Belarus police use tear gas, stun grenades to disperse anti-government protesters

Belarus police use tear gas, stun grenades to disperse anti-government protesters
A protester is kidnapped by Belarusian law enforcement officers during a rally to reject the results of the presidential elections in Minsk, Belarus, on November 15, 2020.

Belarusian police detained dozens of protesters demanding the resignation of Alexander Lukashenko and a new presidential election after a disputed vote in August.

Black-clad security forces used tear gas and stun grenades to disperse thousands of protesters in the capital Minsk on Sunday.

The human rights group Vyasna said that at least 179 protesters were detained in Minsk and other cities, including Homel, Hrodna and Mogilev.

Protesters in Minsk carried the banned white, red and white flags that have become a symbol of political opposition in Belarus and chanted slogans such as “Lukashenko! Court! “And” Love live Belarus! “

The mobile internet was disrupted and several metro stations in the center of Minsk were closed.

Opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanouskaya, who has said the vote was rigged in favor of Lukashenko and sees herself as the rightful winner, described the crackdown on protesters on November 15 with “gas, grenades and firearms” as ” devastating “and called for international support for the protesters. .

“We call on our allies to defend the Belarusian people and human rights. We need a humanitarian corridor for the wounded, support for the media, international investigation of crimes, ”he wrote on Twitter.

Tikhanouskaya left Belarus for Lithuania after the vote amid threats to her and her family.

Lukashenko, who has ruled Belarus for 26 years, has faced protests almost daily calling for his resignation since the Aug. 9 presidential elections, which the opposition says were rigged and which the West has refused to accept.

Russia, meanwhile, has supported Lukashenko in the current showdown.

Lukashenka on November 13 promised not to hand over power and criticized his political opponents and protesters.

Lukashenko said his country should integrate with Russia and Moscow-led organizations to prevent what he called “color revolutions,” a term often used to describe pro-Western political upheavals.

His remarks came as the European Union again condemned the violent crackdowns on Belarusian protesters and threatened to impose further sanctions on Minsk after the death of a 31-year-old Belarusian on 12 November believed to have been brutally beaten by security forces. masked.

Several protesters have been killed and thousands of people arrested since authorities declared Lukashenka the overwhelming winner of the vote.

There have also been credible reports of torture during a growing security crackdown.

Most of the country’s opposition have been arrested or forced to leave the country.

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