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Belarus: Protesters dispersed with tear gas, many detained

04.07.2011    source:

On Sunday evening large numbers of people were detained in Minsk, with the police using tear gas. The day before there had been a call on the Internet to come out on 3 July, on the official Independence Day for the latest silent protest, where people stand and in silence clap their hands in unison as a protest against the policy of the Lukashenko regime.

Even this means of protest in Belarus makes the authorities twitchy. During the morning parade where Lukashenko took part, there was a huge number of police officers who arrested all those who tried to clap. Charter 97 notes the absurdity: after Lukashenko’s speech, nobody dared clap.

Charter 97 says that despite mass police presence and exits from the metro and subways closed, there were around a thousand people gathered around the railway station. Hundreds greeted them from the windows of the station, while others clapped from the windows of apartment blocks around. 

Those who came out onto the square were arrested by men in plain clothes who did not identify themselves or provide any documents. People resisted arrest by these unidentified individuals. Both the protesters and passers-by shouted, trying to stop the unlawful arrests.

Tear gas was used, and protesters beaten.  Charter 97 says that more than 100 people were arrested near the station, while human rights activists report that at least 70 people were arrested during the morning’s military parade. The figures, they say, may be higher. 

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