(New York, NY) — The Belarusian Justice Ministry has moved to shut down PEN America’s sister organization PEN Belarus. It comes amid raids this week on the offices of organizations and media outlets. PEN America CEO Suzanne Nossel said the following:

“When a government silences and stomps on its writers, it reveals a level of shame and decay that leaders are aiming to hide, but instead only expose. Belarus’ leaders may think they can suppress the truth by muzzling those who dare tell it, but the story of the will of the people and the scale of brutal repression will find its way to the world. We stand in solidarity with the writers of PEN Belarus and are determined to ensure that their vital voices are heard and their rights to express themselves vindicated.”

PEN Belarus received notice of the ministry’s intent to liquidate the organization the same day the group released a report showing in increase in cultural rights violations in the country.

The letter received by PEN Belarus on July 22 reads:

The Supreme Court of the Republic of Belarus initiated a civil case on the claim of the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Belarus against the Republican Public Association ‘Belarusian PEN Center’ for liquidation.

In order to prepare the case for trial, a survey is scheduled for 20/06/2021 at 10:00 a.m. at the premises of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Belarus (Minsk, Orlovskaya str., 76, entrance 1).

The representative of the Republican Public Association ‘Belarusian PEN Center’ must appear at the specified time with documents confirming the authorization to participate in the case.