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World Women in Belarus are helping activists build a database of security officers' identities by ripping off their balaclavas and riot helmets at protests

15:45  27 september  2020
15:45  27 september  2020 Source:   businessinsider.com

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When brave participants of " women 's marches" rip black balaclavas off men, one can see young, beardless faces and shaved heads. The data on seven officers of the anti-terrorist unit, which was used against demonstrators and journalists at the violence height in August, are also made public.

The woman were demanding President Alexander Lukashenko’s resignation, as the fall out continues from Some scuffled with the troops and tried to remove balaclavas from their heads. Photos and videos from the scene showed the officers grabbing some of the women by the hair and bundling

a group of people in front of a crowd: Screenshot of a video showing women in Belarus attempting to tear off a security officer's balaclava during a protest. Video published September 16, 2020. The Guardian/YouTube © The Guardian/YouTube Screenshot of a video showing women in Belarus attempting to tear off a security officer's balaclava during a protest. Video published September 16, 2020. The Guardian/YouTube
  • Protesters against President Alexander Lukashenko in Belarus are building a giant database of security officers' names and personal information.
  • Many of those officers have beaten and detained peaceful protesters, and activists want to hold them accountable.
  • Women, many of whom middle-aged, have been helping build the database by ripping off officers' balaclavas and helmets at demonstrations, therefore revealing their faces.
  • The women believe that young male officers are far less likely to beat women that remind them of their grandmothers.
  • A Dutch law-enforcement official told Insider that the information in the database could then be used to impose travel bans on the officers or even try them in a criminal court.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Activists in Belarus are crowdsourcing a database of security officers' names and personal details so they can be later identified and held accountable.

Belarus police detain hundreds of women at protest

  Belarus police detain hundreds of women at protest Riot police on Saturday detained hundreds of women, dragging many into vans, as opposition protesters marched through the Belarusian capital Minsk demanding an end to President Alexander Lukashenko's rule. Police blocked the women and began pulling them into police vans as they stood with linked hands, swiftly detaining hundreds, an AFP journalist saw. Police lifted some women off their feet in order to remove them.Around two thousand women took part in the "Sparkly March", wearing shiny accessories and carrying red-and-white flags of the protest movement.

Hundreds of women detained during Belarus protest march. Protesters dragged into police vans at rally to demand removal of Alexander Lukashenko. Belarus repeatedly interrupts at UN amid 'new iron curtain' warnings. Human rights council votes to adopt resolution condemning violations in Belarus .

The protests ’ lack of political organisation has been both a strength and a limitation. Riot policemen have been rewarded with money and medals. There have been no high-profile defections in the Their loyalty, and Mr Lukashenko’s fate, ultimately depend on the Kremlin—something both Mr Lukashenko

This coordinated effort has been aided by women, many of whom are middle-aged, who have been ripping off officers' masks, balaclavas, and riot helmets so their faces can be seen and recorded.

The women have been stationing themselves between officers and younger protesters in the belief that young male officers are far less likely to beat women that remind them of their grandmothers.

Demonstrators in Belarus — who are mostly peaceful — have been beaten and randomly detained by Belarusian security forces since they started rallying against Lukashenko last month.

The database of security employees — specifically, members of the Belarusian police, riot police, and domestic intelligence — has grown to 2,000 so far, Reuters reported.

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He demonstrated a tool that allows you to find the personal data of the AMAP officer using their eyes and even restore the face in the original photo. With this video, Andrej calls on the security forces to abandon orders to disperse the protesters. The video was posted yesterday on his Youtube channel.

The recent events in Belarus are a perfect example. It’s not a color revolution, but President Alexander Lukashenko “repeating Soviet mistakes,” argues Bradley The key element is narrative management, through which the revolutionaries usurp the initial protests and direct them towards their own ends.

Efforts to build the database have been aided by a leak of internal documents on the security forces on Telegram, according to Reuters. The Belarusian government has vowed to punish those responsible for leaking the data, the news agency reported.

Many of the entries include specific details about the officers' jobs, assignments, home addresses and in many cases, tax information.

"As the arrests continue, we will continue to publish data on a massive scale," the opposition news channel Nexta Live announced on the Telegram messaging app, according to Reuters. "No one will remain anonymous even under a balaclava."

This information can also later be used to pursue criminal cases as well as economic and travel sanctions against them, a Dutch law-enforcement official, who has worked as an investigator on several human-rights and war-crimes tribunals, told Insider.

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Following a hotly contested presidential election in Belarus , protests have erupted in cities across the country. The most violent clashes have been in Minsk, where riot police have resorted to water cannons, stun grenades, and even rubber bullets.

Police in Belarus have arrested hundreds of people during protests against a so-called "social parasites" tax on the under-employed. 'Beating the participants'. Organisers called the protest Freedom Day, evoking the independent Belarus that lasted just six months after the First World War

The official asked not to be identified because the exact policy and process for pursuing such measures have yet to be decided by the senior European Union leadership. The source's identity is known to Insider.

a group of people in costumes: Police officers walk by protesters in Belarus at a demonstration in August. Natalia Fedosenko\TASS via Getty Images © Natalia Fedosenko\TASS via Getty Images Police officers walk by protesters in Belarus at a demonstration in August. Natalia Fedosenko\TASS via Getty Images

The list, said the Dutch official, could also provide invaluable leverage for the opposition in negotiating a political settlement with the regime, should all sides eventually come to a serious effort to find a political solution.

The official noted that such a compromise may not happen considering the current unwillingness of Lukashenko's government to negotiate in good faith.

But even without a negotiated reconciliation scenario, the data collected by the activists could be the basis for tough personal travel and financial sanctions from the EU on rank-and-file security service employees, and even evolve into evidence to seek indictments for referrals to international or European courts, the official said.

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Riot police sealed off the centre of Minsk with barriers and armoured personnel carriers. Officers wearing balaclavas arrested and beat several Protests have gone on for nearly a month and show no sign of fizzling out, following the presidential election on 9 August that was widely seen as rigged.

Videos posted on social media showed women pulling off the masks of agents as they grabbed protesters. Women , who until recently were often Reluctance to take stronger and swifter action has been fueled in part by fears that support for the protest movement in Belarus would only play into the

'No holidays in the EU'

"Lukashenko knows he's probably never going to visit the EU again except maybe as a head of state, although I doubt that could ever happen," the official said.

"But what this list will do is provide a framework for holding ordinary Belarusians who work for the state apparatus accountable in the future, and we have evidence it is starting to give some members of the security services pause," the official said.

a group of people holding a sign posing for the camera: A protest demanding the resignation of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko in Minsk, Belarus, on August 16, 2020. REUTERS/Vasily Fedosenko © Provided by Business Insider A protest demanding the resignation of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko in Minsk, Belarus, on August 16, 2020. REUTERS/Vasily Fedosenko

The source explained that while top-ranking officials — who tend to be very rich — might accept that the EU will be off limits, ordinary security officers have begun to realize anyone on the list is unlikely to be safe traveling to the EU.

"No bank accounts, no holidays in the EU, no sending children to EU universities, fear of arrest outside of Belarus' border: These are things that do not concern Lukashenko but could weigh heavily on the mind of a mere police captain," said the official.

The source added that even if the fear doesn't change behavior of the security forces in the short term — and there's little sign it has thus far — it will add a level of stress to people working for the police.

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"No official decision has been made on these sorts of sanctions or the possibility of pursuing international prosecutions," said the Dutch official.

"But what's important now is to develop as much information as possible to use when such things are decided. I don't know how long Lukashenko will be able to hold on to power but for a low paid riot police officer it won't matter because this list will be forever."

Protests erupted from August 9 after Lukashenko — who has ruled Belarus since 1994 — declared victory in the country's presidential elections, and opposition leaders said the vote was rigged.

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