The assault on human rights in Belarus
The authors note that torture against detainees has intensified and does not stop.
The International Committee for the Investigation of Torture in Belarus has prepared a second interim report, it concerns the use of torture and inhuman treatment against detained citizens from September to November 2020. The main trends in the treatment of detainees and prisoners, which were documented in August 2020, have not changed. After an initial decline in police violence in late August, the use of torture against detainees intensified in September and did not stop over the next three months. Another alarming trend is the deliberate and deliberate creation of inhumane conditions for detainees..
In turn, opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya said that a register of law enforcement officers accused of violations against peaceful demonstrators opposing the regime of Alexander Lukashenko will be drawn up..
“This is such a site, or an online platform, where every victim, either a witness or an accomplice in a crime, can upload information about a crime with evidence. Each crime will be first checked by lawyers and only then published, “Tikhanovskaya said..
A number of Belarusian human rights defenders, who created the International Committee for the Investigation of Torture in Belarus, published a second interim report on human rights violations by law enforcement officials. They note: the level of human rights violations is unprecedented.
“In principle, the law does not apply in the country: [there are] arbitrary detentions, violations of freedom of expression, violation of freedom of assembly, mass systematic torture, inhuman conditions of detention in places of detention, arbitrary deprivation of life, lack of effective investigation of death and torture, and even forced expulsion from the country. There has never been such a level of repression in Belarus, ”said Sergei Ustinov, member of the Pravovaya Initiativa board in an interview with the Voice of America Russian service. He adds that his organization is inundated with statements from victims. According to him, the level of brutality on the part of law enforcement officers has increased significantly..
“Today we have 146 political prisoners, but not a single criminal case has been opened on the facts of torture, although thousands of applications have been submitted to the Investigative Committee. Investigators simply refuse to initiate criminal cases, or drag out the deadlines for inspections. They refuse because they allegedly cannot identify the perpetrators of torture, or because there is no corpus delicti. “.
The second interim report, in the preparation of which the “Legal Initiative” took part, analyzed over 10 protest marches that took place in September-November in Belarus. During their holding, many demonstrators were injured and mutilated..
“Most of the victims of violence at peaceful gatherings are young men. The average age of the wounded is 31 years. The most serious injuries are from special equipment: rubber bullets and flash-noise grenades, the authors of the report note. – According to the injuries from rubber bullets (40 cases), it can be seen that during the suppression of the protests, the security forces aimed at the head, chest and stomach; such shots inflicted the most serious injuries. According to the same source, another participant in the rally, a 37-year-old man, shot through the chest on the right and damaged his lung, and therefore he was in a coma for three days. A 24-year-old protester was shot in the stomach and damaged his small intestine. When hit in the head, rubber bullets led to craniocerebral trauma and fractures of the bones of the face. “.
The Belarusian security forces severely beat the detainees in the streets, in paddy wagons and in police stations, the authors of the report note..
The story of Maksim Khorshin, the owner of the Minsk flower studio “First Tsvetnoy” and a city activist, is one of many. He was detained by the law enforcement agencies of Belarus on the morning of October 13, 2020, after which he was diagnosed with a closed craniocerebral injury, a broken nose and a concussion..
“At 8:30 in the morning they took me out of the car, immediately – three blows to the face, wrung my wife’s hands, put her on the asphalt, and me on the asphalt – in my own pool of blood. I lay there for 15 minutes while the car was searched. “.
According to Maksim, after he was taken to the Pervomayskoye district police department, law enforcement officers tried to accuse him of everything that happened in Minsk for a month. Then beatings followed.
“I was beaten until I lost consciousness. I passed out twice. Then they got scared, started shouting at each other and called an ambulance. The goal is simply to intimidate. When they beat me, they asked how much I was paid, what actions I personally organize ”.
The report of human rights defenders provides an example of a case when during the transportation of detainees they were severely beaten.
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Human rights defenders: torture against detainees continues in Belarus
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“So, on October 11, the paddy wagon, having driven a little away from the Pervomaisky District Internal Affairs Directorate of Minsk, turned off the engine, and the riot policemen started beating everyone. The guy with the tattoo on his neck was hit most of all. They beat and insulted all the detainees because of their political views. There is evidence that they used a stun gun, beat them with shields, pointed a weapon in the face and pulled the trigger, the weapon was unloaded. “.
Sergei Ustinov notes: in addition to the harsh treatment of the detainees by the Belarusian security officials, facts of targeted murder of demonstrators are known.
“So, on the fact of the death of Alexander Traykovsky, who was shot on August 10, a criminal case has not yet been initiated. And this is despite the fact that since August several videos have been circulating, where it is clearly seen that he is walking towards the security forces with his hands up, and a shot is being fired. “.
On November 12, 2020, 31-year-old Minsk resident Roman Bondarenko died through the fault of law enforcement officers, the report says: “He was so badly beaten by unknown persons during his arrest and subsequent stay in the police department that he died in intensive care the next day from his injuries”.
Sergei Ustinov says the work of Belarusian human rights defenders is urgently needed.
“If human rights defenders do not engage in this, then panic will begin and people will generally be at a loss. In addition, all these facts need to be recorded. Why? Because on each document, on each decision to refuse to initiate a criminal case, there is a specific signature of the investigator. This means that the investigator is inactive, which, of course, is a criminal offense. That is, in this way we record violations of human rights, and when the regime falls, there is a free Belarus, then already normal investigators, to whom we will provide this information, will competently investigate cases ”.
US Department of State says human rights violations must stop.
“At the OSCE Ministerial Council, Deputy Secretary of State Bigan once again stressed that since August 9, after the rigged elections, we have seen gross violations of human rights. We see that a lot of people were illegally detained, ”said State Department spokeswoman Andrea Kalan in an interview with the Russian service of the Voice of America. “The US position is that these violations must stop immediately. The Belarusian authorities should start a constructive dialogue with civil society, with the assistance of the OSCE, in order to find a way forward “.
Andrea Kalan adds: the Belarusian people want their voice to be heard, as well as to have free and fair elections.
The citizens of Belarus believe that “the elections on August 9 were not fair, were not free, were not fair,” a State Department official said..
Journalist. Graduated from the Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv. He has worked on Channel 1 + 1 and Channel 5, on the Voice of America since 2014, and was one of two Voice of America correspondents covering the 2018 Russian presidential elections from Moscow. He pays attention to the topic of US-Ukrainian and US-Russian relations. Actively covered the case of Paul Manafort and Maria Butina.
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