(Berlin) – Belarusian safety forces arbitrarily detained 1000’s of individuals and systematically subjected a whole lot to torture and different ill- therapy within the days following the August 9, 2020 presidential election, Human Rights Watch stated at this time.
The victims described beatings, extended stress positions, electrical shocks, and in a minimum of one case, rape, and stated they noticed different detainees undergo the identical or worse abuse. They’d critical accidents, together with damaged bones, cracked tooth, pores and skin wounds, electrical burns, and delicate traumatic mind accidents. Some had kidney harm. Six of the individuals interviewed had been hospitalized, for one to 5 days. Police held detainees in custody for a number of days, typically incommunicado, in overcrowded and unhygienic circumstances.
“The sweeping brutality of the crackdown exhibits the lengths to which the Belarusian authorities will go to silence individuals, however tens of 1000’s of peaceable protesters proceed to demand honest elections and justice for abuses,” stated Hugh Williamson, Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The United Nations and the Group for Safety and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) ought to urgently set in movement inquiries to make sure that proof is collected that might contribute to accountability for grave human rights violations.”
The UN Human Rights Council, which can maintain an pressing debate on Belarus in the course of the session that may run from September 14 to October 6, and the OSCE ought to promptly open inquiries.
Human Rights Watch interviewed 27 former detainees, 21 males and 6 ladies, almost all of whom stated they had been arrested between August eight and 12. Some had been arrested as they took half in demonstrations that they described as peaceable; others had been grabbed off the streets or from their automobiles. Many shared medical paperwork and pictures of accidents. At the least 5 nonetheless had bruises and/or wore casts on the time of the interview. Human Rights Watch additionally spoke with 14 individuals with information of the arrests and abuse, most between August 20 and 29, in Minsk, Hrodna, and Homiel, together with witnesses to arrests, healthcare employees, and detainees’ relations. Human Rights Watch additionally examined 67 video recordings and written accounts by former detainees and their relations, both from public sources or shared straight with researchers.
On the idea of Human Rights Watch’s findings, a lot of the bodily abuse by riot police and different regulation enforcement brokers constitutes torture, as do the detention circumstances that interviewees described.
From August 9 to 13, police arrested almost 7,000 individuals amid an unprecedented wave of common and largely peaceable protests. They alleged widespread election irregularities that led to the contested re-election of the incumbent, Aleksander Lukashenka, who has been in energy since 1994.
With protests of their sixth week, Belarusian authorities have expelled, harassed, or stripped of accreditation dozens of international journalists and native journalists working for international and native impartial retailers. Beginning the primary week of September, they’ve begun to once more arrest protesters in giant numbers, with the Inside Ministry reporting greater than 600 detained on September 6 alone, and greater than 300 in custody.
Detainees stated that police, riot police (often called OMON, or Particular Job Police Pressure), and particular designation forces (Spetznaz) picked them up off the streets, in some instances utilizing excessive violence, then beat them in dangerously confined areas in automobiles the place that they had hassle respiratory.
The safety forces transported the detainees to police precincts and different detention amenities the place they kicked, punched, and beat them with truncheons, compelled them to face, kneel, or lie in stress positions for hours, then held them for days in overcrowded cells. Police typically denied detainees meals and water and denied their requests to go to the bathroom. All stated they noticed dozens of others subjected to comparable or worse therapy.
In Hrodna, a 29-year-old journalist stated that when he was arrested, regardless of displaying his press credentials, an OMON officer broke each his wrists. A medic described witnessing an incident in Minsk on August 11, during which an OMON officer making an attempt to arrest a motorist who had stopped his automotive shot a rubber bullet point-blank at him. The medic stated she handled the sufferer on the facet of the street, however he ended up needing surgical procedure to extract the bullet from his lungs.
31, monetary expertise specialist, Minsk
31, monetary expertise specialist, Minsk
On the night of August 10, riot police dragged Kim and his buddy out of their automotive close to a shopping mall in Minsk and took them to the Partizansky precinct. “They put us on our knees, palms within the again, face to the ground. At midnight, riot police rushed into the room and began beating everybody,” Kim recalled. “We’ll train you tips on how to respect the police,” the officers yelled. Fifteen hours later, Kim was stacked on prime of different detainees on the ground of a truck which took them to Zhodino jail, some fifty kilometres from Minsk. “You need to crawl like a worm on prime of the others whereas the OMON guys are beating you to go quicker, however you decelerate so that you don’t squash somebody’s head as you progress… They walked on prime of us… One sat on me and took selfies. One other put his boot on the neck of my buddy, choking him.” At Zhodino, Kim shared a cell meant for ten with 36 detainees, all of them arrested in reference to the protests. “I used to be doing push-ups and making jokes, making an attempt to cheer up individuals. We obtained porridge within the morning, tea at lunch and fish at night time. I believe that fish was tortured too earlier than they served it to us. After three days, on the night time from the 14 to the 15, they threw us out, with no rationalization, no papers, nothing.”
20, pupil, Homel
20, pupil, Homel
Pavel and a buddy had been on their option to Homel’s essential sq. on the night of August 11 after they noticed a gaggle of OMON officers heading in the direction of them. They dragged Pavel right into a van and drove him and different detainees to Tsentralny precinct, the place riot officers had been standing on either side of a darkish hall on the fourth ground. “They instructed me to crawl and beat me with truncheons… [and kicked] me within the head…. My head hit the wall,” he stated. Through the interrogation after the beating, an OMON officer crushed Pavel’s hand, threatening to interrupt his fingers and toes if he didn’t inform him who coordinated protests. As soon as a rubber-stamped cost sheet alleging Pavel’s participation in an unsanctioned mass gathering was drafted, the police took him to a giant corridor and ordered him to lie on the ground face down, subsequent to different detainees. Eighteen hours later they lastly moved him to a cell. “After I was freed three days later, I went to the hospital. I had a concussion and the docs saved me there for 2 days. ” Pavel stated the expertise of abusive detention really “made [him] braver” and that he’ll be looking for justice for the abuse.
28, engineer, Minsk
28, engineer, Minsk
On the night of August 10, Sasha and a few of his neighbours, together with ladies and youngsters, joined a peaceable protest in central Minsk. Police beat the protesters with truncheons and grabbed “anybody they might lay their palms on.” They took Sasha to Moskovsky precinct. “Going up the steps, I may hear the screams of individuals being crushed,” Sasha stated. “After we obtained to the fourth ground, riot police greeted every [new detainee]with a distinct kick… I obtained a knee within the abdomen. They had been laughing, prefer it was a recreation.” The police compelled the detainees to lie on the ground in a corridor, face down, palms behind their backs. “The ground was soiled with blood and dust… It was tough to breathe. If we put our head to the facet, they beat us…” Beatings continued all through the night time; among the males misplaced consciousness, had been revived after which crushed once more. Then the police locked the detainees in a small cell. “It was simply 4 naked partitions, no beds, no rest room…. One man had been so badly crushed up that he misplaced his bowels.” Lastly a police van took them to Zhodino jail. “They stacked us on prime of one another between the benches of the van… I used to be… on prime of one other man and had two extra on prime of me… We had been crushed consistently.” At Zhodino Sasha shared a cell for 12 with 34 individuals. He had a perfunctory courtroom listening to on August 12 and was launched on the night of August 15. “The guards saved taking part in Russian pop music from daybreak to late at night time. I’ll hate [it] for the remainder of my life,” Sasha laughed.
35, development employee, Minsk
35, development employee, Minsk
Alexander didn’t vote on August 9 – he had a celebration that night time and he was not into politics. However the subsequent day he stumbled upon a crowd of protesters near a Minsk shopping center, after he had grabbed a kebab with a buddy. When riot police arrived, protesters began fleeing and Alexander ran too, stumbled and broke his left leg. Law enforcement officials dragged Alexander right into a truck and showered him with blows, on his physique and head. “They stepped on my damaged leg and kicked it [laughing] ‘Is that this leg actually damaged?’” Within the truck, officers additionally threatened to rape Alexander with a truncheon. They finally handed Alexander to a different group of law enforcement officials who beat him once more inside their van, splitting his lip. They drove Alexander to Tsentralny precinct and compelled him to face in opposition to the wall, his legs unfold huge. “I began to lose consciousness and they also laid me confronted down on the bottom. However they kicked my damaged leg once more… 4 or 5 occasions.” After an hour and a half, the police had rubber-stamped cost sheets prepared for the detainees to signal. Alexander couldn’t stroll, so that they carried him in. He and the opposite detainees spent the remainder of the night time within the yard and had been transferred to Zhodino jail the following day. At Zhodino, the guards took him to the infirmary. “There have been round 150 [detainees] there… [many ]with with injured faces, damaged jaws and ribs, blood over them. Some had been afraid to talk to the physician and stated they had been ‘OK.’ Alexander spent two days on the jail hospital earlier than being transferred to the Minsk Emergency Hospital for surgical procedure.
18, school pupil, Minsk
18, school pupil, Minsk
Police stopped Alexander and his two associates, additionally college students, on the night of August 11 in Minsk, searched their backpacks and located a respirator. The police handed the buddies over to riot law enforcement officials, who took the three inside a minibus, kicked them repeatedly, lower up their shorts within the buttocks space and threatened to rape them with a hand grenade. One officer chopped off Alexander’s shoulder-length hair, cackling “you’re prepared for the military now.” The officers transferred the detainees to a police van, compelled them to crawl on the blood-splattered ground, and beat them. One kicked Alexander with a booted foot near [both eyes] and on the nostril. “These blows precipitated probably the most ache, and my nostril squirted blood. Almost definitely, that’s when it was damaged,” stated Alexander, who was later identified with a nostril fracture, cranial trauma and a number of hematomas. The three had been delivered to Frunzensky precinct the place riot police beat them brutally, gave them electrical shocks, and threatened rape with a truncheon. “We gained’t depart a single intact spot in your physique, you’ll be mendacity right here in your individual [filth]!” an officer yelled. The following day, the authorities transferred the younger males to the Okrestina detention facility, subjecting them to extra abuse on the way in which. When Alexander was launched on August 13 he went to the Minsk emergency hospital by ambulance for therapy. He’s now looking for justice for torture in detention.
28, patternmaker, Minsk
28, patternmaker, Minsk
Yulia was an impartial election observer and the police detained her on August 9 subsequent to a polling station. They took her straight to the Okrestina detention facility the place riot law enforcement officials shouted abuse and threatened her. The Okrestina employees took her medication away alongside together with her different belongings, though she flagged that due to a power situation she wanted to take the capsules day by day. Yulia spent the primary night time with 12 different ladies in a cell designed for six. All through the night time, they heard sounds of blows and screams of tortured males. A number of the ladies had been menstruating and begged for sanitary napkins however didn’t get any. The following night, the guards moved them to a different cell meant for 4 with 20 ladies already in it. The ladies, crammed inside so tightly that they had no house to maneuver and no air to breathe, repeatedly known as out to the guards asking to separate them up. “Lastly, they opened the door and poured a pail of chilly water over us – so, we needed to sit on the moist ground in moist garments,” Yulia stated. One girl fainted, a physician arrived however “didn’t do something.” Till Yulia was transferred to Zhodino jail late at night time on August 11having acquired a four-day custodial sentence at a perfunctory courtroom listening to, she had solely been given a number of items of bread to eat. At Zhodino, she shared a cell meant for eight with 12 ladies. On her second day there, guards introduced them a pack of sanitary napkins, which they apparently “purchased themselves.” Launched on August 14, Yulia is looking for justice for abuse.
33, journalist, Minsk
33, journalist, Minsk
Vitaly, a correspondent with Belsat, an impartial broadcaster, was on his option to a piece task in central Minsk on August 11 when two law enforcement officials searched his backpack and located his digicam and a microphone with the Belast emblem. They crammed him right into a tiny compartment in a police van – “actually pushed me in there with their toes, as a result of there have been already 4 individuals inside, on prime of each other, unable to maneuver.” At Zavodskoy precinct riot police beat him and his fellow detainees with truncheons, ordered them to drop to the bottom, and tied their palms behind their backs. A person subsequent to Vitaly known as out that he had a kidney transplant and couldn’t lie on chilly floor – the police beat him. Those that moved or requested for medical help had been crushed. Police processed rubber-stamped charge-sheets, which the detainees didn’t even get to learn. They spent the night time outdoors, first flat on the bottom, then kneeling by the wall. The following day, police shoved them into jail vans. “We had been crammed in, like fish in a barrel, drowning in our personal sweat, some on their knees, some flat on the ground on prime of each other… The queue by the gates [of Zhodino prison] was two-three hours lengthy. The solar was burning by way of the van, it was suffocating. After we requested for water or to open the door even by a crack, all we obtained had been threats and curses. [Eventually] one man began having seizures… they relented and gave us some water, let some air in,” Vitaly stated. At Zhodino, a employees physician known as an ambulance for a person with fractures however waved away the well being complaints from different detainees, saying, “You need to’ve stayed residence.” Vitaly was launched on August 14 having by no means been dropped at courtroom.
The intention of the abuse, former detainees stated, gave the impression to be to punish and humiliate. Most reported that OMON and different safety forces singled out detainees with so-called “atypical” appears, comparable to males with lengthy or dyed hair, and other people with dreadlocks, piercings, or tattoos, for worse therapy and extra insults.
Detainees stated that police and guards confiscated detainees’ medicines, ceaselessly ignored requires medical care, and in some instances denied it altogether. In a single case, a detainee with a pre-existing medical situation was ill-treated and denied well timed medical consideration. He fell right into a coma in custody and was clinically useless by the point he was transferred to a hospital. Three healthcare employees stated they handled quite a few demonstrators and former detainees injured by police. A few of these tortured requested the well being employees to not file the violent harm experiences which are required by regulation, for worry of retaliation.
All of these interviewed stated they had been denied entry to a lawyer. These taken earlier than a choose stated the proceedings lasted only some minutes and ended with brief arrest sentences for administrative offenses. A few of them stated they had been launched early, almost definitely due to overcrowded detention amenities.
Those that had no courtroom listening to stated they had been launched inside 72 hours, the utmost interval allowed underneath Belarusian regulation earlier than a courtroom listening to is required. All stated that when launched, they needed to signal a doc promising to not take part in “unsanctioned assemblies,” and got a written warning of felony costs in the event that they did.
Police and detention middle officers didn’t preserve monitor of the 1000’s of individuals arrested, and detainees’ relations stated they struggled, in lots of instances for days, to seek out out the place their relations had been or what occurred to them.
Dozens of former detainees lodged complaints with the authorities alleging merciless and degrading therapy by police. Human Rights Watch is conscious of a number of preliminary inquiries launched by the authorities, however they haven’t but opened a single felony case at time of writing.
Belarusian human rights teams have filed a submission within the pursuits of 47 former detainees with the UN Committee Towards Torture alleging merciless and degrading therapy by police.
On August 14, the deputy inner affairs minister denied that anybody had been crushed or tortured. On August 26, the prosecutor’s workplace introduced the creation of an inter-agency fee to “objectively and totally” collect details about any felony acts by regulation enforcement, each throughout arrests and in detention amenities.
The torture and different ill-treatment Human Rights Watch documented violate lots of Belarus’ worldwide human rights obligations and commitments, together with as a celebration to the Worldwide Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the UN Conference Towards Torture, in addition to a taking part OSCE state.
The UN Human Rights Council selected Monday that it’ll maintain an pressing debate on Belarus. The council ought to go a decision asking the Workplace of the UN Excessive Commissioner for Human Rights to observe and publicly report on violations earlier than, throughout, and after the elections, and to find out the details and circumstances of such violations, with a view to pursuing accountability.
The decision also needs to condemn the human rights violations in Belarus, together with the disproportionate use of pressure in opposition to peaceable protesters, arbitrary arrests, ill-treatment, and torture. The council ought to name for the rapid launch of those that stay in arbitrary detention, together with journalists, protesters, opposition leaders, and their supporters.
OSCE nations also needs to set off the so-called Moscow Mechanism for an investigation by an impartial professional to ascertain the details and current the outcomes and suggestions to the OSCE.
“Torture survivors are courageously urgent for justice, and the UN and OSCE ought to play their half in guaranteeing justice for victims and accountability for these liable for human rights violations in Belarus,” Williamson stated.
For detailed accounts, please see beneath.
Abuse Instantly Following Arrest
All former detainees interviewed described their arrest and switch to police stations as fraught with abuse. A number of individuals stated that they skilled the worst abuses in police vans and different automobiles. In 10 instances, the safety forces used violence when arresting the protesters. 13 stated that OMON officers compelled them and as much as three different individuals into the automobiles’ small, locked compartments, designed for one to 2 individuals. Detainees held in such compartments, typically for hours, recalled issue respiratory. In seven instances, OMON compelled detainees to lie on prime of one another on the ground of the automobiles, beat them, and humiliated them.
Seven male and two feminine detainees stated OMON officers threatened them with rape, typically whereas they had been in transit. Human Rights Watch documented 4 instances during which police lower male detainees’ clothes within the buttocks’ space to bolster the risk. Certainly one of these males stated a police officer subsequently raped him.
Safety forces kicked, punched, and used truncheons to strike males in police automobiles. Ladies stated they had been threatened, humiliated, pushed and shoved, and crushed, albeit much less severely than males, and in any other case ill-treated. A few of these interviewed requested to not have their actual full identify used.
Ales, a 30-year-old IT employee, stated he was raped by a senior OMON officer with a truncheon after his arrest at a protest in a police van on August 11 in central Minsk:
[Riot police] demanded that I unlock my telephone. I refused. They known as a senior officer. He threatened that except I cooperate, he’d stick his truncheon up my [ass]. He then lower my shorts and my underwear on the again, crosswise, and known as out to his officers asking whether or not anybody had a condom. I used to be on the ground, face down, however I may see him pull the condom on the truncheon – after which he simply pushed the stick into my anus…. Then, he pulled it out and demanded the password once more. He kicked and punched me on my ribs, on my face, on my tooth – my two entrance tooth cracked a bit.
Medical paperwork he shared with Human Rights Watch verify hematomas to his scrotum, perianal space, and left eye, and a concussion. Human Rights Watch examined pictures of his accidents and noticed in the course of the interview, 17 days after his detention, a big fading hematoma underneath his eye, and harm to his tooth.
Alexander Brukhanchik, 18, a university pupil from Minsk, stated that police detained him and two associates, additionally college students, on August 11 as they walked at night time in a residential space, and handed them over to a gaggle of OMON officers. He stated the officers took the three inside a minibus, kicked them repeatedly, lower their shorts within the buttocks space and threatened to rape them with a grenade. One officer lower off Brukhanchik’s shoulder-length hair.
The officers transferred the three to a police van, compelled them to crawl on the blood-splattered ground, and beat them. “I significantly bear in mind being kicked with a booted foot near [both eyes] and on my nostril,” he stated. “These blows precipitated probably the most ache, and my nostril squirted blood.”
Human Rights Watch reviewed medical paperwork with Brukhanchik’s analysis of a number of hematomas and a nostril fracture.
Alexander Gazimov, 35, a development employee, stated he was detained within the aftermath of a protest on August 10 in northern Minsk. Gazimov initially tried to evade arrest however broke his leg within the effort. When the officers caught him, they threw him right into a van and showered him with blows for about 10 minutes “throughout” his physique and head, he stated. The police repeatedly stepped on and kicked his damaged leg, inquiring with faux concern, “Is that this leg actually damaged?” Gazimov stated the officers additionally threatened him with rape.
Sergiy Melyanets, 40, a gross sales supervisor and an lively member of a Baptist congregation, stated that riot police pulled him out of his automotive in central Minsk on August 10 and compelled him right into a van, the place they beat him and prodded him with an electroshock weapon:
They opened the [van’s] facet door and I noticed individuals mendacity between the seats, face down. The officers instructed me to crawl over them…. I used to be sluggish they usually began to beat me…. One officer was yelling, ‘Who’s the organizer? What had been you doing [at] this demonstration?’… [when] I used to be saying I used to be solely there to hope for Belarus, he would hit me with an electrical shocker on my arms, legs, and again.
Human Rights Watch reviewed Melyanets’ medical experiences, which notice “electrical energy trauma – the results of electrical shock impression.”
Riot police detained Pavel, 22, as he walked towards the middle of Hrodna with a buddy on August 10, and compelled them right into a minivan. Pavel stated that two officers hit him within the ribs thrice. When his buddy requested why they had been detained, the officers hit him too. Through the drive to the station, the officers “ordered us to lift or decrease [our] palms and beat us if we didn’t,” Pavel stated.
Andrei Torgonsky, 32, a repairman, was detained on August 9 whereas strolling towards a monument in central Minsk to see whether or not an indication was happening. He stated that riot police pushed him and two different males right into a small cell inside a stifling van:
After 30 minutes, we had been utterly drenched in sweat. It was laborious to breathe. [The van] began transferring instantly however stopped two extra occasions to soak up extra individuals. Then one man in one other cell began fainting, so that they pulled him out of the cell and put him on the ground.
Ekaterina Novikova, 34, was detained in central Minsk as she tried to cross the road:
Riot police had been blocking the street and wouldn’t let me by way of, so I requested for his or her superior, [who] grabbed me by the neck and dragged me into this regular-looking yellow bus. Inside, he hit me on the top, calling me names, pulled my hair, after which shoved me to the ground.
She stated that police introduced three different ladies onto the bus, and the superior shouted abuse and threatened her and the opposite ladies, saying that they might “rot in jail.” When one of many ladies began crying uncontrollably, he drenched her with water.
Diana, 24, an online designer, was detained on August 11 with 4 feminine associates and one male buddy in central Minsk, whereas placing up opposition posters at a bus cease. She stated that riot police compelled her to kneel inside a minibus, palms tied behind her again with zip-ties and head in opposition to the again of the particular person in entrance. She stated her palms had been certain so tightly her wrists bled. The officers shouted, “We’ll be sure you get 10 to 15 years in jail. You’ll be gang-raped there, and also you’ll come out previous and decrepit with ineffective vaginas.” She stated that officers hit her and the younger man with truncheons, as soon as on the top and as soon as on the palms.
Beatings, Torture, and Merciless, Inhuman, and Degrading Therapy in Detention Amenities
As soon as arrested, detainees had been principally first taken to police precincts, also called RUVD (the native acronym for district division of inner affairs), to be registered, after which onward to brief or long-term amenities, such because the Okrestina Detention Facility in Minsk or Zhodino Jail positioned about 50 kilometres away from Minsk.
Human Rights Watch documented beatings at seven police precincts in Minsk, one in Homiel and one in Hrodna, in addition to on the Okrestina Facility on the Hrodna Jail. Detainees stated that after they arrived, OMON officers continued to beat them, typically forcing them to stroll by way of two strains of officers with batons, hitting or kicking and punching them on the top, again, chest, and stomach. All of the male detainees and among the feminine detainees stated that earlier than detainees had been transferred to cells, they had been compelled to kneel or stand, with their tied palms behind their heads, or lie on the bottom, palms tied tightly behind their backs, for a number of hours, and had been crushed in the event that they complained or shifted place.
Detainees had been held in severely overcrowded cells. A 28-year-old man held on the Moskovsky RUVD, for instance, stated he was held in a Three-by-5 meters cell with about 30 different males and no rest room.
Two males stated police shocked them with an electroshock weapon and noticed different detainees surprised with comparable weapons. 4 had bone fractures attributable to police abuse.
Minsk Police Precincts
After his arrest, police took Brukhanchik and his two associates to Frunzensky RUVD. There, Brukhanchik stated, police beat all three brutally, gave them electrical shocks, and threatened to rape them with a truncheon. At one level, an officer yelled, “We gained’t depart a single intact spot in your physique, you’ll be mendacity right here in your individual shit and pee.”
Melyanets stated that OMON took him to Leninsky RUVD, driving him right into a yard containing a number of garage-like buildings, surrounded by a wall topped with barbed wire. He stated:
They shouted, ‘Out, out!’ and a hall of OMON officers [surrounded and] beat us all the way in which into the garages. Then we needed to stand in opposition to the wall for hours, with our brow pressed in opposition to the wall, our legs unfold, and our palms behind our backs.
Diana was taken to Moskovsky RUVD on August 11. She stated that with every new group of detainees police introduced into the principle corridor, the beatings elevated in violence. “They compelled individuals to crawl on the ground, and solely after the beatings did they ask questions,” she stated. “We tried to cowl our ears due to the screams.”
On August 10, OMON arrested Kim Mazur, a 31-year-old monetary expertise specialist, with a buddy whereas they had been parked subsequent to a Minsk buying middle the place a protest had taken place the day earlier than. The officers took the 2 to Partizansky RUVD. There they compelled Mazur to kneel, palms behind his again and his head to the bottom, in a single day.
Round midnight, he stated, officers rushed into the room and began beating everybody, whereas a commander instructed the guards to not let anybody sleep. The following day, as detainees had been ready for his or her switch to Zhodino Jail, Mazur stated, an officer instructed police to “beat him as a lot as attainable and break his legs.” He stated they punched him within the jaw and kicked him within the again and legs.
Konstatin Reutsky, a Ukrainian journalist arrested whereas filming OMON detaining individuals on Independence Avenue on August 12, was taken to Sovetsky RUVD. There, he stated, he and dozens of others had been saved in stress positions for 17 hours. Reutsky stated OMON officers repeatedly punched and hit them with batons every time they might transfer or shift weight and that he noticed them hose some detainees with chilly water.
After arresting Gazimov, OMON drove him to the Tsentralny RUVD. There, he stated, he was compelled to face in opposition to the wall, regardless of his damaged leg: “I began to lose consciousness and they also laid me face down in opposition to the bottom. However they kicked my damaged leg 4 or 5 occasions whereas I used to be flat on the bottom.”
Vitaly Dubikov, a 33-year-old journalist arrested on August 10 whereas on his option to cowl a protest, was taken to Zavodskoy RUVD. Dubikov stated about 50 detainees had been herded into the courtyard there whereas OMON officers kicked and hit them with truncheons and ordered them to drop to the bottom, face down. Dubikov stated that officers then tied detainees’ palms with development zip-ties and left them on the bottom for a number of hours, beating anybody who complained.
Abuses at Okrestina Road Detention Facility
As soon as processed on the police stations, detainees stated, they had been taken both to Zhodino Jail, which they described as overcrowded however much less abusive, or to the Okrestina Road Detention Facility.
All male and a few feminine interviewees held at Okrestina stated they first needed to stand or kneel in stress positions for a number of hours in opposition to the partitions of the courtyard.
Olga Pavlova, 32, was arrested throughout a protest and brought to Okrestina on August 9. She stated that an officer there hit her head in opposition to the wall a number of occasions whereas yelling, “You don’t have any rights, you bitch! What do you suppose you might be, whore, a straight-A pupil, smarter than everybody else?” She requested for a physician and he hit her head in opposition to the wall as soon as once more.
Alia, 22, arrested on August 9, stated she was held in a roofless cell with about 40 ladies and that that they had to make use of a gap within the ground as a rest room and to share 1 liter of water for six to eight hours.
Kirill Tsiukulman, 27, whom OMON arrested whereas he tried to affix a protest, recalled being held in the same roofless cell on August 13 for 17 hours, with about 120 different males:
They introduced us a two-liter bottle of water… A number of the guys had been tear-gassed and … had been parched. Others had been severely injured. One man had his head break up just like the Grand Canyon. Some couldn’t stroll.
As soon as processed, detainees stated, they had been taken to numerous cells inside the power. 5 ladies held at Okrestina at various occasions from August 9 to 11 stated they had been taken to cells with four beds that held 20 to 50 detainees.
Maria, an impartial election observer who was arrested by safety forces as she left a protest on the night time of August 9, stated:
When the door of the cell opened, I believed that this could in all probability be the tip for us. The cell was for four individuals. There have been already 23 ladies sitting there. There was no air. There was no meals. No rest room paper. Some ladies began menstruating. And once we requested for sanitary napkins, guards would say, ‘Use your t-shirt.’
From their cell, the ladies may hear males being subjected to horrendous beatings in neighbouring cells. “One of many males was crushed to such a state that he [was urinating] blood and the [guards] yelled at him to wash up after himself,” Pavlova stated. “The person cried … however they continued beating him and shouting.”
Abuses in Hrodna and Homiel
4 males who had been held in three completely different detention amenities in Hrodna and Homiel described riot police utilizing equally abusive strategies in opposition to detainees.
In Hrodna, Pavel stated, OMON beat him when he arrived on the city’s jail on August 10. “We needed to run by way of two strains of [security forces] making an attempt to make us journey, and we needed to dodge their blows,” he stated, including that he was hit thrice.
In Homiel, two interviewees had been taken to the fourth ground of Tsentralny RUVD, the place OMON brutally beat them. Dmitry Lukowski, arrested on the road by police on August 11, described a hall filled with OMON officers ready to beat him and the opposite detainees. “At first I saved silent, however then I began screaming,” he stated. “I fainted, however they splashed water into my face and continued to beat me. There was blood in all places and I noticed a number of tooth on the ground [not his own].” In some unspecified time in the future, he stated, a policeman grabbed him by the hair and stated, “So, Lukowski, you desire a lawyer?” When he answered, “Sure,” the officer beat him once more and requested, “So, Lukowski, you continue to desire a lawyer?”
Switch from Police Stations to Okrestina and Zhodino Detention Amenities
A lot of these interviewed stated that OMON officers abused them when transferring them from police stations to both Okrestina or Zhodino in windowless, overcrowded automobiles with virtually no air flow. In some instances, they stated, riot police saved detainees in stress positions for hours and beat them for shifting place or complaining. These transferred to Zhodino, 50 kilometers from Minsk, needed to endure extra because of the lengthy drive.
Dan Peleschuk, 34, a contract journalist and United States nationwide, stated his switch from the Pervomaisky Police Station to Zhodino on August 11 was “the worst half” of his traumatic detention expertise:
[Riot police] piled us into what appeared like a army truck with benches on the edges, and made us kneel on the steel ground, foreheads underneath the bench, palms behind the again. The drive in all probability took [90 minutes], however it felt like an eternity. Quickly, I couldn’t really feel my legs and was crying out in ache. Those that requested to be allowed to stand up had been kicked and punched. After we arrived … there should have been different automobiles in entrance of us. We might transfer, then cease, then transfer once more, and the entire time the police had been saying, ‘You wished a revolution, now you’ll see what it’s like! Welcome to the worst place on earth.’
Mazur stated that in his switch from Partizansky RUVD to Zhodino, riot police piled him and 19 different detainees on prime of one another in a van and beat them. “You needed to crawl like a worm on prime of the opposite detainees whereas they’re beating you to go quicker, however it’s important to decelerate so that you don’t squash somebody’s head as you progress,” he stated. “In addition they walked on prime of us.” One officer put his boot on Mazur’s buddy’s neck, almost choking him. Police additionally lower off one of many detainee’s dreadlocks, he stated.
Alexei instructed the same story, concerning his switch from Leninsky RUVD to Zhodino, throughout which OMON officers struck him with a truncheon 5 occasions and hit the younger man subsequent to him for shifting his physique place. Alexei additionally stated that officers beat a green-haired detainee and “appeared for scissors to chop it off however didn’t discover any.”
Sasha, 28, an engineer, was detained on August 10 throughout a peaceable demonstration in central Minsk and brought to Moskovsky RUVD. He stated that in the course of the switch to Zhodino, he suffered “the worst beating [I] went by way of [during detention]”:
Everybody was hit on the way in which there, after which they began to stack us on prime of one another between the benches of the van. They had been saying “quicker” and hitting us…. I believed [my legs] [would] break from the burden. I believed I’d be crushed…. Then they tried to slot in 5 extra individuals, so that they instructed us to get on our knees they usually tied our palms behind the neck with zip-ties, very tightly…. After some time, I finished feeling my left leg…. They made us sing the nationwide anthem. Most individuals know [only] the primary strains … so that they beat them.
All stated the automobiles grew to become stiflingly sizzling. The warmth worsened when the automobiles arrived on the detention facility gates, parked within the solar, typically for hours, ready to be admitted.
Dubikov, who was transferred from Zavodskoy RUVD to Zhodino on August 11, stated:
We had been crammed in, like fish in a barrel, drowning in our personal sweat…. When the van arrived at Zhodino, the queue by the doorway was two to 3 hours lengthy. There was no air in any respect…. One man had both epilepsy or bronchial asthma and he began having seizures after about 1.5 hours. Then they relented, gave us some water, let some air in.
Denial or Delay of Medical Care
Underneath worldwide norms for the safety of detainees, each detainee is entitled to a free and correct medical examination as promptly as attainable after their admission to the detention website and acceptable medical care and therapy as required, together with switch to a hospital or medical facility when crucial.
All former detainees stated the authorities both denied them medical care or that they witnessed authorities deny different detainees medical care. In some instances, they stated officers responded to requests with threats or ill-treatment. With few exceptions, police known as ambulances solely when a detainee misplaced consciousness. When police confiscated detainees’ belongings, they took away medicines from individuals with power circumstances, together with diabetes, and didn’t return the medicines except the detainee’s situation deteriorated dramatically, these interviewed stated.
Police at Zavodskoi RUVD ignored repeated requests by Ales, who was in extreme ache after being crushed and raped with a truncheon, to see a physician.
Ales stated police known as an ambulance for one more man who had diabetes and whom Ales noticed collapse after authorities denied him insulin however refused to place Ales within the ambulance as properly.
“After I was allowed to go to the bathroom [several hours later] I noticed the [scope of the] bruising and swelling [in the perianal area] and once more, requested to see a physician. They refused once more,” Ales stated.
Solely after Ales was transferred to Okrestina did a physician lastly look at him and known as an ambulance that took him to an emergency ward round 2 a.m. on August 13, greater than 30 hours after his rape.
Nikolai Novoselsky, 21, stated that his arm was damaged and have become swollen and throbbed with ache. Though he repeatedly flagged it to the police and to guards at Okrestina, he acquired no medical care. His cellmates pleaded unsuccessfully with the guards to name him an ambulance. Noveselsky spoke of a cellmate at Okrestina, who had diabetes. “He wanted his insulin shot and was mendacity within the nook, all bluish-yellow, and moaned, however nobody examined him,” he stated.
When Novikova persistently requested wardens at Okrestina for a physician, an officer threatened her: “In the event you proceed with the yelling, you’ll have this [truncheon] up your …” Novikova additionally stated that one of many many ladies in her cell was diabetic. “It took an hour to persuade the guards to return her insulin, and “[by] the time they lastly introduced it, she was barely aware,” she stated.
Missed insulin doses or denial of insulin remedy can result in life-threatening issues for some individuals with diabetes.
Three ladies described their expertise of their overcrowded cell in Okrestina, the place 35 ladies had been crammed right into a cell with four beds. Maria stated that two younger ladies struggled to breathe and started to vomit, however after they made repeated requests for a physician, the wardens poured a bucket of chilly water over all of them.
Olga Pavlova and Yulia Bolievskaya had been in the identical cell and corroborated the story. Pavlova stated that cuts on her arm and leg, sustained when police brutally dispersed a protest she was at on August 9, had been festering, however the guards ignored her requests for medical care. Bolievskaya, 28, stated that when she was arrested, police confiscated the medicine she takes day by day for a power situation and didn’t return it till after she was launched, finally from Zhodino, on August 14.
On August 10, riot police at Zavodskoy Police Station compelled Dubikov and plenty of others to lie on the bottom outside. A person subsequent to Dubikov known as out that he had a kidney transplant, that mendacity on the chilly floor was harmful for him, and that he wanted medical care. In response, they kicked and hit him with truncheons.
Dubikov additionally stated that when he and different detainees arrived at Zhodino on August 11, a employees physician made a fast look and “organized for an ambulance for a person with fractures.” Nonetheless, he waved away all well being complaints by different detainees, a few of whom had been severely crushed, saying: “You need to’ve stayed residence.” Dubikov stated that one of many detainees complained of nausea and dizziness and believed he had a concussion, however the physician didn’t look at him.
Peleschuk stated that when he arrived at Zhodino, a physician requested whether or not anybody had any complaints. Given the police presence and abuse everybody had endured, not a single detainee dared complain. The physician didn’t look at anybody, although a number of had seen bruises.