Update on the situation of the Freedom Day celebration in Minsk on 25 March 2017
Minsk Executive Council violated the Law on Public Events in the case of application of the organisers of the Freedom Day (Belarusian Christian Democracy Party, United Civil Party, Belarusian People’s Front, Movement “For Freedom”, Solidarity Movement “Together”). The first application was filed in January 2017, but the Executive Council informed that the application was lost. The second application was filed in February 2017, however, the Council did not give a response to the organisers five days before the date event as they were obliged according to the Law.
On 24 March 2017 the authorities of Minsk informed the organisers that they allow only a meeting in the place, which was not included into the application.
The organisers of the Freedom Day celebration decided to call back their signatures under the application. They announced that the meeting will take place as planned before at the Academy of Science in Minsk at 14.00 on 25 March 2017.
Simultenously, Mikalai Statkevich, the leader of the Belarusian Social Democraty Party “Narodnaya Hramada”, announced that he also informed the Minsk Executive Council about his intention to hold a meeting and a march on the Freedom Day on the same place with the organisers.
The Belarusian authorities have started a wave of harsh repressions in March 2017 against the participants and organisers of the protest marches against the presidential decree no. 3 “On prevention of social dependency” and the policies of official Minsk in general. Around 300 persons were arrested, detained or fined (around 100 persons are in prisons including 26 persons being accused of preparation of riots).
We include below the address of Vital Rymasheuski written in prison on occasion of the Freedom Day in Belarus (Proclamation of the Belarusian People’s Republic in 1918)
Dear compatriots, I congratulate you on the Freedom Day!
Today, in 2017, the Freedom Day takes on a new meaning and a new sounding, as the desire for freedom becomes the symbol and meaning of the new Belarusian revival. From Brest to Orsha, from Gomel to Vitebsk people rise, demanding truth and justice, rebelling against the humiliation, poverty, corruption and violence, which comes from the bandits in uniform.
Like 100 years ago, Belarusians stand for their right to be treated as owners of their land! Despite the repressions, the people’s protest did not stop, because the authorities are struggling not with the opposition – authorities have begun a war against their own people! Simple civilians are beaten and arrested for peaceful protest. Alexander Lukashenko is personally liable for each day taken from our of life, for all that is happening to us, who are in prison.
Now the task of Lukashenka’s security services not only to suppress, but also to discredit the protest movement. They throw in jail democratic activists across the country to open the way for the provocateurs. So today, if there are drunk persons among the protesters – they secret agents. If there are thugs, prepared to crush buildings, they are the security officers Lukashenko! The purpose of the regime is to repeat the scenario of 2010. Do not let them succeed!
Today, street protests with violent actions are a gift for punitive forces and provocateurs. Violence is the method of cowards. Let us leave it to the authorities. The Holy Scripture says, “there is a time to gather stones and a time to throw stones.” Today is a time to gather, the time to join political parties and organisations, create new ones.The time to unite in a common national movement for truth and justice! For the right to be called human beings!
Our goal is a peaceful democratic Belarus!
Our method is open non-violent resistance.
Our task is to prepare peaceful all-Belarusian strike demanding the government’s resignation and free elections!
Let us be courageous and wise today, and tomorrow we will raise a joint protest all Belarus!
Since the ancient times and until now, wherever Belarusians strive for freedom and justice, on the streets and prisons – Long Live Belarus!