Following a discussion of the current situation surrounding the possible signing of documents between the official regime in Minsk and the Russian Federation that could lead to a further integration between Belarus and Russia and to the surrender the independence of Belarus, the participants of the meeting have decided to issue the following statement.
Our dear Polish and Lithuanian neighbours and friends,
Today we are witnessing a great historical event. Finally, the heroes of our three nations, the rebels who gave their lives for the freedom of all of us, will find their rest.
Kastuś Kalinoŭski and his comrades have become an inspiration for the Belarusian national liberation movement. Kalinoŭski became a symbol of the struggle of the Belarusian people for freedom, for national and social liberation. “Who do you love? I love Belarus” – this was the code-word of Kalinoŭski’s insurgents. This motto has given an impulse that led to the birth of our modern nation. This phrase remains our code-word, our motto today.
It is a great honour to be the witnesses of the long-awaited honourable funeral of these people. A great honour to pay our respect to their memory.
These heroes unite our three nations: Belarusians, Lithuanians and Poles. Many of them were born on the territory of modern Belarus. They all were patriots of our common historical motherland, the ancient Lithuania. And they have found their rest in a city where all of us – Belarusians, Lithuanians, and Poles alike – are at home: in Vilnia (Vilnius, Wilno).
55 years after their heroic death, the struggle of these insurgents has led to the creation of the independent Belarusian Democratic Republic, Lithuanian Republic and Poland.
The struggle of Kastuś Kalinoŭski and his comrades is a powerful example to us. Even having murdered these men, the enemies have not killed our will to fight for freedom. And decades later, our nations have won, because they were led by the desire to live free.
The independence of Belarus is again threatened today. But with the belief in our truth, which Kalinoŭski has many times mentioned in his articles, we will win. Belarus will be a free and democratic country, as are now our dear neighbours, the Lithuanian Republic and Poland, with whom we are glad to be together on this special day.
An eternal glory and eternal memory to our heroes!
The BNR Rada in exile has several important practical functions as a legal safeguard of the first democratic Belarusian statehood, as a representation of Belarus in the Free World and as an association of politically active Belarusian communities in different countries. Below we are publishing answers to several questions that the BNR Rada has received from the public.
1. How did you manage to keep the uninterrupted tradition of statehood intact for so many years?
The tradition of the Belarusian Democratic Republic was preserved through years of effort and work of the Belarusian diaspora. Hundreds of concerned and politically active people, even in exile, remained faithful to Belarus and spent their energy, time and money on Belarusian activism. The constitutional regulations of the BNR Rada, adopted in 1917-1918, allowed for the co-optation of new members. This allowed the Rada to refresh its membership over the subsequent decades.
BNR Rada has traditionally relied on the organizations of the Belarusian diaspora in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France and Australia. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, Belarusian communities in the Czech Republic and Poland also play a significant role. Separate members of the Rada also live in other countries.
Belarus’ 100-year-old exiled government, which still fights to return democracy to “the last dictatorship of Europe”, takes stand against President Alexander Lukashenka’s exploitation of the European Games as a political event.
The media coverage of international sporting events is often colored by the fact that publications have spent a fortune buying TV rights to the events and sent journalists and photographers to cover them.
This year’s biggest Olympic sports event in Europe – the European Games in Minsk, which the state-owned Danish public service media company DR has purchased the broadcasting rights to – is no exception.
Last week’s Danish media coverage of the European games in Belarus, which is called “Europe’s last dictatorship”, has largely been influenced by the Danish reporters’ focus on the Danish athletes’ sporting ups and downs during the games.
On the other hand, criticism of the authoritarian host nation, which for 25 years has been ridden hard by president Alexander Lukashenka, a former Soviet military officer, has been absent in the media just as democracy is absent in Belarus, as Lukashenka’s critics believe.
The BNR Rada states that democratic elections, respect of human rights and freedom of speech are the only way to consolidate the Belarusian nation and to end the decades-long international isolation of Belarus in the face of a potential threat to the country’s independence.
OFFICIAL STATEMENT BY BNR RADA:
The past weeks have seen an activated public discussion of threats to the independence of Belarus from the Russian Federation. Considering the analysis of the situation, and:
– Stating that it is in the national interest of Belarus to reform its economy and to quit all Russian-dominated integrational structures and, in the long-term perspective, to build equal, market-based, friendly and mutually respectful relations with a future democratic Russia;
– Considering that the union treaty with today’s Russia does not respect the will of the Belarusian people, which is interested in having good and close relations with all its neighbours, including Ukraine and the countries of the European Union;
The BNR Rada announces the awarding of the Belarusian Democratic Republic 100th Jubilee Medal.
According to its Statutes, the medal is awarded for lifelong achievements in the fulfillment of the ideals of the Belarusian Democratic Republic, including research and the popularisation of Belarus, the strengthening of and achievement of the independence of Belarus, and the struggle for freedom and democracy in Belarus.
On behalf of the Rada of the Belarusian Democratic Republic, please accept my best wishes on the occasion of the Centennial!
Today we are celebrating not only the anniversary of the glorious 25th of March 1918, when our nation announced to the world that it “clears the last yoke of state dependence”, but also a century of struggle – often in very difficult circumstances – to implement the ideals of the 25th of March.
Today, one hundred years after the Declaration of Independence of the Belarusian Democratic Republic, Belarus lives, and so do the ideals of the 25th of March. Our journey was arduous, but we survived, and never let the flame of our hope be extinguished.
Dear Friends! Without this torch of hope, we would not have restored the independence of the Republic of Belarus in 1991, since there would be no one left to restore it. Without the Belarusian Democratic Republic, there would be not Belarusian Soviet Republic and no independent Belarus now.
But we still haven’t implemented the ideals of the Belarusian Democratic Republic. Our Belarusian house is still not quite Belarusian, and its independence is still under threat.
Will our people find the strength to revive it from inside? Will we have enough stamina to revive it, until the “life of the republic’s own” will be restored forever? Will the brainwashing by foreign propaganda allow our people to admit that they were voiceless victims of foreign invadors?
And will the people understand that the future is in their own hands, and that it is up to them whether Belarus will become a prosperous European country or remain an exploited colony of foreign aggressors.
Dear Belarusian brothers and sisters, the ideals of the Belarusian Democratic Republic live and will live on. But it is up to every one of us to implement them.
So let us use this great Jubilee to prove to ourselves and to the world that we deserve it.
On the occasion of Dziady, which since the 1980ies has become not only the traditional day when Belarusians commemorate their ancestors but also a memorial day for the victims of political repressions in Belarus, the Rada of the Belarusian Democratic Republic in Exile calls for all Belarusians to pay homage to the hundreds of thousands of our compatriots who became victims of repressions and social experiments under the foreign-imposed totalitarian Soviet regime, which dominated Belarus for the most part of the 20th century.
Statement by the Rada of the Belarusian Democratic Republic in Exile regarding the Belarusian-Russian joint military exercise
The military exercise codenamed “West-2017” is starting in Belarus, and is held jointly with military units of the Russian Federation. This exercise is taking place against the background of Moscow’s annexation of Crimea, the wars in Ukraine and Syria, and cyber-attacks against the democratic institutions of the West.
The Rada of the Belarusian Democratic Republic (the BNR Rada) shares the concerns expressed by the democratic community in Belarus, as well as by some foreign observers, regarding that some of the Russian military units may – contrary to all the statements from the representatives of the ministry of defense of Belarus – stay in Belarus after the exercises. The BNR Rada emphasizes that such a development would present a new factor of danger not only for Belarus but also for other European countries – the Republic of Latvia, the Republic of Lithuania, and the Republic of Poland. This would present a particular risk for Ukraine, as its northern and western regions would in that case become exposed for an attack by Russia’s land forces.