Power shows its power: armored army vehicles, evacuation teams with heavy equipment, masked paramilitaries – ready to disperse, arrest and torture peaceful civilians in prisons. And what do the people who should be intimidated do? They take to the streets, nonviolent and with all their personal fear full of hope, more numerous and more powerful every week. That was the case in Leipzig in the autumn of 1989. So it will be in Minsk in the fall of 2020.
General strike begins, protests in factories
In Belarus, people peacefully demonstrate their power – and the courage with which they are already making history. After three months of tireless protests, there was the biggest rally over the weekend with more than 100,000 protesters – a Leipzig moment in Minsk. The regime only managed to defend itself against the overwhelming power of the people with the bellicose use of flash and sound grenades and a new wave of arrests involving hundreds of prisoners.
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On Monday, a general strike began in state-owned companies and universities. According to local correspondents, dictator Alexander Lukashenko had sent emergency services to the major works as a deterrent. Opposition channels at Telegram’s messaging service reported that dozens of companies and businesses went on strike. However, given the difficult economic situation in Belarus and less savings, many people depend on wages, even if they are low.
They fight for freedoms that we take for granted
In addition to the regime, a national strike therefore also brings every individual to the limits of his or her existence. The opposition around Svetlana Tichanovskaya, who has been involuntarily exiled to Lithuania, is therefore preparing for a long winter of resistance.
The largest and most courageous democracy movement in Europe today shows us the importance of freedom. And how courageously and daring can one use peaceful means to stand up for freedoms that have long been self-evident to us in a united Germany and that remain unrestricted in the course of the Corona restrictions: freedom of speech, the demonstration of one’s own opinion, the freedom of the independent and secret Choice, including the press.
Attention makes the brave even more courageous
Yes, the whole world faces a difficult fall and winter in the pandemic; that also affects everyone in Germany. But the people of Belarus are risking much more for a peaceful, free Europe. Let us help them by keeping our gaze and compassion eastward. And despite our own corona stress and the madness of the elections in America, show our interest in the people of Belarus, take part in the Minsk moments in these days of decision.
The autumn of 1989 in Leipzig and East Berlin showed this too: attention makes brave even more courageous. Peaceful revolutions can only succeed if others watch and help. This time it is our turn.