Thousands of people went to Sunday rallies in Minsk and other cities of Belarus, security forces used tear gas and stun grenades, detainees were brutally beaten again
15 November 2020 | BYHelp-Mediagroup
Belarusians took to the streets under the slogan “I’m heading out,” the security forces destroyed the memorial on the Square of Changes and detained everyone who remained there
Today’s rally in Minsk was held under the slogan “I’m heading out.” These were the last words of Raman Bandarenka before he went down to his neighborhood courtyard, where unknown persons forced him into a minibus and then beat him to death.
This death shook the Belarusian society so much that actions of solidarity took place practically all over the country – Brest, Homel, Vitsebsk, Mahiliou, Navapolatsk, Vileika, Zhodzina, Lida, etc.
The largest actions of protest were, as is typical, performed in Minsk. Before Sunday morning protests in Minsk had even begun, the mobile Internet was already turned off, metro stations were closed, and all large squares and gathering places of protesters were cordoned off and surrounded by barbed wire. In spite of the large number of protestors, police began crackdowns and detentions almost immediately. Tear gas was also used to prevent protestors from organizing themselves into a column.
The Square of Changes – the courtyard where Raman Bandarenko lived – was the epicenter of the events. A memorial was organized here in honor of the deceased.
By 14 o’clock several thousand people had gathered near the Square of Changes. In reaction, riot police blocked the roads and threw several stun grenades into the crowd, but this did not deter the protestors.
In the evening, when about a hundred people remained in the Square of Changes, the courtyard was surrounded by security forces, in numbers far exceeding the remaining protesters (video – the beginning of the capture operation). Within 10 minutes, the forces had detained absolutely everyone remaining in the Square, and the memorial itself was destroyed.
After that, the police carried out more arrests in the nearby houses and yards.
As people around the world grieve over the death of Raman Bandarenka, officials in Minsk destroy memorials
Not only Belarusians, but also citizens of other countries around the world took part in a rally of solidarity with the Belarusian people – in The Hague, the #imheadingout march, organized by Belarusian community in the Netherlands, took place. People gathered in Berlin, New York, and dozens of other cities.
Many carried candles and flowers to the embassies and diplomatic missions of Belarus abroad. However, none of the official Belarusian diplomatic corps of the world expressed their sympathy. Instead, these local memorials were destroyed, and in St. Petersburg, Russia, an embassy employee even called the police on the mourners.
Data on arrests: more than 1,000 people throughout the country
According to Viasna Human Rights Center, as of 18:10, more than 1,000 people were detained in Belarus’ most recent Sunday of protests.
Among them are 23 journalists, three well-known oncologists, including the Deputy Director of the National Cancer Center Pavel Maiseyeu, historian Anton Datskevich, famous publisher Boris Pasternak (who is 76 years old), and a musician of the NaviBand group Aliaksandr Tabolski.
In the evening, multiple volunteers reported beatings at the police stations where the detainees were taken. Their screams could be heard in the neighboring streets. According to the volunteers, more than 20 people have already been taken to hospitals in ambulances from various police departments.
Lukashenko shields security officials and participants in the deadly conflict
Lukashenka said that on 9 August the OMON riot police and internal troops were not ready for what happened on the streets of Minsk, “we have never had such a thing.”
He argued that the protestors broke the spines and legs of the riot police, and it cost him “enormous efforts to keep [my] guys from a violent response.” However, he insisted that every reported victim among the protesters is a fake, and the widely-reported photographs of protestors covered in black and purple bruises are manufactured with paint. In addition, Lukashenko claims that people who were identified from photographs as the aggressors in the conflict with the deceased Raman Bandarenka were not in Minsk on 11 November (the identified individuals are the current head of the Belarusian Ice Hockey Federation, Dmitri Baskov, and the world champion in Muay Thai and kickboxing, Dmitry Shakuta). It is difficult to believe the veracity of Lukashenko’s claims, as he also stated that Raman Bandarenka was drunk when admitted to the hospital which is contradicted by the medical records.
For more information on the events of 15 November 2020, please visit Infocenter Free Belarus 2020: