Arrested protester: “He took woman out into corridor and banged her head against wall”
Anti-war protests were announced at the railway stations of Minsk and other cities of Belarus on February 28. At the appointed time, a lot of anti-riot equipment and vehicles gathered near the Minsk railway station. Law enforcement officers were arresting people chanting “No to War!”. On that day more than 70 people were arrested. There was a girl among them, who decided to capture the arrests on video. She told “Viasna” about the beating of a cellmate by a prison officer, the fact that there were 35 men in the five-bed cell, and that the women detained on February 27 were given food for the first time on March 1.
After the girl was arrested on February 28 for taking video of law enforcement officers pulling a man into a police bus she together with other detainees was taken to the police department.
“There were 10 of us in the police department, of whom I was the only person of legal age. […] I was taken to the office, where they began to draw up a protocol,” she said.
When drawing up the report, the police officers asked her not to speak Belarusian, as they do not understand this language. After that, she was taken to pre-trial detention center.
Since prison staff recognized her as a former detainee–the girl had previously served administrative detention there–she got more insults than the others. This time she spent there three days before the trial.
“As for the number of people, in my double cell, there were 17 people. I know that in some cells there were 11–14 women. The boys had 35 people per five-person cell and their warm clothes were taken away from them. Our cell had no sink, there were cockroaches and woodlice. Due to overcrowding, it was stuffy and hot. From time to time we woke up at night because we did not have enough air, even the food hatches were closed. We were given food once a day. I learned from those who were arrested on February 27 that they were not fed until the morning of March 1. Those to be transported to Žodzina were not fed at all.”
The girl also spoke about her conflict with the notoriously violent officer Yauhen Urubleuski. The women asked him for toilet paper and to open the food hatch, so there will be more air, but he rudely declined their request.
“The conflict began. […] Urubleuski took one of the women out into the corridor and banged her head against the wall.”
Nevertheless, the girl notes that the women in the cell supported each other and stayed optimistic.
She was tried three days later. Her case was sent for “revision” and she was released because the 72-hour period of detention had expired. Police officers wanted to re-detain her but failed to do so in time.
On February 27, people gathered near the General Staff building in Minsk for an anti-war protest against Russia's attack on Ukraine. A while later, law enforcers began to brutally arrest them. Within the next three days, judges considered more than 628 administrative cases and sent at least 589 people to jail. A former detainee told Viasna about his arrest and detention conditions.
'They beat him slightly, striking him in the body and in the face': another account on ill-treatment of detained protesters
After brutal detentions at anti-war rallies in Minsk on February 27 and 28, law enforcement officers continued to beat and torture Belarusians in jails. According to human rights defenders, 616 people have been jailed for participation in anti-war actions. They are kept in detention centers in inhumane conditions, while the officers physically abuse them. A man who was serving an administrative detention sentence in Minsk and in Žodzina told Viasna about the torture and conditions in the detention center, as well as about what kept him going the whole time.