Environmental pickets in Baran went off peacefully
On 12 July two pickets under the slogan "Stop Poisoning People" were held in Baran, Orsha District. One of the pickets that took place on the city dance floor from 11-20 till 12-00 was allowed by the city authorities. The other one from 12-00 till 13-00 was unauthorized and held outside the city market.
Since May the local deputies, human rights activists and youth organizations of the region have been campaigning for removal from the town territory of more than 20 tons of hazardous chemical waste, the Lios company stores in violation of all environmental standards. But in this period the community has only been able to get Vitsebsk Regional Committee for Environmental Protection to issue an order to the plant, according to which the plant has to move the waste to a different location before 1 July 2005.
Because the waste has not been relocated so far, the chair of the Free Trade Union of Metalworkers on the Lios company, a member of the HRC Viasna Vasil Leuchankau and the chair of the Council of Youth Organizations of Orsha District Ihar Kazmiarchak applied for permission to stage a picket under the slogan "Stop Poisoning People". But Baran Town Executive Committee did not allow the picket near the market as was requested by the organizers but allowed it on the dance floor. During the picket only one person appeared, but there were a lot of officials, including many heads of companies, two police officers, "unidentified people in plain clothes" and the town mayor himself. The mayor was happy to tell the journalists about the town and its history (Baran does not always attract so much attention).
After the allowed part of the event, another picket took place. Apart from the organizers, deputies of Baran Town Council attended the picket. V.Leuchankau noted: "Incumbent authorities are afraid of "publicity", and I hope that finally the managers of the Lios company will do their best to eliminate the threat of ecological disaster in my town". I.Kazmierchak added: We do not demand anything supernatural. We do not demand the president resign or these officials be punished, though they can be criminally persecuted for what they do. We only demand that they fulfil the order – their duty, because in the opinion of qualified chemists, if this waste goes into drinking water, which will happen in a while, three generations of people born in Baran will be born with physically disabled children".
During the picketing, the Baran residents were handed out about 300 info materials that covered the current environmental problem. The picket organizers are sure that these actions will make the responsible officials relocate the poisonous materials to a specially designated site.