Photo credit: BBC News
NEW YORK (August 19, 2020) – Belarusians have taken to the streets to express their anger following fraudulent election results, in which incumbent ruler Alexander Lukashenko claimed to win with 80% of the vote, despite widespread support for challenger Svetlana Tikhanovskaya.
In an attempt to disperse the peaceful protests, Belarusian authorities have resorted to rubber bullets, tear gas, and extreme brutality. Thousands of peaceful protesters have been arbitrarily detained and sent to holding prisons, where members of the security services beat and tortured them. As of today, two people have been killed by the extreme brutality of the security services, although concerning reports are emerging on social media that the true number may be much higher due to torture and violence in detention centers.
Thousands of photos of bloodied and bruised protesters have emerged online, spurring further protests against the regime, strikes, and calls for new elections. According to research done by the Human Rights Foundation (HRF), many of the acts perpetrated in Belarus in the past week by members of the state security services fall into the category of crimes against humanity.
In collaboration with local Belarusian activists, HRF has identified fifteen individuals serving in organizations within the state apparatus that have taken part in or facilitated suspected crimes against humanity. On August 17, each of the individuals received a version of the letter in Russian linked below.
The letters were delivered via SMS and the secure messaging application Telegram. HRF will continue to send similar letters as further evidence of the perpetrators of crimes against humanity emerges. HRF is dedicated to defending human rights violations in authoritarian regimes, and will pursue this matter to the end. Today HRF is publishing the full text of the letter in English, alongside its Russian translation.
The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) is a nonpartisan nonprofit organization that promotes and protects human rights globally, with a focus on closed societies. For further comment, please contact [email protected]