Belarus: Gays on the Freedom Days in Gomel and Minsk
Representatives of LGBT organizations “TEMA information center” and “Volunteers Without Borders” took part in number of events dedicated to 90th anniversary of the Belarusian National Republic (BNR) in Gomel and Minsk.
23 March, Gomel. LGBT activists, with rainbow flags, joined to representatives of the United Opposition for Freedom Day anniversary celebration events. United Opposition organizes an excursion by historical places of Belarusian democracy.
1.00p.m. Around 30 people took part in this excursion. Faces of all people were recorded by KGB cameraman. This excursion of 30 people was controlled and followed by 10 KGB officers in plain clothes.
During the excursion, activists attracted the attention of passers-by and present balloons to children. “Officers in plain clothes” follow us, not forgetting to record participants from all sides.
1.40p.m. Participants of festive excursion not yielded for numerous of provocations by the KGB officers in plain clothes and left the park by Proletarskaya Street for Novobelitsa. There we visit house of first female minister of Belarusian National Republic (BNR) Paluta Bodunova subsequently killed by KGB in 1938.
25 March, Minsk. LGBT activists of “TEMA information center” and “Volunteers Without Borders” with flowers and flags took part in peaceful demonstration in honor of Freedom Day in Minsk.
5.35p.m. Metro trains don’t stop at Yakub Kolas station, where a protest action is to begin at 18.00. city buses don’t stop on Yakub Kolas Square, too. The public transport goes to Victory Square or Academy of Sciences, and drivers announce: “the bus won’t stop at the square due to the demonstration.” We go out on Victory Square and go by foot to Yakub Kolas Square.
5.50p.m. Participants of the action on Freedom Day are gathering on Independence Avenue opposite the Minsk Gymnasium No23. About 1000 people, shouting “Long live Belarus!”, have already gathered. We join to them with our flags.
6.05p.m. The number of action participants is growing. About 2-3 thousands of people are on Independence Avenue now, white-red-white and EU flags are waving. Demonstrants are carrying a big banner “European Belarus”, shouting “Long Live Belarus,” and moving to Victory Square. Militia and riot militiamen are following us.
6.15p.m. Militia and riot militiamen began to beat people. They caught even journalists, broke their equipment. They snatched away flags and broke flagpoles. But the protestors managed to defend the people, militia was trying to detain, and the column under whit-red-white and European flags is moving along the avenue.
6.30p.m. People are beaten brutally in the backyards near Independence Avenue, and taken away in unknown direction. We are in the center of mass of people, so we are in safe now.
6.35p.m. At the moment about 3,000 people have gathered near the Academy of Science. They are people who hadn’t managed to Yakub Kolas Square. On Victory Square the confrontation of demonstrators with riot policemen continues. Riot policemen went onto the offensive. Clasping hands, they moved as one chain, pushing protesters off the avenue. But participants of the rally nevertheless are trying to break through riot policemen’s cordons. Militia began to detain people near Victory Square. Ten and probably hundreds of people are arrested. People are beaten brutally. Militia detain even journalists.
7.00p.m. Demonstration near the Academy of Sciences goes on. About four thousands of people stay here. A large amount of European and national white-red-white flags are waving. People carry a huge banner “Freedom for Kazulin!” Opposition leaders are holding a meeting there. The authorities permitted the demonstrants to meet near the Academy of Sciences. Demonstrants had to go there after cordons of militia and riot militia didn’t allow them to meet on Yakub Kolas Square. People, who managed to avoid arrest near Victory Square, came here, too.
7.15p.m. About 300 people moved from Victory Square to October Square and were detained on the bridge above the Svislach. Tens of people were packed into buses and taken away. Most of the detained are members of the United Civil Party.
7.45p.m. A column of demonstrators is trying to march from the Academy of Science along Independence Avenue towards Yakub Kolas Square. The road was cordoned off by riot policemen in helmets, two armoured MAZ trucks and a bus. We are really effraid to be arrested or detained, so we try leave this demonstration to safe our health. One of our activist got some beats by policemen.
8.15p.m. Peaceful and legal demonstration was broken up by police. Near Yakub Kolas Square and Victory Square riot policemen divided people into small groups, and brutally beating up, packed them into buses. Near the place where buses were standing, jackets, scarves, gloves and broken flag poles were left. When people were shoved into paddy wagons, they were beaten up, no matter what their gender or age was. Elderly women and girls were beaten up as well. They were crying for help and weeping. Young people were those who had been battered most, especially those who had white-red-white flags and flags of the European Union. Riot policemen with extraordinary fury were breaking flags poles and trampling national and European flags. We went to railroad station and now waiting for train to go home to Gomel.
As we know, no one LGBT activist (of our members) was arrested or detained, some were beaten. But ofcourse, some of hundreds arrested people are homosexuals.
TEMA – information center