WARSAW, Poland – Dozens of Polish media outlets have expressed outrage over media restrictions on the Belarusian border, part of a state of emergency imposed by Warsaw following the arrival of migrants.
Thousands of migrants – mainly from the Middle East – have crossed or tried to cross the border from Belarus to the former EU member states Latvia, Lithuania and Poland in recent months.
The EU suspects that Alexander Lukashenko, the powerful Belarusian, has deliberately created the flow in retaliation for the increasingly harsh EU sanctions on his regime.
Poland has responded by sending thousands of troops to the border and imposed a ning0-day emergency ban on non-residents, including journalists, from the border area earlier this month.
The media organizations said in a joint statement published on their site, “The government’s move is in conflict with the principle of freedom of speech.
Removing the media is “unacceptable and inconsistent with the standards of a democratic country”
Some media outlets have covered claims by NGOs that Polish guards pushed migrants to Belarus.
More than 300 media outlets have published the statement and more newsrooms have since added their support.
In a separate statement issued Monday, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) declared a “state of emergency for press freedom” in Poland.
It said that since the Law and Justice (PIS) party came to power in 2015, Poland has dropped to fifth place in the RSF’s World Press Freedom Index. It is now ranked 1st out of 1,180 countries.
The RSF has also condemned a recent draft law that, if enacted, would protect companies outside the European Economic Area from regulatory partnerships with Polish media companies.
Critics see it as an attempt to silence the main independent news channel TVN24, which is often highly critical of the government and whose network TVN is owned by the majority US group Discovery.