Updated at 21:04,23-03-2021

A Belarusian is being murdered for the flag

Natallia Radzina, charter97.org

We all get used to absurdity and violence of the life in Belarus, but there should be limits.

Oppositionist Siargey Kavalenka is dying from hunger-strike in jail, in the 21st century in the center of Europe. All he did was hanging out Belarus’ national flag on a New Year tree several years ago. In 1995, after a referendum this white-red-white symbol of Belarus was replaced by a red-green flag, embodiment of Lukashenka’s regime. Since then, our historic flag has been banned.

Do you know any other country in the world, where to hang out a flag is illegal and can result in a prison term? In Belarus, it has been a reality during 17 years, since that very referendum. To avoid arrests, Belarusian democrats hang out national flags at night, hide flags under clothing, unfold them during demonstrations risking a hit with an OMON baton. Today, the cloth colored in white and red has become a symbol of Belarusian resistance to the dictatorship and fight for freedom.

Siargey Kavalenka’s fate, his courageous struggle for the Belarusians’ right to have their national symbols cannot leave anyone indifferent.

Kavalenka’s hunger-strike continued from mid-December till the end of March with a 20-day break. During this time he lost 50 kilograms. After that, he was locked in a mental hospital, then thrown to prison where the Belarusian oppositionist again refused to eat. He demands that the illegal sentence is called off, all political prisoners are released and the national symbols are restored.

Nobody knows if Kavalenka will survive the hunger-strike. These two months have already resulted in irreversible processes in his body. Another hunger strike can be fatal.

But the world is silent, just like the Belarusian people. On 13 May in Belarus the National Flag Day was officially celebrated. Within the action We Are Proud of Our Country, soldiers carried a vast red-green cloth on the central square in Minsk. What are they proud of - jails where political prisoners are dying? Or maybe of the murdered and kidnapped oppositionists, the stolen right to choose, stolen freedoms? Are they proud of the poverty and the country’s reputation as "Europe’s last dictatorship"?

Lukashenka’s almost 20-year-old politics are a sheer genocide where those who disagree with him are destroyed, and even the people’s memory, history and language are vanishing. There is no other dictator in the entire world, who hates his country’s history and the people, who remember and value, it so much!

I don’t see another way to save Siargey Kavalenka than to shout all over the world: people, don’t be indifferent. In the 21st century, in the center of Europe, a Belarusian is being murdered for a flag.

Some time ago I was astonished by the action "Kony-2012" held by young Americans. In their attempts to stop leader of Uganda’s terrorist organization Lord’s Resistance Army b]Joseph Kony, famous for terrible violence, even against children, Americans embarked on a civic campaign of solidarity with the people of Uganda. The campaign is still on. Thousands of people come out to the streets demanding an international investigation and arrest of Kony and urging their government to react accordingly to the ferocities that are going on in this central African country.

Their motto is "Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come". Their idea is, that citizens can influence their governments and turn the history around.

If people all over the world raise a Belarusian flag every day or wear white and red, it can save Siargey Kavalenka’s life, and lives of many others. It can save Belarus.