Conflicts & War

More arrests on student march in Minsk

Minsk, Sep 1 (efe-epa).- At least 11 people were arrested on Tuesday during a student march in the center of the Belarusian capital, according to a human rights group.

Vesna human rights center said eight students, a professor and two journalists were detained.

Hundreds of young protesters from various universities gathered in Gorky Park in Minsk and marched to Independence Square.

They chanted slogans including “together until the end” and “long live Belarus” while many waved white-red-white banners, the former Belarusian national flag, some reading “freedom for prisoners of conscience”.

One activist, who gave his name as Vitali, 19, a student at the Belarusian State University of Informatics, told Efe: “I always come to the demonstrations. We are changing history.

“Students are often the engine of revolutions.”

He said students should not be afraid and need to mobilize to overthrow Belarus’s president Alexander Lukashenko, who has been in power for 26 years.

Another protester, named only as Svetlana, 18, said: “We have to go out to the streets to protest, we are young and we don’t have to be afraid.”

She said her parents do not support Lukashenko but did not want her to take part in the protests because they were worried something would happen to her.

Police officers with loudspeakers unsuccessfully asked participants to disband as they had not been authorized to demonstrate.

Their calls were met with shouts of “shame” in Belarusian from the activists.

The student march coincided with the beginning of the academic year in the country and was part of a campaign of protests that exploded after presidential elections on 9 August.

Lukashenko was declared the winner in the vote after official results stated he won 80.1% of the ballots.

The elections and results were declared fraudulent by the opposition and have not been recognized by the majority of the international community.

Unified opposition candidate Svetlana Tsikhanouskaya was forced into exile in Lithuania.

In addition to the repetition of the presidential elections, the opposition is demanding the release of all political prisoners and for those responsible for police repression to be brought to justice.

Hundreds of people have been injured and nearly 7,000 arrested in violent crackdowns on anti-government protests in the aftermath of the vote.

Human rights organizations have documented numerous cases of torture of detainees. EFE-EPA

nz-bsi/rb

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