Belarusians will not put up with the regime.
Workers' leader Sergey Dylevski urged Belarusians to stay at home from November 1. The Belarusian Association of Workers states the strike is gaining momentum.
How has the strike changed the balance of forces in confrontation with the regime? What actions of Belarusians could intensify the workers' protest? Does the strike factor influence the international agenda around Belarus?
Charter97.org talked about this with the leader of the European Belarus civil campaign, Andrei Sannikov.
- There was a lot of controversy about the strike. Whether it was the right time and whether people were ready to protest. Is the call to stay home well-timed?
- It depends on the approach. My prison experience shows that even the scant information we had there could let us judge who was " a political tourist" and who was helpful for political prisoners.
The only right attitude is to remember every day those who are hostages of the regime and act. The strike is action.
It was not declared on November 1. Sergey Dylevski and the BAW announced a pre-strike state two months before the date for workers to be able to get ready. Much had been done during this time. Sergey Dylevski made a tremendous effort. He evolved into a real, not "zoom-like," serious worker leader, a representative of the workers.
Therefore, the strike is not only well-timed. It is already overdue and requires the involvement of all healthy forces, aiming to free our friends and country from prison.
- What have the Belarusian workers achieved today?
- Firstly, the strike has already become a phenomenon. It is discussed, and people have prepared for it. Everyone who took part in the strike and was its organizer carefully planned his actions. The strike has become an important mechanism of protest.
Besides, it helps to form a labour force, which we lack in Belarus. During these years, the regime managed to strangle the workers' movement.
Sergey Dylevski and the BAW put workers back on the agenda of the current situation. Since it involves the economic situation as well, the topic will remain relevant in the near future.
- At the outbreak of the coronavirus epidemic in 2020, you were one of the initiators of the People's Quarantine in Belarus. How relevant are such measures in the current situation?
- It's absolutely relevant. We've been saying from the very start that the strike would help to save the lives of Belarusians. The government is doing everything to cause more deaths from coronavirus. It is a sadistic attitude of Lukashenka during the worst wave of the epidemic. Such approaches as a combination of strike and quarantine are very important.
I would like to see the same creativity of the Belarusians with regard to the strike as it was during the protests. For example, November 12 is a day of remembrance of Roman Bondarenko. It would be possible to combine it with the Stay at home action in memory of the murdered hero of Belarus. One can organize an action called "Empty Streets of Cities" to show support for the strikes.
There are numerous ways and methods. Not so long ago, for example, there was a "silent strike" in Myanmar. People stayed home. It was a very strong political statement against the junta that now rules in Myanmar.
So methods of safe action, which must combine with self-care, will be highly effective. We need to find the way paved to our victory and not stop.
- The strike in Belarus overlaps with another event - the so-called State Council of the "Union State." Does the labour protest affect the international agenda around Belarus?
- Yes, the workers' protest has certainly become a factor. The announced strike is an action to protect our independence. The announced pre-strike condition influenced that meeting between Lukashenka and Putin in September. It is a signal to those who still deal with Lukashenka.
Such actions make the world see that the Belarusians no longer want to put up with this regime, do not consider it legitimate, and will not recognize any deals with impostors.