Several hundred protesters were released from the three detention centers in Minsk and Žodzina last night, while the exact number of them remains unknown. Many of them were taken away in ambulances immediately after leaving the prisons.
The prisoners walked free against the background of certain relaxation of repression and a promise by the Interior Minister Yury Karayeu to “release all those detained by mistake”. The new policy was, in turn, caused by a wave of strikes that swept across Belarusian industrial enterprises, including several major ones, BelAZ, in particular.
Many of those released last night told reporters that the detained protesters were beaten and tortured. People are held in overcrowded cells with no or little food. Riot police beat every male prisoner and women face humiliation.
One former prisoner says he heard a man being beaten at night.
“They were beating him and making him say “I Love riot police” again and again,” he said.
Other prisoners were reportedly tortured with electric shocks, their hair was died or cut.
Yet another inmate says he was beaten so bad, he asked the riot police to kill him.
“We heard men being beaten every night. The poor guys were howling. They were forced to sing the national anthem and were beaten at the same time. This is what we heard from the windows every night. The blood froze in my veins from what we heard every night,” said Anastasiya, an ambulance doctor detained on August 12.
Viasna and media will document evidence of torture and abuse by riot police and regular police officers.
Meanwhile, the authorities continue to deny the police abuse allegations. “There was no abuse,” deputy Interior Minister Aliaksandr Barsukou said to the families of prisoners after he arrived at the Center for Confinement of Offenders in Minsk last night.