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The Leader of Europe's 'Last Dictatorship' Is Facing an Unprecedented Challenge. Here's What It Could Mean for Belarus

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Europe’s longest serving leader Alexander Lukashenko has long worked hard to seem invincible. He has dominated past elections that the U.S. has deemed neither free nor fair and brokered no dissent and suppressed protests. Now, he is facing an unprecedented challenge as he runs for a sixth term as president of Belarus in elections on August 9. A former teacher and political novice, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, has emerged as his main rival, pledging to topple Lukashenko’s regime and restore democracy.
Tens of thousands have rallied across Belarus in some of the country’s biggest opposition protests in a decade, amid mounting frustration over the government’s mishandling of the COVID-19 crisis, combined with grievances about the economy. Referring to Lukashenko, protestors chanted ‘stop the cockroach’ and held placards reading ‘change!’.
“For the first time in his 26-year rule, Lukashenko knows the majority don’t support him,” says Aleksandr Feduta, a former aide to the incumbent, who was i…

China: Former Death Row Inmate Describes Torture

Chen told a conference in Beijing this past weekend that on the first day he was taken from his hometown in Heilongjiang, police tortured him. He described how the police officers attached wires to his fingers and toes and electrocuted him.

Chen Ruiwu spent almost 8 years in prison after being sentenced to death by a court in Hebei in 2001 for being involved in a murder.

However, Chen was eventually acquitted of the crime in Nov 2009.

On Sunday, at a legal conference in Beijing, Chen talked of his torture at the hands of local police officers.

Chen, who's currently 42 years-old, was born in Heilongjiang and became a suspect in a serial murder case in Shengfang town in Bazhou in Hebei province ten years ago.

He was arrested on Dec. 15 in 2001 and sentenced to death after the first trial. However, on Nov. 12, 2009, Cheng was acquitted of the crime by the People's Court in Heibei.

According to Chen, police suspected he was involved in the murder because he had once had dinner with a fellow-villager who was also a suspect.

Chen told a conference in Beijing this past weekend, that on the first day he was taken from his hometown in Heilongjiang, police tortured him. He described how the police officers attached wires to his fingers and toes and electrocuted him.

Chen described how at that time he still didn't know why he had been arrested.

The policemen didn't ask specific questions and only asked him to confess. When his answers didn't satisfy them, he would be given an electric shock.

Chen said that, "It was worse than the electric batons. I'd rather die than be subjected to electric shocks."

According to a local newspaper called Life News that published in Heilongjiang, Chen also described how his confession was made under torture during court proceedings, describing how he suffered electric shocks to his genitals from electric batons and also how his fingers and toes were hooked up to telephone wires in order to deliver electic shocks to his body.

During the interrogation, Chen was also forced to drink chili liquid; his head was covered with plastic bags; the arch of his feet were burned with a lighter and his fingers and toes were clipped with pliers.

Chen once tried to bite his tongue in an attempt to commit suicide and was sent to the hospital for stitches. After a month's torture, Chen couldn't bear any more and said you can write whatever you want to write.

However, when putting his name to the forced confession, he still deliberately wrote the character for his family name incorrectly, he later explained, "once I'm dead, they will find my signature is fake and launch an investigation."

Yang Hongyi, who was also acquitted, said that he was also tortured to confess.

Source: The Economic Observer, November 29, 2011

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