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Human Rights Situation in October 2020

(November 2, 2020)


Image source: Facebook page of Viasna



  • during the month, the authorities continued to routinely prosecute citizens for political reasons. There are 101 political prisoners at the moment, and the number continues to increase. The total number of people targeted by criminal cases in the election and post-election period is more than 700 people;
  • the release from custody of seven political prisoners who took part in a “roundtable” with Aliaksandr Lukashenka in the KGB pre-trial prison did not significantly change the repressive policies pursued by the country’s authorities and was clearly propagandistic;
  • the authorities continued the practice of forcibly dispersing peaceful protests and using violence against their participants;
  • the total number of citizens detained for attending meetings during the month is at least 3,000. The total number of persons detained for participating in peaceful assemblies since the beginning of the election campaign is over 16,000;
  • on October 2, Andrei Chapiuk, a volunteer at the Human Rights Center “Viasna”, was charged under part 2 of Art. 293 of the Criminal Code (participation in riots). Just like Viasna’s human rights activist Marfa Rabkova who was arrested earlier, Chapiuk is in custody in pre-trial detention center No. 1 in Minsk. During the month, there were other reports of pressure on human rights defenders in connection with their human rights activities, as well as pressure on lawyers involved in politically motivated criminal cases;
  • The prosecutor’s office and the Investigative Committee have not opened a single criminal case to investigate reports of systematic and widespread torture of individuals detained between 9 and 12 August. At the same time, law enforcement officials continue to use torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment against detained protesters;
  • in response to the beginning of strikes or attempts to hold them, the authorities intensified pressure on people involved in striking activities or calling to join them. There were numerous cases of dismissals and expulsions of active members of striking initiatives;
  • in general, the Human Rights Center “Viasna” notes a further intensification of repressions and a deterioration of the human rights crisis in the country.

Political prisoners and politically motivated persecution

Criminal prosecution of citizens is one of the main types of repression used by the Belarusian authorities during the election and post-election period.

During October authorities continued to prosecute politically motivated citizens, indicating the continuing acute phase of the human rights crisis in the country.

Investigators continue to initiate criminal proceedings under Art. 293 of the Criminal Code (mass riots). Experts of the Human Rights Center “Viasna” have repeatedly disagreed with the qualification of the demonstrations on August 9-12 as riots, as the protesters did not commit the actions that constitute the disposition of Art. 293 of the Criminal Code (arson, destruction of property, etc.), nor did they engage in armed resistance to police officers.

On October 1, European Belarus activists Andrei Voinich, Yauhen Afnahel and Pavel Yukhnevich were statement said.

On September 30, journalist and human rights activist Maryna Kastylianchanka was arbitrarily detained in Minsk.

The death penalty

On the occasion of the International Day against the Death Penalty, which is celebrated worldwide on October 10, the campaign “Human Rights Defenders against the Death Penalty in Belarus” held its annual Week against the Death Penalty. This year, the Week, which lasted from October 5 to 10, was held under the slogan “The death penalty is an element of the violence system.”

The festival “Rock for Life. Musicians for the introduction of a moratorium on the death penalty” was held online on October 10. Belarusian bands and performers gathered on one stage, including NIZKIZ, Dai Darogu!, Petlya Pristrastiya, Lera Yaskevich, Uladzimir Puhach, Tor Band, and Razbitaye Sertsa Patsana.

Freedom of expression

The told Viasna about his detention, beating and threats.

Five 17-year-old students of several Minsk universities were detained on October 27 after a rally of solidarity with students held in the BSU’s campus. Four of them were severely beaten by security forces in a police bus, after which all of them were diagnosed with concussions, and some with craniocerebral injuries, broken noses and other injuries. Four students were charged under two articles of the Administrative Code: 23.34 (participation in an unauthorized mass event) and 23.4 (disobedience to a lawful order or requirement of an official in the performance of his official duties). The student told Viasna how they faced the brutality of the security forces.

People who were serving terms of administrative detention for exercising their basic rights noted the inhumane conditions of their detention, which the Interior Ministry representatives deliberately organized for them in detention centers.

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