Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections

Праваабарончы цэнтр «Вясна» беларускі хельсінкскі камітэт

1,000 detained on third night of protests

Around a thousand protesters were reportedly detained last night after riot police dispersed dozens of local demonstrations in 25 cities across the country. Fifty demonstrators were injured and had to seek medical assistance, according to the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

The authorities also say fire weapons were used against a group of “aggressive protesters” in Brest. One demonstrators was reportedly wounded.

Witnesses and reporters say the police again used disproportionate violence, including against passers-by. Rubber bullets, tear gas and water cannons were again heavily used in many cities. Many protesters were badly beaten with no apparent reason.

While yesterday’s protests attracted less people than the two previous nights, it were the motorists who were particularly targeted by the law enforcement. According to numerous reports, road police officers and riot police stopped cars, broke the windows and pulled the drivers out. They were beaten and humiliated. There is evidence of police officers using weapons to threaten arrested motorcyclists in Minsk.

Riot police detain motorist for honking in support of protesters. Photo:

As of this morning, Viasna knows the names of a little over a thousand people detained over the past three days. The names of other detainees are not disclosed by the authorities. Meanwhile, the official figures have already reached 6 thousand.

According to the families of detainees and those who were released, the three detention centers in Minsk and Žodzina, a city 50 kilometers northeast of the capital, are overcrowded. The cells designed for 7 prisoners now accommodate up to 50. As a result, the inmates cannot sit and have to take turns to sleep. There are also numerous reports of violence and other abuse amounting to torture against the detainees, both in the district police departments and in the detention facilities. People are beaten, deprived of water and food, forced to lie on the ground or stand on their knees for hours.

The actions of law enforcement agencies against the citizens of Belarus are genocide and the places of detention are concentration camps, Ales Bialiatski, chairman of the Human Rights Center "Viasna", said in a comment for Radio Svaboda.

“Undoubtedly, the security forces were given a free hand,” the human rights activist said. “There are unprecedented reports of torture, especially in the two detention centers in Akrescin Street in Minsk. They are beaten and held in overcrowded cells. Upon admission or now, when they are gradually beginning to release the detainees, they are beaten to unconsciousness. This is done by special forces, riot police and internal troops. They were given a direct order to torture. This is our reality...”