Belarusian Police Detain Hundreds Of Female Protesters In Minsk
MINSK — Belarusian police have detained hundreds of female protesters in Minsk, as several thousand women marched through the capital demanding the resignation of President Alyaksandr Lukashenka.
Mass protests challenging the results of an August 9 presidential election that declared Lukashenka the landslide winner have swept across Belarus over the past month.
Thousands of people have been detained and beaten by police, while nearly all the opposition’s key leaders have been forced to leave the country or been arrested in a widening crackdown.
Several thousand women marched in central Minsk on September 19, briefly scuffling with riot police, who then blocked their path.
Vyasna, a human rights organization in Belarus, said more than 300 people were arrested during the march.
The demonstration was the latest women’s march calling for Lukashenka, who has been in power for 26 years, to resign after what the opposition and the West have called a rigged election.
“We won’t forget! We won’t forgive!” shouted the women, who were carrying red-and-white flags and banners, a symbol of the opposition that has been banned by the authorities.
Others chanted, “Long live Belarus!” and, “Shame!”
Drivers passing by sounded their horns in solidarity with the protesters.
Many of Belarus’s most prominent opposition leaders are women, including exiled presidential candidate Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya and detained members of the Coordination Council like Maryya Kalesnikava and Lilia Vlasova.
In a video statement released ahead of the march, Tsikhanouskaya, who has taken refuge in neighboring Lithuania, praised the “brave women of Belarus.”
“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,” Tsikhanouskaya said.
Among those arrested on September 19 was Nina Bahinskaya, a 73-year-old great-grandmother and prominent opposition activist.
Despite unprecedented police brutality against protesters, Bahinskaya has cut a frail but resolute figure amid the crowds protesting against Lukashenka.
On September 12, hundreds of women marched through Minsk, confronting masked riot police and security agents.
The Interior Ministry said 114 people had been detained around the country, 99 of them in the capital, in connection with those demonstrations.