Status: 03/28/2021 11:29 am
The security forces in Belarus tried to suppress new protests against President Alexander Lukashenko with a massive contingent. At least 245 people were arrested. Journalists were among them.
According to human rights organizations, at least 245 people were arrested in new protests in Belarus against ruler Alexander Lukashenko on Saturday. According to the Wesna Human Rights Center, most of the arrests were in the capital, Minsk. The authorities had previously spoken of more than 100 arrested.
DW journalist arrested
The opposition had previously announced major protests. Photos and videos showed that people only walked the streets in small groups or alone. The opposition wrote in the news channel Telegram that it had not been possible to mobilize many people. The police were in large numbers in Minsk in particular, and many prisoner transports could be seen. Photos and videos in social networks also showed sometimes brutal scenes.
The media reported indiscriminate arrests in the streets and squares. The journalists’ association announced that there were several media representatives among them. A correspondent for Deutsche Welle (DW) was also affected. He was arrested in the afternoon while filming and detained for around five hours, said Deutsche Welle. It was the reporter’s second arrest in a week.
Weakened protest movement
There had been no major protests over the winter – also for fear of police violence. It was not until Thursday that hundreds of people took to the streets against Lukashenko for the first time on the so-called Freedom Day. The authorities said there were more than 200 arrests. It was also investigated against motorists who honked on the street out of solidarity with the demonstrators.
After the presidential election on August 9 last year, which was widely regarded as falsified, hundreds of thousands of people demanded Lukashenko’s resignation and new elections. The police brutally attacked demonstrators. Several people were killed, tens of thousands arrested and hundreds sentenced to long prison terms.
Opposition calls for a “peaceful way out”
The civil rights activist Svetlana Tichanowskaja, who is seen by the opposition as the true winner of the presidential election, again campaigned for negotiations with the authoritarian leadership under international mediation. So a “peaceful way out of the crisis in Belarus” could be found, she wrote on Telegram. More than 750,000 people have already voted to start such negotiations on a specially set up online platform.
The head of state, criticized as the last dictator in Europe, does not want to resign and has merely promised constitutional reforms, the scope of which has not been clearly defined. Lukashenko had been declared the winner again after 26 years in power. The EU no longer recognizes him as president and imposed sanctions on him and dozens of other alleged perpetrators of electoral fraud and violence. He relies on Russia as an ally.