Voka Youth Initiative Suspends Its Activity
Voka youth initiative has a number of social and cultural projects, but is mostly known for its struggle to Belarusify TV and radio broadcasts and telephone communication companies. This year the state TV, radio stations and offices of telephone operators received thousands of letters with demands to use Belarusian language.
At present Voka decided to suspend its activity for fear of persecution by the authorities. The decision was taken because of the order of the Ministry of Justice according to which all coalitions and initiatives are to be registered there.
At present about 2 000 of registered and 2 500 unregistered NGOs act in Belarus. During the last two years several dozens of organization have been deprived of registration for public, political and human rights activity.
The initiative coordinator Vital Dabranach explained that the activity is suspended due to the hard circumstances:
-- The most ridiculous thing in the ministry order is that every initiative is to be registered. We ended up deciding whether we should apply to the ministry for permission to take out litter out of our porch. We concluded that now we couldn’t even collect signatures.
Representatives of political initiatives openly express their position. Aliaksandr Atroshchankau, one of the Zubr coordinators, said to RFE/RL:
-- It has never even come to our mind to ask for the state permission to act. I believe its nonsense to ask these authorities for it.
Iury Chavusau, lawyer of the unregistered Assembly of NGOs states that such precaution is justified and reminds that Belarusian law prohibits activity on behalf on unregistered organizations since 1999. On the other hand, the choice of organizations whether to subdue to the order of the Ministry of Justice depends on different circumstances and intentions. He thinks the activity can be suspended in order to create a court precedent, but doesn’t approve of simple subordination:
-- Otherwise we will have to stop all public activity. It is total nonsense and we shouldn’t favor it.
What concerns Voka, the project coordinator Vital Dabranach says its activity is suspended for unknown time.