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Assault on Belarusian Literature Continues

2007 2007-03-12T10:00:00+0200 1970-01-01T03:00:00+0300 en The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”

This time the authorities decided to ‘cut down’ the school programs on Belarusain literature. They did it in the manner of 1930-ies, throwing names of talented writers and poets out of the programs, manipulating the literary notions and hiding the truth.

The struggle against the Belarusian literature started in 2001 when the authorities closed Krynitsa magazine and excluded from the publications plans ‘disloyal nationalist writers’. One of the next steps was amendment of the program on the history of the Belarusian literature of the 20th century for high schools. Actually there was introduced a new program under the old title.

This year chairs of the education councils and institutions of Belarus received a letter signed by the Education Minister A.Radzkou. There they were proposed to ‘take measures for preventing holding of measures of the public association Union of Belarusian Writers in their institutions’. From now on such meetings are possible only on agreement of the Union of Writers of Belarus (a pro-governmental association of writers that has been recently established for replacement of the Union of Belarusian Writers). The aim of this action is to minimize the influence of the literary workers who write the truth instead of praising the regime. This conclusion is confirmed by another letter that got to HRC Viasna. Here is it’s text with minimal abridgments:

‘… to minimize the use of the works by opposition-minded writers and replace the works by N.Hilevich, R.Baradulin and H.Buraukin by works of other writers and poets everywhere, where their use is not dictated by the utmost necessity of characterization of their work.

To maximally minimize (to 2-3 poems) the content of the monographic topics dedicated to the literary work of N.Hilevich, R.Baradulin and others and exclude inclusion of nationalistic, politicized works in the school program. To exclude from the literature lists for study and independent reading works by S.Aleksiievich, S.Zakonnikau, V.Ipatava, U.Arlou, M.Skobla, V.Charopka and other average opposition-minded writers. To exclude from the illustrated materials paintings by A.Marachkin…

… To change the name and the content of chapter 5 ‘Literature of the national renaissance’ in the program ‘Belarusian literature, grades 5-10, basic and enhanced levels’ (page 51) in conformity with the generally accepted split into periods, for instance, to ‘Literature of the 2nd half of the 19th – 1st half of the 20th century’. To exclude negative political evaluations of the literature of the 1930-ies and 1950-ies in the text of the topic ‘Belarusian literature of the 1st half of the 20th century’ from the program ‘Belarusian literature, grades 5-10, basic and enhanced levels’. To obligatory remind about the establishment of the Union of Writers of Belarus and its role in the integration of the literary forces and development of literature.

On page 67 of the program ‘Belarusian literature, grades 5-10, basic and enhanced levels’: to propose for obligatory reading the novel Sotnikau by V.Bykau instead of Dragnet.

On page 32 of the program ‘Belarusian literature, basic and enhanced levels for grades 11 and 12’: to exclude the play Tuteishyia by Ia.Kupala and replace it with poems for independent reading.

To obligatory coordinate the draft programs with the Union of Writers of Belarus and present the elaborated programs with signature of the chair of the Union of Writers of Belarus M.Charnihets till 1 March 2007.’

This odious document was born by the presidential administration. We asked the chair of the Union of Belarusian Writers Ales Pashkevich to comment on it:

‘Such letters logically ensue from the ideological policy of the regime. After eradication of the literary works of writers of Belarusian emigration from the educational programs and editorial plans (as a result the names of dozens of literary workers became a taboo) the authorities proceeded to the contemporary ‘disloyal’ writers. Further attempts on the literature started with the establishment of the pro-governmental Union of Writers of Belarus. It was its administration who criticized the educational programs on literature and formed its only literary policy. As a result we have received a new instruction by these ‘ideologists of modern times.’

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