Though freezing winter temperatures have driven protesters off the streets for now, the people of Belarus continue their peaceful struggle for democratic change. However, the State authorities show no let-up in their violent repression.
Two journalists were recently jailed for covering the demonstrations, and more detained.
- Since protests started in August 2020, more than 30,000 people have been detained, many subject to torture, while tens of thousands have been fined and given short prison sentences
- Approximately 300 people have been sentenced to more than a year in prison including three activists of the IUF affiliate Belarus Independent Trade Union (BITU)
- There have been mass dismissals of workers involved in the struggle including several dozens of employees of the Grodno tobacco factory which produces British American Tobacco-branded cigarettes
- On February 17, 2021, police raided and ransacked the offices of independent media, NGOs and trade unions, and the computers and mobile phones of the REP Workers Union were seized
Liza Merliak, International Secretary of the BITU, stated: “The police raids continue, the brutality with which the authorities have cracked down on civil society speaks volumes about the strength of the protest and the firm conviction of the Belarusians that liberty is worth fighting for.”
Photo credit: Viasna