The Belarusian Interior Ministry which is in charge of the Militsiya, the police department in Belarus, announced on Monday that police officers and other law enforcement agencies have been given the order to use lethal weapons if there is a need for it in combating the citizens who are protesting the reelection of President Alexander Grigoryevich Lukashenko who has been in power since 1994. The ministry stated that the two-week-long protests have become instruments of unrest and radicalism.
The protests started in August when Lukashenko was declared the winner of the election after serving as president for 26 years. Law enforcement agencies arrested some demonstrators on Sunday and also assaulted the protesters with heavy jets of water from canons and batons. The officers who were donned in black balaclavas hauled demonstrators into waiting vans. They beat the protesters with their batons to break up the crowd of thousands of Belarusians who were protesting.
The protesters are calling for Lukashenko to resign and for another election to be conducted. The president has stated that the election was freely and fairly conducted. Since the protests started in August, over 13,000 protesters have been arrested.
Lukashenko had a meeting with some opposition leaders that had been arrested and detained in Minsk, most of his main opponents have either been jailed or have left the country. The state television reports that the meeting led to the release of Yuri Voskresensky and Dmitry Rabtsevich, who had been arrested for opposing Lukashenko.
The EU, US, Canada, and Britain have frowned at the act of senior officials accused of infringement of human rights and fraud placing strict sanctions against the officials. The minister of foreign affairs, Heiko Maas in Germany has started on Monday, following Sunday’s hostilities that Lukashenko should also be given the same treatment for his part.
“We have come to realize that since we had our last meeting, nothing has changed in Belarus,” Maas said before an EU meeting in Luxembourg. “The governance of Lukashenko is still filled with violence and unlawful arrests of peaceful protesters. We should send out a new set of sanctions, and add Lukashenko’s name to the list.”
Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, leader of the opposition, who has fled to Lithuania, has lent his voice to the agitations for the release of protesters and conducting a new election.
“We won’t stop our peaceful march in the demand for our right – another election conducted freely and fairly,” Tikhanovskaya’s stated on social media.