Forum 18, 21October 2020
Violence against people taking part in the ongoing protests, public events to pray for Belarus and for violence by the regime to end have increased.
For example, Catholics organising and participating in prayer events in the street in Minsk and other towns have been and continue to be accused and. The same charges are also brought against people organising and participating in peaceful political protests against the regime. Many Protestants participate in such protests.
Regime officials are hostile towards followers of beliefs they see as a threat and the regime maintains a network of KGB secret police and religious affairs officials to ensure compliance.
Restrictions include: restrictions on who can hold meetings for worship and where they can be held; difficulty of opening places of worship, and excessive charges for confiscated places of worship still owned by the state; strict controls on foreign citizens who exercise their freedom of religion and belief; prior compulsory censorship of religious literature; arbitrary and unpredictable denials of religious broadcasting; and obstruction of the freedom of religion and belief of death-row prisoners and their families.
As one Belarusian Protestant commented, “they have created conditions so you can’t live by the law. We would need to close half our churches in order to operate technically in accordance with the law”.