(New York, NY) — PEN America today expressed deep alarm at attacks against protesters, journalists, bloggers, and artists amid Belarus’ presidential election Sunday. Belarusian security services arrested demonstrators and journalists throughout the weekend, and there are continuing internet shutdowns across the country. PEN America today said such actions were blatant human rights violations.

“The brutal official Belarusian response to peaceful protest points to why so many citizens are desperate for a restoration of their free expression rights,” said Polina Sadovskaya, PEN America’s Eurasia program director. “We urge the Belarusian government to cease its aggressive targeting of peaceful protesters and media. Such attacks highlight the violent unraveling of adherences to core human rights. This demands a thorough investigation into the violent events of last night that must be conducted without any delay.”

On Saturday evening, three journalists from a Russian television channel TV Rain were brutally detained and then deported back to Russia. A correspondent from the media outlet Meduza was severely beaten and has gone missing. Three journalists from the Current Time news outlet, which is affiliated with Radio Free Europe, were detained Friday and expelled from the country. The managing directors of the Belarus Free Theater were arrested during a peaceful protest, and there is currently no information about their condition or whereabouts.

Learn about PEN America’s advocacy demands for political freedom in Belarus, including our work with PEN Belarus and 24 other PEN Centers demanding the release of all political prisoners in Belarus.