17 June 2021, Thursday, 7:43
Sim Sim, Charter 97!

Start Seeking You

Start Seeking You
Iryna Khalip

The code phrase is "it's over!"

The other day a reader wrote to me and said that I was writing the truth. The Belarusians do hate the regime and want changes. The figure I voice is correct and it makes 95% of the population. But all these people associate hopes for future changes not with the opposition, so we have no chance. Signed with respect by Marya Ivanauna.

This is not the first letter of this kind that I receive. Their authors agree we can't live like this. They want changes. Only your opposition is not capable of anything, it will not bring us changes, they say. And I think that's the core of such a long and sometimes seemingly hopeless way to changes - expectations associated with someone and almost always leading to disappointment.

To be honest, I do not associate my hopes for changes with anyone but myself. It is me, not a conditional opposition member, who should keep writing texts, informing those who do not know about the situation, waking acquaintances, communicating with strangers, helping the repressed, disseminating information - everything I can do professionally and humanly. Of course, to go to the Square. After all, only protests can make a difference here.

In 2006, when young activists set up tents on the Square and managed to stay there for almost five days, they hardly invested their hopes for changes in Aliaksandr Milinkevich or Aliaksandr Kazulin. When my friends and I used to rush to the square in the evening after work to bring food and warm clothes to guys and stand with them, believe me, we didn't think about Milinkevich or Kazulin. Everyone was going to the Square for his own sake only. Because that was the only way. When the tent camp was ruined, these brave guys were going to jail not for Kazulin, but themselves. The same happened in 2010 when the tens of thousands took to the streets and did it not for Niakliayew, Sannikov or Statkevich. I'll tell you a secret: I wasn't there because of Sannikov either. If my husband hadn't been a presidential candidate, we would have both been on that square and perhaps in that prison. So our hopes for changes we should invest in no one but us. After all, this is infantilism.

The position of infantilists is very comfortable. "We do not like you. There are few of you at the rally. You want changes and do not offer anything positive. You have been fighting for twenty-five years, but you still cannot win. Everybody is tired of you. You failed to attract people. Give us other leaders - young but experienced, with charisma and the ability to play musical instruments. People will not follow you". The people should play the role of an incapacitated mass, which can only be attracted by disco, strippers and slogans "every woman has a man".

For some reason, this is how I imagine the Soviet KGB officer (the version of the year 1968). He tells Larisa Bogoraz arrested on the Red Square: "Well, Larisa Iosifovna, you failed to attract the multimillion Soviet people with the idea of condemning the invasion of Czechoslovakia! People will not follow you. There are only eight people on the Red Square. It proves a low rating. You have no chance to be elected to the Supreme Soviet of the USSR either!" Or one can imagine Western journalists who, having met with a fugitive from the North Korean concentration camp, write half-heartedly: "The escape story is, of course, exciting, but the character does not arouse interest. He could have created a powerful North Korean opposition, but he just broke through the barbed wire. The remarks I mentioned above are the same story.

Of course, I understand how it is unbearably hard to observe incredible efforts of many people turning into dust for years. How furious they are with gloating - no, not even power, but human-like misunderstandings: "Wow, they failed again!" How those who are exhausted cover themselves with scales of indifference. I also often want to hide under a pillow or pour myself into a glossy magazine. We are just human beings. Small human beings. But the arithmetic still works. There are millions of such units in the country. Yes, many of them fell apart and huddled themselves in the cracks, like those counting sticks bought for every first-grader. We also fell apart, got lost, some of us just broke down. But let's be found. Let's get together. The problem is not that there are few of us, but that we can't find each other.

I start seeking you. The code phrase is "it's over"!

Iryna Khalip, especially for Charter97.org