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zondag 30 april 2017

Civil Forum Belarus: Say No to Discrimination

Through the International Democratic Initiative Foundation, D66 International supports (social-)liberal parties and organizations in the neighborhood of the EU. Last March, we supported a seminar on the topic of anti-discrimination organized by youth organization Civil Forum. One of their members wrote an account on the outcomes of the event, which you find below. As Civil Forum is critical of the regime of Lukashenko, we refrain from publishing any names of pictures to not risk harassment by the authorities.

For three years already, we organize a seminar on the topic of anti-discrimination. Every year, it is becoming more and more popular. Many of our colleagues from universities, non-governmental organizations and human rights centers agreed to share information about the event through their connections. Of course, not all of them were chosen as participants, but we included all of them on a short-list for further cooperation. This year we received 115 applications for participation in the seminar. With the support of D66 we managed to increase number of participants up to 28.

The seminar was highly beneficial for our organization as 28 people were brought together and most of them expressed their desire to join Civil Forum right after the seminar. The participants represented all the regions of Belarus and gender equality was respected.

These kind of events are very important for our organization. This is the best way in the Belarusian reality to join open-minded people. At the end of this year, we are going to have local council elections in Belarus. Some participants were interested in it and decided to join our campaign. We hope to hold more than one seminar next year, to attract more new members and to overcome the fear of young people to participate in non-government activities.

However, in many respects this event was different from the previous years. In mid-March, mass arrests of activists began in Belarus. People were arrested on the streets and in offices and public places. The government tried to frighten people so that they did not participate in anti-government demonstrations. These actions jeopardized the holding of the event. But to everyone’s surprise, these arrests actually have brought people together as well. Nevertheless, we can not endanger the participants. We were forced to significantly increase the safety standards. We did not take photos of the participants and tried not to use the internet during the event.

Despite everything, there are still many positive things. Every year the dictatorship becomes weaker and weaker. Every year more and more people are trying to join anti-government demonstrations.

Once again many thanks to D66 for the support. With your help, we are bringing hope of freedom and democracy to Belarus.