Thousands of students took to Minsk streets and boycotted the start of the school year on Tuesday, 1 September, as protests have continued across Belarus since the 9 August presidential election, which was widely regarded as rigged.
Thousands of students from major Minsk universities marked the first day of term and 24th day of protests by holding pickets outside their alma maters and marching through the city centre. They demanded Alexander Lukashenko to step down, free political prisoners and hold new and fair presidential election.
Riot police and plainclothed officers filmed the protesting students and asked them to disperse or face detention. Police cordons forced the demonstrators to repeatedly change their route, as they were heading to the Ministry of Education. Many were attacked and arbitrarily detained along the way or near the universities.
As evening fell, several hundred protesters marched through Minsk and gathered in Independence Square. Police let the rally go on but detained several people on the fringes of the square. Hundreds also rallied in several other districts of the city, forming “human solidarity chains” and waving white-red-white flags.
According to de-registered Vesna human rights centre, 75 people were detained during a student protest action, including at least 9 journalists who performed their professional duties. Some reporters were released, but six people were left in the Oktyabrsky district police station awaiting trial.
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