Berlin -The German Federation of Journalists (DJV) has called on the German government to impose penalties on Belarus for its crackdown on journalists, including some from Germany.
Because Germany currently holds the rotating presidency of the European Union Council, Berlin has a particular responsibility to respond to the systematic suppression of press freedom and the harassment of journalists, DJV Chairman Frank Ueberall said on Sunday.
“The fact that Foreign Minister Heiko Maas wants to summon the Belarusian ambassador is an important signal,” said Ueberall.
But he argued it shouldn’t stop there. “Economic sanctions against Belarus must no longer be taboo,” he said.
In recent days, journalists in Minsk and other Belarusian cities were harassed, temporarily detained by security forces, or had their accreditation withdrawn.
Meanwhile, thousands of people have begun streaming into the centre of Minsk for a mass protest against contested Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, according to a dpa reporter.
In spite of a ban of the mass demonstration by police, people began marching to Independence Square, which was sealed off earlier by police forces.
“We are protesting nevertheless in some places in the city,” said Maria, a 33-year-old participant.
Police immediately began arresting people, carrying peaceful protesters away into prisoner transport vehicles, while protesters yelled “shame”.
The Interior Ministry has warned citizens not to take part in the unauthorised rally and has threatened violence.