January, 16 2010

The Rada of the Belarusian Democratic Republic (BNR) in Exile applauds the courageous act of the Belarusian patriots in Vitebsk, who on January 7th raised the prohibited white-red-white flag to the top of the city’s Christmas tree, the tallest in the country. The BNR Rada demands the immediate release of Siarhiej Kavalenka, an activist of the Conservative Christian Party of BPF who was arrested for this act.

The white-red-white flag, as well as the Pahonya coat-of-arms are the national symbols of Belarus, inseparably connected with the history of our country. Belarusian warriors in the past gained glorious victories under the white-red-white flag. On March 25, 1918 the Belarusian Democratic Republic (BNR) was proclaimed under this flag, and under white-red-white flags thousands of citizens in front of the Government Buildings in Miensk welcomed the renewal of Belarusian independence on August 25, 1991.

The national symbols were replaced by the present neo-Soviet symbols of the Republic of Belarus at the so-called “referendum” of 1995 initiated by Alyaksandr Lukashenka and the head of his administration Leanid Sinitsyn. As a result, the Belarusian language also lost its sole official language status. The right of the president to dissolve the parliament as well as the issue of economic integration with Russia were also included in the referendum questions, which contradicted the Constitution as well as a number of laws of the country. Violence was used against members of Parliament in the very House of Parliament in order to enact the “referendum”, which was marred by massive falsifications and was held under the regime’s monopoly on mass media. All these facts are grounds for considering it illegitimate.

The result of this “referendum” was the prohibition of the historic national symbols, the total russification and the gradual exclusion of the Belarusian language from all spheres of use, the establishment of Lukashenka’s dictatorship and the economic dependence on Moscow. Nonetheless, the white-red-white flag and the Pahonya coat-of-arms remain symbols of Belarusian statehood for all patriotic Belarusians, with mass rallies held under them despite arrests, fines and imprisonments. Vitebsk heroes have been raising it on the highest buildings of the city.

The BNR Rada sees it as their duty to attract the attention of the leaders of the democratic countries and international organizations to the situation concerning Kavalenka and his supporters.

The BNR Rada considers it a priority for human rights organizations, as well as for the political parties and movements in Belarus to declare their solidarity with the courageous Vitsebsk patriots. With such support, we are sure that the white-red-white flag and the Pahonya coat-of-arms will again become the symbols of a free and democratic Belarus.

( original signed by  )
Ivonka J. Survilla
President, Rada of the Belarusian
Democratic Republic in Exile

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