Monitoring report on the mass event Dziady on 5 November 2017 in Minsk Photo
A memorial procession and a rally dedicated to the Day of Remembrance of the Ancestors “Dziady” took place in Minsk on November 5, 2017.
- The mass event was exclusively peaceful (when "the organizers have peaceful intentions and the assembly is non-violent"). The participants did not use calls for violent actions, but at the same time, individual participants used the calls "death to occupants" and "death to moskals", which can be assessed as hate speech.
- During the mass event the police officers exercised more control and supervisory functions over the participants than defensive ones: did not respond in a timely manner to provocative or conflicting actions by passers-by, were not properly identified, which created a threat to the safety of the participants. Twice there were conflict situations, in one of them, police officers in civil clothes intervened only with the use of physical violence by the conflicting people.
- Three times traffic police officers broke the movement of the column (on Kalinouski Street, Lahoiski Trakt and Mirashnichenka Street), although when crossing the Valhahradskaya Street fences were removed, and there was also a continuous movement at the intersection of Filimonau Such actions testify to the availability of technical capabilities to fully realize the right to peaceful assembly through the unimpeded movement of the column. The motivation to refuse assistance to the participants of the event in favor of the automobile movement was not clear.
- Law enforcement officers did not interfere with the monitoring and media work, but plainclothes police officers filmed certificates of observers close-up, and a member of the information group was present only in the tract Kurapaty and refused any communication.
For several years the National Human Rights Public Association “Belarusian Helsinki Committee” and the Human Rights Center "Viasna" have been conducting systematic observations of public events based on a monitoring methodology which includes: recruiting observers and training them in the principles of public control, in the standards of peaceful assemblies and observation methodology; in filling an observer's questionnaire during internal control; processing of questionnaires and writing a monitoring report. Questionnaires on the observation of public events were developed by the two human rights organizations mentioned, they include questions establishing whether observers and media have a possibility to function, how do the organizers of a public event, its participants and police officers behave, and also whether the ambulance is present. Observers are allowed to observe only if they agree to follow the rules and the principles of observation (independence and political neutrality; description of facts, but not opinions; non-interference into the event observed; commitment to the principles of law; refusal of any forms of violence and discrimination; appropriate behavior). During the fulfillment of their functions observers should stand apart from participants. They should be identified with observers' badges and blue vests with an inscription #controlBY
On October 30, 2017 on the Internet there was information that the Minsk city and regional executive committees allowed holding on Sunday, November 5, a traditional procession and a rally in the tract Kurapaty.
During the mass event, 5 observers, who has been trained and were appropriately marked were continuously and continuously monitoring the process.
What happened during the public event
During the mass action the following facts were noted down:
- Participants of the action and representatives of the media began to gather near the building of the watch factory "Luch" (Nezalezhanstsi Ave. 95) at about 11:20. Some participants (about 15 people) with flags gathered at the beginning of Talbukhin Boulevard and later joined the rest of the participants. The beginning of the procession was announced at 12:00.
- Participants stood in a group by the building, holding flags, posters, banners, crosses with national symbols, artificial flowers in their hands. They also voiced slogans. The number of participants was up to 230 people.
- Organizers were marked with badges, several people with bandages on their sleeves performed the function of squads.
- About 45 police officers were present in civilian clothes; they could only be identified by portable radios, headphones and other specific features. Law enforcement officers were located in groups of 2-3-4 people around the venue of the action. At least four of them filmed what happened on the camera. The traffic police officers and representatives of the Main Department of Internal Affairs of the Minsk City Executive Committee were present. There was police transport along Tolbukhin boulevard. There was a car with devices for audio and video recording across the road near Chaluskintsau Park.
- There were no obstacles in the work of the media and observers, but even before the start of the procession, police officers in civilian clothes approached observers demanding to show the observer's certificates from the side where the photo and name are visible. n the middle of the procession a representative of the Main Department of Internal Affairs of the Minsk City Executive Committee turned the badge of an observer without asking an allowance.
- At 12:07 the procession itself started along the planned route.
- During the procession the following symbols were used: stretch marks with the text "Dzyady", “Khaisy - Viciebsk Kurapaty”, “Conservative Christian Party - Belarusian people’s front”, “Belarusian people’s front party”, “Kurapaty - our people's memories!”, “The ghost of communism is a lodger in Drazdy”, “Prayer for Belarus”, “A stickle and a hummer are on the fence and hunger is at home”; posters “The 7th of November is the dead day of the calendar”, “Communists go back”, “Thank you ancestors for the language”, “Who will stop lawlessness, lack of rights, hazing, iniquity in the country?!”, “Resignation for the minister, jail for the criminals”, “Film director Ruslan Zholich 1 year in prison, 50 madhouses, disabled without work, incompetent without examination, lifelong hostel ... did not give his hand to Luka "Do not be afraid" facebook.com/tvorcy”, several posters with portraits. Also, participants used about 50 flags: white-red-white, 2 flags with a black cross ("Young Front"), 2 flags with red wing (Conservative Christian Party - Belarusian people’s front), white-red-white flags with the Chase, Ukrainian flag, pennant "Belarusian Autocephalous Orthodox Church". Also there were wooden crosses, some of them were with inscriptions: "Dziady 2017", "Belarusian Writers", "Belarusian Peasantry", "Belarusian gentry", "Belarusian scientists", "Belarusian workers".
- Participants used the slogans "Long Live Belarus!", "Glory to Ukraine", "Gloria", sang songs. One participant shouted the slogan "death to the invaders, death to the Moscals!".
- The column was accompanied by police officers in civilian clothes, as well as a car of the pyrotechnic service of internal troops. On the way of the column's movement at crossroads and traffic lights there were cars of the traffic police, police cars, traffic police officers in uniform.
- At the nearest intersection there was a traffic policeman in uniform.
- At about 13:00 during the march along Independence Avenue near the metro station "Uschod" there was a skirmish between the participants of the procession, in particular, Vital Rymasheuski, with a passer-by. It was audible obscene language, insults to the participants of the procession and to Vital Rymasheuski Policemen in civilian clothes watched the conflict and did not intervene for several minutes until physical encroachment on both sides began. The police officers broke up the participants in the clash, took the passer-by far away from the participants and let him go.
- Around 14:00, during the procession along Hamarnik Street, another incident occurred, when the vigilantes led to the end of the column one passerby who prevented the march. Police officers filmed the incident on camera, did not intervene, and stressed that "these are the organizers who took you out."
- Traffic police officers organized the movement of the column during crossings through the carriageway in different ways: by prior arrangement of the organizers and local authorities, the fences at the intersection of Independence Avenue and Valhahradskaya Street were removed and the participants crossed the road without obstacles, when crossing Filimonava Street, traffic policemen allowed all the participants to cross the road without breaking the column, including to the red color of the traffic light. However, with all subsequent crossings the roads (Kalinouski Street, Lahoiski Trakt, Mirashnichenka Street), the traffic police officers broke the movement of the column and divided it into parts, which significantly slowed down and complicated the movement of the marchers.
- The column reached the tract Kurapaty at about 15:10.
- At the end of the march, the number of participants was about 270 people.
- Immediately at the final point of the procession, in the tract Kurapaty, policemen in uniform (2 people) were present, and also there was one officer in the form of an information group with a speaker, but he refused to communicate with observers. Also policemen in civilian clothes filmed with the help of drones. About 45 officers were present in civilian clothes in the tract Kurapaty.
- Representatives of the Belarusian Autocephalous Orthodox Church were present as participants.
- At 15:20 the rally itself began on the upper site of the tract. Representatives of the Conservative Christian Party of the Belarusian People’s Front Yury Belenki, Uladzimir Yukho, Ales Chakholski spoke.
- At the end of the rally, around 16:20 the hymn "Mighty God" sounded.
- The meeting ended at about 16:30.
To the participants:
To refrain from using incorrect slogans, such as "death to the invaders, death to the Moscals" in connection with the threat of inciting hatred through the use of hate speech;
To law enforcement officers:
To effectively perform a protective function towards to participants in peaceful assemblies, respond to any threats to them;
in accordance with Article 5 of the Law of the Republic of Belarus "On Internal Affairs Bodies", "the activities of the internal affairs bodies are public". Guided by this rule, we propose that all employees maintain public order during mass events in uniform, and also be identified by identification means (badges or badges);
to designate a contact person from among the police to communicate with observers, the media and the organizers of a mass event;
to ensure unimpeded movement of the column through pedestrian crossings.