Belarusian security forces arbitrarily detained thousands of people and systematically subjected hundreds to torture and other ill- treatment in the days following the August 9, 2020 presidential election, Human Rights Watch said today:
The victims described beatings, prolonged stress positions, electric shocks, and in at least one case, rape, and said they saw other detainees suffer the same or worse abuse. They had serious injuries, including broken bones, cracked teeth, skin wounds, electrical burns, and mild traumatic brain injuries. Some had kidney damage. Six of the people interviewed were hospitalized, for one to five days. Police held detainees in custody for several days, often incommunicado, in overcrowded and unhygienic conditions….From August 9 to 13, police arrested nearly 7,000 people amid an unprecedented wave of popular and largely peaceful protests. They alleged widespread election irregularities that led to the contested re-election of the incumbent, Aleksander Lukashenka, who has been in power since 1994.
“The sweeping brutality of the crackdown shows the lengths to which the Belarusian authorities will go to silence people, but tens of thousands of peaceful protesters continue to demand fair elections and justice for abuses,” said Hugh Williamson, Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The United Nations and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) should urgently set in motion inquiries to ensure that evidence is collected that could contribute to accountability for grave human rights violations.”