Belarusians Recall Victims of Communist Repressions and Demand Release of Political Prisoners
A memorial march and rally dedicated to Dziady – the day of commemoration ancestors - took place today in Minsk. From 1.500 to 2.000 people participated in the action. The column of demonstrators under white-red-white national flags went along Nezalezhnastsi Avenue and commemorated the memory of the Belarusians repressed in 1920ies and 1930ies in Kurapaty – the place where dozens of thousands of victims of Stalinist terror were killed and buried. The memorial rally participants demanded to release the today’s political prisoners – Alexander Kazulin, Zmitser Dashkevich, Artur Finkevich, Andrei Klimau and other prisoners of conscience.
The Conservative Christian Party of the Belarusian Popular Front applied for permission of the action. The action was supported by BPF representatives, the organizing committee of the public commission on the rehabilitation of the victims of political repressions and the public organizing committee on perpetuation the memory of Stalinism’s victims.
The rally began at the Minsk Watch Plant at 11 a.m. The action participants went along Nezalezhnasti Avenue, Kalinouski, Sedykh, Hamarnik and Mirashnichenka Streets to Minsk ring road where the memorial area Kurapaty is situated. The demonstrators carried dozens of white-red-white flags, about 10 wooden crosses, which they installed later in Kurapaty, banners “Young Front”, “1937 – 2007”, “Freedom to Dashkevich”, posters “Freedom to Kazulin”, “Communism to court-martial”, “Solidarity is our resistance to Russian occupation”.
Among the action participants there were deputy heads of the CCP-BPF Yury Belenki and Siarhei Papkou, BPF head Vintsuk Viachorka, BPF deputy head Viktar Ivashkevich, politician Viachaslau Siuchyk, deputy head of the Belarusian Social Democratic Party (Hramada) Ihar Rynkevich, youth leader Zmitser Hvedaruk, and relatives of victims of Stalin’s repressions.
The memorial rally participants were escorted by policemen and DAI (road police). They were making video of the demonstrators. When the people were crossing Nezalezhnasti Avenue, policemen tried to make them go to the pedestrian subway. They absolutely didn’t care about the security of the action participants - there were many people and the subway was narrow. The column moved on the traffic way.
It is known that buses with OMON soldiers (riot police) were staying in the yards along the rally route.
On the way to Kurapaty the people were shouting “Long Live Belarus”, singing “Chase” and hymn “Great God”.
In Kurapaty the rally began. The action participants installed new wooden crosses there – for the people killed and buried in common graves many years ago.
It should be noted that recently vandals have broken the Cross of Martyrs in Kurapaty (the Cross of Martyrs was installed in Kurapaty 18 years ago on Dziady day. People carried it in their arms through the city from the KGB building to the memorial area). The public committee on the Cross of Martyrs restoration was created, headed by Zianon Pazniak, researcher of Kurapaty, head of the CCP BPF. The memorial complex was reinstalled some days ago.
It should be noted that the acts of vandalism occur often in Kurapaty. But the police fail to find unknown evil-doers. Nevertheless, Belarusians regularly organize collective works (talaka) on Saturdays and install more new crosses…
2007 was proclaimed by the community to be the Year of memory of the political repressions victims: 70 years ago mass political repressions in the USSR reached their climax.