Women Against Violence

Noone in Belarus could have anticipated that such tragic events would take place during and after election day. On 9th August, in the evening after polling stations closed, Belarusians took to the streets to show just how many people did not vote for Lukashenka, and to show the powers that be and the whole world, that no one has the right to steal their votes. However, these peaceful demonstrators and people simply passing by were met subjected to horrific violence. People could scarcely believe the level of horror that went on and is still going on, in the temporary detention centres, including torture and rape. The screams from Okrestina could be clearly heard by people living near the isolation cell.

On 12th August, more than two hundred women came to the Komarovsky market in the centre of Minsk and formed a Solidarity Chain in support of those who had suffered during the three days of violence. The women were dressed in white and carried flowers. Freedom and beauty are universally understood. There should be no pain, there should be no violence, and there should be the same law for everyone.

The courage of Belarusian women once again grabbed the attention of the international community. After all the Belarusian people had been through over these three days (during which men suffered more than women who were not so severely beaten), forming this human chain was somewhat dangerous. They risked meeting the same fate as those people the day before. This is probably why the sight of these beautiful, bright and courageous women, holding hands as they stood along the road, reduced many passers-by to tears. They came up to them to express say “thank you, my dears".

Of course, this action did not go unnoticed. Twenty minutes later, a policeman shouted through a megaphone that this event was unauthorised and they must disperse. The women stood motionless for a while. Nobody wanted to end up in a police van, but they felt compelled to speak out against the violence. Their task was simple - ‘Can you see us? We are against aggression. We stand for peace and beauty’.

After this action, similar Solidarity Chains spread throughout the country. At first there were women with flowers lining the roads. Then they were joined by men and children. They tried over and over again to reach out to the authorities looking for peaceful resolution to the conflict and an end to the violence.

The protest by Belarusian women has been enormously admired in many countries. The British magazine The Guardian Weekly devoted its cover entitled “Flower Power” to the Belarusian people.

This was also featured in popular tabloids which expressed admiration of the courage and beauty of Belarusian women, who, despite danger, took to the streets to protect their people from this bloody dictatorship.

Anna Zlatkovskaya

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