Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Belarus: the battle for recognition, a battle for freedom (part 3, final)

In the afternoon, a number of interesting questions were discussed and voted on. First there was the question of whether the party should participate in the local elections in 2010. These elections would most probably not be held honestly. Would it not be better just to boycott the elections? Finally people voted for the option to participate in the elections. There should be a signal given to the people that an opposition and therefore alternatives exist. Also the campaigns could be used to spread the messages of the party and to make the party better known in Belarus.

Another question was concerning the presidential elections planned for 2011. In these elections, all the opposition parties together form a coalition and name one presidential candidate. This joint candidate is chosen based on the support that this candidate has. Finally people voted that the co-chairman Vital Rymasheuski be nominated as presidential candidate for the BCD in the race for presidential elections for the joint coalition. If he is not chosen, then the joint candidate of the coalition will be supported by the BCD, because a possible change of the political situation is more important than simply the particular interests of the party. Also the BCD will join the demonstrations on the square after the presidential elections if these elections are not executed honestly.

The convention was ended in prayer, followed by praying together “The Lord’s Prayer”. For the young people the congress was followed by a concert of contemporary Christian music.

A new step has been taken. In total 643 participants were registered for this congress: 311 delegates and 332 guests. Considering all the problems with the preparations, this was a good number, even more than in February. It is again a new beginning and we will see what the Belarusian authorities will do.

The next day I took part in the annual procession for the victims of the communist regime. The whole opposition was there with their flags, banners and the forbidden red and white flags. A whole group of young and old people walked from the city to the mass grave on the outskirts. The whole escort drew the attention of KGB in plain clothes who took pictures of everyone joining the procession and who filmed it all. A woman told me that she was glad that I participated in the procession. This is probably why the police was so quiet and did not interfere in this year’s procession.

Slowly people were walking through the outskirts of the city to the forest where hundreds of thousands people were killed and buried and which is situated now directly next to the new ring road. People walked slowly and quietly, with an occasional loud cry of “Long Live Belarus.” Slowly walking, thinking about the victims: praying and hoping for a change in society and a freedom that does not seem to come and for an end to a life of fear which has lasted 70 years under a repressive regime.