MINSK, Belarus — Accounts of violent beatings of protesters and brutal mass detentions mounted in Belarus on Thursday because the nation’s embattled president, Aleksandr G. Lukashenko, deployed brute pressure to cling to energy.
Widespread protests in opposition to Mr. Lukashenko, an authoritarian who has dominated for 26 years, have gripped the Jap European nation ever since he claimed victory Sunday in a presidential election that his opponents and worldwide governments broadly noticed as fraudulent.
The protests have been initially largely peaceable, however riot police and navy forces responded with stun grenades and rubber bullets, and could possibly be seen pummeling unarmed protesters with their boots and batons. Dozens of journalists have been among the many hundreds detained; those that have been launched reported fierce beatings and horrific situations in overcrowded detention facilities.
The scene exterior a pretrial detention middle in Minsk on Thursday was one among desperation and grief. Lots of of individuals gathered, as they’d for a lot of the week, in search of family members. On Wednesday, they’d swarmed a departing ambulance, looking for scraps of reports.
“We had 18 folks in a cell designed for simply 4,” mentioned Aleksandra V. Yurova, 31, who was detained after polls closed on Sunday. She described her cell as a room of about 90 sq. toes with a desk within the center and a bathroom that didn’t flush. There was just one bottle of water to be refilled and utilized by all of the inmates.
“The situations have been simply horrible,” she mentioned.
After one night time in that cell, Ms. Yurova was launched, almost certainly as a result of she had a small youngster, she mentioned. Her accomplice was detained as effectively, and he or she had not heard from him since. On Wednesday, she got here to the jail to seek out out what occurred to him.
“I don’t need to dwell right here anymore,” Ms. Yurova mentioned, describing how the expertise modified her.
The arrests and violence appeared geared at scaring folks off the streets. However protests in opposition to Mr. Lukashenko continued in Minsk, the capital, and throughout the nation on Thursday. Footage circulating on social media showed workers strolling off the job on the BelAZ truck manufacturing facility within the metropolis of Zhodzina, a crown jewel of Belarusian trade, chanting the protest motion’s message to Mr. Lukashenko — “Depart!”
Overseas journalists launched from detention described scenes of systematic beatings and abuse. The Russian unbiased information web site Znak.com published an account by one among its journalists, Nikita Telizhenko, who mentioned he spent 16 hours detained with scores of others who have been compelled to lie face down in swimming pools of blood, with some detainees at occasions mendacity on prime of one another.
“Essentially the most brutal beatings have been going down throughout: blows, screams, cries could possibly be heard from all over the place,” Mr. Telizhenko wrote. “I had the sense that a few of these detained had damaged bones — arms, legs, spines — as a result of with the tiniest little bit of motion they shouted in ache.”
The beatings continued inside a van when Mr. Telizhenko and others have been transferred to a distinct detention middle. He was finally launched after the Russian Embassy interceded on his behalf.
Different correspondents also published harrowing accounts — noting that their standing as foreigners and journalists doubtless spared them the worst abuse. Stanislav Ivashkevich, a correspondent for the Polish-based, Belarus-focused TV channel Belsat, described detention in a three-person jail cell with 12 different folks.
“Over the course of two days we got one loaf of bread for the entire cell,” Mr. Ivashkevich wrote. “At one level we have been taken out and compelled to run a gauntlet of rubber batons.”
The Belarusian Association of Journalists mentioned it is aware of of no less than 64 instances of journalists being detained since Sunday, and that no less than seven have been severely overwhelmed and injured.
One man died in custody, the Belarus authorities mentioned on Wednesday. Michelle Bachelet, the United Nations Excessive Commissioner for Human Rights, mentioned greater than 6,000 folks have been believed to have been detained.
These detained included “bystanders, in addition to minors, suggesting a pattern of huge arrests in clear violation of worldwide human rights requirements,” Ms. Bachelet said in a statement. “Much more disturbing are the studies of ill-treatment throughout and after detention.”
There have been indicators that the beatings have been a part of a scientific effort to place down the protests. Belarus state tv on Wednesday confirmed footage of six younger folks it mentioned have been protesters, their arms tied and their faces bruised and bloody.
“Are we going to do a revolution once more?” an off-screen voice asks.
“By no means once more, ever,” a type of detained responds.
Ivan Nechepurenko reported from Minsk, Belarus. Anton Troianovski reported from Moscow.