Report on monitoring of mass event "Warning Action and Meeting on the Belarusian Military Glory Day". Minsk, 8 September 2017 Photo
On September 8, 2017 in Minsk the meeting was dedicated to the Belarusian Military Glory Day, organized by Belarusian National Congress.
The Belarusian Helsinki Committee and the Human Right Center "Viasna" are carry out systematic observation of mass events in the Republic of Belarus on the basis of the developed monitoring methodology. It includes: the recruitment and training of observers to the principles of public control, international standards of peaceful assembly and monitoring methodology; filling in the monitoring form during the visual inspection; processing of forms and writing a monitoring report. The monitoring forms for mass events are co-developed by human rights organizations and include questions about the possibility of observers and journalists performing their functions, about the behavior of the organizers and participants of the mass event, law enforcement authorities, as well as the presence of an ambulance on the mass event. Observers are allowed to be monitored only if they agree to follow the rules and principles of monitoring (independence and political neutrality; description of the facts, not opinions; non-intervention in the event, which is being observed; commitment to the principles of law: refusal of any forms of violent actions and discriminatory practices; correct behavior). Observers are kept separate from the participants during the performance of their duties. They are marked by the observer's badges and blue waistcoats with the inscription "#controlBY".
Before the meeting, Mikalai Statkevich sent a letter to the Minsk city executive committee. It announced about the intention of Belarusian National Congress to be held in Belarusian Military Glory Day - 'Warning Action' on September 8 at Kastrychnitskaya Square in Minsk. Information about the campgain was also distributed via the Internet.
During the mass action 7 observers internally and continuous carries out public control. They have been trained and been labeled properly.
- The mass event was entirely peaceful (when "the organizers have peaceful intentions and the meeting is non-violent"). Appeals for violent actions were not used by the participants.
- During the mass event it was not possible to identify law enforcement officers, as most of them were in civilian clothes.
- Law enforcement officers did not interfere with the monitoring and the work of the media.
- A positive factor is a lack of obstacles on the part of law enforcement officers to carry out part of the event that is not indicated in the notification of the executive authorities (procession and rally on Yakub Kolas Square).
- The police officers did not organize the unimpeded movement of the column on the sidewalk at the crossroads. But on the contrary they demanded the observance of the traffic light mode, what influenced the deceleration of movement, the column ruptures and the right to peaceful meetings were set below the formal traffic regulations.
- Detentions of protesters are not recorded, there are no grounds for prosecution.
The course of mass event
During the mass event the following facts were noted:
- Participants of the action and the media representatives began to gather at Kastrychnitskaya Square around 18:50. The mass event started at 19:00.
- Mikalai Statkevich announced the plan of the action: meeting, adoption of the resolution, procession to Victory Square, taking of oath.
- Activists expanded a large white-red-white flag. About 200 people take part in the action.
- At 19:20 the meeting participants went to the steps of the Palace of Trade Unions and began a meeting. Uladzimir Niakliayeu, Mikalai Statkevich, Pavel Seviarynets, Viachaslau Siuchyk took turns.
- Speeches contained the following theses: the inadmissibility of drawing Belarus into military conflicts and military blocs, Zapad-2017 exercises are a threat to Belarus, in all periods of history, Belarusians heroically defended the country's independence. Lukashenka's dictatorship doesn't need us. There were voiced demands to release political prisoners.
- Yauhen Afnahel read out the text of the resolution.
- People support the resolution and express their readiness to defend the independence of Belarus.
- About 19:35 Statkevich announces the place of taking the oath – monument to the partisans in Yakub Kolas Square.
- During the procession the observance of traffic rules followed by traffic police, exposed at all intersections. Through sound amplifying equipment a requirement for participants to crossroads in accordance with the traffic rules was announced (on green traffic light signal). This caused a break in the column and a significant slowing of its movement.
- About 20:15 the procession reached Victory Square, a group of participants laid flowers to the Eternal Flame, the others continued their procession to Yakub Kolas Square. The number of participants about 150 people.
- At 20:35, participants came to the monument of Yakub Kolas, the priest read a prayer, then the solemn oath of protection of the Republic of Belarus was adopted.
- At 20:45 meeting was over.
Participants of the action used the following symbols: poster "For Peaceful Belarus", poster "Russian soldier go home, there is no vodka", state flag of the Republic of Belarus, white-red-white flags, flag with the coat of arms "Pahonia", flag of "European Belarus", flag of Ukraine.
The participants used the following slogans: “Long live Belarus!”, “Believe-can-win!”, “Lukashenka, dictatorship - shame!”, “Russian soldiers go home!”, “Freedom”,“Independence!”, “Glory to Ukraine! Glory to the heroes!”, “Russia go home”, “Shame!”, “Thank the grandfather for the victory”, “Russian soldier go home!”, “White-red-white, powerful, free, courageous!”.
Obstacles to the work of the media and observers were not recorded.
To the organizers:
- Plan and announce the route of the action in advance, including to notify the executive committee about it.
- Implement more active communication with law enforcement authorities and participants, especially pay attention to ensuring unimpeded traffic through crossroads.
To the law enforcement officers:
- In accordance with Article 5 of the Law of the Republic of Belarus "On internal affairs" "the activity of the organs of internal affairs is a vowel". Guided by this standard, we suggest that all employees were protecting public order during mass events in uniform. And were also identified by identification means (badges or breastplates);
- Identify a contact person from among police officers for communication with observers, media and organizers of mass events.
- Ensure unimpeded movement of the column of participants through intersections with the cessation of traffic.
- Abstain from bringing to administrative responsibility the participants and organizers of peaceful meetings.