On Belarus Solidarity Day pickets were held In Belarus, Ukraine, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia
On 16 March activists from the youth democratic movement marked Belarus Day of Solidarity with Political Prisoners and the Families of the Disappeared with protest actions in Minsk and the regions. Abroad there were protests in Ukraine, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, with students lighting candles with the photos of those who disappeared without trace and political prisoners opposite Belarusian embassies. Passers-by were handed leaflets.
For six hours on the Polish side of the border with Belarus, activists from the Union to Support Democracy in Belarus handed people crossing the border information and documentary films about the situation in Belarus.
There were no mass street actions in Minsk. Young activists were afraid of arrests and therefore decided to confined themselves to banners calling for the release of political prisoners and pasting pictures of those who disappeared or have been convicted for their opposition activities.
The Chair of the Committee to defend political prisoners and their families Inna Kuley told Radio Svoboda that it was vital that this day be marked.
“People lost their jobs, the chance to continue their studies at university, or to go on to further studies. The fate of those people who were or want to become undergraduates is in question. This is a wide range of people who need our support. Solidarity in Belarusian is, I would say, first of all with those who we call political prisoners, since they are having the hardest time and need our support.” She mentioned that around fifty activists had today received agreement from lawyers to represent them if they were arrested. She considers this to also be a demonstration of solidarity.
Nikolai Statkevich, serving a sentence for organizing street demonstrations against the rigged election and referendum results of 2004 considers the demonstration of solidarity to be extremely important.
“They try to do all the bad things secretly so that nobody will see it, to avoid publicity – thats a strong restraining factor. Beside, when those who at somebodys command try us, guard us in places of restriction or deprivation of liberty, when these people find out and see that its not just some inexplicable opposition supporter whom you can give the order to “squeeze”, and that its really a person whom others remember and who get letters from all over the world – that totally changes their attitude.”