Hundreds arrested in Belarus protests
PR dla Zagranicy
Several hundred people were arrested across Belarus on Wednesday after another wave of protests against the Lukashenko regime.
An imprisoned Belarusian protestor holds a slingshot in a prison cell to catapult a message for his relatives and friends who wait outside the prison walls to bring food and clothes in Minsk, Belarus, 07.07.2011. Photo: PAP/EPA/Tatyana Zenkovich
Human Rights group Vesna and the Belarusian Journalists’ Association have put the figure at about 380, 190 of whom were detained in Minsk.
The protests were organised on social networking websites. However, in contrast to previous actions, on this occasion demonstrations were proposed at more varied locations, both in the capital and elsewhere, following on from last Sunday’s events at the central October Square in Minsk.
Activists appeared at eight different locations in the Belarusian capital. The form of protest involved groups of people clapping, a new form of protest which led Belarusian authorities to ban at last weekend’s independence day parades in Minsk.
Outside the capital, some 500 people are reported to have converged on the central square in the city of Grodno alone. The demonstrators were soon dispersed.
According to Polish sources, about 25 journalists were detained amongst the protesters. These included Agnieszka Lichnerowicz of TOK FM. The majority, including Lichnerowicz, appear to have been released.
Reporters from the BBC and AP noted that they witnessed activists being beaten. Polish sources have also cited ‘brutal’ measures by the security forces.
Frequent protests by opposition activists have taken place over the last month, crowning a tense six months since the re-election of President Lukashenko last December, an event which sparked riots and a corresponding clampdown.
The economic situation in Belarus – one of Europe’s poorest states – has also taken a dive in recent weeks, with a 36 percent devaluation of the local currency. (nh/jb)