Olga K. has been part of the peaceful protests in Belarus since August 2020 when President Lukashenko falsified the election and scaled up the instruments of state repression. This is her first hand report about the situation there.
Everyday in Belarus we hear how democracy activists have been given long prison sentences for so-called “crimes” against the police following their arrest last year.
The accusations are so absurd, but the so-called “judges” here accept everything they are told to do by the regime. We no longer have a court system - it has become an instrument of state repression.
One man was so badly beaten up by the police last August last year that he spent two weeks in intensive care. He has just been given a 5 year prison sentence for "injuring a policeman". The so-called "victim" of this "crime" appeared in court under a false name and wearing a balaclava.
Every week there are arbitrary house-checks. People are arrested and taking into custody on often made-up charges of sponsoring protests or extremist organizations.
Anyone with a connection with “the West” is under suspicion, for example the Polish minority in Belarus, especially those working in Polish schools. The head of the Polish minority in Belarus, Angelica Boris is now in prison. One of my neighbours had her house searched by police because her child is learning Polish. The regime uses such "house-visits" as a form of intimidation.
Ordinary citizens, even those who are not involved in the protests, are now very careful about choosing their clothes. In Belarus you can be sentenced to 30 days in prison for wearing wrong coloured clothes.
The police are so arrogant that they allow themselves to ask a young mother on the street why her 4 year-old daughter is wearing a white hat, a red jacket and white trousers. We know of cases where the adult members of entire famlilies have been criminalised and emprisoned, while their children are taken into orphanages.
In one case, a mother of five was beaten by the police, tortured in prison and is awaiting what is expected to be a long sentence.
A 20 year-old girl from our group chat of neighbors was arrested and held in prison for twenty days because she there had been a photo in one of the TG-channels of a group of people with white-red-white flag taken in our town.
When the young girl asked how the police knew that she was one of the people in the photo she was shown the print out and told with laughter and derision "We know if from your back!".
Such incidents are happening every day, non-stop.
Meanwhile, prison conditions are not getting any better. There are no mattresses, the lights are left on 24/7, the authorities do not allow relatives to bring food to the “white-red-white criminals”. Those who were arrested on 25th of March and held for several days have reported that they were beaten by the police almost every day they were in prison.
People are losing their jobs for having the "wrong political views", even teachers and doctors. The whole nation is under such pressure and itimidation that it is folly to think that we will go on the streets now.
The regime still has its instruments of repression and thousands of loyal police and military personnel at its command. All the state's resources are spent on the Lukashenko’s forces. Well, it has always been like that.
Only economic pressure from inside and severe sanction from outside will stop this regime. There should not be any dialogue between the regime and Europe, the outside, civilised world.
All those ministers appointed by Lukashenko should face travel bans, sanctions and and be isolated internationally, because they are not legitimate. Everything they say is an absolute lie. Everything they do is nothing but evil.
Maybe the only topic that can be discussed is the conditions of Lukashenko’s resignation.
Not only the police are loyal, but there is propaganda that uses TV as main weapon. And they have all the crazy stories and explanations about what is going on in the country.
The most recent one is how with the help of Russian police they took three Belarusians to Moscow and accused them of preparing a rebellion (under the control of President Joe Biden) with intention of taking Lukashenko's children into a cellar, and all this. And that story was told by Lukashenko himself on a state TV. He is becoming crazier every day.
For example, Lukashenko's recently visited Azerbaijan, offering congratulations and support to the regime. What is that if not the behavior of a crazed dictator? Has he forgotten that Belarus together with Armenia is a member of CSTO?
I am very happy that Svetlana Tikhanovskay, Pavel Latushko and others are doing so much to promote Belarus in the world, to build civilized relations with most of the countries, to tell the truth to the whole world. Europe should continue working with them, because they are our future.
And he EU should widen sanctions - Europe should help its big business corporations understand that dealing with the regime is the worst they can do. Placing ads on Belarusian TV is paying money directly to Lukashenko.
Everything that is produced by Belarusian state-owned factories and companies should be banned. No oil or its derivatives from Belarus, no electricity from the atomic plan in Ostrovets.
The Belarusian Sports Solidarity Foundation is also doing a lot to discredit the regime, although they’ve been denounced an extremist organization,. The head of the sports federation, Alexandra Herasimenia, a world champion swimmer – is under criminal investigation.
Official Belarusian sport teams and sportsmen under the red-green flag should not be allowed into international championships. And the same should be done in each sphere – television, culture, science – only independent, non state-owned organizations should be accepted. This would be a form of solidarity from the rest of the world.
Even if to stay in power, Lukashenko promises to release a couple of prisoners, or allows the Red Cross into prisons, Europe, the USA should not believe him. This is just a trick to remain in power, to survive. The Israeli state says “no negotiations with terrorists” . The whole world should say "no deals with the usurper".
Meanwhile, our demands remain the same:
* Freedom to all political prisoners
* Lukashenko’s resignation
* New elections
* Investigation of all the crimes against peaceful protestors