Firstly I felt it when I was watching a film about Belarusian Free Theatre in Berlin in ifa Gallery some weeks ago. The story tells about their way after December 19, 2010 when the presidential election in Belarus happened and Alexander Lukashenka was a president again. There was the day of protest action against falsification of the election’s results, which was violently repressed by the authority. It became a key point for the story of Belarusian Free Theatre because some of them left the country (they flayed the authority very open and were afraid that couldn’t work in Belarus). The story was clear for me, I was just an observer. No feelings, no thoughts.
Until this moment. I was feeling strong emotion and understood I’m still alive.
There were pictures of the culmination of the protest. Belarusian police came and began to beat defenseless people. Citizens were running but there were a lot of men with batons. They were beating people, catching them and throwing into special police buses. It was really horribly because nobody of us didn’t await it at that moment. People came even with children because they had illusion of the civil country and believed they had a social body with a right to speak.
After December, 19 there were some months of depression in the country. Nobody didn’t expect of this kind of cynicism from the authority. The democratic games were finished and real political regime became visible for people. The authority also expected that this demonstrative execution would be enough in order to repress people for long time. But in April 2011 because of an economic situation Belarusians came on streets again. Somebody proposed: If we couldn’t speak we will keep silence and only applaud. And thousands people join him. It was really phenomenon –citizens came on the main streets in Minsk every Wednesday and applauded. It was a moment when everybody began to believe again in own social body with rights. Fear left, freedom has gone to our head. But after two this kind of Wednesday this action was also violently repressed. (These pictures were also showed in the film). Belarusian police caught people on streets for no particular reason. Only in order to kill social bodies finally…
After the screening we discussed it with my friend (she is from Belarus but last years she lives in Berlin). I said that Belarusians have really problems with memory because only three years passed but it seems that we can’t do any kind of protest. It’s a fact today nobody in Belarus not merely believes in Plošča (Belarusian Majdan) like in 2006, in December 19 or in these silent protests in 2011. But people in principle forgot that it was in the history. They think they always were repressed bodies. Nothing else. And the question is not only fear, but deep state of humility and depression. My friend agreed with me and said she felt the same. You know, I felt humiliation again. Here in Berlin I’ve forgot this feeling. I was crying.
After two weeks I watched one more film in Warsaw on Belarusian film Festival “Bulbamovie”. It was a short film “Fans” by young Belarusian director. There were two simple plot’s lines – about fans with red-green flags (a symbol of the official regime) during Ice-Hockey Championship in Minsk in 2014 and the protest action in 2010 with white-red-white flags. It was difficult for me to watch these pictures again. I couldn’t control my emotions because something (fear, humiliation, broken belief – I don’t know exactly how it call) lives inside of me. I forgot, every time I forget all in order to be alive. But am I alive?
A repressed body from East Europe. Nothing else.
When you come in Belarus, you will be delighted with fresh air, clean streets, visible safety and people’s calmness. You won’t believe that these people could come on streets and make a protest. And may be you will think that these people don’t need to do it because they are happy. But if you look closely at them, you don’t see alive people – but a lot of crushed dumb bodies. Nothing else.
I read on my friend’s blog:
“We would like to have your problems, Belarusians” – wrote one Ukrainian woman. – “Be happy that you haven’t our problems. But you could” – answered me.
When I read about gray Minsk with gray people, every time I wait for an answer – why?– from an author of these words.
Some days ago some guys made music on a street and tens people applauded them. I noted the time – about 15 minutes the police didn’t touch them. But they could. This is an answer about gray Minsk and citizens.