Belarus: Heavy repression of post-election protests

Two people have died and over 250 have been injured during protests against the regime of Alexander Lukashenko, the long-standing dictator of Belarus who declared victory in recent elections after winning 80% of the vote.


The BBC has reported that one person died in police custody on Sunday, whilst on Monday another individual died during a protest, following which the "Belarusian interior ministry alleged an explosive device had gone off in his hand."

According to Human Rights Watch (HRW), Belrussian security forces have used:

"...stun grenades, rubber bullets and slugs, blanks from Kalashnikov-type rifles, and tear gas against the large numbers of people who gathered in Minsk and several other Belarusian cities to protest the official election results in the country’s August 9 presidential vote, which they contend was rigged."

HRW also report that internet access has been cut, "most online mobile communications platforms have been disabled," and:

"An Interior Ministry spokeswoman on August 11 said that law enforcement had detained 2,000 people throughout Belarus the previous day. This appears to be in addition to the 3,000 people throughout Belarus who were detained during the night of August 9 to 10."

Amongst those detained are numerous journalists.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michele Bachelet, said on Wednesdsay (12 August):

“Reports suggest that more than approximately 6000 people have been detained in the last three days, including bystanders, as well as minors, suggesting a trend of massive arrests in clear violation of international human rights standards. Even more disturbing are the reports of ill-treatment during and after detention. I remind the Belarusian Government of the absolute prohibition on torture and other ill-treatment of detainees...

Those arbitrarily detained or ill-treated for peacefully expressing dissent are entitled to justice and redress. The authorities should also hear and respond to people’s grievances regarding the elections."

EU foreign ministers are meeting tomorrow to discuss the situation in Belarus, with the possibility of imposing sanctions likely to be on the agenda.

The EU and its member states have long been aware of the undemocratic nature of the Belarussian regime, but this has not stopped them from providing millions of euros in funding to build migrant detention centres in the country in recent years.

 

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