UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of peaceful assembly notified of detention of observers in Belarus
The Belarusian Helsinki Committee and the Human Rights Center "Viasna" have sent to Maina Kiai, UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of association, a joint message, which provided information about the detention of observers, human rights activists and journalists in Viasna’s office during a coordination meeting ahead of the Freedom Day demonstration on March 25.
57 people were detained, including 40 civilian observers accredited by the BHC, as well as human rights activists and journalists, including foreign nationals.
The report describes the details of the police raid, in particular aggressive behavior of riot policemen and use of physical force against some of the detainees.
The human rights activists also explain why the rally on Freedom Day was not allowed by the Belarusian authorities, and describe the events during the demonstration. Furthermore, it is stressed that the protest was peaceful, while it was difficult to determine the number of participants, as there were many passers-by, which were also detained by the police, arbitrarily and indiscriminately. As a result, about 700 people were detained, most of them were released later the same day, while some stood administrative trials on March 27. According to the human rights defenders, on the day the district courts of Minsk convicted more than 140 people.
Earlier, Miklós Haraszti, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus, decried the return of mass violence against peaceful protesters and demanded that the Belarusian authorities released all those detained. His statement was supported by other UN special rapporteurs, namely UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Mr. Maina Kiai, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Mr. Michel Forst, and the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, Mr. David Kaye.