Industry & Advocacy News
October 6, 2021
The Authors Guild stands with Belarusian authors, journalists, and translators and denounces the October 1 decision by the high court in Minsk that forcibly dissolved the Belarusian Writers’ Union (BWU) as part of the Lukashenko government’s campaign to suppress dissent, including free speech. Founded in 1934, the BWU was among the country’s oldest cultural organizations.
Alexander Lukashenko, president of Belarus since 1994, has long been known for his authoritarian policies, leading the international community to declare him “Europe’s last dictator.” But since the wave of citizen protests over widespread allegations of vote-rigging that resulted in Lukashenko once again “winning re-election” in August 2020, his government has mercilessly cracked down on any opposition, torturing and raping protestors, assassinating political opponents living abroad, and secretly dispatching or arresting noted dissidents and Belarusian journalists.
According to Nina George, president of the European Writers’ Council, of which the BWU had been a member, that situation has grown increasingly worse over the past three months.
“The illegitimate Lukashenka regime has already abused forced liquidation as a popular means of pressure to bend unpopular opinions and frighten people in the decades before,” she writes in a letter to the EWC’s 160,000 members. “However, what we’ve witnessed since July 2021 is a strategic extermination mechanism against free speech, against democracy, against culture—and against the Belarusian nation.”
The dissolution of the BWU is just the latest of the more than 284 organizations in Belarus that have been disbanded by the country’s high court, including PEN Belarus and the Belarusian Association of Journalists.
“We join with the EWC in condemning the Belarusian high court’s ruling and pledge our help in working to ensure that the voices of Belarusian writers and journalists still get heard,” says Authors Guild CEO Mary Rasenberger.