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Global film community urges Belarusian authorities to release WATCH DOCS Belarus director Tatsiana Hatsura-Yavorska

Update: on 15 April, the director of the film festival WATCH DOCS Belarus, Tatsiana Hatsura-Yavorska, was released from a detention center in Minsk. Yet she is still under investigation on charges that remain undetermined and is currently banned from leaving Belarus.

The Human Rights Film Network, other film festivals from around the world and the International Coalition for Filmmakers at Risk joined a global call for the release of Belarusian cultural activist and human rights defender Tatsiana Hatsura-Yavorska, Director of the International Film Festival WATCH DOCS Belarus, who was arrested in Minsk on the 5th of April, along with several other human rights defenders. 

In an open letter addressed to Belarusian authorities, the film festivals called for the release of Tatsiana Hatsura-Yavorska and the other human rights defenders deprived of their liberty. 

"We urge the Belarusian authorities to immediate and unconditionally release our colleague Tatsiana Hatsura-Yavorska and other human rights defenders, and to end acts of judicial harassment against them", said Human Rights Film Network board member, Florencia Santucho, Director of the Buenos Aires International Human Rights Film Festival.

Also the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of the International Federation for Human Rights and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), issued an urgent appeal strongly condemning the arrests and calling for the immediate and unconditional release of Hatsura-Yavorska and the other defenders.

Text of the open letter:

We, the undersigned representatives of the Human Rights Film Network and film festivals from around the world, call upon the authorities of the Republic of Belarus to immediately and unconditionally release Tatsiana Hatsura-Yavorska, the Director of the International Film Festival WATCH DOCS Belarus and the educational NGO Zvyano, as well as other human rights defenders deprived of their freedom.  

We received with utmost concern information that a criminal case is being initiated against Tatsiana Hatsura-Yavorska. 

We urge the government of Belarus to respect Tatsiana Hatsura-Yavorska's right to freedom of expression and personal freedom. Hatsura-Yavorska has made essential contributions to Belarusian culture and for the promotion of fundamental values that are universally shared by our global film community, of which WATCH DOCS Belarus is a member.

The WATCH DOCS Belarus festival belongs to the world family of human rights film festivals - the Human Rights Film Network.  We will not forget about our beloved colleague, Tatsiana.  

We express our solidarity with Tatsiana's family. 

The list below is still open for further signatures of the film festivals, film networks, and film institutions. Those willing to sign please kindly write to

Human Rights Film Network

International Coalition for Filmmakers at Risk

European Film Academy

International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam

International Film Festival Rotterdam

Documentary Association of Europe

Berlin International Film Festival

Marché du Film - Festival de Cannes

Sundance Film Festival

European Film Promotion

European Women’s Audiovisual Network (EWA)

Federation of European Screen Directors - FERA

Filmförderung Hamburg Schleswig-Holstein

Film Producers Association of Latvia

Finnish Documentary Guild

Hellasdoc Greek Documentary Association

Institute of Documentary Film

International Documentary Association

Doc/it - Italian Documentary Association

DOCMA - Asociación de cine documental


MADOKE, Hungarian Documentary Association

Oberoende Filmares Förbund (OFF)

Scottish Documentary Institute

USPA - Union Syndicale de la Production Audiovisuelle

1905 International Human Rights Film Festival, Hong Kong

ACT Human Rights Film Festival

Active Vista International Human Rights Film Festival, Philippines

Bergen International Film Festival

Censurados Film Festival, Peru

Docudays UA International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival, Ukraine

Document Film Festival, Scotland

Festival de Cine y Derechos Humanos, San Sebastian

Festival del Cinema dei Diritti Umani di Napoli

Festival du Film et Forum International sur les Droits Humains (FIFDH), Switzerland

Festival Internacional de Cine de Derechos Humanos, Argentina

FiSahara (Western Sahara International Film Festival)

Freedom Film Festival, Malaysia

Human International Documentary Film Festival, Oslo

Human Rights Nights, Italy

International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival "Inconvenient Films”, Lithuania

International Human Rights Film Festival in Albania

Karama Beirut Human Rights Film Festival

MOVE IT! Filmfestival, Germany

Movies that Matter Festival, Netherlands

Muestra de Cine Internacional Memoria Verdad Justicia / International Film Festival Memory Truth Justice, Guatemala

Muestra de Cine Social y Derechos Humanos de Asturies (MUSOC), Spain

Nepal Human Rights Film Festival

Nuremberg International Human Rights Film Festival

One World International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival, Czech Republic

Red Carpet Human Rights Film Festival, Palestine

WATCH DOCS. Human Rights in Film International Film Festival, Poland

Vermont International Film Festival, USA

Verzio International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival, Hungary

American Film Festival, Poland

Barcelona Human Rights Film Festival

Biografilm Festival, Italy

CinéDOC Tbilisi Documentary Film Festival

Docaviv – the Tel Aviv International Documentary Film Festival

Doclisboa International Film Festival

DocPoint – Helsinki Documentary Film Festival

DocsBarcelona International Documentary Film Festival

DOK Leipzig, International Leipzig Festival for Documentary and Animated Film

DokuFest International Documentary and Short Film Festival, Kosovo

Edinburgh International Film Festival

FID, Festival International de Cinéma de Marseille

Filmfest Sundsvall, Sweden

Filmfestival Max Ophüls Preis, Germany

FIPADOC - International Documentary Festival, France

goEast – Festival of Central and Eastern European Film, Germany

Human Rights Film Festival Berlin

Karlovy Vary International Film Festival

Krakow Film Festival

Madrid Human Rights Film Festival

MOLDOX International Documentary Film Festival for Social Change, Moldova

New Horizons International Film Festival, Poland

Nordisk Panorama Film Festival

One World Romania

Sarajevo Film Festival

Sheffield Doc/Fest: Sheffield International Documentary Festival

Stockholm International Film Festival

Tampere Film Festival

Tempo Documentary Festival, Sweden

Thessaloniki International Film Festival

When East Meets West, Italy

Visions du Réel Nyon International Film Festival, Switzerland

Sedici Corto International Film Festival, Italy

Inventa un Film, Italy

Figari Film Fest, Italy

Olbia Film Network, Italy

Sardinia Film Festival, Italy

Far East Film Festival, Italy

Il Piccolo Festival dell’animazione, Italy

Siciliambiente Film Festival, Italy

Imaginaria, Italy

Ravenna Nightmare Film festival, Italy

River to River Florence Indian Film Festival, Italy

Molise Cinema Film festival, Italy

Pordenone Docs Fest – Le voci dell’inchiesta, Italy

Amarcort Film Festival, Italy

Taormina Film fest, Italy

Seeyousound, Italy

Milano Film Festival, Italy

Torino Film Festival, Italy

Festival di Tavolara, Italy

Fantafestival, Italy

Trieste Science and Fiction Festival, Italy

Bolzano Film Festival, Italy

Trieste Film Festival, Italy

Filming Italy Sardegna Festival, Italy

Sguardi Altrove Film festival, Italy

Festival dei Popoli, Italy

Terra di Tutti Film Festival, Italy

Lago Film Festival, Italy

PerSo – Perugia Social Film festival, Italy

Ventotene Film Festival, Italy

Euganea Film festival, Italy

Salina Doc Festival, Italy

Efebo d’oro, Italy

Via dei Corti Film Festival, Italy

Shorts International Film festival, Italy

Filmmaker, Italy

Ortigia Film festival, Italy

Festival del Cinema del Reale, Italy

Reggio Calabria Film festival, Italy

Soundscreen, Italy

Florence Korea Film Fest, Italy

Montecatini International Short Film festival, Italy

Italia Film Fedic, Italy

Across Asia Film festival, Italy

Far East Asia, Italy

Festival del Cinema Europeo, Italy

Festival del Cinema Africano, d’Asia e America latina, Italy

Ariano International Film Festival, Italy

Artecinema - Festival internazionale di film sull'arte contemporanea, Italy

CartooNA Festival Internazionale di Animazione, Italy

Cinema intorno al Vesuvio, Italy

Corti a Sud, Italy

Corto e a capo – Premio Mario Puzo, Italy

Corto Nero_noir short film competition, Italy

CortoDino Film Festival Dino De Laurentiis, Italy

Corti Sonanti - AlchemicartS, Italy

Faito Doc Festival - Festival internazionale del cinema del reale, Italy

Festival del Cinema dei Diritti Umani di Napoli, Italy

Festival del Cinema di Castel Volturno, Italy

Festival premio Cortometraggi Napoli Cultural Classic, Italy

Ischia Film Festival, Italy

Italian Movie Award - Festival Internazionale del Cinema, Italy

Laceno d'Oro - Festival Internazionale del Cinema, Italy

Linea d'Ombra Festival, Italy

Lucania Film Festival, Italy

Marano Ragazzi Spot Festival, Italy

Mediterraneo Video Festival, Italy

MitreoFilmFestival, Italy

Napoli Film Festival - SchermoNapoli, Italy

Omovies - Festival Internazionale di Cinema LGBT e Questioning, Italy

Premio Fausto Rossano, Italy

Sarno Film Festival, Italy

Social World Film Festival, Italy

Toko Film Fest, Italy

Visioni Corte, Italy

The Human Family / The North Dakota Human Rights Film Festival, USA

Cinema Arts Centre, USA

Guild Cinema in Albuquerque, USA

IFEMA International Female Film Festival Malmö, Sweden

Cinema Detroit, USA

The Film Collaborative

Kartemquin Films

Reel Q: Pittsburgh LGBTQ Film Festival

NewFilmmakers Los Angeles (NFMLA) Film Festival

flimmern&rauschen. Youth Film Festival Munich

KINO ASYL (Cinema Asylum)


20minmax International Short Film Festival Ingolstadt

PATOIS: The New Orleans International Human Rights Film Festival

Fünf Seen Filmfestival, Germany

Landshuter Kurzfilmfestival, Germany


Filmfestival Türkei Deutschland, Germany

Musikfilmtage Oberaudorf, Germany

San Francisco International Film Festival, SFFILM

UNI Global Union – media, entertainments & arts

International Media Support (IMS)

Femina - International Women's Films Festival, Brazil

Belfast Film Festival

Docs Ireland

Bamberg Short Film Festival