They emerged dazed, shaken and in tears from the detention centre in Minsk, to be met by waiting relatives. They displayed the black-and-blue bruises on their bodies, saying police had beaten them mercilessly. One teenager asked his weeping mother to look away.
Authorities in Belarus have freed at least 2,000 of about 7,000 people who had been pulled off the streets by riot police in the days following a disputed election that kept the country's iron-fisted leader, President Alexander Lukashenko, in power.
As they reunited with loved ones early Friday, they told of being struck repeatedly with truncheons, being threatened with gang rape and held amid harsh conditions and overcrowded cells.