Saturday, June 18, 2011

Gay Belarusian Activist Bashed
by Police at Demonstration

On June 16, a leading gay human rights advocate in repressive Belarus, Sergei Andronsenka, had an injurious run-in with police forces and his colleague Alexandr Paluyan issued an alert about the incident to the Euro Queer listserv, including a link to their GayBelarus site and the pic showing Sergei's battered face.

I'm cross-posting their report because my commitment to global gay solidarity work needs renewing, after the outrageous Gay Girl in Damascus and LezGetReal hoaxes, in which the operators of those blogs were revealed to be straight American men. Like many, I've thought how to hold the hoaxers accountable and maintain global activism, that is respectful and verifiable.

To allay fears that Sergei might be a sockpuppet or the photo was not of him, I asked Russians on the QueerRussia Google group to vouchsafe for him. Viacheslav Revin confirmed Sergei exists and that he's the injured man in the pic. 

Maybe I'm overreacting to the GGiD and LezGetReal impostors, and I believe I've had dealings with the GayBelarus group in recent years, but better to err on the side of caution extending initial trust, but verifying something, some how, over the computer. The hoaxes of recent weeks will not deter me from continuing to blog on and offer support to gay people beyond my country's borders.

Our gay friends omit details regarding the reasons for the protest, but the country is roiled in an economic meltdown coming on top of tyrannical old-fashion Soviet-style political rule, leading to defiant street demonstrations in spite of a government ban on protests, and the harm to the gay activist could have come at a general demonstration.

Here's the report from Minsk:

At the pedestrian area near the Palace of Trade Unions in Minsk at about 7.40 p.m. three citizens were detained: Sergei Androsenka, the chairman of the Human Rights project "GayBelarus”, and two more persons whose names are unknown. 

The arrestees were held while a group of riot policemen started to push the crown away from the spot near the Palace of Trade Unions towards Victory Square. Force was used against one of the young people by men in mufti. His arms and legs were gripped, and he was dragged on the ground. 

One of the young men before the arrest was making pictures of the line of riot policemen by his mobile phone, and a man in mufti ran up to him and dragged him to a paddy wagon. Androsenka was also detained by men in mufti.

At 10.15 p.m. Androsenka was released from the police department of Leninski district without a report being drawn up. As said by him, in the police bus he was beaten by riot policemen. After he was taken to the police department, he was taken into a separate room, asked about what had caused the signs of blows on his face. 

After he said he had been beaten by riot policemen, policemen started to beat the young man too, and continued until he agreed to say that no one had beaten him and he had no claims to force structures representatives.

According to "Nasha Niva”, 18 more detainees were taken to the police department of Tsentralny district of Minsk.

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