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Belarus. Opponents persecuted, intimidated, abused

(B2) Direct, concise, serious. The words of opponents of the Lukashenko regime bear witness to the intimidation and persecution suffered on a daily basis since the start of the protest, after a distorted presidential election

By video conference from the offices of the European representation in Minsk, Danila Lavretski from the Belarusian Students' Association (credit: European Parliament)

Intimidation

This Monday morning (September 7), when the DROI (Human Rights) subcommittee of the European Parliament gave them the floor, we learned of the arrest of Maria Kolesnikova, member of the opposition coordination council, remained in Belarus. “ No news since. Like many political prisoners. " More than 200 people have been imprisoned for protesting or participating in the election campaign, 47 of whom are considered political prisoners ", says Ales Bialiatski, president of the Viasna Human Rights Center. He no longer speaks of arrests but of “ roundups “, like the one that followed the demonstration on Sunday (September 6) where “ 633 people have been arrested and are waiting to appear before the administrative court ».

More persecution

Danila Lavretski, from the Belarusian Student Association, experienced Okrestina prison, which became famous beyond Belarusian borders. It was in May. It lasted two weeks. Today, " cases of repression against students are even more serious “, he explains. Students are " often detained on the premises of the universities and in a very violent way ».

muzzled press

Detained, beaten and with a broken nose in July, Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty journalist Anton Trafimovich talks about the art and how to stop the press from functioning. Like this evening when 50 journalists were detained in Minsk “ under the pretext of verifying identity papers ", before being " released a few hours later », in the meantime none has been able to cover demonstrations or investigate the functioning of police stations. “ We have always been treated as enemies, but the novelty is that we are persecuted ". In one sentence, the journalist summarizes the sentence. He thinks he knows why: our media has become very popular on social networks ».

Chronic abuse

« Treatments with mustard gas, rape, deprivation of food and water, sleep, overcrowded cells, ten times more than expected, prisoners mixed with prisoners carrying Covid-19, torture, obligation to sing the national anthem, without medical aid to the injured ". These are the symptoms of the endemic violence described by Ales Bialiatski, president of the Viasna Human Rights Center.

Ongoing counter-investigations

An investigative committee was set up to record all the violence, disappearances, etc. Already " nearly 500 complaints were received according to Ales Bialiatski.

Protest beyond Minsk

The contestation of the result of the presidential election is not limited to the streets of the capital Minsk. The repression therefore also shifted to “ cover all these places of demonstrations to try to nip them in the bud » (Ales Bialiatski). No matter, the protest is also spreading among workers in the form of “ Italian strikes ". " The workers come to work but they work to rule explains the President of the Congress of Democratic Trade Unions of Belarus (BKPD), Alexander Yarashuk.

Don't forget Russia

« Authoritarian regimes support each other, so the Belarusian issue cannot be resolved without referring to its neighbor », Russia, insists Ales Bialiatski. This is one of the messages addressed to MEPs. A part of civil society seems very determined. “ We can no longer live under this regime of terror unless we leave it. », slips the student leader. For him, " the European Union is our last hope ».

(Emmanuelle Stoesser)

Emmanuelle Stroesser

A journalist for magazines and the press, Emmanuelle specializes in humanitarian issues, development, asylum and migration and human rights.