The Belarusian Association of Journalists said accreditation rights had also been withdrawn from 17 Belarusians working for several other media. German television broadcaster ARD said two of its Moscow-based journalists were also deported to Russia, a Belarusian producer faces trial on Monday and their accreditation to work in Belarus revoked. The BBC said two of its journalists working for the BBC’s Russian service in Minsk also had their credentials revoked and the US-funded Free Europe / Radio Liberty said five of its journalists lost their accreditation.
Criticism of the crackdown has come from both the media and governments.
WATCH | Belarusian President hosts photo shoot with machine guns amid massive protests:
The program director of ARD’s largest regional affiliate, WDR, which oversees coverage of Belarus, called his camera crew’s treatment “absolutely unacceptable”.
“This shows once again that independent reporting in Belarus continues to be hampered and is made almost impossible,” said Joerg Schoeneborn.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas summoned Belarusian Ambassador over detention and deportation of foreign journalists in Minsk and said “this attack on press freedom is another dangerous step towards more repression instead of a dialogue with the population ”.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres “has constantly called on journalists to be able to do their work without harassment anywhere in the world,” said UN spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric.
The International Press Institute stated that “Belarusian authorities must immediately drop all charges against journalists detained in recent police repressions, stop revoking accreditation of foreign journalists and immediately cease all interference with media houses. ‘public edition’.
# Belarus: Almost 50 journalists were arrested last night for identity checks! In all: 1 journalist hospitalized, 1 expelled and 4 awaiting trial. @RSF_Inter calls for all charges to be dropped and for an end to this senseless crackdown. pic.twitter.com/4tQr1ZhSWQ
– @ RSF_en
US State Department spokesman Morgan Ortagus urged the Belarusian government to exercise restraint, release those unjustly detained and account for missing protesters.
“We are concerned about the continued targeting of journalists, the blocking of independent media and opposition websites, the intermittent internet shutdowns and the random detentions of peaceful citizens exercising their rights to freedom of assembly and expression. », She declared.
Protests in Belarus began after the August 9 presidential election which officials said gave President Alexander Lukashenko a sixth term with 80 percent support. Protesters claim the results were rigged and call on Lukashenko, who has ruled the country since 1994, to resign.
The protests, some of which drew huge crowds estimated at 200,000 or more, are the biggest and most sustained challenge of Lukashenko’s 26 years in office, during which he has consistently cracked down on the opposition and media outlets. independent information.
On Saturday, hundreds of women dressed mostly in red and white – the colors of the old Belarusian flag the opposition uses as their emblem – marched through the capital of Minsk in protest.
The hard-line leader launched a strategy to end the wave of protests, without much success. In the early days of the protests, around 7,000 people were arrested. Some protesters were killed and many detainees were beaten by the police. The violence did not deter the protests and may even have galvanized the opposition. Strikes have broken out in several state-owned factories, which are the backbone of Belarus’ ailing economy.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has said he would be ready to send police officers to quell protests in neighboring Belarus if Lukashenko asks him to, a prospect that clearly worries the United States.
“We maintain our long-term commitment to support the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Belarus, as well as the aspirations of the Belarusian people to choose their leaders and choose their own path, without outside intervention,” said Ortagus, the spokesperson. American word, said in the statement.
The U.S. Embassy in Belarus issued a statement on Saturday in which: