Why we need our symbols back.
The son of my friends is a junior schoolboy, he is a cheerful boy. But he has recently burst into tears at a music lesson. The thing was that the class was learning the national anthem.
The boy cried. The teacher wondered what happened. The boy replied: "I cannot hear this anthem, my father was beaten by the police when the anthem played!" He cried unless the lesson was over. Next time his parents did not let him attend the music class. Because the teacher asked them to learn it by heart.
When my friends told me this story, I remembered my own tears I cried many years ago, May 16, 1995. I stood with my colleagues in front of the "residency" - the building on Karl Marx, 38, and saw how white-red-white flag was removed from the roof, and red-green ones were unfurled. We choked with tears and could do nothing. People on the roof were laughing and cutting flags into pieces. The leader of vandals Ivan Titsenkou roared with laughter: "Let Paznyak hang himself!"
Probably, this was all started from. Not from the dispersal of the Supreme Council in 1996, not from kidnappings and murders, but from the destruction of national symbols. It was then that a group of deputies headed by Zyanon Paznyak declared a hunger-strike as a protest: the referendum not only destroyed our symbols, but also returned the Russian language, and announced a policy of integration with Russia, and allowed Lukashenka to terminate the powers of the Supreme Council halfway. Two of those 19 deputies on hunger strike passed away - Ihar Hermenchuk and Barys Hunter. Please, remember their names.
When they went on a hunger strike and stayed in the courtroom for the night, people broke into with batons and severely beat them. They were soldiers of Lukashenka. And those people in "masks" turned out to be very useful for the state under a new flag. But the practice of repressions and bullying over dissenters was applied for the first time in April, 1995. It has become a tradition, as well as masked people.
At the same time, the first propaganda film Children of Lies appeared on Belarusian television - a collection of incompetent vileness about our flag and the Belarusian Popular Front as ideological descendants of the police. Iron on glass, Call to a Friend and others were carbon-copied. The author of the movie Yury Azarenok got a bash on the bonce from Mikalai Statkevich - he found his home address, arrived and socked him. (By the way, 12 years later Azarenok got a bash on the bonce from Philip Kirkorov - this is a completely different story, although it still sounds good.)
Perhaps, precisely that "referendum" was the point of no return for all of us. The second "referendum" we all remember was already played under the well-known scenario. And then, the final dispersal of the Supreme Council and the killing of Lukashenka's opponents, the falsification of upcoming elections, both Square-2006 and Square-2010, the destruction of independent newspapers, tortures in prisons, arrogance of fat judges and prosecutors, and the impunity of bastards in the riot police, all this endless nightmare that has turned our country into the zone where people die and run from (and those who do not want to do it are expelled by force) was destined in May, 1995.
The generation of those who have never seen white-red-white flags on buildings of state institutions have already grown up. (I myself cannot believe that our flag waved on all police departments, but the visual memory keeps these pictures so clearly, that no decades will destroy them.) In this zone we have the generation of people like this crying boy for whom the red-green flag and the national anthem are symbols of repressions, sufferings, and fear. Their parents are beaten, neighbors are imprisoned, older brothers are dismissed from work under this flag. This generation will never treat a policeman with kindness, never believe in the logical connection between the KGB and the state security, never have a desire to serve in the army and work for the state - at least, unless the flag is changed on a Belarusian one, the most beautiful in the world.
And do not let them say that symbols are not the main thing, that they can be returned later, but first we need to return free elections. There will be no free elections with this anthem. There will be no life of happiness under the Lukashenka's flag. We will not be free without Pahonia coat of arms.
It all started from destruction of state symbols, everything should come to an end with their return. Only then they will stop beating us in the streets and in prisons. Only then our children will not cry when they hear the anthem. Only then we will know that nothing bad will happen to our loved ones in our beloved country.
Iryna Khalip for Charter97.org