Two journalists claim torture in Belarus after their arrest for "participating in an unauthorized event"

Two journalists claim torture in Belarus after their arrest for “participating in an unauthorized event”

Police prevent an anti-regime demonstration in Belarus on March 25, 2021 in Minsk – AP / SIPA

The Belarusian Association of Journalists said that two Belarusian journalists, one of whom is a freelance writer from Deutsche Welle (DW), have been imprisoned and have allegedly been tortured.

Freelance journalist Alexander Burakov, who works for DW, and Vladimir Lapsevich, correspondent of a local news website, were arrested in the eastern town of Mogilev on Wednesday. They were arrested while covering the trial of Pavel SeviarinetsAnd an opponent and many other characters.

“Torture and inhuman treatment”

On Saturday, the association said, a court in Mogilev had sentenced them for participating in an “unauthorized event.” During the hearing, Alexander Burakov reported that he had been subjected to “torture and inhuman treatment” during his pre-trial detention, the DW and the association said.

DW added: “He said he woke up again and again at night and was forced by the guards to undress.”

The two journalists went on hunger strike to protest.

Campaign against the media

Deutsche Welle urged the Belarusian authorities to immediately annul the ruling, saying that President Alexander Lukashenko’s regime was acting with “increasing severity” towards journalists. “We strongly protest against the violation of the constitutionally guaranteed press rights in Belarus,” said Peter Limburg, Director General of DW.

Belarus has been the scene of unprecedented anti-government protests since the disputed presidential election last August, which saw Alexander Lukashenko enter a sixth term after a disputed election.

Regime forces suppress demonstrations, arrest participants and push opposition leaders into exile.

A campaign to silence the independent media is under way, and journalists have been sentenced to prison terms. Sixteen of them are currently behind bars, according to the Belarusian Association of Journalists.

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