Belarus: Investigative Committee on Torture reveals extent of violence against opponents

Inmates arrested during anti-Lukashenko protests leave Okrestina prison, August 14, 2020 (illustration image). AFP - SERGEI GAPON

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Two and a half years after the massive protests against the re-election of Alexander Lukashenko in the summer of 2020, the International Committee of Inquiry into Torture of Belarus has published a public inquiry that describes the inhumane detention conditions in Okrestina. This detention camp in Minsk has housed thousands of detainees from the ranks of opponents of the regime.


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Beatings, deprivation of water, food, people crammed into overcrowded cells... The International Committee of Inquiry on Torture collected testimonies from 101 people who passed through Okrestina between 9 and 14 August 2020, at the height of the crackdown on anti-Lukashenko protesters.

The detention centre that was supposed to house up to 110 people saw more than 3,000 pass through during these five days. According to the testimonies collected, the cells were so full that it was difficult to breathe. Due to lack of space, people had to spend the night in the courtyard.

Crimes against humanity

One former detainee said his group spent more than an hour kneeling on a concrete floor with their hands behind their backs before being ordered to crawl under baton blows. A man beaten in the crotch remembers that when he asked, "Why are you beating me," he was told, "So that you can't beget people like you again."

Witnesses recount the unbearable cries and the sounds of the cracking of bones. The rapporteurs note that from the point of view of international criminal law, these acts of violence can be qualified as crimes against humanity. The testimonies identified thirteen people involved in the acts of torture, including the director of the detention center, who is still in office.

► Read also: Torture massively used in Belarus, according to several NGOs

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Read on on the same topics:

  • Belarus
  • Human rights
  • UN
  • Alexandre Loukachenko

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