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Date: Fri, 14 Mar 97 13:25:09 CST
From: Ray Mitchell <>
Subject: AI: Belarus bulletin

Peaceful demonstrators reportedly beaten, 100 detained

Amnesty International, AI Index: EUR 49/02/97. 14 March 1997

Further information on UA 266/96 (EUR 49/05/96, 18 November 1996) - Ill-treatment/ Possible prisoners of conscience (POC)

Amnesty International is gravely concerned at reports that about 100 demonstrators have been detained in Belarus, and some of them allegedly ill-treated by the police following a peaceful protest on 10 March 1997 against President Lukashenko's policies aimed at forging closer ties with the Russian Federation.

According to opposition leaders of the Belarussian Popular Front (BNF), 100 people, many of them teenagers, were arrested on 10 March after a demonstration in which several thousand people marched through the centre of the capital Minsk. The march was held in defiance of a ban by the local authorities on demonstrations involving more than 40 people.

Several people are reported to have been injured when police stopped people marching towards the President's residence. One of the BNF leaders, Lyavon Barshchevski, reported at a news conference that he had been beaten and detained by policemen in civilian clothes after the demonstration. Vyacheslav Sivchyk, secretary of the BNF and former POC, said that one protestor had been imprisoned for 10 days, and that 100 others could face fines or up to two weeks' imprisonment.

Vladimir Statkevich, an opposition activist who took part in the demonstration, reported that policemen in plain clothes had handcuffed him and beaten him around the head and chest.

Amnesty International is not aware of any steps taken by the government or by President Lukashenko to stop the pattern of ill-treatment of demonstrators by law enforcement officials.

Supporters of Amnesty International around the world are writing urgent appeals in response to the concerns described above. If you would like to join with them in this action or have any queries about the Urgent Action network or Amnesty International in general, please contact one of the following:
Ray Mitchell, (UK)
Scott Harrison, (USA)
Guido Gabriel, (Germany)
Marilyn McKim, (Canada)
Xavier Zeebroeck, (Belgium)
Anne Nolan, (Ireland)