Belarus police arrest 200 women in crackdown on peaceful protest

Belarus police arrest 200 women in crackdown on peaceful protest
By: World News Posted On: September 19, 2020 View: 24

Belarus police arrest 200 women in crackdown on peaceful protest

Police in Belarus have cracked down on a women's protest march in Minsk demanding the resignation of the country's president Alexander Lukashenko.

More than 200 women demonstrating on the streets of the country's capital were arrested on Saturday, including an elderly woman who has become a symbol of the protests which have continued for the past six weeks.

At least 2,000 women took part in the march, one of many which Belarussians have staged following the 9 August presidential election which they believe Mr Lukashenko fraudulently won.

MINSK, BELARUS - SEPTEMBER 19: A woman suffers head injuries as peaceful protesters are encircled by police and arrested en masse during a women's march on September 19, 2020 in Minsk, Belarus. Women have been at the forefront of Belarus's protest movement following the disputed August 9th presidential election, which government critics allege was rigged in favor of current President Alexander Lukashenko. (Photo by Jonny Pickup/Getty Images)
Image: Belarus police made mass arrests of peaceful protesters

Mr Lukashenko has been president in Belarus for 26 years, during which time he has consistently suppressed political opposition and independent news media.

Protests in the country have at times attracted roughly 200,000 people - especially on Sundays in the capital Minsk.

President Lukashenko with Russia's Vladimir Putin
Image: President Lukashenko with Russia's Vladimir Putin

According to human rights groups Viasna, more than 200 people were arrested during the march on Saturday.

"There were so many people detained that lines formed at the prisoner transports," Viasna member Valentin Stepanovich told the Associated Press.

More from Belarus

Women rally in front of law enforcement officers during a rally to protest against the presidential election results in Minsk on September 19, 2020. - Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko, who has ruled the ex-Soviet state for 26 years, claimed to have defeated opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya with 80 percent of the vote in the August 9, elections. (Photo by - / TUT.BY / AFP) (Photo by -/TUT.BY/AFP via Getty Images)
Image: The protesters are calling for the president to resign

Among those detained was Nina Bahinskaya, a 73-year-old former geologist whose defiance has made her an iconic figure among the protesters.

The women in Saturday's march chanted "we're walking", in reference to when police told Ms Bahinskaya she was taking part in an unauthorised protest and she snapped back: "I'm taking a walk."

Law enforcement officers detain women during a rally to protest against the Belarus presidential election results in Minsk on September 19, 2020. - Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko, who has ruled the ex-Soviet state for 26 years, claimed to have defeated opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya with 80 percent of the vote in the August 9, elections. (Photo by - / TUT.BY / AFP) (Photo by -/TUT.BY/AFP via Getty Images)
Image: Beatings have been reported among protesters who have been detained

Opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya praised the women's march in a video statement from Lithuania, where she fled after being held inside a government electoral office following the election.

Speaking to Sky News, Mrs Tikhanovskaya said she was not yet ready to talk about what happened to her during the time she was held in custody.

MINSK, BELARUS - SEPTEMBER 19: Peaceful protesters are encircled by police and arrested on mass during a women's march on September 19, 2020 in Minsk, Belarus. Women have been at the forefront of Belarus's protest movement following the disputed August 9th presidential election, which government critics allege was rigged in favor of current President Alexander Lukashenko. (Photo by Jonny Pickup/Getty Images)
Image: Police describe the protests as unauthorised

It is thought she was threatened with being separated from her two young children, whom she had already moved to Lithuania.

"They have frightened and put pressure on women for the second month, but despite this, Belarusians are continuing their peaceful protest and showing their amazing fortitude," Mrs Tikhanovskaya said of Saturday's march.

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