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[VIRTUAL] Sounding the Alarm: The Free Speech Crackdown in Belarus

Event page graphic: “Sounding the Alarm: Free Speech Crackdown in Belarus, An online forum hosted by PEN America’s Campus Free Speech Program” on left; image of protesters marching in Belarus on right

An online forum hosted by PEN America’s Campus Free Speech Program as part of our student-centered evening workshop series, Free Speech Live!

The relentless attacks against protesters, journalists, bloggers, artists, and cultural figures in response to Belarus’s presidential election on August 9 have alarmed the human rights advocacy community throughout Europe and beyond. Belarusian security services have brutally responded to peaceful protests by arresting and allegedly torturing many demonstrators and journalists across the country while also orchestrating several internet shutdowns. This crackdown has demonstrated the very reasons why so many citizens are desperate for a restoration of their free expression rights, and why PEN America has publicly urged the Belarusian government to cease its aggressive targeting of peaceful demonstrators and the media. Most recently, PEN America has been alarmed by the arrests of PEN Belarus members and employees including secretary, poet, and translator Hanna Komar; project manager, poet, and translator Uladzimir Liankevich; and translator Siarzh Miadzvedzeu.

Join PEN America’s Campus Free Speech Program for this online forum featuring a brief presentation, breakout discussion, and expert-facilitated Q&A session with PEN America’s Polina Sadovskaya to discuss the recent human rights crisis in Belarus. High school and college alumni of PEN America’s student programs and other students are welcome to join.



Polina Sadovskaya (Kovaleva)Polina Sadovskaya  joined the PEN America team in 2016 as the first Free Expression Programs coordinator for Eurasia. She came to New York from Paris, where she was with UNESCO’s Division of Freedom of Expression and Media Development. She organized various international and global forums, and managed a project empowering local communities in Africa with radio and new digital technologies. She is an active supporter of women’s and youth’s rights around the world, and is a member of the IFEX Council. Prior to joining PEN America, Sadovskaya worked for Habitat Pro Association, an NGO advocating for the rights of indigenous peoples in Peru, particularly those of indigenous women and youth. She was also a radio correspondent and a marketing and communications manager with a major bank in her native Russia. She is fluent in Russian, French, and English, and has degrees in marketing from Grenoble Graduate School of Business and in journalism from South Ural State University.

Nicholas Perez headshotNicholas Perez is the program coordinator for campus free speech at PEN America. He supports PEN America’s advocacy, analysis, and outreach in the national debate around free speech and inclusion in higher education. Perez previously worked for the Columbia University Human Rights Advocates Program and consulted for the Human Rights Education and Training section at the United Nations. He holds a master’s degree from Columbia University in human rights and humanitarian policy and a bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University in international politics. He also was a Global Leadership Fellow at Waseda University in Japan, a Model United Nations advisor at Mira Costa High School, and a forensics researcher for the Yahad-in Unum Genocide Research Agency.