Belarusians have been facing a "new wave of repression" in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, said a report Thursday, May 11, by the world's biggest security organisation, the OSCE.
At least 1,486 people were being held in Belarus on politically motivated charges as of last month, the report seen by AFP said.
Since the Ukraine war started, "repression has been particularly directed at those expressing their opposition to the war or their support for the Ukrainian people," the report found.
"There is a new wave of repression," it added.
In the days after the invasion in February 2022, about 1,500 people were arrested over protests against it, while "simply posting anti-war tags on social networks" led to prosecution.
Belarus, a close ally of Russia, allowed Moscow to use its territory to launch its attack on Ukraine.
This March, 38 of the 57 OSCE member states called for a study into the country, which last came under the body's scrutiny in 2020.
But Belarus -- which like Russia is a member of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe -- declined to participate despite a request for cooperation.
The report by Sorbonne university professor Herve Ascensio is based on in-person interviews in Warsaw and Vilnius and other research.
Repression in Belarus has been "steadily increasing" over the past two years, the report found, with a spate of legal reforms giving the government "a full arsenal of legislation designed to hinder any form of opposition".
"Belarus is implementing a broad policy of arbitrary arrest and detention incompatible with international standards," it said.
"Torture and inhuman or degrading treatment are occurring on a regular and organised basis in places of detention and are particularly targeted at those perceived as political opponents."
In March, a UN Human Rights Office report said rights violations committed against people thought to oppose Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko may amount to crimes against humanity.
A self-proclaimed dictator, Lukashenko has ruled Belarus since 1994.
Since 2020 protests against his re-election, Lukashenko has doubled down on repressing critical voices, jailing or forcing them into exile.
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