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Responding to the arrest of more than 1,000 people in a single day of peaceful protest in Minsk and other Belarusian cities, Marie Struthers, Amnesty International’s Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, said:

“Over the weekend, the security forces under the command of President Alyaksandr Lukashenka escalated reprisals against peaceful dissent and took the human rights crisis in Belarus to a new level, with gruesome footage of riot police beating unarmed demonstrators and officers shoving elderly people into police vans.

“These acts add weight to the already heavy dossier of government violations of human rights, including unlawful use of force, arbitrary mass arrests, torture and ill-treatment of people who speak out against Lukashenka’s government. Hundreds of those arrested face up to 15 days of administrative detention, which can be applied multiple times amounting to lengthy imprisonment intended to silence and intimidate.

“Hundreds of thousands of Amnesty International supporters around the globe are demanding that the Belarusian authorities stop repression and start respecting human rights. We as a global movement will make sure that those who commit human rights violations against peaceful protesters or give the orders – will one day face justice.”

According to the human rights group Viasna, security forces detained at least 1,053 people over the weekend in Minsk and other major Belarusian cities as protesters turned out on the streets for the 14th consecutive Sunday. At least nine journalists were detained while reporting, according to the Belarusian Association of Journalists.

In Minsk, the police prevented the formation of a single column. The protesters were split in several separate groups that were actively chased by the police. The detentions continued in Minsk in the evening after the protests ended. According to eyewitnesses and video footage, police used force indiscriminately and beat protesters and bystanders.

Media contact: media@aiusa.org