Protesters beaten and arrested
After Sunday’s presidential election in Belarus Vladimir Nyaklyaeu, the biggest challenger of the opposition to the dictator Alexander Lukashenko, was severely beaten on his way to a demonstration. He was taken to hospital with a concussion on Sunday night. Later that night, men stormed into his hospital room, wrapped him in a blanket and abducted Nyaklyaeu. No one has heard from him since.
To remove a badly beaten person from his hospital bed is nothing but a mafia method. We are not certain who is behind the abduction, but it’s scary enough to be reminded of the early 2000s when four prominent dissidents disappeared and have still not been found, says Joanna Kurosz, program director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia on Civil Rights Defenders.
Protests broke out in Minsk after Lukashenko’s victory. Over ten thousand people gathered in the streets to show their disapproval with the election results, and were met by riot police and truncheons. The authorities chose, as in 2006, to take a hard line against the opposition and its supporters.
Hundreds of people have been arrested, while most of the opposition presidential candidates have been beaten and several of them also abducted. ? ?Several journalists who have monitored the elections have also been beaten and arrested.
Police raided human rights organizations’ offices and confiscated computers and other equipment during raids. Several human rights defenders have also been arrested by security forces, among them employees of Belarusian Helsinki Committee.
Unfortunately, this proves what has been obvious to us a long time: that the Belarusian regime’s slow “democratization” in the last two years is nothing more than an attempt to appease the West. Lukashenko has made sure to keep all their means of repression and now he has used them, says Joanna Kurosz.
Civil Rights Defenders’ Executive Director Robert Hårdh was in Minsk during the elections to support our Belarusian colleagues and to monitor the situation. He can be reached at telephone number: +46 709 14 63 14.
You can also follow Robert Hårdh and Civil Rights Defenders on Facebook. Please help us spread the information. The picture is from Viasna’s press conference on the 20th of December.
Tags: Harassment, Monitoring, opposition, Presidential election 2010, Viasna, and Violence against journalists.