Saturday, November 14, 2009

Belarus: the battle for recognition, a battle for freedom (part 2)

It was very busy in the hall of the conference centre as people were being registered. The organizers worked very hard throughout the night to finish everything in time and the conference room was decorated well for the congress. At 10:30 a.m. the congress was officially opened with the announcement that despite the fact that people were stopped on their way by the police (here called “militia”), and the presence of police and army at the square, the congress could take place, now 18 years after the independence of Belarus. This was followed with a loud “Long live Belarus”. This slogan was repeated throughout the congress

After the opening prayer and practical and statutory matters, important persons gave their greetings. The first greeting, given by Stanislau Shushkievich, was remarkable. He was the one who signed, together with Boris Yeltsin and Leanid Crauchuk, the document for the dismantling of the Soviet Union in 1991. He was also the first prime minister of the independent Belarus. He was impressed by the BCD, especially because the party is comprised of honest Christian people, mostly young, who are inspired to put Christian values into practice. Also members of other opposition parties gave their support to the BCD in their striving for freedom and democracy.

The official greetings were followed by the leaders of the party who explained their vision and development of the party. It was clear that the party based their Christian values on the Word of God. George Dmitruk, vice chairman of the BCD, explained that “we must not forget to witness about the love of Jesus also in politics and that we should follow His example in this. We have to honor Him in all the work we are doing and we should be united by God’s love and power and to raise Gods flag in everything we do.” Also he mentioned that one of the strong points of the BCD was that they did not want only to improve living standards, but also that they want to focus on the implementation of Christian values in society.

Regarding the growth of the BCD, Dmitruk used the strategy of Jesus. He trained 12 disciples and sent them into the world: the party also needs to prepare people and to send them to reach more people. Everyone should prepare their twelve people.

Aleksei Shein, also co-chairman of the BCD, focused his speech more on the sorrows in Belarusian society. The country is in the top 10 of the number of abortions, divorces and suicides. The BCD should do everything to be in the frontline and to make people aware of these problems and to change these situations. Although they do not have the illusion that elections will be honest, it is important to spread these messages during the election campaigns and to make people aware of the problems in society.

Pavel Seviarynets, chairman of the party, talked about the growth of the BCD. At the moment, the BCD has 1,800 members from 108 different cities and villages. Despite repression and intimidation, every month new people become members. Now the party has its own newspaper, website, CDs with Christian music and also a club for Christian writers. In addition to this they organize special training for young activists who want to become members of the party. He stated that this was thanks to God for everything that had been accomplished, because nothing could be done outside His Blessings. He also talked about human dignity; protection of the deprived by faith or religion and the protection of life as important points for the party.

When the speeches of various guests, such as representatives of different churches, were finished, I was invited to share some brief thoughts. I started with the question ‘How it is possible to organize a second ‘founding congress’? Theoretically this sounds very strange: the normal way should be a single founding congress: the party was founded or not. The conclusion was that the party was founded, but not registered. The better name should therefore be: “the second registration congress.” I also spoke about the importance of Christian values in politics. “I do not believe that faith is simply an individual matter, but that the Christian faith is fundamental for the development of society and for the formation of the character of the European continent we live in”. I also tried to show that they were not alone in their battle for freedom, but that we are with them and that this was not only a matter for Belarus, but also for Europe and for the future of the European Union which we hope Belarus will one day be part of.

After lunch, practical and statutory matters that were required for the legal registration of the party were taken care of, followed by enthusiastic reports of representatives of different regions in Belarus about their work in difficult circumstances.

(To be continued)

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