The appeal, which has already been signed by more than 200 artists and cultural figures, protests against brutal detentions and arrests of several artists.

The appeal by Belarus’s cultural community is addressed to the country’s authorities. It calls to take immediate measures against an escalation of the conflict, stop prosecuting civil society representatives and make all efforts to establish a dialogue.

The appeal was provoked by a wave of repression following numerous protests against the presidential decree imposing a tax on unemployed people, as well as a fall in living standards in the country in general. More than 230 people have been arrested in the country in the past month. Most of them were sentenced to short terms in jail or fined. The total sum of fines has exceeded $20,000. Most of those in custody were arbitrary arrested and thrown into jail for from 10 to 15 days though their guilt wasn’t confirmed. Many were detained for taking part in sanctioned rallies or arrested preventively without even a hint at any wrongdoing.

The appeal by Belarusian art community condemns the brutal arrests and preventive detentions of a number of artists. In particular, signers demand that artists Anastasiya Ranko, Alena Nemik and Lidzia Viaryha should be released and rehabilitated.

Anastasiya Ranko, coordinator and organiser of the project Month of Photography in Minsk, illustrator Alena Nemik and designer Lidzia Viaryha were detained in public transport by riot police officers without badges. The women were returning home from the sanctioned rally when they were brutally detained. The policemen neither gave reasons for the detention nor explained their rights to the women. They were sentenced to jail terms of 12 and 13 days. Authors of the appeal draw attention to difficult incarceration conditions and recently imposed restrictions regarding parcels with basic toiletries, food and medication.

Artists demand that the authorities respect the right to freedom of assembly and freedom of expression, stop arbitrary detentions and launch an investigation in connection with law violations by police officers. The joint appeal is open for anyone to sign. As of now, more than 200 artists and cultural figures have signed the appeal.

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