For months people in Belarus have been taking to the streets and calling for a change of power. Nor are they deterred by arrests and police brutality.
Minsk (dpa) – After nearly five months of protests in Belarus against ruler Alexander Lukashenko, leader Swetlana Tikhanovaya praised the bravery of the people of her exile.
Despite arrests and police brutality, the protest has now become a part of everyday life for many, the 38-year-old said at new rallies on Sunday. “It will stay that way until victory.” Again there were demonstrations in the capital Minsk and other cities. More than 300 people were arrested, for example for violating the ban on gatherings and for wearing unauthorized symbols, the Interior Ministry said.
Despite the ban on demonstration, many people gathered in their residential areas and then formed marches, as can be seen on various channels of the Telegram news service. Men in uniform in balaclavas once again carried out violent actions against Lukashenko’s peaceful opponents. The Wesna Human Rights Center listed the names of more than 200 people arrested in the early evening (local time).
As with previous demonstrations on Sunday, people demanded the resignation of the president, who has ruled for more than a quarter of a century. Many carried white-red-white flags of the opposition. Tichanovskaya, who had left for neighboring Lithuania under pressure from Lukashenko after the 9 August presidential elections, said much has been achieved.
There are EU sanctions and Lukashenko is no longer recognized by the West as president. Politically persecuted people could fall back on aid programs from the democracy movement. Above all, people would stand up for their rights together and no longer bow to oppression. “We have learned to be proud of being Belarusians,” she said. Every Sunday march is a new warning not to give up.
Lukashenko, 66, is considered the “last dictator in Europe”. After the election was overshadowed by allegations of manipulation, he was declared the winner with 80.1 percent. The democracy movement sees Tichanovskaya as the winner. She agreed to lead the country temporarily after Lukashenko stepped down. The movement also calls for an end to police brutality and the release of all political prisoners. The protests have resulted in several deaths, hundreds of injuries and about 30,000 arrests.