Protestors in Minsk demand release of political prisoners
Tens of thousands of people protested in Minsk, Belarus Sunday. People on the streets of the metropolis, dissatisfied with the authoritarian government of President Alexander Lukashenko, demanded the release of political prisoners. Police used water cannons against them and arrested over a hundred of them, news agencies write. Protests also took place in other Belarusian cities.
Footage from Minsk showed crowds of people heading for the center and masked security forces taking protesters to minibusses. The human rights organization Vyasna said 103 people were detained.
According to the opposition website Nexta, over a hundred thousand people took part in the protest. The official numbers of protesters tend to be lower.
Mass protests against Lukashenko’s regime sparked the presidential election in early August this year. Oppositionists and protesters consider Lukashenko’s officially announced victory in the presidential election with more than 80 percent of the vote to be forged; Since then, tens of thousands of people have been meeting in Minsk every Sunday. The votes’ results are not recognized by the European Union, which imposed sanctions on 40 Belarusian officials on Friday.
Sunday’s protest was dedicated to “political prisoners,” Nexta said while calling for people to march on the Minsk prison, where participants in previous gatherings are being held. “Let them out,” the crowd chanted in front of the Minsk prison on Okrestina Street.
Reuters reported that more than 13,000 people were detained during nearly 60 days of protest and that opposition leaders ended up either in prison or abroad.
As in previous protests, the Belarusian authorities deployed riot police, armored vehicles, and water cannons to Minsk’s streets. They have also reduced the mobile internet and reduced public transport traffic.
Minsk canceled all foreign media accreditation on Friday, which made it difficult for journalists to inform from the spot, notes AFP.