"Road police officers broke my arm during detention." 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.
Aliaksei Prakharenka works as a taxi driver in Minsk. On August 11, he was driving a client when he was stopped and then detained by road policemen. During the detention, they broke Aliaksei's arm. That was the reason why he spent only half an hour in the detention center in Akrescin Street. Nevertheless, in this short time, he had to see a lot.
Aliaksei was driving in the city at around 7.30 pm when he was stopped by road policemen. He presented the driving license, but refused to give it to the officers who demanded so. They began to beat the driver, put on handcuffs and threw him into another car. The client was bluntly thrown out of the car. Aliaksei reports he was being beaten all the way to the Central police department.
At the police department, Aliaksei was immediately taken to the riot police who stayed in the yard.
“There I saw a horrible scene: men and women were beaten with batons. They lay on the ground, some of them were on their knees. The riot policemen would pass by and hit them with batons. I have never seen such cruelty in Belarus,” recollects Aliaksei.
The taxi driver spent about half an hour in the Centralny district police department. There must have been no more room, so he was transferred to Frunzienski police department and brought to a gym. In the gym, people lay on the floor, many were put on their knees, while the police harassed them, beat with batons and kicked. People were handcuffed. The riot policemen laughed and shouted that they would teach the detained how to love the president.
"They made us sign the reports. Those who refused were beaten, many blacked out. At Frunzienski district police department, I noticed my arm was swollen. I asked for a medic, but nobody cared."
Aliaksei was put into a cell for a short time and then taken to the detention center.
"There we were immediately thrown to the ground. One of the riot policemen noticed that I had a swollen arm and called a medic. The latter examined me and said I needed an ambulance. While I was waiting for the doctor, they held me separately and had a chance to look around. I saw them beating a pregnant woman. When I was being taken to the ambulance, I saw them chasing around a crowd of people in the yard and beating them with batons. Those who fell were kicked and lifted again. I was shocked."
The driver stayed in the detention center for 30-40 minutes. In the ambulance, there were four people with injuries. As for the reason for his detention, Aliaksei says:
"I couldn't read the report back then. But when my friends were looking for me, they found out that I had been detained for "minor hooliganism" and "resisting detention." They didn't accept my application. They also referred to the fact that my passenger had not been fastened, allegedly that was the reason for my detention."
More stories of people who survived police violence and torture:
Siarhei Herasimovich was detained on 10 August at 9 p.m. near the Yubileynaya Hotel in Minsk. He was walking with his journalist colleagues when the cars on the avenue started beeping. Siarhei raised his hand in a Victory sign. Suddenly, the riot police shouted: "Come here!" The journalist walked up and was brutally thrown into the police van where the policemen started beating him with batons.
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.”
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 police van, 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 police van, 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.