Minsk: Human rights defenders detained by riot police released after rally was over

Shortly before the start of the Freedom Day march in Minsk, the riot police (OMON) broke in the office of the human rights organization ‘Viasna’ and ordered everyone to lay to the ground face first.

At that moment, there were dozens of foreign and domestic observers who were holding a working meeting.

57 people, including international observers, representatives of foreign media and human rights organizations were detained.

15:40 All the detainees were released from Pershamayski district police department in Minsk after the rally was over.

Freedom Day (Dzień Voli) is an unofficial holiday in Belarus, which is celebrated on March 25 to commemorate the creation on that date in 1918 of the Belarusian People’s Republic (BNR). It came into existence at the end of the First World War, when Bolshevik forces left Minsk and the city was occupied by German troops. On March 25, 1918 the Provisional Government (Rada) proclaimed the independence of the BNR. After the Red Army re-entered Minsk, the Communist government replaced the Rada; its members had to emigrate. The current regime denies Freedom Day and often prevents the opposition forces from celebrating it.

Вelsat.eu, following spring96.org