Thursday, July 14, 2011

In Belarus, A One-Armed Man Was Arrested For Clapping...

Like Malaysia, the leaders of Belarus are also under intense pressure.

Unlike Malaysia though, the people aren't seeking electoral reform, instead they are pressuring the government over a collapsing economy that's gutted living standards and left hundreds of thousands out of work since January in the little post-Soviet country of 10 million.

Protesters in Minsk clap their hands to show their frustration towards the Belarus government. Image:
Belarus has tough regulations on public rallies, and hence protesters eschew placards and shouted slogans, and merely clap their hands to display their anger at Mr. Lukashenko's policies.
Alexander Lukashenko, dubbed "The Last Dictator of Europe". Image:
But Konstantin Kaplin, an unemployed man from the western town of Grodno, says he was convicted this week of applauding in public and fined the equivalent of $200, despite overwhelming evidence of his innocence: He is officially registered as a disabled person and has only one arm.

Mr. Kaplin insists that he was only standing nearby and attempting to photograph demonstrators with his cell phone when plainclothes police grabbed him.
Plain cloth policemen arresting one of the protesters. Image:
"The judge read out the charges, the police affirmed that I was applauding, and the fine was levied," Kaplin says.

There was no examination of evidence at all, he adds.

"The judge looked ashamed of herself, and I sympathize with her. She was probably under orders. But this is a huge sum for me to pay, more than twice my monthly pension, and I'm having to ask all my family and friends to help me raise it," he says.-

Svetlana Kalinkina, editor of the independent Minsk newspaper Narodnaya Volya, said that there were similar cases occurring before, and one case where a deaf and mute person was accused of shouting antigovernmental slogans.
"Last week there was yet another case when a teacher was arrested while he was riding a bike and was accused of waving his arms and shouting something in a kind of protest."


For those Malaysian who've always bad-mouthed their own country and extol western countries(blindly), these are for you (though I must admit that Malaysia has Her fair share of social and political predicaments, but still a far cry from what's currently happening in Eastern Europe).


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