Release Palina. And other people, of course.
Palina Charenda-Panasiuk is back in an isolation cell. Now, she will spend 20 days there. Previously, she was there twice, registered as prone to extremism. Her bed had a yellow mark. She was subject to psychiatric evaluation in Novinki. The road from the Brest detention centre to Minsk took a week. Then, she was found in the detention centre on Volodarskogo. It is not clear why she was taken there. However, any prisoner - former, current or future - knows the longer the prisoner transfer, the more distressing it is.
Whenever I hear news about Palina Sharenda-Panasiuk, I try to answer the question: guys, what's the profit? What secret profit are you hoping to make by mocking Palina?
And there is no answer. Because there is no profit. To make mankind scream "you are beasts!" - so hard that they're already screaming their voices out. To make everyone else afraid. "Look what we're doing to the mother of two minor children. Can you imagine what we'll do to you?" It does not work either; after August 9-11, those who survived are no longer afraid: they paid a high price to defeat it. To break down Palina? It is a crazy fantasy: she does not answer "formally" when the guards come to her isolation cell. She says loud and clear: "I am Palina Sharenda-Panasiuk, a political prisoner. Rest assured, she could have avoided the isolation cell, Novinki, and the yellow mark on her bed. But she did not want to.
All in all, the authorities fail. No profit. No point.
There is no point to spend huge public money on Palina, pay salaries and provide work for the numerous prison guards, investigators, operatives, paddy wagon drivers, convoys.
It makes no point to take the mother of four children, dentist Natallia Lyubetskaya, into the KGB jail, threaten her with fifteen years in prison for treason, and then, after she and her children escaped, jail her husband, the talented surgeon Andrei Lyubetsky.
It makes no sense to torture the mother of five children, Volha Zolotar, in prison. It makes no sense to part Alena Movshuk from Pinsk with her daughter. It makes no sense to arrest the mother of two children Antanina Kanavalava and her husband. To force the children to flee across the border with their grandmother.
Experience doesn't help. After all these years, they still haven't understood simple things. I do not even mention now that the bullying of Palina, Volha, Natallia, and other Belarusians is directly related to business. If they haven't figured out that anyone with money who is thinking about investing will look at the picture of their family next to the computer and say: Oh, is that where they separate mothers from their children and then torture them in prisons?
Once I offered to introduce the unit of sanctions, "one Kozulin" because in 2006, the U.S. had sanctioned the Belarusian "oil industry" in response to his arrest. In the current situation, one Belarusian woman can become the unit for measuring the level of the country's business attractiveness. It is primitive: if a single Belarusian woman is in jail for a political reason or if a single baby cries because grey wolves broke into the house, beaten and dragged away her mother, that's it, the numbers are negative, investments turned around at the border.
But that's not even the point. To shoot in the foot, cut down the bough, bomb Babruisk - they are good at that. But they failed to learn what they had done to the consciousness of the Belarusians. It is possible to compromise with your own conscience. One can keep silent. One can pretend that one lives in a democratic country. One can convince oneself and even believe that it is possible to do many great things quite freely. But when it comes to children, it is no longer a question of conscience or fear or morality. It's about instincts. The protection of one's offspring by any biological species is instinct, not heroism. If a hero can stop, given the danger, go into hiding, begin to manoeuvre, parents protecting their children will not stop in front of an entire army. One can crush them with tanks - they won't notice. One can burn them with fire - they will walk right through it. Such super-humans appear in Belarus in hundreds every day. Every month - in thousands. When it reaches one million, what can stop them?
That's right: nothing. Well, what have you achieved with it, you fools of our state? Release Palina before it's too late. And all people, of course.
Iryna Khalip, especially for Charter97.org