Statement by the International Federation of Journalists on the Tenth Anniversary of the Belarusian Association of Journalists

The International Federation of Journalists and its European organisation the European Federation of Journalists today congratulated the Belarusian Association of Journalists on reaching the tenth anniversary.

Over the past ten years the BAJ has forced itself to the forefront of the struggle for journalists’ rights in a country whose attitude to independent journalism remains stuck in a communist era time warp.

For eleven years the country has suffered under the authoritarian leadership of President Lukashenko, and his policy of persecuting all dissenters. During this period journalists have been beaten, fined, imprisoned, and disappeared while independent media are harassed and closed down. The case of BAJ member, Veronika Cherkasova, who was found brutally murdered in suspicious circumstances last October, remains unsolved.

To be a member of the BAJ has become a statement of protest and an act of bravery in itself.

The Association provides a working model of how journalists can best organise themselves for self-protection and can inspire resistance in the name of democracy and human rights.

The IFJ is proud that the BAJ is affiliated to the IFJ and Belarusian journalists are grateful of the leadership that it has shown.

<font size="1">The Belarusian Association of Journalists has been affiliated to the IFJ since 1997 and is one of the Federation’s 163 national unions and associations in 117 countries and representing more than 500,000 journalists.</font>