The National Union of Journalists of Ukraine (NUJU) is initiating the collection of signatures of Ukrainian journalists in support of their Belarusian colleagues who are being persecuted by law enforcement agencies after the presidential election in the neighboring country, according to a statement posted on the NUJU's website.
"Every day we receive reports of the detention, beating and intimidation of journalists working in Belarus, both Belarusian and foreign journalists. However, journalists are just doing their job. Being at the epicenter of the events that shook the neighboring state after the official results of the presidential election were announced is the professional duty of a media professional. It is not a crime for journalists to carry out their duties. Persecution of journalists for their professional activities is unacceptable for any civilized state," the NUJU said.
According to the statement, the European Federation of Journalists also supported its Belarusian colleagues. From the first days of detentions in Belarus, it has been closely monitoring the situation in Belarus and has called on its branches across Europe to show solidarity with the Belarusian Association of Journalists and with journalists in Belarus and to call on their own national governments to take action.
It also notes that Ukrainian journalists are aware from their own bitter experience of the beating, detention and intimidation of journalists, pressure on independent media, the blocking of dissemination of truthful information, and impunity for crimes committed against media professionals.
"Belarusian colleagues, we are in solidarity with you! We support you in your professional activities and call on the Belarusian authorities to stop persecuting journalists and ensure their right to a profession," the authors of the appeal said.
The presidential election took place in Belarus on August 9. According to tentative results announced by the Central Election Commission, incumbent President Alexander Lukashenko gained 80.23% of the vote, while opposition candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya collected 9.9% of the vote.
On the night of August 9 to August 10, protests against election fraud began in Belarusian cities. Security forces brutally dispersed the protesters, using rubber bullets, stun grenades and water cannons. More than 6,700 people have been detained since the beginning of the protests. At least 250 people were hospitalized.
At the same time, Belarusian state media reported that Interior Minister Yuri Karaev had instructed his subordinates not to touch journalists during protests that began in the country after the presidential election.