Rob Knight ( United States )
Published On

Wed, Feb 2022

Updated On

Wed, Feb 2022

144423 Sign of 500000 Goal

For the release of Belarusian journalist and blogger Roman Protasevich and his partner Sophia Sapega!

The abduction and imprisonment of journalist and blogger Roman Protasevich and his partner Sophia Sapega in Belarusian airspace on May 24, 2021 is the brutal response of a totalitarian regime to someone who has exercised his human right to freedom of expression. As a journalist and blogger, the 26-year-old has pointed out social and political grievances in his country of Belarus. With the harsh action against the young man and his partner, President Alexander Lukashenko continues the systematic suppression of freedom and human rights with which he acts against opposition figures, dissidents and cultural workers. The case of this tragic kidnapping is an inconceivable interference in the life of a young person, which we cannot accept.

We call on you, Mr. Lukashenko, to immediately release Belarusian journalist and blogger Roman Protasevich and his partner Sophia Sapega and to end the persecution and harassment of opposition figures, journalists* and cultural workers in Belarus.

The abduction and imprisonment of the Belarusian blogger and his partner is an arbitrary and unlawful act and a serious interference with freedom of expression. Roman Protasevich has done nothing but exercise this human right. We cannot and will not accept your behavior, Mr. Lukashenko, in this way. We will ensure that acts such as these are not forgotten and are repeatedly brought to the attention of an international public. By acting against these two young people and a multitude of others, you, Mr. Lukashenko, are trying to gradually silence the critical and admonishing voices in Belarus. You will not succeed in doing so before the eyes of the world. Criticism is elementary for a free, diverse democratic society. Freedom of speech is a human right and non-negotiable.

We appeal to the German government and the political forces in the EU to stick to their course and to consistently and sustainably stand up for freedom of expression in Belarus. We call on them to defend the human right of freedom of expression without fail and not to weigh it against geostrategic and economic interests and to relativize its central importance in negotiations.

As the association of the German book trade, the Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels is committed to freedom of opinion, information and the press, because freedom of opinion is the foundation of a free, diverse democratic society. This is under increasing pressure worldwide. As the initiator of the Freedom of Expression Week from May 3 to 10, 2021, together with a broad alliance of partners, we have created a substantive foundation with the Charter of Freedom of Expression, which persecuted people around the world can refer to, and which is at the same time a strong commitment of civil society to freedom and justice.

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