Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections

Праваабарончы цэнтр «Вясна» беларускі хельсінкскі камітэт

Two protesters in hospital after violent dispersal of cycling rally in Minsk

At least six people were detained last night after riot police and internal troops dispersed a cycling protest in central Minsk.

One of the detainees, Yuliya Hahulina, suffered a broken arm as a result of a violent arrest. Another protester was hospitalized with an epileptic seizure, according to the Ministry of Internal Affairs’ spokesperson.

The police-related violence was sparked by a series of simultaneous “events of solidarity”, as hundreds protesters were riding their bicycles to express support for the arrested political prisoners. They were wearing white wristbands, commonly regarded as a symbol of protest in response to the unprecedented repression ahead of the presidential election set for tomorrow, August 9.

Protester taken away in an ambulance after suffering an epileptic seizure. Minsk, August 7, 2020. Photo:

The news came hours after Viasna leaders Ales Bialiatski and Valiantsin Stefanovich released an address calling on the country’s law enforcement to refrain from violence against peaceful protesters.

The activists also urged rank-and-file police officers not to share responsibility for illegal orders.

“I am sure that Belarusian citizens who want to know the truth, who long for justice and fair elections will not tolerate fraud and will take to the streets. They have no other way to express their dissatisfaction other than by protesting. Peaceful demonstrations should not be dispersed by riot police or internal troops,” Viasna leader Ales Bialiatski said in a joint appeal.