International & European Solidarity for Belarus and EWC Member The Union of Belarusian Writers (UBW)

Editor
Posted on September 10, 2020, 11:30 am
46 mins

The Members of the European Writers’ Council support its member the Union of Belarusian Writers in its efforts for democracy, free speech and new fair elections. Several european and international networks from the cultural and the book world joined the movement.

This page is frequently updated.
++ UPDATE 18 September 2020 ++

The EWC Member Organizations stand in Solidarity with its Member, the Union of Belarusian Writers (UBW):

12.09.   EWC Member The Union of Writers in Romania Uniunii Scriitorilor din România “expresses its full solidarity with the winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature (2015), Svetlana Alexievich, at a time when her freedom and that of her colleagues in the democratic opposition in Belarus are seriously threatened. The great prestige of the writer, doubled by the strength of her civic courage, as a member of the presidium of the Opposition Coordination Council in Belarus, turns Svetlana Alexievich, now, when she is harassed daily and threatened with detention, into an emblem of free spirit. . Along with her colleagues and friends, some in custody, others forced to leave the country, Svetlana Alexievich is one of the strongest voices who does not hesitate to say that her country must get out of a totalitarian, oppressive system and enter the ranks. democratic states. We ourselves have lived in communism, which makes us particularly sensitive to the importance of respecting fundamental human freedoms. The values ​​that Svetlana Alexievich fights for are also our values.” A publication of the Romanian Writers’ Union, in the online magazine “The Literature of Today”.

11.09.   The Swedish Writers’ Union released a clear statement:
Belarus can not wait! EWC Member The Swedish Writers’ Union supports Lithuania’s recognition of Svyatlana Tsichanouskaja and her Coordinating Council as legal leaders and representatives of the Belarusian people until new democratic elections can be held. “We in the Swedish Writers’ Union support Lithuania’s recognition of Svyatlana Tsichanouskaja and her Coordinating Council as legal leaders and representatives of the Belarusian people until new democratic elections can be held. A president like Lukashenko who manipulates elections, refuses transparency, uses violence against his own people through threats, deprivation of liberty and torture has forfeited his credibility and his right to represent anyone but himself and his own interests. We call on the Swedish government, trade unions and other democratic organizations to follow our example.”

10.09    The Norwegian Authors’ Union is deeply concerned about what has happened and is happening in Belarus. In 2017, the Authors’ Union established a friendship contact with the Union of Belarusian Writers. The UBW has visited Oslo twice, and writers from the Norwegian Authors’ Union have been in Minsk, as speakers at the art line and festivals. It made a strong impression to get to know the Belarusian writers. They have long experienced that the rest of them are under pressure to express themselves, and now the situation is extreme and unpredictable. And now something must be done.

10.09.    The EWC Member AELC, L’Associació d’Escriptors en Llengua Catalana, showed its support with the Union of Belarusian Writers in the face of the complicated situation in their country. This week, three peaceful writers were imprisoned and Nobel laureate Svetlana Alexievich dangerously violated. “The European Writers’ Council has reported that on September 8, three Belarusian PEN poets and translators (Hanna Komar, Uladz Liankevich and Siarzh Miadzvedzeu) who acted peacefully were arrested and imprisoned in Minsk. Svetlana Alexievich is the only member of the Coordinating Council left free in her country, the rest are imprisoned or in exile. The writer has summoned the media to her home and explained that she feels threatened. You can read an excerpt from a letter sent by the Nobel Prize winner for literature and more details from the last few days on the Homepage of the EWC.” For further information in Catalan, please visit the association’s website.

01.09.  The Society of Authors joins calls alongside writer unions across Europe to denounce the ongoing violence and repression in Belarus. SoA Chief Executive, Nicola Solomon, who visited the country as part of a European Writers’ Council (EWC) delegation to Minsk in 2018, last week wrote to Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab MP raising awareness of the Union of Belarusian Writer’s(UBW) Voices of Belarus report documenting the ongoing violence at the hands of the Belarusian regime.
EWC President, Nina George, welcomed the letter as a ‘strong’ and ‘clear’ intervention in the public debate alongside support for the UBW issued by the Writers’ Union of Iceland, the Czech Writers’ Union, the Danish Writers’ Union and the Hellenic Authors’ Society of Greece in recent days. Read the SoA’s letter in full here.
The UBW, which was created in 1934 and counts some 470 members, has been prevented from publishing periodicals by the Belarusian regime since 2002, with all Belarusian authors subject to state censorship.
In Belarus, if an author’s name appears on a state-sanctioned black- or greylist, it is virtually impossible for the author to reach an audience. Although it remains possible to pay privately to have a work printed, it will not be sold in the country’s bookshops, all of which are state-run.
UBW members include Nobel Prize winner, Svetlana Alexievich, whose works have not been published by state-owned publishing houses since 1993. The SoA was fortunate to be able to celebrate a translation by Bela Shayevich of Svetlana’s book Second-Hand-Time, which was awarded our inaugural TA First Translation Prize.

01.09.  EWC Member the Association of Catalan Language Writers „AELC supports the Union of Belarusian Writers (Саюз беларускіх пісьменнікаў), which defends democracy and the celebration of a new election in the country and asks for the help of the cultural world to make the situation of the emergency public. The Union of Belarusian Writers has called on the authorities in its country to put an immediate end to the violence, peaceful protests and transparent elections under international observation.“ (…) The Catalan Language Writers Association joins in condemning these events and disseminating the situation in Belarus. EWC writers’ associations in Galicia, Hungary, the United Kingdom, Greece, Spain, Norway, Denmark and Germany, among others, have already supported it.”

31.08. The Association of Writers in Galician Language (Asociación Escritoras-es Lingua Galega – AELG) stands up for Belarus and the Union of Belarusian Writers Саюз беларускіх пісьменнікаў: “Since the beginning of August, the European Writers’ Council (EWC) has been disseminating, at the request of the Belarusian Writers’ Union, the situation of censorship of freedom of expression in their country and manipulation by the media. (…) Among the documents provided for its dissemination are testimonials of the atrocities committed in prisons and also the denunciation of the case opened by Alexander Lukashenko against the Nobel Prize winner Svetlana Alexievich.
From the AELG we express our support for the fight for freedom of expression and dialogue and condemn any act of violence related to the situation in Belarus.”

31.08.  EWC Member The Society of Hungarian Writers (Szépírók Társasága) shared the recent statement by the Union of Belarusian Writers Саюз беларускіх пісьменнікаў: „The Union of Belarusian Writers and the Hungarian Civil Society Organization Homeland issued a joint resolution on the protection of Belarusian society, the European Writers’ Council (EWC) spoke again, and a reassuring response from the Society of Hungarian Writers was received from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.“

++ UPDATE 26 August 2020 ++

Various Belarusian media report independently of each other about the summoning of the author Svetlana Alexievich and the director of the National Theater, Pavel Latushko, for an interrogation on Wednesday 26 August within the charge of “illegal grab of power” by the Coordinating Council.

Our EWC Member, the Union of Belarusian Writers (Саюз беларускіх пісьменнікаў) announced the release of Svetlana Alexievich after she was summoned to interrogation:

Svetlana Aleksievich came from an interrogation in the committee of enquiry (on 26.8., 14:00 MSK). She refused to testify against herself and was released. Here is what she said before the interrogation:

“I want to say that I am very grateful for your support, it is very important, we have to support each other. I go [to the interrogation] completely calm, I don’t feel guilty, I feel legitimised in everything we have done. Moreover, this is urgently needed today, because if we are separated and divided, we will definitely go to civil war, it is very dangerous. Our goal was only to unite society, not a coup d’etat. It is all a futile argument that all of us, 600 people [coordinating council members], have come together and done something with the people. It is the people who came to it, it happened in front of our eyes that the Belarusian nation, the Belarusian people want the change. 

I think everyone is proud of their people today. And, frankly, we have not had this feeling lately, and today, when we see these thousand movements of people … And you would see what beautiful phrases appeared in the western media as a trademark of Belarus. In other words, Belarusians suddenly became the people the whole world has learned from: they love that no lawn will remember, that no shop window has been broken, that people are so worthy, behave so beautifully. And that we are offering a new way, we don’t have to occupy the post office and telegraph, we are offering a peaceful way to fight. A time when human life is worth living and a person values his life.

I think we must be together, we must not give in, God preserve blood from our part, it should not spill, we must win in spirit, by the strength of our convictions “. Source

The EWC Member Organizations stand in Solidarity with its Member, the Union of Belarusian Writers (UBW):

27.08.    The Belarusian Cultural Scene unite – together with PEN Belarus and The Union of Berlarusian Writers:  STOP VIOLENCE AND OUTRAGE IN BELARUS! – Statement by the heads of public organizations and creative unions of Belarus

Dramatic and tragic events are taking place in our country, caused by the presidential election campaign. Numerous violations of the electoral legislation during the campaign and manipulations in the counting of votes do not allow considering these elections as valid. The actions of law enforcement agencies in suppressing just protests of civilians in terms of inhumanity and cruelty resemble the atrocities of Stalin’s executioners during the repressions of the 1930s and the fascist occupiers during the Second World War. The official mass media have unleashed a campaign of hysteria, whipping up rumors about threats from outside and seizing the country, defaming those who insist on the authorities’ observance of law and justice, and advocate for the unity of the nation. As in Stalin’s times, ordinary people are being misled by attributing to the leaders of the protest crimes that they did not commit. Peaceful and legitimate protestors face pressure at work and prosecution. Administrative resources and budget funds are used to organize actions to justify falsified election results.

Alexander Lukashenko personally bears the main responsibility for the large-scale crisis that is growing in Belarus. To maintain his position, he went not only to abuse of power, but also raised weapon against his people. In order to stabilize the situation in the country, restore the rule of law and fulfill the people’s will, we demand from state bodies:

  • Immediately use the existing legal way out of the political crisis, hold re-run presidential elections within the terms determined by the Constitution, with a new composition of election commissions of all levels, formed on a democratic basis; Initiate an investigation into violations of electoral legislation during the presidential election campaign, riots and killings during protests against falsified presidential elections;
  • Provide a free platform in the state media for representatives of all points of view; organize a discussion of the situation in the country with the participation of representatives of all political forces;
  • Conduct a round table on the situation in Belarus and ways out of the crisis with the participation of representatives of the authorities and the public, including the Coordination Council

We sign this statement individually, as we believe that in this situation, everyone should express his or her civil position. In the near future, we intend to appeal to the members of our organizations with a request to support this Statement. We call on the leaders of all other public organizations and creative unions to join this appeal.

26.08  The Writers’ Union of Iceland (RSÍ) stands in full solidarity with EWC member, the Union of Belarusian Writers. “The RSÍ agrees with the demands of Belarusian writers to end violence against peaceful protesters and to ensure that democratic elections are held in that country as a matter of urgency under international supervision. The Icelandic Writers’ Union condemns all restrictions against the freedom of expression of artists and the public by violence or coercion of a political or economic nature.”

26.08.   The Czech Writers’ Union declared its full solidarity with EWC member, the Union of Belarusian Writers and its aims: ” EWC Member, the Czech Writers’ Union Asociace spisovatelů support the colleagues in Belarus Саюз беларускіх пісьменнікаў: “We want to give our full support to Nobel Prize winner Svetlana Alexiyevichová and also to the Union of Belarusian Writers, member of the European Writers’ Council. The Belarusian government must stop violence against peaceful protests, establish an open dialogue with the opposition and prepare new elections that will be fair, free and transparent.”

26.08 The Danish Writers’ Association Dansk Forfatterforening reacted on the accusations and the criminal case against Swetlana Alexievich: „In Belarus, writer and Nobel Prize winner Svetlana Aleksievich has been ordered for interrogation because she is part of a peaceful consensus for resistance in the country. The Danish Writers’ Association Dansk Forfatterforening condemns this and the Belarusian regime’s attempt to break the free cultural and political public sphere with violence and repression.
“In face of the threat to Alexeyevich, we in the Danish Writers’ Association, if possible, take an even sharper distance from the Belarusian regime’s attempt to break the free cultural and political public with violence and oppression.”

25.08. The Hellenic Authors’ Society of Greece expresses its solidarity to the Union of Belarusian Writers and the people of Belarus, and also to the Nobel Prize winner for literature, Svetlana Alexievich, in response to the appeal for international solidarity to stop violence directed against peaceful
protesters and to hold free, fair and transparent new elections in Belarus. “In its statement, the European Writers’ Council condemns the prosecution of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko against award-winning Svetlana Alexievich and the Belarusian Coordinating Council. As Alexievich said: “The state declared war on the people.”

25.08The Collegiate Association of Writers of Spain ACE / Asociación Colegial de Escritores expresses its full support to the European Writers’ Council-EWC against the intolerable criminal case opened by Alexander Lukashenko against the winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, Svetlana Alexievich, and the Coordinating Council of Belarus. In addition, ACE stands in solidarity with the Union of Belarusian Writers (UBW) Саюз беларускіх пісьменнікаў in its defence of freedom of expression and human rights against any action that violates them. ACE / Asociación Colegial de Escritores joins the condemnation of the criminal case against Svetlana Alexiévich, winner of the 2015 Nobel Prize for Literature, and the Coordinating Council of the Belarusian Opposition.
“In addition to the campaign launched by the European Writers Council (EWC) and its president, Nina George, the Writers’ Association is calling for a peaceful solution to the situation in Belarus, with the free and democratic participation of the people. ACE also supports the Belarusian Writers’ Union Саюз беларускіх пісьменнікаў in its struggle for democracy and freedom of expression. In the words of Nina George, President of the EWC, “dialogue is the basis of democracy and social participation”. ACE Writers joins the condemnation of the threats made by the Belarusian government against our colleague Svetlana Alexiévich and demands the release of the members of the Coordinating Council of the Belarusian Opposition detained so far. For freedom of expression, for the full development of human rights in Belarus: without democracy there is no culture.”
In Madrid, 25 August 2020
Manuel Rico
President of the Spanish Writers’ Association

25.08. The Danish Writers’ Association  Dansk Forfatterforening and its Chair Morten Visby made an official statement: “After receiving a shocking report from the Union of Belarusian Writers (UBW) Саюз беларускіх пісьменнікаў, the Danish Writers’ Association joins the European condemnation of the Belarusian government. (…) In light of the recent systematic violations of freedom of expression and other basic human rights in Belarus, the association’s board has chosen to join the European Writers Council appeal for support for the struggle for democracy in the country. (…) From the Danish and European sides, there is every possible reason to support the democratic forces in Belarus. It is happening these days in the form of sanctions and active assistance, but it must also be done through continued civil awareness of the situation. The Danish Writers’ Association would like to contribute to this together with our Nordic and European and sister organizations. To the Statement (in Danish)

24.08. German Writers’ Union and PEN Center Germany unite in solidarity with Belarus and the Appeal by the Union of Belarusian Writers (UBW). “We show solidarity with the democracy movement in Belarus and call on Alexander Lukashenko, the President of Belarus, to stop the criminal proceedings against the Coordination Council of the Opposition and to hold talks with the democracy movement in order to facilitate a peaceful change of power. (…) We support the call of the Union of Writers of Belarus (UBW) to stop violence against peaceful protests and hold free, fair and transparent elections in Belarus.” To the Joint Statement (in German)

20.08. The Society of Hungarian Authors Szépírók Társasága supports the EWC Call to stand with Belarus and the Саюз беларускіх пісьменнікаў / Union of Belarusian Writers. The Society of Hungarian Authors wrote an Open Letter to the Foreign Minister of Hungary – “We call on the Foreign Minister to publicly condemn the violence against citizens in Belarus and to provide direct and concrete assistance to Belarusian citizens who are threatened and harassed, including in cooperation with the Belarusian Writers’ Union.”  To the full Open Letter (in Hungarian)

19.08. The five Norwegian Authors’ Associations joined forces: “Norwegian writers and translators are deeply concerned about the situation in Belarus. Our Belarusian colleagues have for a long time had great challenges in expressing themselves freely, and we are very concerned about the dramatic development after the manipulated election on 9 August. We strongly protest that journalists are threatened, attacked and arrested, that online newspapers are blocked and that citizens do not have free access to information, and express our full support for the Belarusian people in general and for our fellow writers in particular. A united stand of writers and translators endorses the peaceful demonstrations, demands free and fair elections and promotes the importance of full freedom of expression in Belarus.”  Norsk Oversetterforening  – Den norske Forfatterforening – Forfatterforbundet – Norske Barne- og Ungdomsbokforfattere – Norsk faglitterær forfatter- og oversetterforening – NFFO. To the Resolution (in Norwegian) 

18.08. The DAS SYNDIKAT (Association of German Language Crime Writers) supports in full the declaration of EWC and the call on solidarity with the UBW.

17.08. “The ACE / Asociación Colegial de Escritores responding to the call of the European Writers’ Council (EWC), the organisation to which ACE is member, strongly supports the Belarusian Writers’ Union Саюз беларускіх пісьменнікаў in its defense of human rights and freedom in its country and, in particular, of freedom of expression and against the government’s repressive measures against the population.”

Download the EWC Statement of 24 August 2020

Download the EWC Statement of 17 August 2020

Download the Appeal from The Union of Belarusian Writers of 17 August 2020 and The Reports: “Voices from Belarus”

Cultural and other Authors’ Organizations and Networks standing with Belarus and the Union of Belarusian Writers (UBW) 

11.09. Peace Prize laureates demand an end to reprisals against Svetlana Alexievich and the Belarusian population. Aleida and Jan Assmann, Margaret Atwood, Carolin Emcke, David Grossman, Navid Kermani, Jaron Lanier, Wolf Lepenies, Liao Yiwu, Claudio Magris, Orhan Pamuk, Boualem Sansal, Friedrich Schorlemmer and others sign declaration / Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels supports appeal.

10.09.   The Swedish Academy of the Nobel Prize for Literature announced: “The Swedish Academy is alarmed at the development concerning Svetlana Alexievich, a Nobel Prize laureate with readers all over the world. Her safety is of our greatest concern and we expect her civil rights to be respected.”

09.09.   The PEN International Member Centres around the world “condemn the arrest yesterday of members of the Belarus PEN Centre. This heightens our concerns about the ongoing attacks on freedom of expression and the right to peaceful protest in the wake of the elections in Belarus on 9 August 2020 which have escalated in recent days. On Tuesday 8 September, Belarus PEN members and employees were detained while engaging in a peaceful protest in Minsk. Those detained include secretary, poet, and translator Hanna Komar; project manager, poet, and translator Uladzimir Liankievic; and translator Siarzh Miadzvedzeu. Their arrest, and that of hundreds of others involved in peaceful protests, are a violation of their rights to freedom of expression and association. They must be freed immediately.”

29.08.    The Lithuanian Publishers’ Union support the democracy movement for Belarus and the Union of Belarusian Writers Саюз беларускіх пісьменнікаў: “The European Writers’ Council, the Federation of European Publishers and the International Publishers Association have condemned Alexander Lukashenko’s actions against the peaceful citizens of Belarus. (…) German writer Nina George: “Belarus is a European country. Let us not leave the people of Belarus alone in the quest for a democratic country. We must all use the most powerful instrument of democracy: our words.”

28.08.   The International Alliance of Independent Publishers support the European Writers’ Council Statement.

26.08. The International Federation of Reproduction Rights Organisations (IFRRO) joint officially the EWC movement for solidarity for Belarus.

26.08.   The greek Collective Management Organisation OSDEL shared the support by the Hellenic Authors Society and the EWC widely.

26.08.    The European and International Booksellers Federation EIBF @Booksellers_Fed supports @CouncilWriters and their members in Belarus in condemning the ongoing situation in the country.  Freedom of speech is an integral human right, underpinned by the rule of law and democratic process.

26.08.  The International Publishers Association (IPA) and the Federation of European Publishers (FEP) call on Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko to cease his brutal campaign of violence and intimidation against peaceful protests. The IPA and FEP call on the international publishers of Nobel Literature Prize laureate, Svetlana Alexievich, to demonstrate their support for the author as she faces interrogation at the hands of the Lukashenko regime. (…) Now they have accused Svetlana Alexievich of being part of an ‘illegal power grab’ and have threatened her with prosecution and jail. The IPA and FEP call on the Belarusian government to drop all such charges immediately as a first step in paving the way for free, democratic processes to unfold.
IPA and the FEP stand behind the statement issued on 24 August by the European Writers’ Council. To the full joint statement.

25.08. The Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels – German Association of Booksellers and Publishersjoins the solidarity-movement of EWC:
Alarming conditions in Belarus: German Booksellers and Publishers’ Association Börsenverein condemns call of Peace-Prize winner Svetlana Alexievich for interrogation.
The Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels is deeply shocked by the massive violation of human rights and freedom in Belarus. Alexander Skipis, managing director of the Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels: “We are deeply dismayed by the massive violation of human rights and freedom in Belarus. Critical voices like Peace Prize winner Svetlana Alexievich are in serious danger. We appeal to the government in Belarus to consistently grant its citizens freedom of opinion and not to restrict their civil rights. We give our full support to all those in Belarus who are struggling for democracy and freedom of expression. Svetlana Alexievich and many other defendants defend their right to speak out for a democratic Belarus. We must not resign ourselves now – it is our duty to work to protect this fundamental right! As a sign of this clear position, the Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels joins the solidarity movement of the European Writers’ Council for Belarus.”
To the statement (in German)

25.08 The German PEN Center protests against the summoning of Nobel Prize winner for literature Svetlana Alexievich for interrogation tomorrow Wednesday afternoon. The accusation levelled at her and the approximately 70 members of the “Coordinating Council” founded by the opposition candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya by the still-presidential Lukashenko government is, among other things, an illegal attempt to seize power. This offence of a “coup d’état” is threatened with five years in prison in Belarus; the attorney general has already filed a complaint, and two members of the council have been arrested, as the BBC, among others, has confirmed.

25.08. The “Peace Prize of the German Book Trade” joint the EWC statement from 24.08. and defend their 2013-laureate, Svetlana Alexievich.

25.08. A social media project called “Stimmen aus Belarus” (Voices from Belarus) is launched. Five independent young translators organized the translation into German of quotes and voices from people, artists, creators and authors from Belarus.

21.8. Danish Journalists and European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) have massively demonstrated their support for journalists who are victims of violence in Belarus. Following their call, EFJ affiliates have written to their governments to demand sanctions against those responsible for violence and electoral fraud and a review of cooperation between the European Union and Belarus. Many journalists’ organisations offer logistical or financial assistance to Belarusian colleagues. To the full press release (in English and Danish)

20.08. Polish Intellectuals (Writers, Publishers, professors, cultural personalities) signed an Open Letter, “To the participants of the protests in Belarus! For several weeks now we have been observing the development of events in Belarus with hope and anxiety. We admire the persistence and courage of the protesters against disregarding the will expressed by the voters.” To the Statement (in Polish)

20.08. Appeal of Polish filmmakers to support Belarus

19.08. 22 European film bodies have issued an appeal in support of the people of Belarus.  Organisations including the European Film Academy, the European Producers Club, the Accademia del Cinema Italiano, the Federation of European Film Directors, and Co-Member with EWC in the Authors’ Group, FERA, have co-signed the letter.

19.08. Reporters without Borders / reporters sans frontières “Ahead of the EU’s special summit on Belarus today, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is renewing calls for sanctions against those responsible for violence against journalists.” To the full press release (in German)

19.08. PEN Germany welcomes democracy movement: The German PEN Centre is appalled by the brutal violence with which President Lukashenko is reacting in Belarus to the peaceful  protests against his re-election. To the full joint statement (in German).

18.08. PEN International, FEP (Federation of European Publishers) and EFJ (European Federation of Journalists) supported widely via social media the EWC statement and the UBW appeal. https://twitter.com/CouncilWriters/with_replies

17.08. Baltic Writers and Translators’ Council, “We condemn the illegitimate elections, violations of the freedom of speech and human rights in Belarus, the state’s violence against its own peaceful citizens in the streets of Belarus and in detention centres.” To the full statement

Download the EWC Statement of 24 August 2020

Download the EWC Statement of 17 August 2020

Download the Appeal and Voices from Belarus from 17 August 2020 and The Voices from Belarus

Press Coverage of the UBW appeal, the EWC statement, and the situation for writers and translators in Belarus

11.09.   Kunst und Kultur (Art & Culture, verdi) published an essay by EWC President Nina George: #freewordsbelarus – the fight with a monster.
” Imagine you are a writer. You go to a demonstration together with your colleagues from the office. A van stops next to you, hooded people jump out of the side doors, their uniforms are neither police nor military. They drag you along with them, your girlfriend is filming, her mobile phone is knocked away, and a little later you and some of your colleagues are on your way to a place called “the house of tortures”. There they might even cut a hole in your pants, at the height of your rectum, and threaten that if you dare to sit down in the cramped cell for twenty people, but which is overcrowded with 60, they will shove a grenade through the hole in your anus. You will not be given anything to drink. Maybe you will stay for months in the house of tortures, maybe you will be sentenced the very next day for inciting rioting.“ Read all (in German).

01.09.  Publishing Perspectives with an Belarus Update: The Society of Authors Presses the UK’s Foreign Office. “In a strongly worded weekend letter to the United Kingdom’s foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, the Society of Authors‘ CEO Nicola Solomon has called for intervention in the Belarusian crisis. (…). “I would ask you,” Solomon writes to Raab, “to publicly condemn the violence and repression in Belarus and to ensure that the UK plays its part in raising awareness of the plight of Belarusian citizens in your discussions with foreign ministers, as part of the UK’s ongoing diplomatic missions to the Council of Europe, the OSCE, UNESCO, the United Nations, and elsewhere.”

26.08.   Publishing Perspectives: Belarus Crisis: IPA and Publishers Federation Join With the European Writers’ Council – With the Nobel laureate Svetlana Alexievich declining to testify before the State Investigative Committee, the Union of Belarusian Writers asks for international support. By Porter Anderson, Editor in Chief.

26.08. Radio Bremen Zwei. “After the presumably rigged election in Belarus and President Lukashenko’s crackdown on opposition figures, international support for the democracy movement is strong. One of the driving forces is the German writer Nina George. As President of the European Writers’ Council, she is committed to a peaceful solution to the conflict and an end to the persecution of opposition figures in Belarus. This afternoon, the Belarusian Nobel laureate in literature, Svetlana Alexievich, is due to be interrogated. A conversation with Nina George.”

26.08.    Actualitté: “Biélorussie : l’édition internationale appelle à l’arrêt de la “répression”. Il y a quelques jours, la Fédération des associations européennes d’écrivains (European Writers’ Council, EWC) dénonçait « des cas de violences policières et sur des traitements inhumains dans les prisons, de la torture psychologique, des sévices physiques et des viols ». Deux organisations d’éditeurs, la Fédération des Éditeurs Européens (FEE/FEP) et l’Union Internationale des Éditeurs (UIE/IPA), se joignent désormais à l’appel des auteurs.

26.08 rbb Kulturradio: Our President Nina George is in daily contact with EWC member, the Union of Belarusian Writers, and can thus quickly make news from Minsk available to the public. On Monday it was announced that Nobel Prize winner for literature Svetlana Alexievich has been summoned for interrogation today because of her membership of the Coordinating Council. The accusation against the Council: illegal grab for power. On 26 August, George spoke on rbb Kulturradio about the background and again called on the public to support Belarus and to report on the state of repression. “Because if we look the other way, it plays into the hands of all dictators in the world. We should not do them this favour”.

25.08  Börsenblatt: The German Publishers and Booksellers Association join the solidarity movement of the EWC.

25.08. Deutschlandradio Kultur – Kultur heute (Culture today on German Radio): EWC President Nina George reported about the situation for nobelprize-awarded author, Svetlana Alexievich, Member of the Union of Belarusian Writers. To the feature (minute 21:00, in German)

25.08. German Journal for Booksellers and Publishers, Börsenblatt: “It was with great dismay that we learned yesterday from our member, the Union of Belarusian Writers (UBW), about the summoning of its member, Nobel Prize winner for literature Svetlana Alexievich, for interrogation tomorrow Wednesday afternoon,” said Nina George, President of the EWC. Svetlana Alexievich and about 70 other members of the opposition’s “Coordinating Council” are accused by Lukashenko’s government of “illegal attempts to grab power”. The Attorney General has already filed charges, and two members of the council have already been arrested, as the BBC has confirmed. Five years in prison are threatening. To the article (in German)

21.08. Publishing Perspectives “Belarus Crisis Prompt Alarm from European Writers’ Council, PEN International”. To the featured article (in English)

19.08. M – Menschen Machen Medien  “In a letter, ver.di – largest union of freelance and employed cultural and media workers in Germany – calls on Federal Foreign Minister Heiko Maas to give the escalated situation in Belarus “an even higher priority in Germany’s international engagement. And the European Writers’ Council’s calls for solidarity.” To the article (in German)

19.08. HR2 – Radio “No other choice? – The future of Belarus” – One-hour-Radio feature on the situation of writers and the cultural scene in Belarus, including a live interview with EWC President Nina George. To the podcast (in German).

18.08. Actualitteée « Biélorussie : les écrivains européens appellent l’Union européenne à réagir. La Fédération des associations européennes d’écrivains (European Writers’ Council, EWC) se joint aux avertissements portant sur la situation en Biélorussie : dans un communiqué, l’organisation déplore « la violente et systématique répression des manifestations contestant les résultats des élections et le pouvoir autocrate du président de la Biélorussie ». To the full article (in French)

18.08. Börsenblatt / Weekly Magazine of Publishers and Booksellers in Germany “In a statement, the European Writers’ Council calls on the European Union to exert pressure on Belarus’ autocratic regime. The Writers’ Council also expresses its solidarity with the Union of Belarusian Writers (UBW).”  To the article (in German)

18.08. Autorenwelt “Der European Writers‘ Council (EWC) ist zutiefst alarmiert über die gewaltsame und systematische Unterdrückung friedlicher Proteste in Belarus und unterstützt den Appell seiner Mitgliedsorganisation, des Verbands der belarussischen Schriftstellerinnen und Schriftsteller (UBW).“  (article, including a German translation of the UBW appeal and EWC statement).

17.08. VOXEUROPE  “Speak out in solidarity with the people of Belarus! – The Union of Belarusian writers appeals for international solidarity to stop violence directed against peaceful protesters and to hold new free, fair and transparent elections in Belarus.” To the news site

VOICES FROM BELARUS