Belarusian Security Forces Systematically Beat and Torture Protesters
At least three people died during the protests
On Wednesday, August 19, there were reports that a 43-year-old man died in a military hospital in Minsk, having received a gunshot wound to the head on August 11 during protests in Brest. Gennady Shutov became the third – after Alexander Taraikovsky and Alexander Vikhor – who died during the brutal suppression of peaceful protest demonstrations by law enforcement officials of Belarus.
In the Belarusian telegram channels and social networks, eyewitness accounts also appear, confirming the facts of beatings, bullying and rape by representatives of law enforcement agencies of those who were detained during the protests and sent to pre-trial detention centers..
On the eve of Alexander Lukashenko awarded more than three hundred security officials with the medal “For impeccable service.” The list of awardees has been published on the Pravo.by portal, and the Belarusian opposition has already named it a list of those who have committed crimes against their people..
“Shares like ours are designed for long-term impact.”
Almost at the same time, the Human Rights Foundation sent letters to fifteen officers of the security agencies of Belarus and officials of the current government of the country. These letters, in particular, read: “HRF has come to the conclusion that the power structures of the Republic of Belarus are committing crimes against humanity … According to international law, crimes against humanity have no statute of limitations and are not subject to amnesty … HRF will ensure that you receive a prison sentence for participation in the commission of these crimes, and in addition, he will check that your name is included in the list of persons who are subject to economic and immigration sanctions in all democratic countries of the world “.
It further states that if the addressee voluntarily resigns and contributes to the establishment of democracy in the Republic of Belarus, then this will be taken into account as mitigating circumstances during court proceedings. The letters were signed by the President of HRF Thor Halvorssen and the Chairman of the Foundation Garry Kasparov.
The correspondent of the Russian service “Voice of America” asked Garry Kasparov to comment on this initiative. The HRF chairman said that for the first time such letters were sent in Spanish to members of the security forces of Venezuela from the entourage of Nicolas Maduro after the dispersal of demonstrations in support of Juan Guaidó. “The fact is that the president of our foundation has Venezuelan roots, and it was he who initiated the writing and distribution of these letters. And I must say that then this action had a certain effect “, – said Garry Kasparov.
Referring to the current situation in Belarus, the HRF chairman said: “Actions like ours are designed for a long-term effect. It is clear that there is no need to immediately expect any action from the addressees of this letter. But in this case, this is a psychological confrontation, and it seems important to me to remind them once again what awaits them if they unquestioningly carry out the criminal orders of the illegitimate president. And often a situation arises when some pebble, thrown on the scales of this confrontation, can turn events in a different historical direction “.
“I feel an inner need to tell about what I saw”
Some of the released prisoners of the Belarusian pre-trial detention centers are ready to share personal observations about the actions of the law enforcement officers of the republic. And their testimony may well form the basis of future trials..
37-year-old programmer Alexey Novik during the elections in Belarus, he was an independent observer from the campaign “Right to Choice 2020” at the 53rd polling station in Minsk both during the early voting and directly on August 9. During the protest actions, Aleksey was taken to the detention center in Akrestino. “I witnessed the tortures that were carried out there, and I can even testify that people were killed there. I saw how doctors covered people with rags when they had already stopped screaming and resisting, “he told the Russian service of the Voice of America..
“I also saw how during the rally on August 9 people were shot in the back with sniper rifles. Moreover, they did not shoot at the extremities, but purposefully aimed at the abdominal cavity, at the back, and so on, ”continued Aleksey Novik. And he clarified that the shooting was carried out with rubber bullets, but the doctors who performed the operations in the ambulance hospitals of Minsk and in the military hospital say that they had to extract from the victims and combat bullets fired from service weapons. Such publications as tut.by, onliner and a number of others wrote about this. “And what I saw was explosive grenades, and when people were shot in the back, they fell and did not get up after that. I cannot say with absolute certainty that the shooting was carried out to kill and that the person was killed, ”said the Minsk interlocutor of the Voice of America. And he explained that in a situation where the streets were filled with smoke, and unarmed people had to seek refuge, it is very difficult to testify that those who fell from the shots were killed, and not wounded..
“And in Akrestino it was clearly visible that the man who had been screaming in pain for an hour, then stopped screaming. What conclusion can I draw from this when a rag is dragged over his face? I can’t come and listen to his heart beating or not. I saw what I saw and I can tell about it, ”Alexey Novik repeated. And he confirmed that if he was offered to act as a prosecution witness at a possible trial on the events in Minsk on August 9-12, he would accept the following proposal: “Because I believe that I was given the opportunity to go through this horror, and I do not want to hush up what was happening there. Because I feel an inner need to tell about what I saw. We have volunteer organizations working here, and the Bar Association has already begun to demand the initiation of criminal cases under Article 128 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Belarus (Crimes against the safety of mankind are punishable by imprisonment for a term of seven to twenty-five years, or life imprisonment, or the death penalty – A.P.) “.
“There are passing events and there is an enduring reputation”
Garry Kasparov said that the list of addressees of the letters of the Human Rights Defense Fund will be replenished as new evidence of illegal actions of the Belarusian security forces arrives. “They will constantly receive reminders from us. It is clear that these letters will be read in their families as well, and I believe that it will bring some benefit, ”he added..
According to Kasparov, it is very important for people who take to the streets of Belarusian cities to protest against dishonest elections and brutal behavior of security officials to realize that they have support at the international level. “It is no coincidence that on all our information resources, where the text of these letters was published, people from different countries approved of our initiative. She was especially warmly supported in Ukraine..
It is clear that changes will take place when the state structures of the West take such a position. But we see some progress in this direction. A number of countries are already refusing to recognize Lukashenka as a legitimate president. A very narrow circle of politicians, such as Putin, Xi Jinping and others like them, sent congratulations to him. To my great regret, Nikol Pashinyan also got into this circle. Obviously, he did not understand that there are passing events, and there is an enduring reputation, which he undoubtedly ruined for himself, “the chairman of the Human Rights Foundation said with regret..
Kasparov expressed confidence that the international isolation of the Lukashenka regime will grow: “Any actions like those that we have taken help to aggravate this isolation. Because the regime is not only a dictator and his inner circle. Any mode depends on the number of executors who are ready to carry out any order. And it seems to me that Lukashenka’s regime is now teetering on the brink of losing a critical mass of executors of criminal orders ”.