Belarus: Internet Disruptions, Online Censorship

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(Moscow) – Belarusian authorities are disrupting internet access and restricting content online in response to peaceful, countrywide protests, Human Rights Watch said today. For over 18 days, protesters have demanded fair presidential elections and investigations into police brutality against demonstrators. Protests have been ongoing in Belarus since August 9, 2020, when the official results of the presidential election, which the demonstrators contend was rigged, were announced, prolonging Alexander Lukashenka’s 25-year rule. In response, police used rubber bullets, flash grenades, and physical force, with thousands of people detained and hundreds reporting torture and other ill-treatment.“Belarusian authorities are interfering with internet access and restricting content online, apparently to demobilize protests and disconnect people in Belarus from information they have the right to get,” said Hugh Williamson, Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The Belarusian authorities should ensure people’s rights to freedom of information and expression and investigate the reports about police abuse, instead of trying to silence their protests.”The blocking appeared to be an attempt to silence information about protests and severe police brutality against their participants, Human Rights Watch said.From August 9 to August 12, internet access in Belarus was severely restricted for a total of 61 hours, leaving access …

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