Days to Remem­ber: March 25, 2006 and March 25, 1918. On the Occa­sion of the Belarus­i­an Free­dom Day: State­ment by the Asso­ci­ation ‘Human Rights in Belarus’

A year ago, Belarus­i­ans demon­strated in large num­bers, among them many young cit­izens against the flag­rant manip­u­la­tion of the pres­id­en­tial elec­tions on March 19, 2006, under­taken by the Cent­ral Elec­tion Com­mis­sion and later on con­firmed by Pres­id­ent Lukashen­ko him­self. For days and nights the demon­strat­ors res­isted the pres­sure exer­ted upon them by the mili­tia and the freez­ing tem­per­at­ures pre­vail­ing at the time. These deep freeze tem­per­at­ures sym­bol­ized the polit­ic­al cli­mate pre­vail­ing in a coun­try that is ruled by intim­id­a­tion, and the abuse of the judi­ciary to break the determ­in­a­tion of the free­dom fight­ers in the coun­try. The fight for polit­ic­al free­dom con­tin­ues unabatedly. Demon­strat­ors on March 25, 2007 will also remind the pub­lic of the Con­sti­tu­tion­al Act signed on March 25, 1918 in Minsk on the estab­lish­ment of the inde­pend­ent Belarus­i­an People’s Repub­lic, a state­hood how­ever that was sub­dued by the ongo­ing com­mun­ist revolu­tion through­out the former Czar­ist Empire. On March 25, 2007, cer­tainly the rul­ing power will see to it that mani­fest­a­tions of dis­con­tent, of oppos­i­tion and search for free­dom in Belarus will not get out of con­trol. Such dis­con­tent may, how­ever, no be man­age­able as it appeared to be the case in the past. Rus­si­an sub­sidies for the Belarus­i­an eco­nomy have been cur­tailed and there may be more set­backs of this sort thus rais­ing ques­tions among the cit­izens of the coun­try about the future of the country’s eco­nom­ic and social sta­bil­ity. They may also won­der wheth­er it is such a good idea to run an author­it­ari­an sys­tem of gov­ern­ment and shun the dimen­sion and per­spect­ives of a pro-European ori­ent­a­tion. March 25. 1957: The European Uni­on takes off – A Suc­cess Story of 50 Years The day to remem­ber the bru­tal sup­pres­sion of the long­ing of the cit­izens in Belarus for polit­ic­al free­dom through­out the coun­try – March 25, 2006 – coin­cides this year with the 50th anniversary of the Rome Treat­ies, signed on March 25, 1957 lay­ing the polit­ic­al and leg­al found­a­tions for the European Uni­on. The Uni­on that brought about peace among nations in Europe, cre­ated a com­mon mar­ket among nations and thus laid the found­a­tions for stable demo­cra­cies, the rule of law and indi­vidu­al human rights and a com­mon mar­ket with eco­nom­ic and social pro­gress unheard of in many parts of Europe for long times. Today, the Uni­on com­prom­ises 27 mem­ber states and there are more states wish­ing to join this remark­able devel­op­ment, which con­trasts so con­vin­cingly with past cen­tur­ies of blood­shed, sup­pres­sion and misery in Europe. It may not be easy for nations that had been gov­erned by social­ist polit­ic­al and eco­nom­ic sys­tems, to meet the frame­work con­di­tions for their trans­form­a­tion. How­ever the per­spect­ive of join­ing this new and his­tor­ic­ally unpre­ced­en­ted pro­cess of integ­ra­tion in Europe and safe­guard for nation­al iden­tit­ies and cul­tures very often serves as a stim­u­lus to nations to shoulder the task of intro­du­cing mean­ing­ful demo­cracy, the rule of law and the respect for indi­vidu­al human rights and socially rooted mar­ket eco­nom­ies. The European Uni­on: Solid­ar­ity with the Free­dom Fight­ers in Belarus There are many ways in which cit­izens in EU mem­ber states express their solid­ar­ity with the cit­izens liv­ing under the regime in Belarus – let it be human­it­ari­an assist­ance to vic­tims of the Chernobyl cata­strophe or the sup­port for the devel­op­ment of small entre­pren­eur­i­al activ­it­ies, com­munity pro­jects and alike, or sup­port for sup­pressed polit­ic­al and non-gov­ern­ment­al act­iv­ists or inde­pend­ent journ­al­ists and media. Bridges of solid­ar­ity were built, found­a­tions laid for mutu­al trust and con­fid­ence and chan­nels estab­lished for mean­ing­ful com­mu­nic­a­tion in dif­fi­cult times. Belarus is loc­ated in the centre of Europe. The regime has self isol­ated the coun­try, but in the end a free and demo­crat­ic Belarus will assume its legit­im­ate role among the free nations of Europe. The European Uni­on and the mem­ber states can­not stand by idly as wit­nesses of the ongo­ing sup­pres­sion of free­dom fight­ers from all walks of life in Belarus, of the demo­crat­ic move­ment in the polit­ic­al arena and of mass organ­iz­a­tions such as trade uni­ons, youth and women organ­iz­a­tions that seek to bring about the rule of law, inde­pend­ence of the courts and of the media and a par­lia­ment that was elec­ted in free and fair, not manip­u­lated elec­tions, a par­lia­ment that can per­form its func­tions as legis­lat­ive inde­pend­ent from the exec­ut­ive power, the pres­id­ent. These essen­tials of a demo­crat­ic state and civil soci­ety struc­ture are sup­pressed by the author­it­ari­an if not total­it­ari­an Lukashen­ko regime since more than ten years. The nation behind pris­on bars, the bon­ded civil soci­ety needs not only our mor­al sup­port, but a mean­ing­ful part­ner­ship with the polit­ic­al struc­tures of the European Insti­tu­tions and of their mem­bers: There­fore time has come to revital­ize this part­ner­ship by identi­fy­ing – from with­in the European Uni­on – a per­son­al­ity entrus­ted with the task of serving as a part­ner, as a trus­ted rep­res­ent­at­ive from civil soci­ety for the dia­logue and the much needed close and effect­ive cooper­a­tion with civil soci­ety in Belarus. This rep­res­ent­at­ive would per­son­al­ize the solid­ar­ity of the European Uni­on with the free­dom fight of the Belarus­i­an nation to over­come des­pot­ism, tyranny and law­less­ness.

Categories: Statements