Pressure cameras in Belarus: detainees take drastic measures to avoid them

Belarusian activist S. Latypav, who has been detained for more than six months, said during a court hearing on June 1 that he had received threats that the Ministry of the Interior’s Directorate for Combating Organized Crime and Corruption (GUBOP) would detain his father.

“Father! After the meeting, GUBOP came to me. They promised that if I did not plead guilty, I would find myself in a pressure cell and lawsuits would be filed against my relatives and neighbors. I was already in the pressure cell for 51 days. Therefore, prepare, ”exclaimed S. Latypavas in court and tried to take his own life.

According to human rights defenders and former prisoners, “torture chambers” in Belarusian prisons are referred to as “Radio Free Europe”.

Siarhei Uscin of the NGO Legal Initiative, which helps draft complaints to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), told Current Time that individuals are sent to such cells to extract violent confessions from them.

„Reuters“/„Scanpix“ nuotr./Sciapanas Latypavas

Mikhail Zhamchuzhny, a human rights activist who spent 6.5 years in prison for politically motivated allegations, said every pre-trial detention center has such a cell, even if it is against international law.

According to M. Žamčužinas, the dimensions of such cameras are 4×6 meters, they are completely soundproof. In other cases, conventional cameras and loud music are used to keep out the screams of the detainees.

Detainees are well aware that such cameras exist, and the fear of being sent to them is huge.

“I have seen convicts or accused confess right at the door of the pressure cell,” Žamčužinas told Radio Free Europe.

According to human rights activists, some are trying to avoid pressure cells to self-harm: detainees are hospitalized due to open, bleeding wounds, and torture is postponed for at least some time.

According to M. Žamčužinas, some detainees try to pass the pressure chamber test, but how they manage to do so depends on the will and resistance to threats.

Such threats particularly affect those who were detained in Belarus last year after mass protests against autocrat Aliaksanndra Lukashenko.

Alesia Kachanouskaja told Free Europe Radio in May that her son Yuhen Kachanouski had been beaten until she admitted the charges against her for participating in the protest.

“The testimony was knocked out. When they started threatening to put him in a pressure cell, he gave up and confessed, ”she said.

In court, Kachanouski said he was innocent and confessed to confessing because he was under psychological and physical pressure.

“The police beat me in the abdomen, head, legs, threatened to send me to the pressure cell if I did not give the evidence they demanded. I signed the confession without even reading it, because I was afraid that I would be beaten again, “J. Kachanouskis said in court.

However, he was found guilty of involvement in mass riots and sentenced to more than 3.5 years in prison.

According to Uscin, the torture of the protesters did not stop: although most of the torture took place on August 9-13, “detainees are still being tortured today, they are still being tortured in prisons.”

“There are many cases where people are told in the courts that they have been beaten to confess,” he said, adding that the courts did not pay attention to this.

A Belarusian who left for Lithuania 15min statedthat both he and others detained at the beginning of the protests had been beaten.

“If you don’t agree to give up your phone, you’ll be taken to a basement where there’s a cell-type camera where people are beaten. Those who beat come in shifts. After 10-15 minutes, they get tired, go out to smoke, new officers come – they bring in other people they beat, ”said the man, who did not want to reveal his identity.

He assures that he has signed a protocol accusing him of organizing mass unrest: “Then he has a choice: if he agrees to sign the protocol, he will shut up and give up the phone – he will not beat you. If you don’t agree, you will be taken to the basement and beaten hard. “

Another Belarusian facing Belarusian law enforcement and fleeing the country 15min said its methods of operation are somewhat distant from those used in the 1990s: “Then sticks were used first.”

“Now, it seems to them, the most effective is to put pressure on the detainee’s family, relatives and friends. Parents are scared first.

Even when people flee the country for fear of being arrested, their relatives receive visits from officials first. They are trying to create an atmosphere in which a person feels guilty that other people are suffering because of his actions, ”he said.

After the announcement in August last year that the autocrat A. Lukashenko was re-elected president, mass protests began in the country, suppressed by repression. Over 35,000 have been detained since the start of the demonstrations. people.

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