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Belarus: stop torture and violence against protesters

Nikita Telizhenko, a journalist with the Russian online news portal Znak.com, was also arrested on the evening of August 10th. In an article he describes the experience: "In the police car, many of those arrested were arbitrarily beaten - because they had tattoos or long hair. 'You fagot, they will convert you in prison', that's how they [the police] yelled at them . "

According to Nikita Telizhenko, he spent the next 16 hours at the Department of Internal Affairs in Maskouski District. There, "the police forced the inmates to pray; they had to read the Our Father. Those who refused were beaten in various ways. We could hear people being beaten on the floors above and below us."

Another journalist, Maksim Solopov, reported to the media: "We had to kneel a lot and lie on the floor with our legs apart. [...] I was scared. I'm someone who has seen a lot, but that scares me made." Maksim Solopov is a Russian citizen and works for the Latvian online news portal Meduza. He was arrested on the evening of August 9th and disappeared for 40 hours. He was released - with visible bruises - after the Russian embassy intervened and his case became public.

The human rights organization Viasna has collected evidence that in some police stations detainees had to lie face down on the floor or stand against a wall for several hours and were beaten for the slightest movement. The testimony of numerous people and video recordings smuggled outside confirm this.

"These reports are not isolated cases. There are countless reports of torture from across the country, which are supported by video and image recordings on social media. Everything therefore indicates that this approach was approved by the highest authorities," said Marie Struthers.

"We call again on the authorities in Belarus to stop this brutal crackdown and to allow protesters to express their views freely without fear of violent reprisals."

"Disappeared" after the arrest

The whereabouts of several hundred people arrested are still unclear. In at least some of these cases, detainees may have disappeared. Many people have been detained since August 9th. According to the Belarusian Interior Ministry, 6,700 people were arrested in the first four days of the protest.

Family members and lawyers of dozens of prisoners have tried unsuccessfully to find out where they are. You made inquiries at police stations and explained to the courts that no proceedings can take place there against anyone without the assistance of a lawyer. On August 12, the police used force against around 200 relatives of detainees who had gathered peacefully in front of the Akrestsyna detention center.