“You cross your arms behind your back and bend over so that your head is as low as possible. They shout at you when you need to leave the bus and go to the prison truck. On your way, you pass the riot police officers who beat you with truncheons – in the stomach, in the legs.
“We were beaten and put into the prison truck. A woman near me cried that she had heart problems and needed a doctor, but the officers just scorned at her. Once we arrived at the police department, we were beaten again. We were to stand bent over, facing the wall, hands up, legs wide apart, with your head against your stomach. Five minutes in this posture put the whole body in pain. We stood like this for hours, and they beat us for any movement, even those who could not stand.
“One young man’s arm was broken and swollen, and he could not hold it up. An officer approached him and shouted at him to raise his arm, and when the man could not do it, the officer grabbed his arm, pulled it up, and hit against the fence. We were tortured like this for 16 hours straight.
“And yet I was ‘lucky’ not to end up in the detention center called Okrestina. It’s worse than hell. I heard of men who had their intestine worn after the guards put them batons into the anus. Another man told the journalists they put the stick into his mouth, trying to squeeze his eyes…”
If you think that’s an account of some World War II time, of a Jew going through the hell of a Nazi camp, you are wrong. What Alexander Fruman, a 40-year old Israeli from Modiin, head of the data analytics department in a high tech company, went through happened last week in Belarus. Fruman arrived in Belarus with his family for a ‘roots tour’ – his family is from there. On August 10th, he was walking in the country’s capital Minsk and made a picture of the yellow helmets of the riot officers lying in the streets. Next minute he was seized by these officers and put into the bus…
Belarus has been rocking since August 8th, after the presidential election in which Alexander Lukashenko, who ruled the country for 26 years, lost to a woman – wife of a candidate imprisoned by him. According to independent exit-polls, she got 70 of the vote, with Lukashenko getting just about 15. However, Lukashenko declared himself the winner, and hundreds of thousands of people went out to the streets in protest. Thousands of them were detained and tortured, just like Fruman.
The Embassy of Israel did not show much interest in the fate of its citizen, or in the fate of two more Israelis detained in Belarus during the protests. No one was looking for Fruman as he spent three days in detention being tortured. He used to tell people around him in the police department that ‘Israel will save me.’ Still, no one from the Embassy even showed up to meet him after he was released – although his wife notified the Embassy immediately after he was detained. The Israel Foreign Ministry has not as of today expressed any concern about three of Israel’s citizens being detained and tortured in a foreign country.
Nor has Israel declared its position regarding the faked election, or how the Belarusian regime deals with the protests. Unlike Lithuania, where the local Parliament voted almost unanimously for sanctions against Belarus until new elections are held. Unlike Canada, that said it will not accept the results of the ‘fraudulent elections.’ Unlike the EU that has called for sanctions against Lukashenko for the atrocities his people performed in reaction to the peaceful protests…
I know it seems a bit too much – the word ‘torture’ applied to what happens now and not in the Middle Ages. I also know it is bad taste to recall Gestapo and the Nazis unless you have a really good reason to do so, not to devalue the words. I would be glad to find some other words to describe what is happening in Belarus. But I’m afraid these are the most precise ones.