Protesters in Belarus are detained and bundled into vans by masked police officers. The demonstrators had gathered at the Komarovsky market in Minsk to show their support for Maria Kolesnikova, a leading opposition figure, following reports of her detention.
READ MORE: Exiled Belarus opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya has called the situation in her country "absolutely unacceptable" and pleaded for international pressure to dislodge President Alexander Lukashenko who she said no longer represents Belarus.
In a virtual appearance before the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) on September 8, Tsikhanouskaya urged international pressure including sanctions on Lukashenko and his government that retained power for a sixth term after an August 9 vote the opposition contends was rigged.
"My country, my nation, my people now need help," she said. "We need international pressure on this regime, on this one individual desperately clinging on to power. We need sanctions on individuals who issue and execute criminal orders that violate international norms and human rights. We need an immediate release of all political prisoners and to start a civilized dialogue in order to find ways for our country to move forward."
She added an appeal on behalf of Belarusians facing mass detentions, beatings at the hands of security forces, and apparent forced disappearances by the government.
"I refuse — as millions of Belarusians — to accept that this is the fate of my country," she said. "I refuse, as do millions of Belarusians, to accept that the world will simply stand and watch these countless abuses of human rights, this blatant disregard for human dignity, this complete annihilation of any basic respect for human decency. I refuse, like millions of Belarusians, to stand down and give up."
Tsikhanouskaya told the PACE representatives that "countries and parties that make deals with Mr. Lukashenko do so at their own risk" and should not expect a subsequent, democratically elected government to uphold treaties "made against [Belarusians’] will by an illegitimate regime.”