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Belarus January 19, 2006
H.E. Aleksandr G. Lukashenko
Administration of the President
Minsk 220030 K Marx Street, 38
Republic of Belarus
Fax: (011.375.17.2) 26-10-06
The Overseas Press Club of America, which represents hundreds of the world’s most influential journalists, adds its voice to that of many governments, international organizations, journalists and defenders of human rights who protest the outrageous attacks on freedom of the press by your government.
How can you imagine that Belarus could be accepted in the company of civilized nations when opposition journalists are murdered and no arrest follows? When the Belarus postal service refuses to distribute journals critical of your government? When newsstands are ordered not to sell opposition publications and printers are ordered not to print them?
With elections coming up in two months, you have made it impossible for the opposition to make itself heard or indeed even to function. The latest in a long line of repressive measures is the amendment to the criminal law making criticism of yourself and your government a crime punishable by five years in prison. It is superfluous to observe that the law is extraordinarily harsh when it should not exist in the first place.
Honest journalists in Belarus have attempted to survive by printing their papers outside the country. One repressive step after another has made it impossible for them to continue, except perhaps by delivering news on the web. Now that the state monopoly on newspaper distribution has refused to continue selling Solidarnost and the state postal service has refused to mail it, the paper has no further means of publishing–Which, of course, would appear to be your intention.
You apparently also wish to suppress criticism in the rest of the world as well. You have deported foreign journalists and included them under the new amendments to the criminal law. A moment’s reflection will tell you that you have no chance whatever of suppressing criticism abroad. In one medium or another, honest criticism will continue in your country until it swells into a force for freedom that will not be suppressed.
Freedom of the Press Committee
Ambassador of Belarus to the U.S.A.
Embassy of the Republic of Belarus
1619 New Hampshire Avenue, NW
Washington , DC 20009
Fax: (202) 986-1805
Ambassador Andrei Dapkiunas
Permanent Mission of the Republic of Belarus
to the United Nations
136 East 67th Street
New York , NY 10021
Fax: (212) 734-4810
George A. Krol
U.S. Ambassador to Belarus
Embassy of the United States of America
46, Starovilenskaya Street
Fax: (011.375.17) 234-7853
Mr. Victor Cole
International League for Human Rights
823 United Nations Plaza
New York , NY 10017
Fax: (212) 661-0416