By Jan Kryzhkevich
On October 26, workers at various plants, companies and institutions in Belarus announced the start of a strike of indefinite duration. The strikers demand the resignation of Aliaksandr Lukashenka, the cessation of police violence and the release of all political prisoners.
On the first day, the highest strike activity was observed at companies such as Grodno Azot, the Minsk Electrotechnical Plant, the Minsk Engine Plant, the Minsk Automotive Plant, the Minsk Tractor Plant, the Minsk Wheel Tractor Plant, the Minsk Slaughterhouse Plant, Belorusneft and Belaruskali.
The strike had the support of many students from almost all the country’s universities, as well as workers in science, culture, art, and even high school students. Doctors who cannot stop working on moral grounds, organized unprecedented solidarity actions in support of strikers across the country.
The authorities reacted immediately. By direct order of Lukashenka, mass dismissals of strikers from companies began, students were disenrolled from universities, doctors’ solidarity chains were dispersed, many of their participants were arrested.
The new round of repression, with which the authorities try to strangle the strike movement at its roots, provoked even greater indignation and protests in society. Certain university professors and administrators have refused to sign expulsion orders for their students, have joined the protests and resigned on their own initiative. Actions of solidarity with strikers, dismissed workers, disenrolled students and detainees are being carried out throughout the country. Industrial workers are actively using the “Italian strike” tactic. The proclamation of a national strike without careful preparation, without the creation of strike committees in the companies and a strike committee at the national level, does not fit into the traditional forms of strike actions. But today there are no other options for resisting under the dictatorship. Any strike committee or workers’ committee is instantly arrested and repressed. Therefore, employees go on strike individually, by their own decision with open notice, which requires courage and determination. Thus, on October 30 the general strike was openly supported by the workers of the Belarusian Automotive Plant (BelAZ, Zhodzina).
The decentralization strategy underlying the Belarusian protests has proven to be effective. For almost three months, Belarusians have been running a marathon of protests, without leaders or organizers, without stopping and without losing hope of victory. More and more people are involved in the non-violent resistance process, joining forces at the level of labor groups, homes, neighborhoods and cities.
It is not realistic to resist the army and police, which are armed to the teeth. To preserve his personal power, Lukashenka is willing to drown Belarus in blood and strangle it in retaliation.
Since October 29, the borders with Poland, Lithuania and Ukraine are closed. The authorities are actively creating the so-called “lightning units” (paramilitaries) with retired soldiers. These repressive troops have been given carte blanche to use violence in any situation. Any citizen who comes into conflict with a government representative can be charged with assault, beaten, arrested or murdered. The leaders of the forces of order, have made public statements justifying the use of weapons of war against the civilian population more than once.
Today in Belarus no one is immune from the arbitrariness of the military junta. The country is in a situation of legal bankruptcy. Famous doctors, despite the need for their participation in planned operations, popular artists, world-famous scientists, great Belarusian athletes, have been arrested and are subjected to illegal courts. The exact number of people killed, maimed and missing during the protests is still unknown. The Investigation Committee has not initiated any criminal case for beatings, torture, rapes or murders, while there are nearly seven hundred cases being held against protesters. More than two hundred people are accused by the authorities of organizing riots and attempts to overthrow the government. They face prison terms of up to 10 to 15 years in prison. Lukashenka is trying to transform Belarus into a personal concentration camp, but the Belarusian people will never agree to this and will continue to fight until victory.
Peaceful protest is so far the only possible form of resistance in the Belarusian reality. The changes will begin when the protest movement affects all spheres of society, from schools to the barracks.
The Lukashenka regime is visibly degrading and disintegrating. Not wanting to serve the dictatorship, the military, police, court officials and prosecutors, diplomats, Presidential officials, teachers and school directors and university rectors are leaving their posts on their own initiative. There are fewer and fewer professionals in power. This growing deficit is being covered by a poor and incompetent bureaucratic substrate. The fall of the regime is an inevitable prospect. It is a matter of time and of the will of the Belarusian people.
What is happening in Belarus is inextricably linked to the dynamics of global processes. Today the entire world is rebelling against the authorities´ cynical lies and insanity. It would be naive to believe that the leaders of Western countries, who yesterday flirted with the Lukashenka regime and today angrily condemn it, will come to the aid of the Belarusian people. Belarus is just one card in their games of global politics.
The world order that supports dictatorial regimes, justifies police violence and the murder of civilians, has no right to the future.
It only makes sense for workers to trust their own strength and international solidarity. By creating our political organizations and uniting at the international level, we will be able to resist the global elites that are pushing the world into a series of wars and an abyss of lack of rights.
Together we will overcome!
Long live Belarus!