Belarus has been embroiled in controversy as the Belarusian human rights center Viasna reported the detention of at least 1,645 citizens for expressing anti-war sentiments following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The report details that 82 Belarusians have received prison sentences ranging from 1 to 23 years due to their opposition to the war. These incarcerations reflect the Belarusian government's harsh stance against those who dissent from its policies.
Railway Sabotage and Severe Punishments
Additionally, Viasna highlights that 13 individuals in Belarus have been convicted of railway sabotage, totaling 199.5 years of imprisonment.
The sabotage was aimed at disrupting the transportation of military equipment, which is actively moved through Belarusian territory as Russia utilizes it for the war against Ukraine. In response, Belarusian authorities have amended criminal law to impose severe penalties for such acts, equating them with terrorism.
Imprisonment for Sharing Information and Supporting Ukraine
The report also sheds light on the imprisonment of at least 35 people for sharing photos and videos of Russian military equipment on social media.
Furthermore, 13 individuals were sentenced for their intention to fight alongside Ukraine, and 26 faced persecution for condemning Russian aggression, supporting Belarusian volunteers, or expressing solidarity with Ukraine.
Belarusian citizens have also faced administrative arrests for openly supporting Ukraine, including actions as simple as using the Ukrainian flag on social media avatars, singing the Ukrainian anthem in karaoke, or saying "No to war!” Even laying flowers at the Ukrainian embassy or wearing yellow-and-blue ribbons has led to arrests, illustrating the Belarusian government's intolerance towards any form of support for Ukraine.