Belarus election: Claims of 'widespread torture' against jailed protesters - BBC News

Published by BBC.CO.UK

Summary generated on August 14, 2020

    EPA Human rights activists and monitors say there is growing evidence of police brutality against people who have been detained in Belarus as protests over the disputed election continue.

    Some of the 6,700 people detained since Sunday have been released and allege mistreatment, including beatings.

    Belarus has seen five days of protests amid widespread allegations of vote rigging.

    President Alexander Lukashenko was declared the victor by election authorities, although supporters of the main opposition figure, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, insist she won.

    In a statement on state television, Senate Speaker Natalya Kochanova said the president had ordered an investigation into the mass detention of protesters, and that more than 1,000 had been freed.

    Amnesty International said people who had been arrested described being stripped naked, beaten and threatened with rape.

    Separately, a group of five UN human rights experts said the response of the security forces to peaceful protests had been harsh, with frequent use of excessive, unnecessary and indiscriminate force, AFP news agency reports.

    Interior Minister Yuri Karayev said he took responsibility for people being injured during the protests, and that he would like to apologise to those who got caught up in the violence.

    One demonstrator died during a protest in Minsk on Monday while a man died after being arrested in the south-eastern city of Gomel on Wednesday.

    Now back in Russia, he describes people lying on the floor of a detention centre, piled on top of each other, in a pool of blood and excrement.

    Not only had he not been protesting, but he was asleep in bed when the police came to his flat, kicked down the door and took him away.

    Several strikes have been reported at state-owned factories, where workers object to the violent treatment of protesters.

    Video footage shared on social media showed opposition figure Maria Kolesnikova joining the female protesters in Minsk, holding a bunch of flowers.

    Veronika Tsepkalo fled Belarus on the day of the vote while the main opposition candidate in the election, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, was briefly detained on Monday before being forced to leave for Lithuania.

    Mr Lukashenko dismissed her bid, saying a woman could not lead Belarus.