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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