POLICE DETAIN JACOB GUTMAN, PRESIDENT OF WORLD ASSOCIATION OF BELARUSIAN JEWS
Jacob Gutman has organized another action of protest in front of Lukashenka’s administration. He protested against displays of state anti-Semitism in Belarus. The Jewish activist was detained by police. Suddenly, he felt unwell.
Jacob Gutman was dressed in a jacket with a slogan "Alexander Ryhoravich, you are personally responsible for destruction of Jewish sanctuaries". In the afternoon of January 21 he went in front of the building of Alexander Lukashenka administration. Mr. Gutman explained the purpose of his action:
-- I want to warn Mr. Lukashenka about his personal responsibility for demolition of Jewish sacred places. I strive for negotiation on the issues I am raising. I mean destruction of synagogues, cemeteries, monuments to victims of the Holocaust. Those issues.
President of the World Association of the Belarusian Jews told RFE/RL, two years ago the authorities sanctioned destruction of the synagogue on Dzimitrava Street, at the moment they are destroying the Khalodnaya synagogue at Niamiha suburb. In Mazyr 2 cemeteries are turned into a construction site; Mazyr authorities also liquidated a memorial sign to the Holocaust victims. Just recently the authorities partially destroyed a Jewish cemetery in Rahachow; in Hrodna they reconstructed the stadium, which had been built on an old cemetery, and just dumped the remains. That’s what Jacob Gutman is protesting against. Also he actively supports the appeal of six US congressmen to the McDonald’s and Coca-Cola companies not to sponsor the National Olympic Committee in Belarus until the authorities stop destruction of Jewish graves in Hrodna.
One week ago Mr. Gutman organized a picket in front of Alexander Lukashenka administration. Then he was detained by police and received an official warning from court. After that action Jacob Gutman went on hunger strike.
January 21 picket did not last for long as well. The moment Jacob Gutman appeared in front of the presidential administration with a portrait of his grandfather who died in the Second World War, he was approached by police officers. As the result, he got detained again. Famous artist Alaksei Marachkin, who came to support the demands of the Jewish activist, said:
-- The very arrest of Mr. Gutman is just another display of the state Anti-Semitism policy. He was taken to the police station only because he was indignant at the Barbaric outrage upon Jewish sacred places.
At the police station Jacob Gutman went on a dry hunger strike. While the police was drawing up the report, he felt unwell. He was taken to Minsk hospital # 9.