Let's continue the conversation.
I hope no one has any objections to the fact that the Lukashenka regime has no place on Belarusian land?
Therefore, we should proceed not from the reading of coffee grounds about what the dictator will or will not do, but from the postulate that Carthage must be destroyed!
How to Destroy Carthage
I won't say anything particularly new. I've voiced it hundreds of times.
Though no, perhaps I will. I will say it at once to read the rest from this angle.
So, there are objective purposes and tasks to achieve and solve. It is not necessary to take a bow to the Vilnius office or ask for advice from European Belarus. They concern actions on problems of political prisoners, sanctions, information activity and so on.
Tasks are not new but urgent.
The triad of those actions that were outlined at the beginning of the revolution remains unchanged:
- international sanctions.
The problem was that all three of these factors have not yet coincided in time.
When large enterprises went on strike in August 2020, especially when Lukashenka was told to go straight to hell, the regime became hysterical, but at that moment, neither the European Union nor the ILO (International Labour Organization) even tried to impose sanctions to stop the repression of workers. Every delay with sanctions is always a signal to the dictator that it is okay to escalate the repression.
- The strike remains on the agenda of the revolution as an effective means to put pressure on the regime. The new strike methods that have been tested by the BAW (Belarusian Association of Workers) proved to be quite safe and effective. One should take this experience into account and prepare for a nationwide strike.
- Each time, the protests "stumbled" at the most critical moment when it was possible to demonstrate force simply because of the masses. Sometimes this moment was lost because of confusion, a lack of understanding of what to do next. We hoped that the Telegram channels would tell us the right decision, but it did not happen. Sometimes just a small but loud group managed to turn people around, to bring down the heat of the protests. It, in my opinion, happened several times near the prison walls on Okrestina, when volunteers or "volunteers" turned the protesters around on the pretext that the protests under the prison walls would affect the prisoners' situation. Only the torture after the protesters left did not stop and even intensified.
Finally, the decision to have a "revolution on Sundays", i.e. to have Sunday marches.
There is no doubt that the protests in Belarus will resume. The hatred of the majority of the population against the dictator must find a way out. The explosion can happen all of a sudden. However, we must be ready for it. First of all, you should take care of your safety today and do not register on dubious platforms, which require personal data and promise victory after receiving such information but lead to the arrest of those registered. Avoid participation in zoom conferences, especially those organized from the outside with Belarus, which discuss issues of resistance to the regime. Zoom today does not provide any security. The KGB uses it for recording the participants' videos and producing trumped-up charges, followed by arrests. You know it. In short, "Be vigilant!" (c). Take care of yourselves, but as Yury Khaschevatsky has recently said, don't lose sight of each other.
- Sanctions and an international tribunal. The sanctions so far are so flawed that they sometimes work more to support the regime than to weaken it. The sanctions should be constantly strengthened. Those who can influence them should be busy patching up the holes in them.
We Are Many, We Are Power
Now let's talk about what can and must be done both individually and together, without waiting for some commands. It's more about the diaspora not to screw people from Belarus. For the latter, I can advise you to reread or read Gene Sharp's work "From Dictatorship to Democracy" and pay special attention to his 198 methods of nonviolent resistance. It is instructive and useful.
In a short time, Belarusians turned from an emigrant community indistinguishable from many other nationalities abroad into a powerful diaspora, which cannot but be taken into account by politicians of the countries where they reside today. It is difficult to overestimate what the diaspora has done to promote Belarus in the world.
A simply fantastic thing has happened: when speaking about the tragedy, demanding an investigation of crimes, i.e. about rather sad things, the Belarusians have created, by their actions, solidarity, a very attractive, positive, strong and beautiful image of our country in the world.
The continuation of the diaspora's active work, the expansion of its spheres of activity is and will be an important factor that will bring the victory of the revolution closer.
I met different businessmen in prisons, "money men" as one calls them. The logic of many of them was as simple as their attitude toward the political: "If you want to break your necks, go ahead, you won't get anything. Unlike you, we know what we are in jail for. For our money. We'll serve our sentence, come out and live off the money we stashed away".
The position is cynical but understandable: we do not want to risk without believing in success.
However, after 2020, the situation has fundamentally changed. There is no way to "wiggle" anymore. The dictatorship has entered a stage of psychopathy, and neither money nor ties will help businessmen anymore. Chyzh is an example of this. All the former logic - to adjust to save savings - collapsed at once. It became clear that no one would survive in business under the agonizing psychopath. Business fled from Belarus.
However, some businessmen behaved, to put it mildly, a little strangely upon arrival. They suddenly started claiming financial aid in the states they fled to. It is surprising that a large number of wealthy people abroad suddenly decided to squeeze at least a penny from their forced emigration. There was even a forum in Warsaw, where the main issue was how Europe could help these businessmen to settle in the West, help them to save their assets and provide a favourable environment for business in the new conditions.
I realized that the money men want to adopt again. There are businessmen among the "victims of the regime" who in 2010 threatened workers with dismissal for supporting the opposition.
Businesses can save and even increase their capital only in a free Belarus, not under Lukashenka's regime. Invest in the revolution at last, not in opportunism. Believe in yourself, not in your apparent luck. Your business will explode in ways that even you could not dream of in a free country. I hope I'm wrong, and the businesses that have emigrated will help, but we can't see it, or it's ineffective.
What Else? Political Prisoners
The issue of the release of political prisoners, our prisoners of war comes first. The number is much higher than the figure announced by human rights activists. Someone came up with the "excuse" that families and relatives ask not to recognize their relatives as political prisoners. Perhaps, but I am sure that these are isolated cases.
I can't imagine that relatives of Nikolai Avtukhovich asked this, but they stubbornly refused to recognize him as a political prisoner during his first imprisonment, and won't recognize him now. In the meantime, he, like all members of the group, framed by the executioners, was reclassified from the second to the third part of the article on terrorism. He is now facing the death penalty.
They kill Andrei Voinich in prison. He needs a liver transplant.
They mock Dmitry Gopta, a young man with a mental disorder, who has little understanding of what is happening to him and why he is being treated this way. He is constantly crying because of it.
They break the heroic Polina Sharendo-Panasiuk, who called the bandits criminals in the eyes.
There are thousands of them, and they need saving.
- To begin with, we should bring the list of political prisoners in line with reality and distribute this expanded list in the public space. The list from dissidentby.com, according to which 1,219 people are in custody and 274 are under home arrest, would be a good start here;
- The regime has carefully classified all information about the heads and administration of prisons and colonies. Specialists could help uncover this data and publish it. Such data are increasingly needed to ensure the appeals about inadequate conditions of detention to be targeted and responsibility for torture be taken by name;
- Even if there are no names of prison management, one should ask politicians of foreign countries to write to prisons and colonies, especially when information about torture appears, to point out to this management the inadmissibility of mistreatment of political prisoners and the responsibility for such behaviour. It works. I know from my own experience;
- There is a project of "adoptive parents" of political prisoners. It was established by the human rights organization Libereco after the dispersal of the 2010 Square. Its essence is that foreign politicians, mainly MPs, patronize the Belarusian political prisoners. Its effectiveness depends on the activity of the "adoptive parents" themselves, which, let's face it, is not always proper.
Following the example of the Libereco project, a similar project could be initiated by the departed businessmen, especially since political prisoners need money, clothes, and food in prisons. I know that some businessmen provide such assistance. It is a matter of each political prisoner from the expanded list to have his "angel" at large, of course, an anonymous one, who could take care of the prison expenses not so much.
The role of the diaspora in reinforcing sanctions is crucial. We are not even talking about the sanctions of the European Union, there will always be their games, but the sanctions of individual countries, campaigns, and international organizations;
- It is worth identifying foreign businesses that directly or indirectly support the regime and demanding their withdrawal from Belarus, as Danone and Nestle did in 2020 when they removed their advertising from Lukashenka's television.
- ILO (International Labor Organization) sanctions are needed to protect workers. A legal strike with economic, social, and labor protection demands would be possible if the ILO sanctions stand for it. The authorities are able to fend off sanctions with the help of Alexander Yaroshuk, head of the Belarusian Congress of Democratic Trade Unions, who has long represented the regime, not the workers. Representatives of strike committees, real trade unions, and labor leaders, who are abroad, need to appeal to the ILO;
- There is a need for hard work to promote the creation of an international tribunal for crimes against humanity in Belarus. It falls within the competence of the UN Security Council. There have already been 3 "Arria-formula" meetings on the Belarusian issue, which is unprecedented and very good, but they had the character of PR-events, which is also necessary but not enough. The sword of Damocles must hang over the regime in the form of a draft resolution to establish an international tribunal for its crimes. It will not be adopted because of Russia and China, but the very fact of its existence will be a very strong instrument of pressure and deterrence. If the situation changes, it could be adopted instantly. The Security Council is in a favorable situation for such action today. In addition to our objective allies the permanent members of the USA, Great Britain and France, three non-permanent members have already shown their solidarity and readiness to defend the interests of democratic Belarus. They are Estonia, Ireland and Norway. The diaspora in these countries could discuss such steps with politicians. It always helps;
- I have repeatedly proposed to the MPs to pass a decision to impose automatic entry sanctions against all criminals serving the Lukashenka regime. The heart of the proposal is to include questions in the Schengen visa questionnaire similar to those in the U.S. questionnaire. For example: Have you ever participated in carrying out, encouraging, financing, organizing torture?
Have you ever participated in carrying out, encouraging, financing, organizing murder (including political murder) or other similar acts of violence?
Such questions would be deferred punishment for criminals from Belarus. First, because many would not risk traveling to Europe. Secondly, if they did, they would lie on the questionnaire. This is punishable in Europe. The deputies with whom I discussed it were not particularly eager to pursue the idea. One of them told me privately that it might hurt business. The diaspora could help through deputies from their respective countries if the proposal is acceptable.
I believe that people know very well what should be done and are doing it themselves. I am just sharing my thoughts on some actions that don't require individual guidance. However, it would help our situation.
The absence of decisive measures at the right moment, which require personal courage, guided by even the noblest of motives, leads to the most tragic consequences.
It would seem that they did not approach the prison because someone said that political prisoners would suffer hell. As a result, both political prisoners and torture became unbearable.
It would seem that they didn't want to call for escalation. As a result, the protests were stifled. People are still persecuted and imprisoned.
Any revolution, any protest, requires personal courage. Everyone determines for oneself the limit of risk. However, one must realize that indecisiveness leads to sacrifice, while deeds lead to victory.
Andrei Sannikov, Facebook