Belarus: Police must be held accountable for violence

1 September 2020, 16:07 UTC |

Amnesty International calls on the Belarusian authorities to immediately end police violence and to investigate the gross human rights violations committed during the last three weeks, as peaceful protests against police brutality and the rule of President Alyaksandr Lukashenka grow.

“The Belarusian authorities have to date refused to engage in a dialogue with the protesters, nor, apparently, have they taken steps to investigate the massive human rights violations committed by the police during the first few days of the post-election protests,” said Marie Struthers, Amnesty International's Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

“According to our information not a single criminal case has been opened against police who brutally tortured hundreds of peaceful protesters. Yet, dozens of criminal cases have been launched against these protesters, often without any credible evidence of wrongdoing. Belarusians are peacefully demanding accountability to prevent this dangerous culture of impunity.

“Unlike those who govern them, Belarusians have shown exceptional restraint and held singularly peaceful rallies – so much so that tens of thousands of demonstrators who marched across the capital Minsk and other cities cleared the streets of rubbish, and took off their shoes when climbing on benches.”

Unlike those who govern them, Belarusians have shown exceptional restraint and held singularly peaceful rallies 

Marie Struthers, Amnesty International's Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia

Background

On 30 August, Belarusians opposing the 26-year rule of President Alyaksandr Lukashenka held one the biggest protest rallies in the country’s modern history, attended in Minsk and in other cities by at least 100,000 demanding the president’s resignation and investigation of human rights violations.

In the lead-up to 30 August at least 50 journalists were detained, and several had their accreditation revoked or were deported from Belarus. On 30 August itself, at least 140 peaceful protesters were detained. Several senior members of the opposition Coordination Council have been arrested on dubious criminal charges.

During the first three days of post-electoral protests, on 9-12 August, the authorities responded with widespread arrests, harassment and intimidation, using rubber bullets, stunt grenades, tear gas and water cannons against protesters. Over 6,700 people were detained and hundreds have delivered testimony of widespread torture and other ill-treatment of detainees in police stations and detention facilities.

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