Our collective laureate of 2021 is the people of Belarus.
I noticed that many do not want to summarize this year. It is clear why. We did not achieve the main goal - the liberation of the country from the dictatorship - and at first glance, it seems that we are stuck in-between times. But actually it is not so. A lot has happened this year.
Most importantly, we have not given up on our dream of freedom. On the contrary, we have become even stronger and firmer in striving to achieve it. Yes, the insanity of the cowardly authorities made Belarusians become more cautious, but the number of supporters of changes only increased. It seems that the most dull ones have already realized that it is impossible to live like this. And the protest continues, but in a different form: public demonstrations turned into partisan actions, people massively refused to go to work under various pretexts during the People's Quarantine announced by the workers, fearless underground workers distributed leaflets, national flags and political graffiti appeared constantly and in the most unexpected places. The Diaspora did not allow the world to forget about Belarus, and sought effective sanctions against the regime.
The fact that everything needs to be changed is said today in every Belarusian kitchen. It is simply impossible not to talk about politics: all meetings or table conversations develop into a discussion of what to do and how to finally live a normal human life without these hateful ghouls.
Today politics has come to every Belarusian home, because in the end it has touched everyone. There are no families today who have not been affected by arrests, dismissals from work, expulsion from colleges and universities, forced emigration of children and grandchildren, illegal "parasitic" decree, a sharp decline in living standards due to incompetent management of an illegitimate government, deaths of relatives from coronavirus, in which the ruling clique is also guilty, which destroyed medicine and refused to introduce anti-epidemiological measures.
No one has any more illusions. There were no one who would say "it's not my problem", except for those living in the mansions hidden behind high fences in Drazdy. But even there they quieted down, realizing that this absurdity and obscurantism could not last long.
And the temporary lull in Belarus is deceptive. Hatred has not gone anywhere, no one has come to terms with evil. Just for a new attack, you need to accumulate new forces. And the Belarusian nation is actually growing up and gaining strength now. Yes, through suffering, but is it possible any other way?
And today I would like to thank every Belarusian who has not put up with all this, but continues to believe and act. This year, we in the Charter97.org editorial team were again unable to select the laureates of the National Prize for the Defense of Human Rights, because every year Belarus gives birth to so many heroes that they cannot be included in any honorary lists. Belarusians have withstood incredible challenges this year, they were brave, courageous and solidary.
Therefore, our collective laureate of 2021 is the people of Belarus. And in the upcoming new year, 2022, I would like to wish one thing to all of us. Do not lose faith in yourself. Only we ourselves can change the life in the country. We are not the first or the last on this path. For thousands of years, countries and peoples have fought for their freedom. All dictatorships inevitably collapse, and people win. Because the desire to be free is as natural as the need to breathe.
Natallia Radzina, Editor-in-Chief at Charter97.org