15 June 2021, Tuesday, 10:44
Sim Sim, Charter 97!

Protests for Every Day

Protests for Every Day
Photo: greenbelarus.info

Everything is allowed!

I have a friend who, like many city dwellers, moves to a summer cottage. The scale of the flash mob differs from that in in the city, especially if the house is on the outskirts. If you rattle pots, only the nearest neighbours can hear. However, they will probably think that this is some kind of culinary trick. Anyway, a friend of mine came up with her version of the flash mob. Every day at 7 pm, she fastens up a small portable speaker to her belt and goes for jogging turning on "Changes!"

She runs around the village with Tsoi to ensure that every house has heard her. It's good for health and the campaign. Instead of jogging, she sometimes rides a bike, turns on the same Tsoi on maximum and goes around not only her own, but also the neighbouring villages. She says that both jogging and cycling are a pleasure: drivers are beeping as a sign of support, people in houses are applauding, and even a police car respectfully gave her way.

A friend does everything right. A flash mob is neither a classic play, where one should keep to the text, nor an agenda for the party meeting, but a living changing organism. Non-violent resistance is an endless and limitless platform for creativity. There are no boundaries or limits, no bosses or subordinates, no councils or initialled texts. There's creativity, intuition, courage. A "plush landing" has recently been the most creative flash mob in the last twenty years. Remember that?

In the early morning of 4 July 2012, a light-engine plane headed from a small Lithuanian airfield. It was driven by Swedish pilots Thomas Mazetti and Hanna-Lina Frey. In Belarus, Per Cromwell, who had entered Belarus under the guise of a tourist shortly before, ran supporting actions. The plane crossed the Lithuanian-Belarusian border unnoticed, flew to Minsk and returned. Along the way, they dropped almost a thousand teddy bears with small posters in their paws "Free speech now". Great, isn't it? There was no violence or even a hint of it. Meanwhile, the result was fantastic: Sasha 3% (then he had a little bit more, they say) was so scared of teddy bears that he hid in the bunker of Astroshitsky residence for a long time, fired border guards and air defence personnel, had a fit of hysterics, drank the hatred, cried on TV screens. The situation in Belarus, the Swedish pilots wanted to draw attention to, dominated the world news.

By the way, the Swedish performance is just one of 198 methods of non-violent resistance an American scientist and public figure Gene Sharp wrote about. Moreover, it is a creatively redesigned method. This is item 12: "Inscriptions in the air (by aeroplanes) and on the ground (ploughing, planting, stones)". By the way, the Swedish pilots are eager to come back to Belarus. I hope they can do it soon. They will write "welcome democracy" in the air with their small aircraft. It will no longer be a way of non-violent resistance but a part of some cool international festival in the new Belarus.

There's no dogma in non-violent resistance. I see there are different people and situations. Someone can't stand loud sounds and therefore can't make noise within the framework of a solidarity flash mob. Someone has a baby sleeping at home. Someone's got close relative sick in the next room. 198 ways of Gene Sharp can help you. There are flags, symbols, leaflets, prayers, convoys, songs, boycott, strikes, and even silence.

The main thing is solidarity, not its form. The task is to express oneself and one's own position so that it could work as a "friend-or-foe" system. Everything is allowed. Play music and rattle pots. Pave the word "Go away" or its variations in the flower bed. Print out texts or instructions you like to bypass the Charter's blockage and spread them through your neighbours' mailboxes. Poison cockroaches in all the cellars around here. Hang up flags in windows. Remember the national symbols on clothes, bags, cars. Paralyze the work of government agencies with complaints. Take pictures of informants false witnesses, judges and upload them on the Internet. Leave slippers on the threshold of state institutions. Write slogans with chalk on the asphalt (graffiti on the walls is more impressive, but chalk is safe). Paste up leaflets at the entrances. Release balloons with the inscription "Stop the cockroach".

Let everything boil on earth, in the sky, and on balconies. Let them see our protest. Let Sasha 3% go deeper and deeper into his madness to this phantasmagoric accompaniment.

Don't think that all we can do is rattle dishes and release balloons. Gene Sharpe's non-violent methods quite vary. Let's get used to protesting every day. It becomes a habit soon, believe me. We will all be able to turn to No. 148 soon. The name of it is "revolt".

Iryna Khalip, especially for Charter97.org