The Belarusian Union of Journalists freezes its participation in the International Federation of Journalists and suspends its interaction with the executive structures of the IFJ.
This decision was approved unanimously by the Secretariat of the Union of Journalists, the Ethics Committee and representatives of all regional associations of the Belarusian Union of Journalists on July 22, 2021.
The main reasons for the suspension of contacts are:
— systematic disregard by IFJ officials of the position and arguments of the Belarusian Union of Journalists (in particular, when considering the problems of freedom of speech and media in Belarus, the safety of our colleagues, the self-organization of the national journalistic community, protection of the information space from external media manipulations);
— lack of solidarity with Belarusian journalists when foreign states and NGOs violate their basic rights and freedoms.
According to the members of the expanded Secretariat, the officials of the IFJ have repeatedly allowed themselves gross political interference in the affairs of Belarus and the professional media community, pursued a clearly biased and unconstructive policy, regularly deviated from the basic provisions of the Constitution of the IFJ and the Global Charter of Ethics for Journalists (2019, IFJ).
In particular, in accordance with the paragraphs of the Constitution of the IFJ:
III a: Refusing to protect journalists and promoting pressure on colleagues.
The IFJ Administrative Committee ignored the facts of threats, attacks, harassment and attempts on the life of Belarusian journalists in more than 450 cases.
III b: Failure to take effective measures to protect journalists who are members of the BUJ.
IFJ officials did not condemn the facts of preparation of attempts on the life of M. Markov, I. Eismont, G. Azarenok, as well as illegal (from the point of view of international law) sanctions by the EU countries against journalists.
III d, e, j: Aggressive campaign against the Belarusian Union of Journalists, direct harm to the professional interests of the Union, its members and editorial offices.
By disseminating inaccurate and biased information from dependent structures (foreign agents) in Belarus, IFJ officials with their statements directly damaged the reputation of the Union and partner media.
III i: Provoking journalists to break the law to the detriment of their safety.
An attempt to radicalize a part of the media community in Belarus led to grave consequences, both for individual journalists and for some of the leading structures of civil society.
III m: Segregation of journalists depending on their civic and political position.
Journalists of the state media, colleagues with pro-state views, independent journalists, publicists and bloggers, whose positions diverged from the clearly politicized assessments of the IFJ, were discriminated and segregated by IFJ officials.
III o: Pressure on Belarusian journalists through foreign state and non-governmental organizations and structures.
Public support (through statements and official media of the IFJ) of structures responsible for harassing, bribery and persecution of Belarusian journalists; including structures which directly aim at illegal (raider) seizure of large editorial offices and lustration of journalists.
IV a: Replacing journalism and advocacy with propaganda and political activism.
For more than a year and a half, IFJ officials have never effectively responded to public monitoring, research and appeals on behalf of the Belarusian Union of Journalists. These professional reports were replaced by the private opinions of political activists and propagandists who are dependent on foreign states and NGOs and have nothing close to journalism.
6: Issuance of international press cards to persons who are recognized by the court as extremists and criminals who incite social and other hostility, as well as to persons who rehabilitate Nazism, torture and extrajudicial killings.
VI b: Discrediting the IFJ by providing false information about other members of the Federation (Belarusian Union of Journalists).
In accordance with the Global Charter of Ethics for Journalists (IFJ, 2019), IFJ officials through official media resources (website, Twitter account, comments for foreign media) committed the following violations:
P 1. Production and replication of fake information.
P 2. Substitution of facts with publicism.
P 3. Concealment of socially significant information.
P 5. Systemic and deliberate refusal to verify information, ignoring the alternative position and facts in support of it.
P 9. Support for individuals who incite social, political and other strife.
P 10. Slander, distortion of facts and defamation of journalists.
P 13. Use of an expanded interpretation of the rights and freedoms of the press against the national interests and security interests of Belarus.
Due to the severity of these articles and the regularity of the IFJ officials ignoring their own declared standards and principles, the Belarusian Union of Journalists does not see an opportunity for itself to interact with the IFJ executive structures until they eliminate these violations.
The Belarusian Union of Journalists, as the oldest and largest independent association of journalists in the country, will continue to support and protect the rights of colleagues (including those who are not members of the Belarusian Union of Journalists) on the basis of the Charter of the Belarusian Union of Journalists, the Global Charter of Ethics for Journalists, national legislation on the media and public associations, other national and international standards for the humanitarian dimension.
The Belarusian Union of Journalists is intensifying its work with national unions and associations of journalists in the European Union, CIS, Eurasia, Africa, North and Latin America but without the mediation of the IFJ, and solely on the principles of equal, respectful and non-discriminatory partnership.
In particular, we stand for the accelerated development of union relations between journalists’ associations of the Eurasian Economic Union, the CIS and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.
We are intensifying direct contacts with the largest association of journalists in Europe – the Union of Journalists of Russia and the world’s largest creative and professional association of journalists – the All-China Association of Journalists.
We will make every effort for the effective work of the International Media Platform «One Belt — One Road», which unites today more than 70 journalistic associations from all over the world on the principles of professional solidarity.
We regret the loss of confidence in the current executive structures of the IFJ on the part of our Union and the wider journalistic community of Belarus.
We are seriously concerned about the inconsistent and confrontational policies pursued by IFJ officials. We consider such a policy to be destructive for the Federation and for the global solidarity of journalists.
The Secretariat and the Board of the Belarusian Union of Journalists may return to the issue of renewing relations with the IFJ if the Federation officials return to the standards of the IFJ Constitution and the New Global Charter of Ethics for Journalists.
BUJ Ethics Committee
Brest, Vitebsk, Grodno, Gomel,
Minsk and Mogilev Regional BUJ Associations