"Officers abused me all the time because I’m black." Survivor stories
The Human Rights Center “Viasna” and the World Organization Against Torture (OMCT) launched a campaign to document cases of torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of protesters on August 9-13. Some testimonies of people who survived torture and violence will be published on our website as evidence of crimes committed by security forces.
Hleb was detained on August 11 near the shopping center “Skala”. He says that the riot policemen detained him when he simply walked down the street with headphones on his head. He spend the next three days in the police station of Maskouski district, then in the detention center on Akrescin Street and finally in a correctional facility in Sluck. Hleb told “Viasna” what he and others had been through during this time.
"To my right, I saw a blue mini-bus. I walked on because I did not care. They made a sharp turn and stared running after some guys who were walking behind me. I stopped and raised my hands. They hit me on the side and dragged into the van. Turns out they even shot at the guys who were behind me.
Then they moved me into a police van. After that (we went) to the police station of Maskouski district. At first, we were all down on the floor with the hands tied at the back. Then they took away my shoelaces, the belt, other stuff. Then they sat me in a chair, where I could lean on the back on the chair in front of me, with my face down and the hands crossed above my head. We sat like that for about 12 hours. Officers were abusing me all the time for being black and having dyed hair (back then, my hair was pink with blue highlights).
When I was sitting in the chair at the police station, someone came, checked my records and found out that I filed an application last May because my bag had been stolen. Then he said, very rudely, “who do you think we are, a lost and found bureau?”. Then he started hitting me just like that (Hleb locks his hands and swings them) on my back and head. This is how I got a concussion.
In the police station, they almost never let us go to the toilet. So people just had to go where they were. Some even defecated where they were, maybe because of pain.
Detainees are recorded on the video by the police, where they must say their name and the reason they have been detained. Hleb told us that after the after the recording at the police station of Maskouski district, detainees were beaten up again.
"After the video, they made us turn with our faces to the wall and just began hitting us. All four of them. In the end, they hit me in the groin. After that, there was no more beating.
Then they transported us to the detention center on Akrescin Street. Compared to the police station of Maskouski distict, there were no beatings."
Hleb says that he was tried by a judge right at the detention center on Akrescin Street and sentenced to 15 days of administrative arrest in accordance with Article 23.34 of the Administrative Code.
"At the detention center on Akrescin Street, they first made us stand on our knees with our faces pressed to the floor. Then they started calling some people by the names and take them into the building. Inside, there were judges. When we had come up to them, they read out some article do to with a rally. In my report it was said that I was detained near “Pushkinskaya” (metro station), and I wasn’t even there on that day. I started arguing with them. They re-wrote everything but had sentenced me to 15 days (of administrative arrest) anyway.
At the detention center on Akrescin Street, Hleb and other detainees slept in the exercise yard.
"It was a concrete room about six by six meters with no roof. There were 77 men in it. We were trying to get warm by pressing next to one another. We heard that they were beating up newcomers. both girls and men, even with stun guns. The abuse lasted all night.
On the next day, all they gave us was six loafs of rye bread, three loafs of white bread and three liters of water, for all 77 people. Before that, we had not eaten for three days. At the detention center, I stayed for a day and a half.
After that, Hleb with many other detainees had been transferred to Correction facility No. 3 near Sluck, where he stayed for another day.
"We rode to Sluck accompanied by the military. They even told us that the order was to have our hands tied with plastic bands, but they didn’t do it.
When we arrived at the correction facility, the first thing they did was to send us to shower. Then they took us to a room with bunk beds, like in a camp or something, only without meshes. They also fed us pretty normally three times a day. They would even let us go out for a smoke.
In Sluck, they were shocked at how we looked when we arrived. They immediately offered us medical assistance. If someone did not have any belonging, they would give him something. But at the detention center on Akrescin Street, unless they broke something, like your spine or ribs, they would not let you go.
I stayed there for a day. On Friday at 19.00, they began to release us. I came our and some volunteers met me and took me to Minsk, to my relatives. Before releasing us, they gave us some paper to sign: it said if I ever detained again, I will get a criminal charge and could be sent to prison for up to 15 years.”
More stories of people who survived police violence and torture:
23-year-old Yury Panamarou was detained in the evening of August 11 on his way to a street food market in central Minsk. He told Viasna about the cruelty of his unjustified detention and the conditions under which he was kept for two days in the detention center in Akrescin Street.
On August 11, Dzianis Selivankin was approached by two police officers at the intersection of Pieramožcaŭ Avenue and Mieĺnikajte Street. They asked for his ID. Dzianis replied that he had no passport with him. Then the young man was forced to unlock his smartphone. What they saw in Dzianis’s Telegram enraged them.
Vasil Hushcha (48) was detained in the evening of August 9 near the Maskva cinema next to Niamiha street. He was freed in the morning of August 14. Vasil told “Viasna” about the tortures in the detention center on the Akrescin Street, his transfer to a prison in Žodzina (60 km from Minsk) and the conditions there.