dealing with felony costs.
Two journalists have been due in court docket Tuesday on costs of organizing and getting ready protests. The costs can carry a most penalty of three years in jail.