Zmitser (Dzima) Bandarenka has dedicated his life to his family and his motherland. And if there is a real love to one’s family and one’s motherland, it’s Zmitser’s love.
When Zmitser was imprisoned after the “elections”, he regretted only one thing: that it was forbidden to bring the book of memoirs and poems by Larysa Heniyush and the Bible in Belarusian to him. Not long ago, on September 28, he received as a gift a two-volume book published to the 100th anniversary of the Belarusian poetess. Zmitser was amazed by the unbendable fortitude and patriotism of Heniyush. He was amazed that in the dreadful conditions of Stalin camps she managed to withstand everything and to maintain not only reasoning power, but love in her heart, which is much harder.
Dzima came to the Square accompanied by all his family. Before the arrest he managed to utter only one phrase: “But I am not ashamed”.
In the KGB prison Zmitser’s spinal column’s disease aggravated. There is a real threat of partial or complete immobilization. He didn’t like to discuss it, but we, his friends, knew that he had lost his health when he took part in peaceful demonstrations for our good; demanding to respect human rights. Riot policemen mercilessly beat him by truncheons and kicked him. More beating fell to his share often, as a tall, broad-shouldered former Spetsnaz officer caused impotent rage of riot police nonentities, and they attacked him in packs. Dzima could have asked assistance of human rights organizations and have a course of treatment abroad, but he was bearing the pain courageously, he was treated in usual Minsk hospitals and was not asking for anything.
It was his choice. A choice of a hero and a patriot, who continues his struggle in the most difficult situations, who does not demand public recognition or prosperity. He lived in a usual flat in Serabranka district, with a usual design and rather old furniture. He doesn’t even have a car. But he was fortunate in having a good family.
His wife Volha had not been reproaching him for lack of money, for instability ever. On the contrary, she was proud of her husband, and holds in contempt those who have forgotten about honour and conscience for the sake of a flat, summer cottage, luxurious design of their flat or an expensive car. For his daughter Yuliya, her father is an ideal, and she wants her future husband to be like him.
For us Dzima is like an unshakable rock, which will harbour and protect from the malice of winds and weather. He was always ready to lend a hand, he could come to the rescue, and he found ways out of the most difficult situations.
“You know, I have never thought he is like that!” said one of journalists after reading his letters form the prison. Yes, he is like that. He is a man with a big, open heart. He cannot bear cowardice and phoniness. He cannot talk to journalists in the “right” way from the point of view of the PR perhaps. But the reason is the same. He does not know how to tell lies, to flatter and wriggle out. He does not mince words, he speaks boldly.
Dzima is a driving force, who is energizing everything, he does not allow people around to be idle, grow fat and degrade. That’s why he is dangerous for the regime. That is why some temporizers from the opposition are not very fond of him. But such things always happened during challenging times. A coward remained a coward, and a strong man became even stronger.
Today under the conditions I have been trapped in by the current regime, when I can do nothing but write, I regret only one thing: I would not be able to come to the so-called court. Zmitser will be taken there on April 26, soon after Easter. Rascals will pass judgement on a real Christian.
There are no doubts about the verdict. Under the present condition the KGB needs only “constructive” opposition to stay at liberty. Such opposition has already stated about some “dialogue” with the regime. They are trying to save their bacon, and save Lukashenka from inevitable sanctions and total international ostracism. Honest and principled fighters will stay in prisons – for the time being.
They say, people see wonderful dreams on holidays. On the eve of Easter I saw a dream, that Zmitser Bandarenka, Andrei Sannikov and Alyaksandr Atroshchankau are free.
I know that this day will come unavoidably. But it depends on us, how soon. Even strongest people need support. Zmitser has sacrificed his health and freedom for us. And is it so difficult for us to do the simplest thing, to support and save this man, no matter how they intimidate us? “European Belarus” has called upon Belarusians who are not indifferent, to come to the court of Pershamajski district of Minsk on April 26 at 10.00 a.m. and to bring and attach a blue ribbon, a symbol of the European choice of Belarus.
It is not dangerous, it will not cost your head. But if you have fear, or are lazy, just imagine that after the 4 month of confinement, on the day of the unfair trial over him, Zmitser wants to see the dear, pleasant faces of normal people so strong. He wants to see your faces.