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An Open Letter in Solidarity with the People of Belarus - Prominent writers | August 2020

23 August 2020

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via PEN America

To the people of Belarus,

As writers and artists around the world, we join PEN America in calling on the Belarusian government to stop its violent abuses of peaceful protesters in Belarus, and to release all those who have been detained for their criticism of last Sunday’s [August 9, 2020] fraudulent presidential election.

Alexander Lukashenko’s resort to massive, crude, and indiscriminate violence against the Belarusian people, who have come to the streets in large numbers to object to his government’s miscounting of the ballots, has captured the attention of the world and appalled all people of good conscience.

The government has arbitrarily detained thousands of protesters, with their families unaware of where they are being held or even if they are alive. Public reporting of their detention conditions reveals a ghastly picture: Detainees have been brutally beaten, confined in inhumane conditions, tortured, and sexually abused.

Among the detained are several dozen journalists, and credible reports indicate that Belarusian security forces have intentionally fired on press and medical personnel at these protests. Moreover, the government has shut down the internet throughout the country, depriving people of access to any digital information.

Lukashenko’s government has long been hostile to independent voices and freedom of expression. The current crackdown is thus part of a longstanding pattern of detaining people—including artists, writers, bloggers, and journalists—who have dared to criticize the government’s record on human rights or corruption or its failed response to the global COVID-19 pandemic.

As writers and artists of conscience, we condemn these grave assaults on the basic human rights of Belarusian citizens as abhorrent. We call for the release of all political prisoners and detainees, who are currently deprived of their fundamental rights for no justifiable reason, and to order the immediate cessation of any violence or state-sanctioned harassment against peaceful protesters.


Ayad Akhtar
Wajahat Ali
Jennifer Egan
K. Anthony Appiah
Paul Auster
Elif Batuman
Ron Chernow
Susan Choi
Sandra Cisneros
Molly Crabapple
Ariel Dorfman
David Francis
Michelle Franke
Jonathan Franzen
Masha Gessen
Adam Gopnik
Philip Gourevitch
Lev Grossman
Jessica Hagedorn
James Hannaham
Tom Healy
Khaled Hosseini
Siri Hustvedt
David Hwang
Mary Karr
David Kaye
Nicole Krauss
Yiyun Li
John Lithgow
Jay McInerney
Askold Melniczuk
Claire Messud
Honor Moore
Valzhyna Mort
Azar Nafisi
Cynthia Nixon
Joyce Carol Oates
Orhan Pamuk
Robert Pinsky
Allison Markin Powell
Francine Prose
Victoria Redel
Howard A. Rodman
George Saunders
Stacy Schiff
Elif Shafak
Fatima Shaik
Gary Shteyngart
Patti Smith
Andrew Solomon
Alec Soth
Art Spiegelman
Tom Stoppard
Calvin Trillin
Anne Tyler
Ayelet Waldman
Edmund White
Tobias Wolff
Charles Yu
Tatiana Zamirovskaya
Tom Zoellner
KK Wootton


The above letter is reproduced here in public interest and is for educational and non-commercial use