Belarusian Association of Journalists given Media Freedom Award
16 November 2020
The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) in the UK and Ireland joins with the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) to welcome the Canada-UK Media Freedom Award that has been given to the Belarusian Association of Journalists (BAJ). BAJ was nominated for the award by the EFJ.
BAJ was singled out for its ongoing commitment to journalistic ethics and principles and its perseverance and self-sacrifice in the face of increased targeted crackdowns on media in Belarus.
The announcement was made jointly during this year’s Global Conference for Media Freedom, held virtually on 16 November and hosted by Canada and Botswana.
Dominic Raab, UK secretary of state for foreign affairs, said:
"It is vital that journalists, wherever they work in the world, can shine a light on what is going on, without fear of retaliation, censorship or punishment."
"I pay tribute to the Belarusian Association of Journalists for their dedication to reporting human rights and electoral fraud in the face of violence, threats and intimidation. The work of those who defend media freedoms has never been more important."
Andrei Bastunets, BAJ chair, said:
"It is a great honour for the Belarusian Association of Journalists to receive this award. We regard this award as a high appraisal of the work of our colleagues, who every day honestly cover events in Belarus, risking their freedom and health. Today, journalists in Belarus have to work under gunfire, literally, in a peaceful country. They are victims of police violence and are sentenced to long-term arrests for their work. We thank every voice in the world that speaks out for Belarusian journalists today! This is very important for our colleagues who remain imprisoned."
There are currently 22 journalists detained in Belarus and BAJ has documented the arbitrary detention of 360 journalists since the elections in Belarus in August.
The NUJ in the UK and Ireland offers solidarity to colleagues and joins the calls to demand the release of journalists detained.