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Svetlana Alexievich’s appeal to the UN Human Rights Council, protest art, support from all over the world – in issue 9


While "people are looking to the sky with sorrow, waiting for when the helicopter crashes", creators come up with the ways to live and work in the conditions when they keep losing jobs and getting detained, can’t hold live gigs and perform for free people, when the terror all over the country doesn’t stop, and for a white-red-white flag in one’s own window one can get to Akrestsina prison.

Arrests

Mikoła Papieka, a poet and beekeeper from Pružany, was detained on December 1 and kept in the detention centre for 72 hours. accused of participating in the “karahod” on the streets of Brest, which protesters arranged on September 13. He’s been accused under Art. 342 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Belarus (organization of group actions, grossly violating public order and involving obvious disobedience to the legitimate demands of the authorities; punished with a fine, or arrest, or restriction of liberty for a term of up to three years, or imprisonment for the same term).

He pleaded not guilty and demanded all the documents of his case to be translated into Belarusian. For the interrogation, a translator into Belarusian was invited as no officer spoke Belarusian. 

Yaŭhen Atcecki, detained on Sunday, November 17, during the march in memory of Raman Bandarenka, was fined 20 basic units (175 Euro) on December 1.

Dzianis Filipenka, vocalist of the band Rahis, was sentenced to 13 days in jail but he is waiting to serve the term, as there are no places.

Zmicier Vajnoŭski

Zmicier Vajnoŭski, an advertising expert, photographer, public figure, and partner of PEN Belarus, was detained on November 30, and on December 1 sentenced to 13 days of administrative arrest.

 

 

Uładzimir Miraniuk, a musician and head of the Chata44 recording studio from Brest, was detained on November 25, and since then has been kept in the remand prison. 

Aliaksej Sančuk, a drummer from the band “Trebujem Razojtis”, detained on November 4 at a rehearsal spot together with the drummers who used to set the rhythm at the Minsk protest marches, wasn’t released after 15 days of administrative arrest. A criminal case has been instituted against him under Part 1 of Article 342 of the Criminal Code of Belarus. The security officials believe that he was the administrator of a chat for several people and “organized actions aimed at gross violation of public order.”

Detained on December 6:

Uladzimir Liankievič, a poet, musician, member of PEN Belarus, received 15 days of administrative arrest. He was detained back in September and spent 6 days in jail. 

Aliaksej Saprykin

 

Aliaksej Saprykin, an actor at Belarus Free Theatre, activist, partner of Belarus PEN Center (for two years in a raw he was the host at the ceremonies of Carlos Sherman Award for the best literary book translation into Belarusian)

 

Mikita Kuźmin, percussionist of the band Botanic Project, was sentenced to 10 days  

Valeryja Hrabliuk, a violinist, received 13 days of administrative arrest

Siarhej Smirnoŭ, leader of the Cross B Band, was sentenced to 10 days of administrative arrest


Pressure and Dismissal

Roberto Valdes Casanuevo is a graphic designer from Cuba who has lived in Belarus for almost 30 years, having a family and three children here. He was detained during the peaceful march on November 8, and is currently in the process of deportation because his residence permit was not extended due to his active civil position. Roberto is a former member of the Union of Designers, and the union sent a petition and reference in his support.

Julia Savič, who worked at the Academy of Arts for twenty years, has her contract not extended. Her colleagues believe that this happened solely through her civil position.

Julia Čarniaŭskaja, a well-known culturologist, professor, writer, and journalist, member of the Coordination Council, resigned from Belarusian State University of Culture and Arts.

“I stayed for a long time, but the degree of the necessary compromises between the profession and the obligation is growing every day. There are people who can handle this for a variety of purposes: vocation or soft-job; career advancement or, conversely, a comfortable rest of time before retiring; for the sake of “stability” or for the sake of an ideal – to do at least something good from within by educating students. There are other aspirations of all kinds. But it’s not my place anymore… ”

 

Belarus Free Theatre actress Julia Šaŭčuk received a message from the police of Kobryn (a town in the west of Belarus), asking her to “call back urgently”.

The ethno-shop Cudoŭnnia in Hrodna had their lease agreement with terminated on December 4. The police came to the store the day before to check what a white-red-white flag  was doing at the entrance.

Cudoŭnnia is an important cultural platform of the city, where one could buy products of Belarusian masters, books and souvenirs.

 


Cultural Resistance

Belarusian band Intelligency created an acoustic live to the son ZLO (evil) together with the free Kupalaucy (the collective of Janka Kupala theatre, about 60 persons, who quit as a protest back in August).

Mahileŭ-based project MNOY presented a video to the single “Верталёт” (Helicopter) –  about the tortures and hopes of the Belarusian people. 

The people looking to the sky with sorrow,
waiting for when the helicopter crashes… 

The employees of Mahileŭ Drama Theatre created a video letter to their ex-director Andrej Novikaŭ fired last week. 

“You can lay off a person, but his work, if it is really good and needed, will live. And we promise: we will save our theater, which is our home, and will wait for your return!”

Laudans band, whose participants Andrej Luhin and Alena Palačanskaja were arrested on October 19, after having performed in a Minks neighbourhood, and sentenced to 15 days of administrative arrest, wrote a song and created a video featuring sketches by an artist @na_yawu to support all those who’ve gone through this experience.  

 

On December 5, the Belarusian Cultural Solidarity Foundation organized an online screening of the play “From the Life of Fossils” in support of the staff of the New Drama Theater whose troupe joined the nationwide strike, for which the theater administration filed a lawsuit that declared the strike illegal. As a result, 11 actors and three employees quit, two of them – under pressure from the administration of the theater. According to the order from above, other state theaters aren’t allowed to hire these actors. See the link to watch the play.  

You can make a donation to support the laid off employees for any amount here.

An online gig of Ryhor Lajkoŭ, leader of the band PyLai, who was detained and beaten badly on November 15. 

Uladzislau Stalmakhau, an artist and designer who was detained with his daughter Nasta Stalmakhova on November 8 and sentenced to 8 days in jail, sketched about his experience in Zhodzina prison.

Belarusian female poets held an online poetry march on December 5, a Saturday when women’s marches used to take place before it became too dangerous as dozens women were detained and sent to jail, sometimes rather brutally. See the link to view the recording with Kryscina Banduryna, Darja Bialkevič, Hanna Komar, Nasta Kudasova, Valzhyna Mort, and Julia Ćimafejeva sharing their poems.


Voices of Belarusian Culture

Alena Hironak, a theater and film actress who was detained on November 29 during the “Neighbors’ March” and fined 264 Euro on December 1, spent two days in Akrestsina prison. Alena told about her experience.  In the bus the security officers “really wanted to talk”, but in part it was a one-way conversation. 

“They consider us traitors, they say that we all want to immigrate to Poland, and sometimes people at the protests approach them and ask to be detained, because they need two more detention cases to immigrate to Poland. Of course, our dispute was not that of equals, but I told them that it’s them who are the traitors.”


International Solidarity

A cool art object about the violence committed by Belarusian security forces has appeared in Białystok. A man in a uniform points a gun at passers-by walking down the street.

An exhibition of journalistic photography and posters inspired by the events of recent months in Belarus, “Belarus 2020. Trauma and Laughter”, opened at the Rozdroża Gallery in Lublin on December 1. Photos and posters of Belarusian artists can also be viewed at www.rozdroza.com.

 

Ivy Plus Libraries Confederation has included materials from Chrysalis Mag in its web catalogue. https://chrysalismag.by/project/konfederatsiya-bibliotek-ligi-plyushcha-vklyuchila-materialy-protestnogo-arkhiva-chrysalis-mag-v-svoy-veb-reyestr 

Among the materials in the archive are “Art Archive | August 2020” and a selection of “Nina Bahinskaya in the works of Belarusian (and not only) artists”

Euronews has collected stories of several well-known Belarusian musicians who have been arrested in recent weeks as the government tries to shut down protests in neighbourhoods where musicians play a crucial role in uniting people through song. 

“These gatherings can be very intimate, with home-cooked food and drinks. Bands set up equipment and play music both for children and for adults – with a mix of old and new songs. Some lay flowers to remember the dead. Others provide activities for children. Some just walk together in protest around their neighbourhood with red and white flags and banners emblazoned with different slogans. Music, songs and storytelling are cohesive for societies and communities, and this is perhaps why events like these have caught the attention of the security authorities. Euronews caught up with two of the musicians helping make this happen.”

Slovene Writers’ Association has expressed support for the Belarusian people. 

“We support and admire everyone using peaceful protests to oppose election fraud, repression and violence, and all who demand a fair and free election, respect of people’s rights and rule of law.”

An online magazine PEN/Opp run by PEN Sweden have published a Belarus-themed issue which has an interview with Svetlana Alexievich and protest poems by Dzmitry Strocaŭ in English and Swedish. 

Svetlana Alexievich, the Nobel laureate and President of PEN Belarus, spoke at the UN Council in Geneva, where the interim review of the situation in Belarus took place. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9zZbqZ7UqJA&feature=emb_title 

“Belarusian society understands that the process of overcoming the socio-political crisis is long and complex, and that dialogue is needed. But it requires humanization of the situation in the country. The society is ready for dialogue, but it is impossible in a situation where the authorities are holding political prisoners hostage and continue to kill, torture and persecute dissidents. Our society is ready for a new country: a country that respects opinions, shares responsibility, a country where there is no violence, that respects law and justice. Is the government ready for a dialogue on these simple and important issues?”

 

The book Belarus! Das weibliche Gesicht der Revolution, which has just been published by edition.fotoTAPETA, unites different voices of protest.

Online presentations take place on December 5,  6  and 9

 

 


Auction 

The first guitar of the singer and blogger Lera Jaskevič. This is Lera’s first instrument which she used to record her first songs and played at her first concerts. The proceeds will be directed to support Belarusian cultural figures who have suffered for their civil position.

Place a bid.


Miscellanious 

Police detain people for having white-red-white flags in their windows, taking them right from their homes. 


How to help the Belarusian cultural community?

SUPPORT the Belarusian Cultural Solidarity Foundation Donate (paypal.com)  and the  “Save Our Songs” campaign.

Download the pdf-version of issue 9 of Cultural Resistance Monitoring

 

The newsletter was prepared by the Belarusian PEN Center in cooperation with the Belarusian Cultural Solidarity Fund.

The information partner is the portal TuzinFM.by