Vor einer großen Menge von Demonstrant*innen hält ein Mann ein Schild mit kyrillischen Buchstaben. Vor einer großen Menge von Demonstrant*innen hält ein Mann ein Schild mit kyrillischen Buchstaben.
Lavon Marozau (left)
Democracy and human rights

Freedom Day in exile

Belarusians continue to resist

Lavon Marozau is the international secretary of RADA, the umbrella organisation of independent youth organisations in Belarus. Like many other activists of the resistance against the fraudulent presidential elections in Belarus, he fled into exile. Belarus was effectively occupied by Russian troops in the run-up to the Russian aggression against Ukraine. Lavon Marozau therefore reminds us of the Declaration of Independence of Belarus on 25 March 1918 and what it means today.

25.03.2022 / Lavon Marozau

Freedom Day (Dzen Voli), also known as Independence Day, is a Belarusian holiday marking the anniversary of the independence of the first nation state - the Belarusian People's Republic. Traditionally, the holiday is celebrated on March 25th. The holiday is timed to the adoption of the 3rd Statute on March 25, 1918. In the Republic of Belarus, the holiday is celebrated at an unofficial level.

Like many Belarusians, I am in political exile, after presidential elections in Belarus in August 2020 life of most Belarusians has changed, and now everyone has many questions for themselves and their future.

Today all independent Belarusians are celebrating Freedom Day, and for sure, after the traditional greetings and posts on social networks, we will go back to our homes in foreign countries and ask ourselves some questions. I suggest that we discuss these questions together with our readers; we should try to answer them honestly and objectively.

What happened and could it have been otherwise?

In August 2020 there was a moral revolution in Belarus, tens and hundreds of thousands of people came out for peaceful protests across the country against election fraud. In the first three days the country's Internet was cut off completely, and the authorities started cracking down on its citizens for their civic position. The world community did not understand what was going on and, as usual, took a long time to figure out how to behave.

It is worth saying that the same reaction was on February 24, 2022 when Russia declared war on Ukraine. What this led to we can see in the news right now is a tragedy and the people of Ukraine will never be the same. Russia will forever be an enemy to them. I'm sure most Belarusians are on the side of Ukraine, but now many are wondering: why are we silent?

And we are not silent, more than 1000 people are still in prison, more than 10 people have been killed or murdered in these two years and not a single investigation has taken place, thousands of people have been tortured in prisons, nearly a thousand independent organisations have been deregistered, tens of thousands of people have been forced to leave Belarus. Are these signs of silence?

It should be said straightforwardly that the EU and Western countries highly value and respect the principle of international law of non-interference in the internal affairs of States, but it is worth recalling that there is also a principle which states that human rights are not an internal matter of any State.

In Belarus, a Ryanair aircraft was hijacked, citizens of Belarus and Russia were dragged out of the plane and imprisoned. What did the West do? Practically nothing. And this is an example for all of us, we should only hope for ourselves. The revolution in Belarus is not over, it has been reshaped and we will celebrate March 25 all together in our country.

What to do and what will happen next?

One has to love one's country and understand that it is now occupied by Lukashenko and Putin. One of them is openly waging war and is a war criminal, the other one is trying to play the policy of neutrality by holding more than 1000 people hostage. All these games will end, but the trauma will not go anywhere. It can be considered a huge plus that Svetlana Tihanovskaya is at large and can continue telling the whole world that Belarus is occupied, that Lukashenko is an illegitimate president, that the Belarusan people have been raped for almost two years, but our cries can be heard less and less frequently. Our cries have been joined by those of Ukrainians for a month now. But it feels as if the world's politicians are wearing headphones. They see everything, but they hear nothing.

Today is my holiday and I wish every Belarusian to return to Belarus, to go home to his mother, father and relatives. I hope that when you read this text, you will also congratulate all independent Belarusians and Ukrainians.

Long live Belarus and Glory to Ukraine!

Ein junger Mann spricht in ein Mikrofon
About democracy and human rights

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