Letters of support to Belarus journalists
Below the text of the letters that the NUJ Netherlands chair Tony Sheldon sent on behalf of the branch to Belarus journalists Katsiaryna Andreyeva and Daria Chultsova sentenced to two years in prison for doing their job.
My name is Tony Sheldon and I’m part of a branch of the UK and Ireland’s National Union of Journalists (NUJ) based here in Holland. We wanted to write to you and your Belsat colleagues to let you know that you are not forgotten and that we stand shoulder to shoulder with you as fellow journalists and reporters just trying to do our jobs. We admire your courage and feel humbled by the sacrifice that you are currently having to make simply for writing the news.
We in the NUJ, together with 50 journalist organisations in 34 European countries, are calling on the Belarussian government to release you. We are appealing to the United Nations, the Council of Europe and the European Union to urge the authorities in Belarus to adhere to basic standards of human rights and press freedom.
Our trade union called for your release in March on “Freedom Day” the anniversary of Belarus independence in 1918. Recently we discussed your country again at our online delegate meeting. Tomorrow Dutch-based journalists are taking the message to the Belarus embassy in The Hague. The difficulties journalists face in your country are not going unnoticed.
Today’s call for your release, and that of 28 other journalists, is being organised through the International and European Federations of Journalists (IFJ-EFJ) and their affiliate in Belarus, the Belarusian Association of Journalists (BAJ). They have strongly condemned the imprisonment of all the journalists, calling for their recognition as political prisoners, demanding their immediate release and the dropping of all charges against them.
I trust that things are not too tough for you in prison and that you are being treated with some degree of humanity. I trust you are receiving sufficient food, exercise and access to reading materials – which should be your right.
I hope the authorities will be decent enough to allow this letter through to you and that it may offer you a degree of hope and courage in what are surely dark days. We must hope for a better future one in which all Belarussians can enjoy the peace, freedom, and prosperity that is their due.
Further info on the situation in Belarus and the letter-writing campaign.