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Human Rights Situation in November 2020

(December 2, 2020)


People demonstrate during the March of Neighbors on November 29 in Minsk. Photo:



  • During the month, the authorities continued to actively prosecute citizens for political reasons. There are 146 political prisoners held in prisons, as their number continues to increase. A total of over 900 individuals have been targeted by criminal cases during the presidential campaign and in the post-election period;
  • the authorities continued the practice of forcibly dispersing peaceful protests and using violence against demonstrators;
  • at least 4,000 people were detained for attending street rallies during the month was. A total of 30,000 persons have been detained for participating in peaceful assemblies since the beginning of the election campaign in May;
  • neither the prosecutor’s offices nor the Investigative Committee has initiated a single criminal case to address reports of systematic and widespread torture of detained protesters between  August 9 and 12, while several victims have already received notifications saying that their complaints would not be investigated. Impunity results in law enforcement officials’ continued use of torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of detained protesters;
  • a particular public outcry was sparked by the death of Raman Bandarenka on November 12, as well as the ensuing brutal dispersal of a peaceful memorial protest and the arrest of Belsat journalists Katsiaryna Andreyeva and Darya Chultsova, a reporter Katsiaryna Barysevich and a doctor of Minsk Emergency Hospital Artsiom Sarokin;
  • despite media reports suggesting the involvement of a number of high-ranking officials close to Lukashenka in Bandarenka’s death, no criminal investigation has been launched, which raises public suspicions about the true perpetrators;
  • the violations of the right to life of Henadz Shutau, Aliaksandr Taraikouski, Aliaksandr Vikhor and Raman Bandarenka have not been recognized by the authorities and are not being investigated;
  • in general, experts of the Human Rights Center “Viasna” note a further intensification of repressions and a worsening of the human rights crisis in the country against the background of the degradation of the country’s legal system and its adjustment to repression against citizens.

Political prisoners and politically motivated persecution

Criminal prosecution remains one of the main tools of repression used by the Belarusian authorities since the announcement of the presidential election in May and intensified in the post-election period.

In November, the authorities stepped up repression and intensified criminal prosecution for political reasons, which indicates a deepening of the already profound human rights crisis.

On November 2, the Investigative Committee announced the initiation of a criminal case under Art. 342 of the Criminal Code (organization or active participation in group actions that grossly violate public order). The case reportedly stems from a post-election protest held the previous day in Minsk. Despite the absolutely peaceful nature of the demonstration, 231 people were named suspects in the case.

Both Belarusian and international human rights organizations special statement in response to the allegations, recognizing Barysevich and Sarokin as prisoners of conscience and demanding their immediate release.

Belsat TV journalists Katsiaryna Andreyeva and Darya Chultsova were detained and later taken into custody after the Belsat TV channel covered the rally in memory of Raman Bandarenka. They are charged under Art. 342 of the Criminal Code (organization or active participation in group actions that grossly violate public order).

On November 18, FIDH President Alice Mogwe video went online showing the “interrogation” of a 30-year-old designer detained at the protest. Presumably, the conversation took place in a police car. According to, after his detention the young man was brought to the Lieninski District Police Department of Minsk and later taken away in an ambulance and diagnosed with a concussion, a broken nose and other injuries.

Raman Bandarenka, who was beaten on November 11 in his neighborhood in Minsk, died in hospital the following day. After being beaten, Raman was taken to the Centraĺny District Police Department and later to hospital with severe cerebral edema, closed craniocerebral trauma, subdural hematomas and other injuries. The operation lasted several hours, but the surgeons were unable to save his life.

Multiple video footage of the incident and eyewitness accounts allow us to conclude that officers of special units of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Belarus may have been involved in the crime.

Human rights organizations issued a statement of November 19 signed by ten UN experts, including the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions Agnès Callamard, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression Irene Khan, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus Anaïs Marin, Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment Nils Melzer, as well as members of the UN working group on arbitrary detention.

Persecution of journalists

Three journalists have become suspects in a criminal case. Belsat TV contributors Dzmitry Soltan (Buyanau), Zmitser Krauchuk and Artsiom Bahaslauski were detained on November 1 during the March Against Terror in Minsk. On November 2, they were called suspects in a criminal case of “mass riots” (Article 342 of the Criminal Code). It is known that Soltan was beaten before being taken to the Kastryčnicki District Police Department. Another detainee, who was released the same day, said that the journalist was “beaten during the detention, beaten in the police van, then beaten on the head with his own camera, and the camera was broken.”

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