Belarus: Amid vicious crackdown on peaceful protesters, authorities arrest workers planning strike
In response to the latest police violence in Belarus and the arrest of hundreds of people in peaceful protests on 25 October and at the start of today’s national strike, Denis Krivosheev, Amnesty International's Acting Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia said:
“In response to the Lukashenka government’s crackdown on peaceful protests, opposition leaders called for a national strike beginning today. We see with shock and dismay how this regime, which has unleashed weeks of unspeakable violence against protesters in streets and prisons, today sent masked riot police to beat and arrest striking workers at their workplaces. A frank disregard is being shown for the most basic of human rights, and the right to strike is now one more that is being mercilessly crushed with police boots and batons.
“Only last night, stun grenades and rubber bullets were fired directly into a peaceful crowd at short range. Protesters running away were chased, shot at and beaten. There is disturbing footage of riot police storming into a private apartment and beating those inside it. Law enforcement officers have completely abandoned their oath to protect fellow citizens and have been given free rein to use indiscriminate violence and mass arbitrary arrests against them.
Law enforcement officers have completely abandoned their oath to protect fellow citizens and have been given free rein to use indiscriminate violence and mass arbitrary arrests against them
“The Belarusian government must immediately end police violence against peaceful protesters. Authorities must immediately and unconditionally release all those arrested and facing administrative or criminal proceedings merely for trying to exercise their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, and their rights to form independent associations and to strike.”
On 26 October, workers from Grodno Azot, one of Belarus’ leading chemical companies were detained as they were about to join the strike. Police started arresting them as early as 7am. According to Human Rights Centre Vyasna, over 100 people have been arrested in connection with the strike.
On 25 October, police used rubber bullets and stun grenades on a peaceful rally in Minsk of about 100,000 people. Vyasna said over 300 people were detained in Minsk and other Belarusian cities for taking part in peaceful rallies.