Torture is back: Traumatic brain injury, cerebral hemorrhage, nasal fracture

2020 2020-09-16T16:19:46+0300 2020-09-16T16:20:54+0300 en The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”

Dzmitry, a 21-year-old university student, was brutally detained in the evening of September 12 near the Victory Square metro station in Minsk. The moment of his detention was caught in the footage of "Nasha Niva" and TUT.BY. After a trip in a bus without license plates together with people in olive uniform and balaclavas, the guy was hospitalized, where he was diagnosed with a brain injury, moderate cerebral hemorrhage, broken nose and multiple hematomas on the body. Dzmitry told Viasna what happened to him after he was detained and before he was hospitalized.

The victim's detention caught on a video by Nasha Niva
The victim's detention caught on a video by Nasha Niva

“We all know about you, you are a protest coordinator from Poland”

“At about half past five, I was standing near the metro station and looking at the map on my smartphone. I was going to a friend’s place. There were a lot of journalists nearby. As I later learned, the march in the city was just over. And the moment I looked up, there were people in olive uniforms and balaclavas running towards me and hitting me in the nose.

As soon as they threw me on the floor of a bus, they started kicking me. I received several blows to the face. They beat me with fists. They said, “We know everything about you, you are a protest coordinator from Poland.” They used some vague phrases. It was obvious that they were trying to intimidate me. They didn't accuse me of anything specific. They just said that they had been following me for a long time. They insisted that I confessed. They tried to intimidate me psychologically so that I would admit that I was some kind of coordinator. At the same time, they were beating me in the leg, in the face, on the head, on the back. Although I cannot remember being beaten on my back, I later found bruises there, too. I didn't feel it because of the pain and shock, probably.

In the bus, they threw me on the floor between the seats. There was only me there and five security officers. I turned off my phone and put under the seat. They then found it and said, “Look who is so smart, you thought we would not find it?” And they beat me again. They said I was “well prepared,” since I turned off the phone. Then they started forcing me to give them the password. There were threats. I refused to give them the password, to which they replied that I was a “drug addict on something”. They kept beating me again and again. I screamed in pain. They tried to break my leg.”

“Officers started taking my shorts and panties off”

Then at some point, the one in charge, who was sitting in the front seat, took out a truncheon and said: “Do you know where we’ll stick it now, if you do not tell us your password? We’ll stick in your throat, and then we’ll rape you. Well, guys, let's start.” Then other officers started taking off my shorts and panties. I fought back as best I could. I hoped they would stop. And they finally did stop. Everything turned out to be only threats. It was scary and unpleasant, but I tried to keep myself in check as much as I could in that situation.

They threatened me with a criminal case and a term of five years. They asked, “Well, was your life that bad?” I tried to tell them that I did not take part in protests, did not shout slogans, which was confirmed by the place of my detention. However, the more I tried to explain my innocence, the angrier they got and the more they beat me.

At some point they put a plastic clamp on my wrists and tightened as hard as they could. I was beginning to feel sick. I lost consciousness or was close to it. They poured water on me. I heard, “Guys, don't hit him, wait.” Apparently, they do have some limits. Although I’m not not sure if this can be called the limits with my diagnosis and other abduction stories. And it was nothing but abduction, it was a gross violation of human rights.

At some point the bus stopped. I heard, “Guys, clean him.” All this time my nose was bleeding. They wiped me with my own jacket and washed me with water. Then they put me on the sill of the door. A police officer with a video camera approached and started asking questions, “What did you coordinate? Confess!” To which I said that I did not coordinate anything, I was just walking.”

This is what the student's sweatshirt looked like after the September 12 detention

“Let's make him sterile”

“Then they put me back in the car and started driving around the city again. The driver told me, “Do you realize we can drive as much as we want?” Beatings, intimidation and threats continued. For example, they said, “Monsters like you will slash our children later.” They complained that they were under a lot of pressure.

There was a moment when I tried to talk to them in a human way, to which they said, “Are you f…ing recording us?” They started beating me, undressing me and looking for a microphone. They are afraid that people can record what they are doing.

It looks like they sincerely believe in the state propaganda about “coordinators from Lithuania and Poland.”

They asked if I had a girlfriend. When I said no, they started calling me “fudge packer”. They started threatening to rape me again. They said, “Let's make him sterile!” They started beating me, but I was lucky they didn't hit between my legs.

I was wearing a Samsung electronic watch. They took it and looked through my contacts. When they saw my lawyer’s number, they started accusing me again that I was “prepared, ready for it, a coordinator.”

“If you don't give us your password, you won't get out of here”

I was taken to the Pieršamajski district police department. When I was walking into the building, I was limping because the officers had injured my leg. They shouted at me not to limp. They said that I was injured when I fell and it was my own fault.

Police officers at the station also threatened me. One of them said, “So, guys, he doesn’t want to give you the password? And the truncheon didn’t help? It’s OK, a soldering iron in the ass will help.” When in the department, officers are cautious in their actions. Probably because there are cameras everywhere. They whispered threats in my ear. For example, “If you don't give us your password, you won't get out of here.” They often stepped on my feet there. But when they grabbed my hair and beat me in the back of the head, they stopped each other, “Easy, don't beat him here.”

When the duty officer answered the phone and, apparently, he was asked if anyone had been brought in, he said, “Nobody has been brought in.” However, there were at least two girls there who were also accused of participating in the protest. But the officers did not touch them, on the contrary, they joked and flirted with them.

When one of the officers took me to the toilet, he asked, “Have you ever had your head dipped in the toilet? Do you want me to do it?” My wrists were tightened so hard that I couldn’t even wash my hands. They wiped me with the hood of my own sweatshirt. I often asked to call the doctor, saying that I was sick. To this they replied, “Give us your password and we’ll get you a doctor.” They played good cop/bad cop, and it could be done by the same person: he first beat me and then said that all was well.

The victim's wrists after being handcuffed with plastic clamps

“I was brought to consciousness with antiseptics”

“While the officers beat me, intimidated me, threatened me, stepped on my feet, grabbed my hair, policemen from the district department did not even look and did not approach. They just did nothing.

The officers said that they could charge me with a theft, because I allegedly stole my own electronic watch and phone from one of them. Since I wouldn’t tell them the password, it wasn’t my phone. Maybe it was a joke, but I didn't take it as a joke then. They said that I was high, a drug addict, intoxicated.

This photo was taken shortly after the victim was admitted to hospital

“They asked the ambulance to drive faster and with the light bar on”

“When the officers left the police department, they told the policemen not to call an ambulance, because I was pretending to be sick. I was brought to consciousness with antiseptics: they sprayed it on my hands and on my temples. They also pressed on my jaw to bring me to consciousness. At the police department, they brought me a scarf sprinkled with something and told me to breathe it in. An ambulance was called after they saw that I was barely sitting on a chair and falling down.

They asked the doctors to drive faster and with the light bar on. Before they arrived, they helped me up so that I would not fall. When they called an ambulance, they put me on the floor and checked if everything was fine with me.

When the ambulance arrived, the policemen wondered if I was faking it. The doctors said they had to take me to hospital. At this moment, the policemen were calling their boss to ask him if they should take my phone. Then a policeman said that if I did not say the password, I would have to return to the police department again. However, I did not have the strength to answer, I just lay in a subconscious. As a result, they returned my torn backpack, which was covered in blood, and my phone.”

The 21-year-old student with his blood-stained backpack and sweatshirt

The guy is now being treated at the hospital. Doctors diagnosed him with a traumatic brain injury, a moderate brain hemorrhage, a broken nose, multiple hematomas and injuries to the body.