During the World Press Freedom Day event which was held via videolink on May 4, US Ambassador to Belarus Julie Fisher called on Belarusian journalists to continue providing the world with reliable information about the situation in the country.
According to the top diplomat, she wished the meeting could have taken place the Belarusian capital city, but at the moment, she is not able to arrive in Minsk due to the lack of a Belarusian visa.
“What the Lukashenka regime has done over the past year to the people of Belarus is unconscionable. Since last summer, the United States has strongly and repeatedly condemned the regime for its use of violent and repressive tactics against peaceful protesters, journalists, non-governmental organisations, and many other individuals. We continue to call for an end to the crackdown, the release of all political prisoners, and a move to the conduct of free and fair elections,” she said.
The United States is committed to close coordination with our partners in Europe, Fisher said.
“As you may know, I’ve made trips to Europe already this year, including one just two weeks ago, to meet with Belarusians and with partner governments in Vilnius and Warsaw. The United States supports international efforts to investigate the fraudulent election, the human rights abuses surrounding it, and the crackdown that followed and still continues. The United States supports the International Accountability Platform for Belarus, which aims to consolidate information and evidence pertaining to human rights abuses, with the goal of ultimately holding those responsible to account,” she stressed.
The US Ambassador called the work by Belarusian journalists and the risks they took ‘awe inspiring’ and admitted that both their compatriots and the rest of the world got the chance to know because of their stories, photos and videos.
“The United States recognises the price that journalists have paid, and continue to pay. Journalists have been beaten, shot with rubber bullets, teargassed, arrested, forced to flee in fear of their lives and the lives of their families,” Julie Fisher emphasized.
At the meeting she gave names of the media remaining behand bars, including two Belsat TV contributors: Andrey Alyaksandrau, Katsyaryna Andreyeva, Syarhei Alsheuski, Katsyaryna Barysevich, Darya Chultsova, Dzyanis Ivashyn, Ihar Losik. Kseniya Lutskina, Andrzej Poczobut, Ala Sharko, Yuliya Slutskaya, Pyotr Slutski, Syarhei Hardziyevich (the latter is under house arrest).
“We believe strongly that journalism is not a crime, even though those in the regime want to treat it as such. They are afraid of the truth. They are afraid of you and of what you do. They want to conspire in the darkness. You understand that freedom thrives in the light. Yesterday was World Press Freedom Day. But every day needs to be press freedom day. Without a free press, there is no knowledge, no accountability, and no basis for building the future,” she added.