PPF concerned over the massive crackdown on Belarusian media

Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF), in a letter to Andrei Kobyakov , Prime Minister Republic of Belarus, expressed serious concern over the raid on independent broadcaster Belsat TV in Minsk, detained one employee, a videographer on March 25 and the massive crackdown on media .

PPF Secretary General Owais Aslam Ali urged the government of Belarus, to end the massive crackdown on media and stifle the exercise of freedom of expression, including the right to share and receive information.

According to Belarusian Association of Journalists (BAJ), when raid was occurred the station coverage of nationwide protests against a tax on the unemployed. Belsat TV Authorities reportedly detained, seized camera and audio equipment in the raid.

The protest which first started in February 2017 across multiple cities came in response to a tax that penalises against Belarusians those work less than 183 days a year, it targets those do not participants in state’s economy, nicknamed the “social parasite tax”.

According to the BAJ, nearly 100 journalists across the country have reportedly faced detention in connection with attempts to cover the protests since they started.

Although the tax was introduced in a 2015 presidential declaration, got attention when suggesting two more demographics earlier this year that would be targeted under the tax, Belarusians who had worked abroad for years and housewives with children under seven years old.  Initially led to peaceful protests in major regional centres, crackdown was started when protest observed in small cities.

Charges against detained journalists included “violating the procedure for organising or holding a mass event”, “minor hooliganism” and “violating the procedure for production and distribution of mass media products”.  BAJ reported 123 cases of violations of journalists since the month of March 2017.