The highest number of arrests in a single day since the protests began. Viasna said the number of those detained since August was more than 25,000.
Sunday marks the fourteenth week in a row that protesters have taken to the streets demanding the resignation of Lukashenko, who has ruled the country for 26 years.
Roman Bondarenko, a 31-year-old anti-government protg, was in mass detention after his death after being severely beaten by security forces Thursday at a hospital in Minsk, protesters and his family said.
Protesters chanted slogans and carried signs with the words “I’m going out”, the last words Bondarenko knew in a telegram chat before he died. He lost at Minsk’s Square of Change, the last stop for all Minsk protesters on Sunday. Bondarenko was a painter, who lived in Minsk and served in the military.
His sister, Volga Kucharenka, said in a video on Thursday that Bondarenko was beaten at the central police station, or on his way to the unit. She was rushed to hospital Wednesday night from the Minsk Central Police Department with serious injuries, she said. He died the next day at 8pm local time.
“I found out that my brother died in the hospital after being in the intensive care room tonight,” Kucharenka said while holding his tears in the video on Thursday.
“Roman did not provoke a fight, I know for sure, I know from eyewitnesses. All the bad things happened later … I made this video to let people know what is going on. My brother is a calm and positive person, he always avoided conflicts.”
Police in riot gear stormed a rally in Minsk on Sunday, removing hundreds of protesters by truck and using tear gas and water cannon to disperse crowds. The video shows the violent protesters beaten by police at a supermarket. Other videos show police detaining people and taking them away in police vehicles.
According to Viasna, arrests were also made in the cities of Navahrudak, Babruysk, Vitsebsk, Hommel and Svetlahorsk.
The Belarusian Association of Journalists said in a statement on Sunday that at least 23 journalists had been detained across the country.
“Police have arrested journalists covering protests in Minsk, Vitebsk, Hrodna and Pinsk. We know of 23 detainees,” the Belarusian Association of Journalists said in a statement.
Former presidential candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, now living outside Belarus, called Bondarenko the leader of a protest killed by “comrades of the regime” and urged Belarusians to continue the protest peacefully.
“He is an innocent victim of an inhumane system that considers people’s lives as a cost of energy,” Tikhanovskaya said in a telegram. “That means we can all stand in his place as any peaceful person.”
“Like millions of Belarusians, I sympathize with the Roman family. We will not condone this murder. We will write the Roman name as a hero’s name in the new history of Belarus.”
Responding to Bandarenko’s death, Mary Struthers, director of Amnesty International for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, said Belarusian authorities should “immediately, promptly, impartially and independently launch an investigation.”
“Like hundreds of other peaceful protesters, there is little doubt he was beaten by security forces officers, who only attacked him for raising their voices,” Struthers said. “Instead of taking him to the hospital he was arrested and detained by the police.”
“It is time to end this regime of terror and unleash all those responsible for these crimes.”
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompey on Thursday called for the release of political prisoners detained for “exercising their human rights and fundamental freedoms” by peacefully participating in protests, calling for free and fair elections and advocating for national dialogue. End the ongoing crisis. “
“These political prisoners were subjected to harsh and lethal detention conditions, including images of credible violence,” Pompeo said. “They have been among the thousands of people who have been unjustly detained since the violent crackdown began.”
“The United States stands with those who have been detained and unaccounted for, those who have been killed, and those who peacefully assert their right to elect their leaders in free and fair elections,” he said.