Human Rights Watch Report on March Events in Belarus
Authorities across Belarus arbitrarily detained at least 700 people in March 2017 in connection with peaceful protests, Human Rights Watch said today. The majority, including more than 100 journalists and 60 human rights activists, were detained in connection with peaceful protests marking Belarus’ annual Freedom Day on March 25.
Police punched, kicked, clubbed, and otherwise abused many of the detainees. On March 27, courts in Minsk and other cities swiftly sentenced 177 people, including journalists and human rights activists, to fines or detention on fabricated misdemeanor charges. Hours before the March 25 rally in Minsk, riot police raided the Human Rights Center “Viasna”, one of the country’s leading human rights groups, detaining 58 people.
Riot police detain a man during a rally in Minsk on March 25. © 2017 Vasily Fedosenko/Reuters
“Belarusian authorities led a shocking, all-out assault on peaceful assembly around the Freedom Day protests,” said Yulia Gorbunova, Belarus researcher at Human Rights Watch. “They should immediately release everyone who was detained in connection with the protests and investigate allegations of police mistreatment.”
A Human Rights Watch researcher interviewed 19 journalists, human rights activists, lawyers, and released detainees and attended court hearings in Minsk.
The report includes information on the following actions: arrests and beatings by police on the day of mass events, court proceedings, prosecution, beatings and detentions of journalists, the police raid on Viasna office, and the current criminal case.
Read the full report here