Source: Viasna Belarus Human Rights Center in English
The Human Rights Center “Viasna” and the World Organization Against Torture (OMCT) launched a campaign to document cases of torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of protesters on August 9-13. Some testimonies of people who survived torture and violence will be published on our website as evidence of crimes committed by security forces.
18-year-old Illia was detained on August 11 near “Pushkinskaya” metro station when he was driving to his native city. He told “Viasna” how inhumanely he was treated and beaten in the police department and in the detention center in Akrescin Street.
“He said that I was a ‘petty oppositionist’ and that I was toast.”
“Our car was stopped by riot policemen. We locked ourselves in, but they said if we didn’t open, they would break the windows. I opened the door, and a riot police officer immediately started looking through my phone. He opened Telegram and saw that there were Telegram channels covering protests and photos from the rallies taken earlier.
I was immediately hit in the stomach and taken from the car to the police van, where they put me on my knees and began to insult me. There, another riot policeman took my phone and started examining it. According to him, he found ‘a lot of interesting things’ and said that I was a ‘petty oppositionist’ and I was toast. The first blow from him came to the jaw, and I felt a piece of my tooth break off.”
“I asked them to stop, but it turned them on even more.”
Illia says he was brought to Frunzienski District Directorate of Internal Affairs. There, he was dragged out of the van, and eight riot policemen began hitting him in the head, groin, and kidneys.
“I asked them to stop, but it turned them on even more. I fainted after I had got a punch on the left side of my face and hit my head against the wall. I came round in the hall of the police department from a kick to my leg. I lay down for about an hour after I had woke up. People were brutally beaten there. There were loud screams and groans. People asked them to stop, but all policemen ignored it.
Then we were taken to the gym. There were many people there, too. We could hear loud heartbreaking screams. We were put on our knees, our hands were handcuffed, we were ordered to rest our heads on the floor. When we were getting on our knees, each of us was hit 3-4 times: on the back, on the buttocks, in the head with a baton. In the gym, they broke people’s fingers, tortured them with tasers, deliberately hit in the groin, smashed phones… They did not spare anyone.”
“He started torturing me with a taser.”
“After taking my personal details, an officer came up and started torturing me with a taser. He asked how much I had been paid. I told him that no one had paid me at all, I had been just going home, but the torture continued. Then he said that he would get on to me and went to torture the next person. If we made a movement while standing, a blow came right away. I was taken to the shower room, there was a person who was mocking us.
Another riot policeman sat near the cell, asked questions and recorded the process on a camera. They put me on my knees again and when they called my number and last name, I was told to come to the table. There, two policemen made an inventory of our belongings and we signed the reports. I had facial injuries, one of my eyes was bunged up, and blood got in the other one, so I could see nothing. I asked them to say that I was signing, but they hit me and said, ‘What do you care?’ I had to sign two reports. Then they took me to a cell at the police department. There were four people there who wanted to make room for me because they saw my physical condition. I refused, but the next moment I fell down on my knees. By morning, there had been six of us in the cell. All night my cellmates and I asked the officers on duty to call an ambulance and bring me a bucket because I was sick and dizzy and my whole body ached. But nobody reacted. In the morning, we were taken to the toilet and were allowed to wash. Then they took is to the gym, where we were formed in columns to be taken somewhere. They took ten people at a time. They called us names in every possible way. Such insults sounded: ‘Bastards, scumbags, you should be shot!’ They put us in a police van.”
Bruises on the victim’s body
Illia described what happened when people were brought to the detention center.
“There were a lot of people there. Some of the detainees were marked, and they were treated with extreme cruelty. Those who had bats, helmets, firecrackers, flags, white ribbons were marked.
People asked for medical help. A paramedic came, a local employee, as far as I understood, and began beating people. She said: ‘I will cure you here, that’ll teach you how to protest.’ Then miraculously an ambulance appeared in the detention center and took several people at once. We asked the medics to get us out of there. Then, about five ambulances arrived. The most crippled and beaten of us were loaded into cars. The medics were ready to drive standing to stuff more people in those cars. I was also put in an ambulance, where we sat for 30-40 minutes. As it turned out, we were waiting for some chief because he wanted to assess the situation. He came and ordered everyone to get out of the car. That chief said: ‘We have our own paramedic here, and she will decide who will go away and who will stay.’
A total of three people left, while the rest stayed. We stood outside by the wall for about six hours. We stood facing the ground, and if the riot police thought that the head was not on the right level, they beat us. Inside the building, we were ordered to kneel down, and they started to bring people into the corridor in packs of 20.
There, we were ordered to get naked and were searched. We were beaten during that process either. We sat completely naked on bare concrete in the open air. Then they ordered to get dressed. When everyone was inspected, we were already allowed to sit down in more comfortable positions. We started to lie down, to sit close to each other to get warmer. There was a strong draught from the gate. At night, we were moved to the exercise yard. There we heard how a new party was brought. The screams were hellish. Those people were ‘marked.’ They were punched, hit with batons, kicked, tased.”
More stories of people who survived police violence and torture:
“White paint was poured on my head. It was like a sign to beat me harder.” Survivor stories
Stas and his friend were walking along Arlouskaya Street when they were overtaken by two vans with tinted windows. A law enforcement officer wearing a green uniform came out. The couple asked him how dangerous it was to go forward.
“One of them beats you and the other aims at you with a machine gun.” Survivor stories
28-year-old Minsk resident Uladzislau Salavei, a kindergarten teacher assistant, was detained on August 9 and placed in the detention center in Akrescin Street. There, he was sentenced to 14 days of arrest and then transferred to a compulsory rehabilitation center near Sluck to serve his time.
“They took away my bra with a breast prosthesis.” Survivor stories
Maryia Ambrosava from Minsk told Viasna how she and her husband Yury went to a police station on August 10 to report their son missing, but found themselves in a police van and spent four days in the detention center in Akrescin Street. All these days, they were not aware that their son had been released, so when people were shouting from beatings, Maryia felt it was her son who was screaming.
“Road police officers broke my arm during detention.” Survivor stories
Aliaksei Prakharenka works as a taxi driver in Minsk. On August 11, he was driving a client when he was stopped and then detained by road policemen. During the detention, they broke Aliaksei’s arm. That was the reason why he spent only half an hour in the detention center in Akrescin Street. Nevertheless, in this short time, he had to see a lot.
“I was lucky to be a journalist and to have my kidneys thrashed previously.” Survivor stories
Siarhei Herasimovich was detained on 10 August at 9 p.m. near the Yubileynaya Hotel in Minsk. He was walking with his journalist colleagues when the cars on the avenue started beeping. Siarhei raised his hand in a Victory sign. Suddenly, the riot police shouted: “Come here!” The journalist walked up and was brutally thrown into the police van where the policemen started beating him with batons.
“We will shoot you and you will never be found.” Survivor stories
18-year-old Uladzimir Pahartsau says that he was not beaten so hard compared to other detainees, because he was chosen to give an interview to a state TV channel about the “coordinators of the protests.”
“We were trampled in the police bus.” Survivor stories
23-year-old Yury Panamarou was detained in the evening of August 11 on his way to a street food market in central Minsk. He told Viasna about the cruelty of his unjustified detention and the conditions under which he was kept for two days in the detention center in Akrescin Street.
“Now we’ll show you how to s..t your pants.” Survivor stories
On August 11, Dzianis Selivankin was approached by two police officers at the intersection of Pieramožcaŭ Avenue and Mieĺnikajte Street. They asked for his ID. Dzianis replied that he had no passport with him. Then the young man was forced to unlock his smartphone. What they saw in Dzianis’s Telegram enraged them.
“So you are for Tsikhanouskaya?” Survivor stories
Vasil Hushcha (48) was detained in the evening of August 9 near the Maskva cinema next to Niamiha street. He was freed in the morning of August 14. Vasil told “Viasna” about the tortures in the detention center on the Akrescin Street, his transfer to a prison in Žodzina (60 km from Minsk) and the conditions there.
“Officers abused me all the time because I’m black.” Survivor stories
Hleb was detained on August 11 near the shopping center “Skala”. He says that the riot policemen detained him when he simply walked down the street with headphones on his head. He spend the next three days in the police station of Maskouski district, then in the detention center on Akrescin Street and finally in a correctional facility in Sluck.
“They kicked me in the head with their police boots.” Survivor stories
I turned up by chance, they put me in a bus or in a police van, I don’t remember which. They took my phone away at once, broke it, asked for the password, I do not understand on what grounds. Then they took me to the Maskoŭski police department. They didn’t beat me much in the police van, but started beating in the police department.
“People were screaming every night.” Survivor stories
A Minsk resident was detained on August 9 and left the Center for the Confinement of Offenders on the morning of August 12. All this time he, like the other detainees, was deprived of food. Forty people were held in a six-men cell, and riot police insulted and beat people at night. The guy, who chose to remain anonymous, agreed to tell Viasna what he had to go through.