Report on monitoring the rally on the anniversary of the Sluck Uprising. November 26, 2017
On November 26, 2017 the city of Sluck hosted a protest to honor the heroes of the Sluck armed uprising (1920) organized by representatives of the CCP BPF Party.
- 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 a disrespectful utterance and insulting generalization “Moscals have criminal psychology”.
- The action was authorized. But the need to obtain permission to hold a rally and arbitrarily change the venue of a rally should be interpreted as a disproportionate restriction on the right to peaceful assembly.
- The place authorized by the executive committee to collect participants was a parking lot, surrounded on three sides by a fence, and an administrative building on the fourth side, there was a busy road and private houses close by. The route of the procession and the rally were hold completely in the town park away from the town’s busy streets. Thus, the meeting was not able to attract the attention of citizens, which is a disproportionate restriction of the right to peaceful assembly.
- During the mass event there was no possibility to identify employees of law enforcement bodies, they were all in civilian clothes.
- Law enforcement officials did not interfere with the monitoring and the work of the media. Participants in the meeting, moving along the permitted route, were forced to descend to the roadway because of the narrowness of the sidewalk (150 cm).
- The traffic police officers, using sound reinforcement equipment, several times demanded to return to the sidewalk and comply with the traffic laws, which set the right of peaceful assembly below the formal traffic rules.
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
The mass media reported that on November 26, the Conservative Christian Party of the Belarusian Popular Front would held a rally in Sluck dedicated to the Sluck armed uprising of 1920.
During the mass event, an observer, who had 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:
- The first participants began to gather at about 14:55 on the territory in front of the entrance to the dance floor in the park.
- At 15:25 the major part of participants and organizers arrived on the bus at the parking lot near the administrative building of the stadium "City".
- The organizers were marked with badges.
- Having lined up in a column, the participants proceeded to the venue of the rally.
- Throughout the march, traffic policemen monitored the execution of traffic rules. A requirement for participants not to go out on the roadway was announced by sound amplifying equipment.
- The meeting began at about 15:35.
- The speakers made speeches about the dominance of hazing in the Belarusian army, the deliberate destruction of the country's economy, the threat of independence of Belarus from the Russian Federation, the need to defend traditional national values. Honored heroes of the Sluck uprising. They urged Belarusians to be ready for the defense of the country.
- Yury Belenki during his speech stated that "Moscals have criminal psychology." This statement is humiliating and offensive, generalizes and creates a negative image of a social group.
- 70 people attended the action.
- The event was attended by 10 law enforcement officers in civilian clothes, but with portable radios, video cameras and other characteristics of police officers.
- At 16:05 the action was over. The participants proceeded to the bus at the bus stand.
- The participants used the slogan "Long Live Belarus!"
- Participants used the following symbols: 28 white-red-white flags, 2 white-red-white flags with crosses.
- Banners: “Conservative Christian party – BPF”, “Sluck armed uprising 1920”, “Glory to warriors of Sluck!”
- Posters: “Sluck - Homeland of Heroes” with the image of white-red-white flags, “Sluck armed rank” with the image of the emblem "Pahonia". A poster with the text of a prayer for Belarus and a prayer for the Belarusian people, a poster “Russia is s war”. The BPF banner with the image of the coat of arms "Pahonia" was used.
- Obstacles to the work of the media and observers are not fixed.
- Ambulance was absent during the event.
To the organizers:
- To refrain from using hate speech in your speeches.
- If possible, organize a squad and negotiate with the police about the order of securing public order and unimpeded movement.
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);
- Identify a contact person from among police officers for communication with observers, the media and organizers of the mass event;
- Ensure the unhindered movement of the column of participants.
To subjects with the right of legislative initiative:
Initiate changes to the legislation in order to bring it in line with international standards in the field of freedom of peaceful assembly.
To the Sluck Regional Executive Committee:
To refrain from arbitrarily changing the venue of peaceful assemblies, to ensure the right to peaceful assembly and expression in public places, in accordance with the universally recognized human rights standards.