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Belarusian Association of Journalists protests against force used 19 December

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20 December 2010 the Board of the Belarusian Association of Journalists (associated to the AEJ) adopted a statement of protest against “shocking fact of severe force used by the police against journalists and civil activists in the evening of 19 December: “Law enforcement officers severely beat our colleagues, damaged and confiscated their professional equipment without paying attention to their valid journalistic IDs. Journalists of Belarusian media as well as foreign reporters officially accredited in the country suffered.

After a peaceful civil action at the Independence Square in the evening of 19 December the police detained several journalists who were covering the event. Law enforcement officers once again paid no attention to journalistic IDs, thus severely breaking professional rights of our colleagues to receive information without hindrance. According to information of BAJ, at least 20 journalists were detained 19 December; the same amount of reporters was beaten by the police.

The authorities of the country used such a brutal way to show their absolute disrespect to basic civil and professional rights. The BAJ also expresses its resolute protest against the form of coverage of the peaceful civil action of 19 December by leading state electronic media. Belarusian society was absolutely misinformed by them about the goals of that event, the number of participants and their actions as well as about rigidity the police acted with while dispersing the action.

The Belarusian Association of Journalists demands immediate investigation of all the cases of violence against journalists and interference in their professional activity as well as calling of those in charge to account.”

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