Ongoing struggle in Belarus includes workers, doctors, pensioners, children

Belarus Tractor workers strike
Belarus Tractor workers strike
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See a letter from a Comrade active in Belarusian protests against Lukashenko, responding to information about the Spycops scandal in the UK and describing the current situation in Belarus

We are outraged by the facts of the many years of infiltration of police agents into the UK miners’ union organisations, as well as by the infiltration of police provocateurs into the ranks of construction unions, in order to incite activists to fire and thus discredit them.

Sorry for not answering for a long time, but the events in Minsk are developing so rapidly that our comrades have managed to be arrested, be released, and re-participate in the demonstrations. Two of them have been arrested again and have again been released.

I’ll tell you about the events of the last two weeks.

On 25 October, we began a new round of mass protests. On this day, former presidential candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya’s ultimatum to Alexander Lukashenko, demanding his resignation, the release of political prisoners and the cessation of violence expired.

At her urging, a 100,000-strong protest demonstration was held in Minsk around the Obelisk celebrating victory in World War II. For a city with a population of 2 million, this is unprecedented, particularly in the entire 30-year history of independent Belarus. The special police forces did not dare to attack this gigantic mass of people. In the evening they attacked smaller groups leaving the square with stun grenades once the bulk of the protesters had already dispersed.

On Monday, 26 October, the opposition called for strikes at large enterprises. Protests by workers swept across the country. But a full-scale strike did not work. The current government managed to suppress negative sentiments in many factories.

In response, the authorities deployed special police units in the factory grounds, fired on the rallies, and arrested the organisers.

The phenomenon of an individual strike has become widespread. At the factories, individual people stated they were going to strike and they were immediately fired for absenteeism.

The most massive protests of workers took place on 26 October in Grodno. More than 100 workers formed a picket line at the factory gate, announcing that the company was on strike, and refused to let management representatives inside. The special police detachment which arrived drove the protesters inside. Some of the pickets were arrested, while others went to work in the workshops. After the end of the working day, the next shift in two workshops refused to go to work, due to the fact that there were not enough people to hand over control over continuous chemical production.

Protests were also held at the Minsk Automobile Plant, where tracks and the Minsk wheeled tractor plant are produced. But these were rallies, only individual worker activists refused to go to work at these enterprises. The largest strike took place at the “Belaruskaly” (Belarus Potassium) mines in Soligorsk, where another 10 people joined the 33 who have been on strike since August.

 In addition to workers, doctors became another group of strikers. On October 26, doctors of the Cardiology Centre in Minsk turned out in force on a picket line on Dzerzhinsky Avenue. And on October 28, in the early morning, medical workers of the Institute of Traumatology and Orthopedics lined up in a chain of solidarity, and 11 doctors were detained. More than 3,000 medical workers in the country signed an open letter demanding an end to the violence and the holding of new elections.

Many IT workers joined the protests – Belarus is one of the leading countries in the field of offshore programming. Many owners of cafes and restaurants at service stations closed on this day by a joint decision of owners and staff

Students and pensioners took to solidarity actions. Pensioners held an eight-thousand-strong march on Independence Avenue. A sit in Belarus State University was attended by a hundred people, in the rally – a thousand. Protests and student strikes took place at 11 universities in Minsk.

Actions on Sundays have become a tradition and on 8 November, despite the fact that many people arrested in previous days faced criminal charges, the March of People’s Power took place. Columns from different regions of the city were to gather in front of the town hall, a symbol of the self-government and autonomy Minsk possessed within the Kingdom of Poland and Lithuania in the 17th-18th centuries, before the conquest of these lands by the Russian Empire. This time, the people moved in small groups that were constantly attacked by mobile police units. as a result of this action, about a thousand people were arrested.

Another episode of our current struggle against dictatorship is an unsuccessful attempt to start a guerrilla war against the regime involving four anarchists who, 10 years ago, were convicted of attacks with a Molotov cocktail against the Russian Embassy, a prison building and a casino.

Now, with weapons in hand, they crossed from Ukrainian territory to Belarus and organized the arson of the prosecutor’s office in Soligorsk and the traffic police post in Mozyr. The four partisans were detained while trying to cross the border back to Ukraine illegally.