Bärbel Kofler, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Assistance, issued the following statement today (20 May) on reports of increasing numbers of journalists and bloggers being detained in Belarus:
The reports on the arrest of independent journalists, bloggers and participants in peaceful protests in Belarus are alarming.
Freedom of the press, the right to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly are cornerstones of every free and equal society. It is all the more vital to recall this in the run‑up to the presidential elections in Belarus.
I call upon the Belarusian Government to respect and protect these fundamental rights and to release those arrested in violation of these rights.
Between 6 and 14 May alone, over 120 people were arrested in Belarus, including a popular vlogger, people calling for his release, peaceful protesters and journalists. Fifty of them spent several days in prison. Presidential elections are due to take place in Belarus on 9 August 2020.