(New York, NY) — PEN America welcomes the launch of PEN Belarus’s report, “Monitoring of Violations of Cultural and Human Rights Against Cultural Workers,” which documents the persecution of writers, artists, poets, and other cultural figures between January and September 2021.

“Our sister organization PEN Belarus has recorded 1,032 violations of the rights of cultural workers since January of this year, including arbitrary detention, forbidding prisoner access to books, and the baseless liquidation of cultural organizations, including PEN Belarus itself, now exiled,” said Polina Sadovskaya, PEN America’s Eurasia program director. “The Lukashenko regime’s draconian treatment of the cultural workers it imprisons only underscores the power of writers and artists to undermine authoritarianism. This harrowing but much-needed report by our Belarusian colleagues shows the frontline role that cultural workers are playing in the country’s fight for freedom and democracy. It also demonstrates the urgent need for international support of Belarusian cultural workers as they face a growing onslaught of repression.”

The report’s launch comes as the Lukashenka regime escalates its crackdown on independent voices in Belarus. According to human rights group Viasna, there are 812 political prisoners in Belarus. Per the PEN Belarus report, 60 of these are cultural workers.