Relatives of the detained near the Akrescina jail on the 12th of August. Photo: Vadim Zamirovskiy, TUT.BY
The police brutality of Lukashenka’s regime against Belarusian civilians peacefully protesting a rigged vote is appalling. Around 7,000 Belarusians who came out to the streets have been detained according to the latest official data, but the real number can be much higher. One of the places they have been taken is the Okrestina detention center in Minsk. Yesterday, some prisoners were released from the center without any belongings, their bodies covered in bruises and blood. From their testimonies, we learned that 51 women were placed in a 4-bed jail cell, women were threatened with gang-rape by 10 policemen, men were beaten everywhere, forced to stand all night in the cold, tortured with electric shocks, denied food and water, humiliated, and threatened to be killed.
Food and water were withheld from the civilians unfortunate enough to be grabbed by the riot police from the streets. There was no medical help. “The guards went around and scoffed, saying: ‘You won’t get any medical help, we’ll just throw a grenade into you – and it will all end,” TUT.BY quotes one of the protesters.
Today, an audio recording has surfaced that testifies to the horrors taking place inside the building. The editorial office of the Belarusian newspaper Nasha Niva received the recording made by a volunteer near the Okrestina detention center and published it on its official Telegram channel. The newspaper is confident that the recording is genuine.
In the 2-minute long recording, moans of men screaming in pain can be heard, these screams are followed by hits. They are obviously beaten so hard that a volunteer could record the sounds while standing outside.
People who torment the detained are also screaming, and their words aren’t always intelligible.
“Halt, f..!!! Turn left! Run!” – someone on the recording shouts.
The audio file can be found in an article published by the Belarusian media tut.by, but it has also been inserted into the following tweet.
[SOUND ON] "It feels like we live in Middle Ages." Here is audio recorded last night near the Minsk detention center where hundreds/thousands are being kept, indoor and outdoor. You can hear screams and moans from beatings. pic.twitter.com/flb4CjdyDY
— Franak Viačorka (@franakviacorka) August 13, 2020
The Belarusian media TUT.BY spoke with two men who were detained from the 10th till 12th of August. They confirmed that the people were actually beaten in jail at night. Here we publish the interview by TUT.BY, translated by the volunteer project Pray for Belarus.
“I am a grown man, but I screamed,” Mikhail said. “I think they beat people at night so there won’t be any witnesses. The OMON (riot police) were the brutal ones, the jailers were more or less civil. Men in black forced us into the courtyard, made us kneel, which is their favorite form of entertainment, and hit our backs and legs with batons, then told us to do squats.”
Mikhail’s story is similar to what happens in the recording: the OMON shouts at men who run outside at night, scream in pain there, and are corralled back into the cell.
The journalists of TUT.BY worked near the detention center at Okrestina. A woman approached them some other journalists in the afternoon. She said her name is Natalia, and she is a patient of the dermatology clinic on the Prilukskaya street, near the jail. According to Natalia, starting from the 10th of August, inhuman screaming had been coming from the detention center.
“In the evening, when they chase away the parents of the detained, starting from about 1 AM, it feels like the Middle Ages there,” Natalia said. “We can’t endure listening to the screams of people – men – there, let alone sleep. It is a nightmare.”
The screams, TUT.by’s source continued, last for about 2-3 hours. Everything goes quiet before dawn.
“This endless screaming, people are just wailing as if they aren’t even human,” Natalia could barely hold her tears back, “[…] I am a woman, but even the men can’t sleep, it is impossible to bear. […] I have only seen things like these in the movies about Afghanistan. How can this be prevented?”
TUT.BY forwarded the recording to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Minsk City Department of Internal Affairs and asked for comment.
“Yesterday, in the evening and night, the officers (both the city police and OMON) were delivering the detained persons to Okrestina 36. Some of the delivered persons participated in the unsanctioned protests, some were the organizers of riots. The physical force could have been used only against those persons who disobeyed the orders of the policemen,” commented Natalia Ganusevich, the official representative of the Minsk City Department of Internal Affairs.