Outside the MGM Grand in Detroit, gathered under the watchful eye of the colossal bronze monument of the steed-bound General Tadeusz Kościuszko, the internationally recognized Polish-Lithuanian military Commander and seminal American Civil War figure, a modest but determined group of supporters, ranging in ages and familial relationships, gathered to show their solidarity with those fighting in Belarus, quite literally, for the possibility of authentic democracy and the chance to live free of governmental despotism, seemingly spreading every successive decade, taking foot not only in Belarus, but in all regions of the globe.
Replete with palpable enthusiasm and maternal concern for the future of not only her two children but the country itself, the organizer Alena Tucci, wife/mother and outspoken Belarusian advocate, shared that she wanted her children to experience the real Belarus and its peaceful demeanor, “I want to show how beautiful the country is, how peaceful it is.” The sentiment that Belarus is not defined by Lukashenko’s barbarity and that the Belarusian people will not be passive in the face of dogmatism is a commonality across national and international communities of Belarusian citizens and emigrants. Following the fraudulent Presidential election on August 9th and the release of the figures the day after, Lukashenko with 80.23% and Svetlana Tikhanovskaya with a mere 9.95%, Belarusian oppositional forces exploded because the citizens knew exactly what had happened. They had been cheated out of a democratic future once again, this realization leading to large-scale peaceful protests across Belarus and the first recorded death, occurring the night of the election, thus initiating the start of the 2020 Belarusian protests. On September 23rd, Alexander Lukashenko was hastily inaugurated for his sixth consecutive term as Belarusian President, his reason being, “I cannot, I have no right to abandon the Belarusians,” his initiation met with praise by the Kremlin’s talking head saying that it was, “absolutely the sovereign decision of the Belarusian leadership.” The Belarusian-Russian relationship, however, is not to be overlooked as Belarus is, in all tense-and-purposes, owned by Russia due to their routine financial support, on September 14th promising to provide 1.5 billion US dollars for economic stabilization in Belarus during COVID. Russia also currently owns close to 50% of the Belarusian oil company Mozyr Oil, and just two days ago, according to reporting done by Belta, Belarusian Prime Minister Roman Golovchenko met with the Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin concerning collaborative efforts for bilateral exchange and the continuation of, “Eurasian economic integration till 2025.”
October 2nd saw the first round of draconian, media censorship by the Lukashenko regime, Tut.By, an independent Belarusian news syndicate, was stripped of its license for three months due to allegations of inflammatory content concerning their coverage of the election and following protests. Recently, on October 8th it was reported that Apple had requested Telegram, the only social media site not currently under censorship by Lukashenko, to remove three channels that had the potential to expose the identities of certain individuals, thus furthering 'violent actions.' What they had failed to realize is that these actions were a simple continuation of what first started on September 19th referencing Telegram’s channel NEXTA Live’s release of a Google document with over 1,000 names and relevant information of Belarusian police officers, “No one will remain anonymous even under a balaclava.” If you thought this was it, on October 5th, the decree rendering all foreign media body’s accreditations defunct issued on October 2nd, can be ‘repaired’ and new accreditations can be applied for under newly constructed regulations due to the government’s struggle to protect the ‘information sovereignty of the Republic of Belarus.’ Interior reporting done by members of the Facebook group Infocenter Free Belarus 2020 provide hour by hour reporting for those not within Belarus, and in the interim period of 3 pm to 6 pm, not only were water cannons, flashbangs, and teargas still being used by governmental officials, but a plethora of Journalists like Elena Bychkova, Alyona Germanovich, Pavel Mitskevich, and others, totaling 250 as of 7:52 pm have been detained. From 6 pm to 8:47 pm, it was reported that the day’s March of Honour was unsuccessfully broken up, and as of 8:40 pm evening protests have taken the form of human chains, according to a TASS correspondent.
As Alena Tucci had shared with me in the moments walking to General Kościuszko’s monument, those not in Belarus who are showing their solidarity may be getting tired that their efforts aren’t tangibly changing anything, but one must remind themselves that it is not the number of people, it's the effort. While we may not be directly involved in Tikhanovskaya’s diplomatic proceedings, or the dissemination of interior Belarusian reporting, or even a participant in Belarusian, anti-Lukashenko protests, we have a responsibility to keep Belarusian support here in America alive. I had asked Alena whether she thought these noble young men and women, older adults, young children in some cases, were correct in their actions, whether their clashes with officers were helpful or needed, couldn’t they just go the diplomatic route? “These kids, some of then 16/17 years old, have been captured, imprisoned, tortured, even raped. Even after going to the hospital, they are going back, they are still going for these peaceful protests. As a mother, any mother wants their child to be at home. But from another side, they are doing the right thing, they want that country to be free.” The list of detained men and women, as of 1:07 am in Minsk, has reached 500 names and is rapidly growing [502 as of 1:12 am]. To rub salt in the wound, Lukashenko ventured to an unknown prison to meet with 11 political prisoners were he had told the stern, cold faces of the opposition, "You can't rewrite the constitution on the streets.”
Oh but you can Sasha, you can and the Belarusian people will and are. Watch and learn Lukashenko, because Svetlana Tikhanovskaya and her supporters are coming after you. It is only a matter of time. Even though the EU didn't issue sanctions against you, you have no home in Europe except China and Russia. You are no longer welcomed anywhere, so take the hint and step down, we are all waiting.
- For the list of detained persons in Minsk, click here. [It is over 520+ as of 1:31 am]
- For the Facebook group, Infocenter Free Belarus 2020, click here.
-For the Facebook group, Беларусы ЗША. Разам лягчэй, click here.