“We will shoot you and you will never be found.” 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.
18-year-old Uladzimir Pahartsau says that he was not beaten so hard compared to other detainees, because he was chosen to give an interview to a state TV channel about the “coordinators of the protests.”
Uladzimir was detained at about 6 pm on August 10 when he was returning home and got off a trolleybus near the Frunzienskaja metro station in Minsk. Two riot policemen approached him and said they wanted to check his ID. Seeing a white wristband on the guy’s arm, one of the policemen tore it off. Uladzimir was pushed into an ordinary minivan and later put him in a police van. During arrest, he was beaten in the chest, and also kicked in the head.
“You can take this one. For drugs,” this is what, according to Uladzimir, the riot police said. Then the guy was put face down in the asphalt and asked several times, “Yours? Not yours?”. When the guy refused to admit his guilt, he was told, “You will rot in prison.”
Then he was handcuffed. A policeman’s boot was on his body.
Uladzimir was taken to the Frunzienski District Department of Internal Affairs, where one of the senior policemen said: “Don't touch him. He'll be on video.”
At this time, he says, a lot of people were lying on the ground, handcuffed.
“Many were falling down, losing consciousness... Those who tried to get up or move were beaten with truncheons and paralyzed with electro shock,” Uladzimir recalls.
Among the officers who were watching there was a woman police officer who recalled working with minors.
“She kept saying, “I know you all.” She saw a 17-year-old boy being beaten... It didn’t matter how old they were... There was also an angle grinder. I didn't see it, but when it was turned on, people were screaming.”
At about 2 pm the next day, riot police began loading people into police vans. Uladzimir was taken to an office.
“I was told to say as they told me. And if I refused, then I would either go to prison for drugs, or they would shoot me and I would never be found. And so they dictated what I was expected to say.”
Uladzimir doesn't know from which TV channel were the journalists who interviewed him after the conversation with the security officers. They didn't have any identification marks. When Uladzimir asked where they were from, they answered, “We are state journalists.” There were two of them: a journalist and a cameraman.
After leaving the detention center in Žodzina, the guy found out that the interview with him was broadcast by the TV channel “Belarus 1”. It begins with a journalist’s question, “Who is coordinating the protests?”
Uladzimir Pahartsau stresses that he gave this interview under duress.
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.
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.
I turned up by chance, they put me in a bus or in a paddy wagon, I don't remember which. They took my phone away at once, broke it, asked for the password, I do not understand on what grounds. Then they took me to the Maskoŭski police department. They didn't beat me much in the paddy wagon, but started beating in the police department.
A Minsk resident was detained on August 9 and left the Center for the Confinement of Offenders on the morning of August 12. All this time he, like the other detainees, was deprived of food. Forty people were held in a six-men cell, and riot police insulted and beat people at night. The guy, who chose to remain anonymous, agreed to tell Viasna what he had to go through.