The stance of the Belarusian PEN Center on persecution of the participants of peaceful rallies to support sovereignty of Belarus


The stance of the Belarusian PEN Center on persecution of the participants of peaceful rallies to support sovereignty of Belarus

Minsk’s Central District Court on January 27 completed proceedings in the case of Liavon Barsceuski under Article 23.34 (1) of the Belarus Code of Administrative Offences, which deals with the violation of the procedure to organize mass events. According to the verdict, Liavon Barsceuski must pay a fine of 30 base rates (810BYN or $385).

Liavon Barsceuski is a translator, an editor, a linguist, an honorary chairman of the Belarusian PEN Center. He was Belarusian PEN’s chairperson in 2003-2005. Baesceuski is also a politician who in his role of a member of parliament was at the root of the Belarusian independence by voting for the Declaration of the State Sovereignty back in 1990.

In December 2019, mass gatherings took place in Belarus in defense of the country’s sovereignty. The government responded with a campaign of administrative persecution against the participants of the peaceful rallies. Among those persecuted are writers, bloggers and journalists.

Paval Seviaryniec, a civic activist and writer, was sentenced cumulatively to 30 days of arrest and a fine.
The following writers and literary men were arrested, too: Uladzimir Niaklaeu, a writer, member and honorary chairman of the Belarusian PEN Center; Uladzimir Arlou, a co-founder of the Belarusian PEN Center and writer; Liavon Barsceuski, a translator, an editor, a linguist, an honorary chairman of the Belarusian PEN Center; Ales Marackin, a writer and artist; Piotra Sadouski, a translator and essayist; Jan Hryb, a poet, and Mikola Trafimcuk, a poet.

Additionally, the following bloggers were convicted and put into jail: Siarhei Cihanouski (Homiel, YouTube channel Country for a Good Life/Strana dlya Zhizni) – 15 days of arrest; Dzmitry Kazlou (video blog Gray Cat) – cumulatively 120 days of arrest under Article 23.34 of the Belarus Code of Administrative Offences for participating in the gatherings and spreading appeals to participate in them.

The following journalists and bloggers were sentenced to a fine: Volha Bykouskaja (Minsk), Dzijana Sieradziuk (Minsk), Eduard Palcys (Minsk), Alena Januskouskaja (founder of the Real Belarus online community, Viciebsk).

These developments prompt us to bring the attention of the national and international community to the Joint statement by human rights and other civil society organizations made on January 21, 2020.
We state that at times of significant electoral events and in the situation of threat to the independence of Belarus, the year of 2020 can become a year when people will find it especially crucial to express their opinions and positions.

We call on the authorities of Belarus to refrain from persecution of people participating in peaceful rallies and to bring the legislation on peaceful gatherings and dissemination of information and its implementation in accordance with the international standards. The rights of peaceful assembly and freedom of expression are guaranteed by the Constitution of Belarus as well as international human rights regulations such as the International Covenant on Civic and Political Rights.

The Board of the Belarusian PEN Centre takes this opportunity to remind that the sovereignty of Belarus is fundamental and guaranteed by the Constitution as well as to express its support to the participants of peaceful gatherings.

The Board of the Belarusian PEN Center

Minsk, January 27, 2020