Monitoring report of peaceful assembly on October 29 in Minsk Photo
On October 29, 2018, an action dedicated to the memory of the night of October 29, 1937 when figures of culture and science were executed took place in Minsk.
- The meeting was peaceful (when “the organizers have peaceful intentions and the meeting is non-violent” according to the OSCE Guidelines on Freedom of Peaceful Assembly). Participants did not use calls for violence and war, did not use violence and did not provoke violence. By their actions, the participants / persons of the peaceful assembly did not violate public order and did not pose a threat to public safety, and also did not violate the rights of other persons.By their actions, the participants of the peaceful assembly did not disturb public order and did not pose a threat to public safety, and also did not violate the rights of other persons.
- During the peaceful assembly, it was not possible to identify law enforcement officers, since all of them were in civilian clothes, without identification signs. The presence of police officers in peaceful assemblies in civilian clothes does not allow participants to understand their functions and powers, and does not facilitate communication and effective resolution of conflict situations.
- Obstacles to the work of independent observers and the media were not noted, what is a good practice. It should be noted that, according to the Guidelines, the monitoring of peaceful assemblies is an important source of independent information about the behavior of all parties to an assembly. This information can be used in various ways, including as a basis for dialogue between the authorities, law enforcement agencies and civil society. The reports of observers help to evaluate the effectiveness of current legislation and the degree to which the state fulfills positive obligations to protect the freedom of peaceful assembly.
- Observers do not have any information about the organizers applying for holding this meeting. However, since the meeting was sparse, static, and short in time, it did not require detailed coordination with the authorities and law enforcement agencies. At the same time, we believe that prior notification of the authorities about the planned peaceful assembly would be a good practice that facilitates effective communication of all stakeholders.
- During the meeting, protocols for violation of the current legislation were not drawn up. No arrests of participants were noted.
The National Human Rights Public Association “Belarusian Helsinki Committee” and the Human Rights Center "Viasna" conduct systematic observation of peaceful assemblies in Belarus on the basis of the developed monitoring methodology. It includes: the recruitment of observers and teaching the principles of public control,international standards for conducting peaceful assemblies and methodology of observation to them; filling out a surveillance questionnaire during observation outside; processing of questionnaires and writing a monitoring report. Questionnaires for monitoring peaceful assemblies are developed jointly by human rights organizations and include questions about the possibility of observers and journalists fulfilling their functions, the behavior of the organizers and participants of peaceful assemblies, employees of law enforcement agencies, and presence of the ambulance at the mass event. Observers are allowed to observe only if they agree to follow the rules and principles of observation (independence and political neutrality; description of facts, not opinions; non-interference in the event which is being monitored; adherence to the principles of right: rejection of all forms of violence and discriminatory practices; ethical conduct). While performing their duties, observers keep away separate from the participants. They are marked with certificates and blue vests with the inscription "# СontrolBY".
A few days before the action in social networks, appeared appeals to join the traditional mourning event on October 29 to honor the memory of the executed science and art figures. During the peaceful assembly 4 persons, who received appropriate training and were properly marked, continuously observed.
What happened during the public event
During the peaceful assembly the following facts were noted:
- At the time of the start of monitoring at 6:50 pm, individual participants and media representatives were at the KGB building (Independence Avenue, 17). The immediate start of the action was announced at 19.00. At 18.59 participants began lighting candles in the lamps and lining up in a chain, with their backs to the KGB building. Participants did not use additional symbolism, posters, did not use slogans. At least 17 people attended the action.
- There were at least 30 law enforcement officers in civil clothes were at the place of peaceful assembly. They could only be identified by walkie-talkies, headphones, hand-held video cameras and other specific features. The employees were located in groups of 2-3 people around the action venue (including, at least 8 law enforcement officers were across the street from the venue of the action) and actively used mobile phones. At least three of them filmed what was happening (including taking close-ups of the faces of participants and observers) by hand-held video cameras.At the site of the rally was the head of the special police unit of the police department of the Minsk City Executive Committee D. Balaba.
- Representatives of the media (at least 17 people) actively communicated with the participants of the action, filmed what was happening on photo and video cameras, and took interviews. The participants of the action actively communicated with the media.
- At 19.37, Nikolai Statkevich urged to leave the candles on the steps of the building and go up to the windows of the lower floors of the same building. At 19.43 the action was declared complete, the participants began to diverge.
- On Komsomolskaya Street, near the venue of the action, there was 1 bus, 4 minibuses, 2 unmarked cars.
- At the intersections which are the closest to the place of the rally there were 2 traffic policemen in uniform.
- notify the city authorities of the planned peaceful assembly.
For law enforcement officers:
- carry out the protection of public order during peaceful assemblies in uniform, as well as to be identified by identification means (badges or breastplates);
- assign a contact person from among the police officers to communicate with observers, media, organizers and participants of the peaceful assembly;
- not to bring to administrative justice individuals for participating in peaceful assemblies, since this is an arbitrary restriction of the right to peaceful assemblies, as provided for by international human rights obligations of the Republic of Belarus.
For subjects with the right of legislative initiative:
- initiate changes in legislation in order to bring it in line with international standards in the field of freedom of peaceful assembly;