Activists Refused to Leave the Country

In the past week, several Belarusian human rights defenders were stopped at the border and denied departure from Belarus. A total of almost ten journalists and human rights activists had to turn back from the border with the words “denied exit” stamped in their passports.

“This is a flagrant violation of the right to freedom of movement. The travel ban is a further blow to the already very vulnerable human rights defenders in Belarus and it is an attempt to silence their struggle for human rights. This is yet another violation, in a series of grave human rights violations committed by the Belarusian regime, and the EU must respond,” said Joanna Kurosz, Program Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia at Civil Rights Defenders.

Among those who were stopped at the border are Zhanna Litvina of the Belarusian Association of Journalists, who last year attended a breakfast seminar organised by Civil Rights Defenders. Andrei Dynko from the independent newspaper Nasha Niva, and two activists from the Belarusian Helsinki Committee are also among them. None of them has received an explanation as to why they were refused to leave Belarus.

A few weeks ago a rumor started to circulate about a so-called blacklist of 108 people who would be denied departure from Belarus. The list is said to be a response to the new EU sanctions, but the existence of such a list has been denied by the Belarusian authorities.