Thousands mourn death of Belarus protester allegedly beaten to death after arrest

Thousands of Belarusians streamed to a church in the capital of Minsk today for the funeral of a protester who was allegedly beaten to death after being arrested by police.

People pay their respects to Roman Bondarenko, an anti-government Belarus protester. Source: Associated Press

Raman Bandarenka's death on November 12 angered opposition supporters who have held near-daily demonstrations against the authoritarian president since early August.

Bandarenka was seized in a Minsk courtyard by men believed to be plainclothes officers, who were removing symbolic ribbons hung there by opposition supporters.

He was taken to a police van and human rights advocates say he was beaten there; he died the next day of head injuries. 

Police deny responsibility, saying he was injured in a fight, and investigators claim he was drunk. A journalist and a doctor, who reported medical records showing Bandarenka had no alcohol in his blood, were arrested yesterday.

Mourners stood outside the church holding photos of Bandarenka and the red-and-white ribbons that are an opposition symbol. They later formed a kilometers-long column to walk to the cemetery where he was buried.

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Tens of thousands marched through the capital Minsk, with more than 100 arrested. Source: 1 NEWS

Protests have gripped Belarus since the August 9 presidential election that official results say gave President Alexander Lukashenko a sixth term in office. The opposition and some poll workers say the results were manipulated. 

More than 19,000 people have been detained — and thousands of them beaten — since the protests began, human rights advocates say. 

Western countries have announced an array of sanctions connected with the election and crackdown on protests.

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