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Medical workers protest against police violence at recent rallies Medical workers protest against police violence at recent rallies  (AFP or licensors)

Belarus: Catholic Bishops call for dialogue amid ongoing unrest

A second protester dies in Belarus following Sunday’s disputed presidential election, as the country’s Catholic Bishops call for calm and for a fruitful dialogue based on truth.

By Devin Watkins

Deadly clashes continued into their fourth night across Belarus.

The unrest was set off on Sunday after President Alexander Lukashenko declared victory in the nation's presidential election.

Disputed death

On Wednesday night, a 25-year-old man died in the south-eastern city of Gomel.

Belarus’ Investigative Committee said he had been arrested on Sunday and sentenced to ten days in prison for taking part in protests.

Officials said he fell ill and was taken to hospital where he later died.

But the man’s mother told Radio Free Europe that he was not taking part in any demonstrations but was on his way to see his girlfriend when he was arrested.

She added that her son had heart problems and that he had spent several hours in a police van.

Not the first

He is the second person to have died in the unrest in the last four days.

Reports suggest at least 200 protesters have been wounded in clashes with police.

The UN reports that at least 6,000 people have been detained since Sunday.

Appeal for truth and dialogue

Catholic Bishops in Belarus have called for calm and for an open dialogue between protesters and the government.

Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz of Minsk appealed to all parties to cease acts of violence.

“Do not let the force of violence prevail,” he said, “but rather the strength of argumentation, based on dialogue in trust and mutual love.”

The Bishop of Vitebsk, Aleh Bukevich, added his voice to the fray.

“There is only one way out of this situation,” he said, “seeking the truth! We must be certain and defend truth, not lies.”

But, he added, “truth cannot be found where there is violence.”

13 August 2020, 13:26