Total Crackdown of Belarusian Culture in January, 2021
The Belarusian PEN Report for European Council of Literary Translators' Associations
In Minsk on January 29th 2021
According to the data collected and analyzed by the Belarusian PEN Centre, since August 2020 till the end of the year, the number of cases of repressions in the sphere of culture in Belarus had increased rapidly and reached 568, with 131 new cases reported over January alone. Among the cases, there have been at least 131 writers, 7 of those are also literary translators. They are: Uladzimir Liankievič, Hanna Komar, Kanstancin Čaruchin, Alieś Žlutka, Siarž Miadzviedzieŭ, Alena Tracciakova. On January, 15th Volha Kalackaja was detained at her own apartment and was taken to a police station where she was told that a criminal investigation had been launched against her. Kalackaja could face up to three years in prison if she is charged under Article 342 of the Belarusian Criminal Court, which outlaws “organization and preparation of actions that grossly violate public order, or active participation in them.”
Kalackaja has translated books by Margaret Atwood, Virginia Woolf, Tennessee Williams, and William Golding into Belarusian, as well as providing translations for films and cartoons. Since the beginning of mass protests in Belarus, following the rigged presidential elections last August, Kalackaja has been supporting peaceful demonstrators in her neighborhood. PEN America demands immediate release of Volha Kalackaja.
Moreover, there is information on discharges and academic mobbing at the humanitarian universities. Several translators and tutors of translation got fired in January.
Moreover, the most productive publishers of translated literature Hienadź Viniarski (Knihazbor Publishing House) and Andrej Januškievič (Januskievic Publishing House) don’t have an opportunity to do their job, as their equipment has been confiscated and their accounts have been arrested by the financial police.
Unfortunately, we can describe the current situation with Belarusian culture, media, social business and civic society as total crackdown.
PEN Belarus and Belarusian translators’ society seeks for international solidarity for Volha Kalackaja and other persons of culture bearing unjust and illegal detentions, sentences and persecution.
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