Chronicle of Events on Solidarity Day, 16 August
On 16 August in Minsk the police used different means to prevent the traditional monthly action of solidarity with political prisoners and families of the missing public and political activists. They behaved most rudely and boldly near St. Joseph’s church in Svabody Square.
According to the information of BelaPAN, riot police pushed those who gathered near the church with candles and portraits of political prisoners to a bus stop in Niamiha Street. The action participants got on a trolleybus. The riot police and unknown persons in mufti blocked the doors of the trolleybus. A police car escorted it for about four stops. Two policemen in plain clothes followed an oppositional politician Pavel Seviarynets who took part in a prayer near the church. Before the youth action of solidarity the believers managed to hold a prayer near St. Joseph church and sing God Almighty. Participants of the liturgy called the authorities to refuse from turning a church building into an entertainment center and return it to the church.
According to information of the UCP press service, in Yakub Kolas Square activists of Young Democrats, the youth wing of the party, lined up with portraits of political prisoners and missing politicians. Then they went to Peramohi Square with these portraits. Besides, near Maskva cinema unknown persons detained a youth activist Mikita Sasim and beat 18-year-old Tatsiana Tsichkevich and Mikhail Pashkevich who tried to interfere with these actions. As a result Tatsiana was taken to hospital with a cranial trauma. She has already complained to the police in connection with beating by unknown policemen.
Another solidarity action was held by For Freedom! movement. Young people gathered at the house entrance where the family of the former presidential candidate of the Republic of Belarus Kazulin lives. For some time they were standing holding images of the political prisoner. Then they attached one of the images to the wall and made the figure 16 of lighted candles in front of the wall.
In Mahiliou oppositionists distributed the bulletins Viazni sumlennia (Prisoners of Conscience) and Prava na voliu (Right to Freedom) and drew political graffiti on asphalt. For these graffiti the police detained three journalists: Ales Asiptsou, Hanna Iliina and Vital Ryhainy. RFE/RL reports that they did not manage to detain the authors of the graffiti and had to release the journalists in about an hour.
In Salihorsk youth held a traditional Solidarity Day action in the central square, thought before the beginning the police tried to intimidate them with the riot police who allegedly hid in the yards. Nevertheless, at 8 p.m. a chain of concerned people lined up in the square. The people held Zmitser Dashkevich’s portraits in their hands. During the event the police made photo and video shots. None of the participants were detained.
In the morning Young Front activists hanged the banners ‘Freedom to Zmitser Dashkevich!’ and ‘Repressions Will Not Stop Us!’ in the most populous places of Zhlobin.
According to RFE/RL, At 8 p.m. in Polatsk Young Front activists also made a chain of concerned people near Radzima cinema. About 20 persons participated in the action. Some of them, including Pavel Seviarynets’ mother Tatsiana and a well-known human rights activist Valery Shchukin, came there from Vitsebsk. The action of solidarity lasted for about 30 minutes. The police watched the events but did not take any action.
According to Aliaksandr Milinkevich’s press service, in Pinsk adherents of For Freedom! Movement held a flash-mob. They lit candles in front of portraits of the missing people and moved to the nearest square to watch the effect. According to them, many people stood near the portraits and talked to one another. In 1,5 hours after beginning of the action the police arrived and took the portraits and the candles with them.