Belarusian PEN Center: “We protest the detention of writers, musicians, and other peaceful participants on Freedom Day”

The Belarusian PEN center condemns the detention of writers, musicians, and other participants in the peaceful rally at the Freedom Day celebrations of the 101st anniversary of the founding of the Belarusian Democratic Republic.

On March 25th, well-known Belarusian musicians were detained in Minsk. The performers announced that they would be giving a street concert, but before the start of the performance, police approached a member of PEN, Liavon Volski, at the event’s planned location and informed him that the concert would be considered an “unauthorized event.” Within a few minutes, the performers were detained (before the concert had even begun). Among those detained are Liavon Volski, Zmicier Vajciuškievič, Ihar Varaškievič, and Pavel Arakielian.

Two and a half hours later, having drawn up reports of the detentions (but not of official offenses) and having conducted a “preventative conversation,” the police released them.

The Belarusian PEN Center asserts that on March 25, 2019, the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of expression was violated.

On this matter, we call on the Belarusian authorities to stop the detention of participants in peaceful assemblies and to release other detainees during the celebration of Freedom Day.

Board of Belarusian PEN