The Belarusian Viasna Human Rights Centre and FIDH (the International Federation for Human Rights) believe that the new repression against peaceful protesters confirms the absence of political change in Belarus. More than 150 opposition activists, journalists, human rights defenders and average citizens have been detained since the protests began. On March 10, Vitali Rymasheuski (BCD), Anatol Liabedzka (UCP) and Yuri Hubarevich (MFF), were arrested and sentenced to 15 days administrative arrest. Pavel Seviarynets (BCD) was arrested on March 12 and sentenced also to 15 days administrative arrest. The same day Valiantsina Ihnatsenka, Chairperson of UCP in Orsa, was threatened with arrest and forced to stay home. The Belarusian Association of Journalists (BAJ) reported the arrest of 18 journalists and bloggers on March 12.
This way the authorities wanted to prevent them to participate in the planned and authorized protest of March 15.
On the day of the rally, March 15, people were detained arbitrarily on their way to the demonstration or on their way back home on the streets or in the public transport. The detentions were carried out by men dressed as civilians and people were taken to police stations in unmarked vehicles. Two independent websites operating from abroad were blocked during the mass protest. The protests gathered thousands of citizens in Minsk and other cities.
Arrests have continued after March 15. On March 19 authorities detained Viktar Marchyk from BPF together with 2 other organizers of planned rallies for that same day, Mikalay Charnavus, a local BPF activist, and Ryhor Hryk, an independent trade union leader.
And in addition to the citizens protesting against the Decree nr. 3, others have been detained for their actions impeding the beginning of the construction of a business center in Kuropaty.
As a response, Lukashenko says today that “Western funds under the direction of Western security services” are trying to “inflame the situation in Belarus”.