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Belarus: Lukashenko wants to dissolve PEN center and more than 40 other NGOs

2021-07-23T16:34:03.980Z

Human rights groups speak of a "total cleansing": Belarus wants to close more than 40 non-governmental organizations, including a journalists 'association and the writers' organization.



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Nobel laureate in literature Swetlana Alexijewitsch: The President of the PEN Center Belarus lives in exile in Berlin

Photo: Misha Friedman / Getty Images

The Belarusian authorities are continuing to crack down on the opposition.

More than 40 NGOs are threatened with closure in Belarus.

These include the Belarusian office of the writers' organization PEN and the Belarusian Union of Journalists (BAJ), which recently denounced arrests and raids against the press.

Human rights, language teaching, disabled and youth unemployment organizations and even charities are also being wound up, as indicated on the government's legal portal, where the status of these organizations can be checked.

The Wesna human rights center announced on Friday that there was a "total cleansing" including political persecution across the country.

At a meeting on Thursday, President Alexander Lukashenko compared the members of NGOs with “bandits” and “foreign agents” who acted “to the detriment of the state”.

"The purge is in progress," he said.

In Germany, authors expressed their solidarity with the persecuted writers from the disbanded PEN center in Minsk.

The president of the Belarusian PEN center is the Nobel laureate Svetlana Alexijewitsch, who left her home country and lives in Germany.

The authorities have been imprisoning Lukashenko's opponents, journalists and activists for months in order to finally crush the initial mass protests against the controversial re-election of Lukashenko in August 2020.

Lukashenko, who was criticized as the “last dictator in Europe”, announced at a meeting with President Vladimir Putin that he would take rigorous action against civil society.

Putin supports the 66-year-old, who sees dissenters as a threat to his retention of power.

In the United States, opposition leader Svetlana Tichanovskaya campaigned during political talks to further increase the sanctions pressure on Lukashenko.

Already now, sanctions by the EU and the USA are massively affecting the apparatus in Belarus economically.

Tichanovskaya had left her country under pressure from the authorities.

She carries out her work from the EU neighboring country Lithuania.

ime / dpa / AFP

Source: spiegel

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