Arrest of PEN Belarus Member Represents Another Attack on Cultural Leaders
Released Monday, Olga Shparaga was detained alongisde 20 other peaceful demonstrators
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(New York, NY) — The detention of a member of PEN Belarus during a peaceful demonstration in Minsk Sunday represents another vicious attempt to silence cultural leaders of Belarus’ protest movement and hamper the pursuit of democracy, PEN America said today.
Police detained Olga Shparaga, a philosopher and member of the opposition Coordination Council, alongside 20 other protesters. After quick reactions from PEN Belarus colleagues and a her lawyer, Shparaga was released earlier Monday but will have to attend a hearing in the near future.
“Philosophers, writers, and public intellectuals continue to be in the forefront of the current protest movement in Belarus, and as a result they are the first to experience the brutality of the government, which is fighting to maintain its illegitimate grasp on power. These disgraceful, ongoing attacks on people exercising their basic rights to expression and peaceful protest must end. We urge the international community to continue to press for the release of all unjustly detained peaceful protesters and drop all charges against them, and to press the Belarusian authorities to stop the persecution of their people” said Polina Sadovskaya, Eurasia program director at PEN America.
Shparaga is a professor at the European College of Liberal Arts in Minsk. Her book, Community-after-Holocaust: On the Way to the Inclusion Society, was shortlisted by PEN Belarus for its book of the year prize in 2018. Earlier this month, three other colleagues from PEN Belarus were detained and served from six to nine days in prison after participating in a peaceful protest.
The Baltic countries, the United Kingdom, Germany, the U.S., and the European Union have said they do not recognize the results of the August election. The UN Human Rights Council adopted a resolution requesting an official investigation into severe human rights violations following the balloting.