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Human rights activists in Belarus collect 500 testimonies by tortured protesters

According to the human rights advocates, peaceful demonstrators were attacked by crack units of the Interior Ministry, who disproportionately used special gear and weapons and beat up detainees

MINSK, September 18. /TASS/. Belarusian human rights activists say they have collected more than 500 testimonies by detained protest demonstrators who complained of torture.

"At the moment the human rights center Vyasna has collected more than 500 testimonies by victims of torture. Human rights activists are in the process of classifying them and writing a report," the human rights center said on its website.

The center says the Investigative Committee has received about 1,200 grievances from people who complained about "moral and psychological pressure."

"However, the Investigative Committee has not opened a single criminal case," the human rights activists say. They claim that peaceful demonstrators were attacked in many Belarusian cities by crack units of the Interior Ministry, who absolutely disproportionately used special gear and weapons and beat up detainees during detention, inside police vehicles and at police stations and detention centers.

Human rights activists also say that after the August 9 presidential election there have been 180 detentions of journalists, including 21 arrests. Also, there have been at least 40 detentions of journalists working for foreign media. The human rights center says the UN Human Rights Council will meet for a session in Geneva on Friday to hold urgent debates on Belarus. The center’s activists believe it is essential to brief the public at large and international organizations on mass torture.

Earlier, Belarusian human rights organizations acting in the interest of 47 former detainees addressed the UN Committee Against Torture with a documented statement about cases of brutal and humiliating treatment. The human rights activists also gathered information about victims of torture and brutal treatment. They say that on August 12-20 alone testimonies by several hundred victims were collected. The complaints are confirmed by photographs and video recordings. Testimonies by more than 100 victims were recorded.

Nationwide demonstrations have engulfed Belarus following the August 9 presidential election. According to the Central Election Commission’s official results, incumbent President Alexander Lukashenko won by a landslide, garnering 80.10% of the vote. His closest rival in the race, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, came in second, with 10.12% of the ballot. However, she refused to recognize the election’s outcome, and left Belarus for Lithuania. After the results of the exit polls were announced late on August 9, mass protests erupted in downtown Minsk and other Belarusian cities. During the early post-election period, the rallies snowballed into fierce clashes between the protesters and police. The current unrest is being cheered on by the opposition’s Coordination Council, which has been beating the drum for more protests. In response, the Belarusian authorities have castigated the ongoing turmoil and demanded that these unauthorized demonstrations be stopped.