4th August – International Day of Solidarity with civil society and human rights movement in Belarus
“Who told us that we live in police states?
Nobody abolished the principle of equality and fraternity here”
Lyapis Trubetskoy and Louna
“Everyone has a right”
You are a member of non-formal groups? In Belarus, unregistered organizations are prohibited; participation in such organizations can lead to 2 years of prison.
You take part in rallies and pickets? In Belarus, to do it you need to receive permission from the authorities; and the majority of participants of such actions are consistently arrested for 5-15 days.
You like flash mobs? In 2011 Belarus had a wave of "silent rallies" when people gathered in one place without slogans and posters and just clapped their hands. The authorities of Belarus responded to this with detentions and bans on "organized mass inaction".
You get the latest news from the Internet? In Belarus passport is required to enter Internet-cafes; and the Belarus government agencies block access to most of independent mass media sites.
You regularly go abroad? Over the past 10 months, several dozens of Belarus civil society activists, journalists and human rights defenders are included in the "travel ban list" for criticizing the government; and the KGB has the authority to restrict departure on their will.
Being in the heart of Europe, Belarus is the only country of the continent, where death penalty is enforced and where the European Convention on Human Rights does not apply.
Even in such conditions civil society in Belarus is one of the strongest in the post-Soviet area. Every day, Belarusian human rights defenders provide legal support to dozens of people. Lawyers from Belarus win cases in the Human Rights Committee and other UN bodies. Directors, artists, writers and musicians continue to create. The Belarusian rock-band "Lyapis Trubetskoy" is known all-around the world for their songs and civil courage, despite the fact that at home they are included in the "black list" of banned artists.
We believe that freedom has no boundaries.
We think that the situation in Belarus should be considered as a challenge for civil society all across Europe and Eurasia. We are convinced that all of this area can not be considered the territory of freedom, as long as there are countries (like Belarus) where freedom is restricted.
We believe that while there is at least one state that easily and with impunity shows disregard for the opinion of its own citizens as well as international norms and principles, such a scenario will be possible for other countries, where authorities continue to seek new ways of how to silence voices of their critics and opponents, and quickly adopt the "worst practices" of their neighbors. In fact, the only thing we can oppose to it – is our international solidarity.
Politicians of our countries criticize the authorities of Belarus, then they sit down to talk to them; they impose sanctions, but keep on trading; they threaten Belarusian authorities with isolation, at the same time maintaining relations. But leave it to politicians!
In contrast to politicians, we – civil society activists, human rights defenders and simply concerned citizens – consider it important to express our support to the Belarusian civil society, members of which carry on promoting and protecting human rights standards and the rule of law, offering new ideas and initiatives, helping people to meet, talk, write and create. And all of this is taking place in spite of the systematic violations of fundamental human rights: freedom of assembly, association and expression – the foundations, without which the civil society can not exist.
We want to draw attention to the situation in Belarus and to show our solidarity with those people who fight for their freedom under constant pressure and persecution.
We declare the initiative of the International Day of Solidarity with civil society and human rights movement in Belarus – on the 4th August – the day when in 2011 Ales Bialiatski was arrested. He is one of the leading human rights defenders in Belarus, president of the Human Rights Center "Viasna" and the vice-president of the International Federation for Human Rights. For many people this moment marked a new phase in the pressure on human rights defenders and civil activists in Belarus, where massive human rights violations had become common practice.
We invite groups and activists concerned with the situation in Belarus to support this initiative by carrying on this day or around:
- local campaigns and events in your cities and countries, telling about the situation with civil society in Belarus;
- actions in support of individual human rights defenders and civil society groups.
What can you do on this day:
- to collect signatures on postcards and write appeals urging to free Ales Bialiatski and put an end to repressions of civil society in Belarus;
- to organize film showings, informational parties, public lectures, photo exhibitions, street photo exhibitions and other educational activities for a wide range of people;
- to hold a creative action around the Embassy (Consulate) of Belarus in your city (for example, to try to rise the building of the Embassy in the air “using power of thought” in order to exorcize the evil spirits as they once tried to do with the Pentagon), or to organize a big flash mob with flash lights and send “solidarity beams” to Belarus, or you can always clap your hands ;));
- to record an individual or group video message or to take a photo with epigraphs/posters;
- to publish a campaign banner on your website (blog) or to change avatar on your page in the social networks;
- any other options that you come up with!
Disseminate information about the International Day of Solidarity among your friends and colleagues in the social networks (VKontakte, Twitter, Facebook, etc.) or in your blog. Become coordinator of the campaign in your region!
Working group: [email protected]