FIDH published a report on the use of weapons during the protests in Belarus

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The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) has published a report entitled «Delivering instruments of repression to Belarus. Illegal use of weapons to disperse demonstrations in violation of human rights.»

The report analyzes less lethal foreign-made weapons and firearms that were used to suppress protests in Belarus, the origin and supply routes of weapons, and describes possible ways to bring the state and companies to justice.

«After the violent dispersal of the protests, journalists and civil society organizations documented the used cartridge cases with rubber bullets, stun guns and other ammunition that were used against the protesters, mainly produced in Russia and the European Union. In addition, members of the special forces were armed with foreign-made firearms, which may have been delivered to Belarus in violation of the European Union’s 2011 arms embargo on Belarus and other international obligations,» the report states.

The authors of the report provide a list of foreign-made weapons used by Belarusian security forces. These are Remington 870 pump-action shotgun (USA), Mossberg 500 series pump-action shotgun and Mossberg Maverick 88 pump-action shotgun (USA), Fabarm single-barrel shotgun, the 12th caliber (Italy), Benelli M4 Super 90 semi-automatic shotgun (Italy), SIG Sauer P226 full-size service gun (Switzerland-Germany), Glock G17 polymer semi-automatic gun (Austria).

According to the report, the Belarusian security forces disproportionately and indiscriminately used kinetic-action shells (rubber and plastic bullets). 45 people with gunshot wounds were taken to hospitals for medical care from August 9 to August 23, 2020.

«A large number of victims indicates that the authorities, who used force against the crowd from an unsafe distance in an attempt to disperse the protest, did not use it against individual aggressive protesters, but indiscriminately against the crowd, which by definition is illegal under international law,» the report states.

After the suppression of protests, journalists found foreign-made ammunition on the streets: a STERLING 12 cartridge of less lethal caliber with a rubber bullet (Turkey), a D Dupleks 12/70 cartridge with a 96 97 rubber bullet (Latvia), a Stun cartridge Fam-Pionki 12/70 ONS 2000 (Poland), the report says.

Among the police toxic substances, Russian-made substances were used: 43-mm VGM93.200, hand gas grenade «Cheryomukha-6» of irritating action, hand 108 aerosol grenades «Drift» and «Drift-2», and of stun grenades – hand grenades Zeveta Ammunition P-1 and ZV-6 (Czech Republic), stun cartridges Fam-Pionki 116 117 12/70 ONS 2000 (Poland), hand aerosol grenade LLC NPP «Ecolog» «Teren-6» and hand stun grenade «Teren7M» (Ukraine), say the authors of the report. At the same time, the Czech company Zeveta and the Polish Fam-Pionki deny the fact of selling ammunition to Belarus.

«Allegedly, the grenades were launched from grenade launchers, pump-action shotguns or simply thrown at the protesters indiscriminately, which is a gross violation of the principles of proportionality and necessity,» the report says.

The report notes that the EU has an embargo on the supply of firearms to Belarus since 2008. The Italian company Fabarm denies illegal arms shipments to Belarus and suggests that «the presence of weapons similar to our products [fabarm] during the protests may be due to the presence on the market of some copies of Turkish production, which also have our trademark on the outside.» Benelli states that the company has never supplied its products to Belarus either before or after the embargo. «The appearance of weapons similar to our products during collisions may be due to the presence of copies of our M4 Benelli of Turkish production on the market, but this is just a working hypothesis that we put forward,» the company said in a comment received by FIDH.

FIDH suggests that a number of European countries continued to supply weapons to Belarus after 2008. «One of the alarming examples is the purchase in late 2011 of Swiss-German SIG-Sauer pistols for SWAT fighters by the Belarusian Ministry of Internal Affairs,» the report says. The authors of the report note that the shipments could have been carried out through third countries in an attempt to circumvent the embargo.


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