Two Journalists in Belarus Jailed in Retaliation for Their Work

Right this moment a district court docket in Minsk, Belarus sentenced journalist Katsiaryna Andreyeva and her colleague and camerawoman Daria Chultsova to 2 years in jail having deemed them responsible of “organizing actions violating public order.”

The 2 girls work for Belsat, a Poland-based broadcaster, lengthy focused by Belarusian authorities.

The Frunzensky District Court docket’s ruling was based mostly on expenses introduced following a dwell stream the journalists had broadcasted on November 15, 2020 from the “Sq. of Change” courtyard in Minsk. Hundreds of individuals had gathered there that day to commemorate Raman Bandarenka—an activist beaten to death, allegedly by plain clothed cops — and demand justice for his loss of life.

Andreyeva, whose actual household title is Bakhvalova, and Chultsova live-streamed the protest from a close-by house for about 5 hours. After police dispersed the peaceable demonstrators, ten riot police officers broke into the house, detained each journalists, and seized their tools.

On November 15, a court docket in Minsk sentenced Andreyeva and Chultsova to seven days’ detention for the executive offence of collaborating in an unsanctioned mass gathering, that means the protest they had been streaming.

5 days later, the authorities opened a prison case towards the journalists. Police searched Andreyeva’s house, her kin’ residence, and the apartment  of Chultsova’s dad and mom. On November 24, police additionally detained Andreyeva’s husband, Igor Ilyash, at residence, opening their house with a key taken from Andreyeva. The following day a court  sentenced Ilyash to 15 days for allegedly collaborating in one other protest in October, regardless of his claims that he was not there.

Ilyash said  that the fees towards Andreyeva are based mostly solely on 12 fragments from her dwell stream during which she expressed admiration for the peaceable protesters.

Right this moment’s sentencing of Andreyeva and Chultsova is one in every of some ways Belarus’s authorities has retaliated towards journalists for reporting on peaceable protests and human rights violations. A minimum of seven different journalists are behind bars awaiting trial on related prison expenses. On Tuesday, authorities raided the properties and workplaces no less than 40 journalists and human rights defenders who’re selling freedom of the press.

Belarusian authorities ought to cease treating journalists as their enemies and allow them to peacefully do their reputable work.

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