[Marxism] Inaction is now against the law in Belarus

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sat Jul 30 06:39:39 MDT 2011

Belarus Under Siege

According to Western media, the protests are being violently repressed 
and protesters arbitrarily arrested. According to Belarusian 
authorities, participants have been arrested because they were shouting 
profanities at police and pushing them. I unfortunately didn’t happen to 
see one of the protests while I was in Belarus recently, and can’t 
personally report more details about them.


NY Times July 29, 2011
In Belarus, Just Being Can Prompt an Arrest

MOSCOW — Iron-fisted authorities in Belarus have responded to a burst of 
creative modes of protest by young protesters with a rather surreal 
innovation of their own: a law that prohibits people from standing 
together and doing nothing.

A draft law published Friday prohibits the “joint mass presence of 
citizens in a public place that has been chosen beforehand, including an 
outdoor space, and at a scheduled time for the purpose of a form of 
action or inaction that has been planned beforehand and is a form of 
public expression of the public or political sentiments or protest.”

Anyone proven to be taking part in such a gathering would be subject to 
up to 15 days of administrative arrest, the draft says.

Recent protests, galvanized by an economic crisis and organized through 
social networks by Belarussian dissidents based outside the country, 
have encouraged ingenious methods of expression. People have 
simultaneously and publicly clapped or strolled, or had their cellphone 
alarms go off together.

The ever-subtler expressions of defiance have drawn extraordinary 
suppressive measures, as security forces engage in the harshest 
crackdown of President Aleksandr G. Lukashenko’s 17 years in power. 
Plainclothes police officers have detained nearly 2,000 people since the 
so-called clapping protests began in June, in many cases because they 
were seen clapping or standing near people who were. More than 500 have 
received sentences of 5 to 15 days.

Permits have long been required for political protests, and they are 
very rarely granted to the opposition. Silent gatherings, however, have 
never required a permit.

In an online statement, the organizers of the protests said that the 
“regime is hammering nails into its own coffin.”

Danila Barysevich, an administrator for the online group responsible for 
organizing the protests, called the draft law “absurd,” noting the law 
could be used against “every queue, every group of people in a park.”

Another new focus of repression is a Russian song, “We Want Change,” by 
Viktor Tsoi. After the song was adopted as a kind of revolutionary 
anthem by the growing youth protest movement, opposition news sources 
reported that the song had been banned from the Belarussian airwaves.

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