indieRepublik / indieBerlin has been going for just over 13 years now. I can’t remember if we ever made a definite decision to not post political things here or not, but in the end we’ve never been political. Some would say, well, everything’s political; and maybe it is.
This article is then, seen from a certain perspective, the first article that no longer conforms to this unspoken rule. I say from a certain perspective because it still ain’t political – unless everything really is political. For me this isn’t about politics; it’s about human rights. Is human rights politics? Well, maybe yes and maybe no, but you know, in the end who cares.
It’s become more and more difficult to watch what, for example, has been going down in Belarus over the last six months without realising that at some point, on some level, it’s simply necessary to bring some things into whatever conversation you’re having and by using whatever platform you have – without pretending that we have some incredible reach or anything – to bring things – or sometimes just keep things – in “the conversation”.
It’s become more and more difficult to watch what has been going down in Belarus over the last six months
It’s now six months since “Europe’s last dictator”, Lukashenko, (is said to have) manipulated the “free and fair” elections in Belarus, a country on the eastern edges of the EU and still pretty well firmly on the continent of Europe, claimed 80% of the vote, and then used extremely heavy-handed police tactics to repress the protests that sprang up as a result.
Aiming to compete in the elections was opposition candidate Viktar Babaryka, who was arrested before being able to take part. A Youtuber who had become politicised, Sergei Tikhanovsky, decided to stand for the elections. Surprise surprise, he too was taken into custody. Whereupon his wife, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya took up the mantle and ended up standing for the election in his stead. Tsikhanouskaya said that she ran for president out of love, to free her husband from prison, while also vowing to free all political prisoners and conduct new, free elections. Since the elections she has been forced to flee the country.
I don’t think anyone really thought that the protesters, faced with the hardest, most merciless crackdown it’s possible to imagine, would simply keep going. Not give up. On and on.
And now, as of writing this in late January 2021, the weekly protests haven’t died down, haven’t stopped. While Lukashenko’s thugs, with no insignia, balaclavas pulled down to avoid being recognised, have pulled out individual protesters from street protests, bundled them into (often unmarked) vans, taken them to prisons and police stations where they’ve suffered not only terrible indignities but treatment amounting to torture, as a way to intimidate the country’s people, to shock and awe them back into submission and silence. “As of year-end, Viasna has documented more than 1,000 testimonies of torture victims. The analysis of these testimonies suggests that the acts of torture were widespread, systemic and well organized as a politically motivated punitive operation perpetrated by the authorities to intimidate Belarusian public.” (from spring96.org)
Maybe it’s because we’re a music/culture blog that we’ve picked up specfically on the artists, musicians and creatives who have suffered in these protests.
Put into art, made into songs, artists are talking to fellow Belarusians; but also crying out to the world: do not ignore us. Do not forget us. Help us to stand up for our basic human rights. Here, in Europe. Here, where the heavy iron curtain fell away three decades ago now.
indieRepublik is standing behind the artists and musicians of Belarus and will do all we can to help raise their voice up.
We were contacted by a Belarusian reviewer of ours who had earlier contribued various articles. She is involved in #By_Culture, a platform that is made up of more than 1500 musicians and artists from Belarus and is appealing to the international artistic community to help make their voices heard.
By Culture says this:
“We are 1500 cultural Belarusians and we want our country back! We are the concerned artists and musicians from all corners of Belarus, all genres of art, music, culture…The coalition was created by Sergei Budkin, cultural manager and producer and the cultural news outlet TuzinFM.by
Our goals are simple. We are asking for help from the international community to demand a fair and legal election, as well as to stop the violence of law enforcement agencies. We need your help to support the Belarussian cultural community that is courageously speaking out each and every day. Read more about our efforts at http://byculture.org/
If you want to help:
- Go to https://byculture.org/#rec247888341 for more info.
- Share information, messages, whatever you can and whatever helps with these hashtags: #BY_culture #justice4Belarus
- Make a quick video message and share it with the above tags (and please feel free to share it with us so that we can post it here and on our own social media channels)
- Feel free to contribute musically: Get in touch and we – or By_Culture – will put you in touch with the relevant / appropriate musicians/artists from Belarus etc. to collaborate, share, etc…
- Keep the Belarusian people – especially its artists and musicians – in people’s thoughts and in our day-to-day conversation. Democracy dies in darkness.
Photo of Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya from Wikipedia, under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Licence, provided by Ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken
Main image used by permission via unsplash.com, by Jana Shipelson
Go to byculture.org to find out more