Diaries of dissidents – Daily Routines in a Belarusian prison

December 7th, 2010   Belarus | Seminars

Diaries of dissidents – Daily Routines in a Belarusian prison was presented to a Swedish audience on December 7, 2010. The next day the book was presented in Swedish Parliament by the Parliamentary Belarusian network as host. The book is written by 15 Belarusian in opposition to the regime. They all kept a diary during their time in jail – so called “administrative arrest” which most of the time last for 10-15 days. This is a recurrent penalty imposed for everything from “swearing” to waiving the Belarusian white-red-white flag.

Stanislau Bohdanovich and Andrei Sarotnik told the audience what it is like to live and act politically in a dictatorship. “I was in the square [opposition protests after the 2006 election through the camp on October Square in Minsk] and arrested” said Stanislau Bohdanovich. He and others said that there were many hundreds of democratic activists who were sentenced to administrative arrest.“They Drove us to Akrestsina [Detention Center] at night, Approximately at 10 pm. As usual, They Collected all our personnel belongings and threw us Into a wet cell on the ground floor ” writes Ales Kalita in the book.

“It is widely known That Challenges in life Either make a person Stronger or break heaven. When I was standing by the Akrestsina prison, my face to the wall, I was thinking ‘The most important thing for the moment is to Survive Until I can visit the toilet. The second thing is to keep my head straight. If I manage to do the first and the second – great job, I survived the jail” explains Andrei Baranau in the book. Many of the authors testify how political discussions in the prison made them, if possible, even more convinced of the need for democratic change in Belarus.

Although the authors are imprisoned for the sake of their political activities their diaries permeate an indomitable optimism. Whether cold, dirt, bad food, or lock-in seems to work to “breake down” the opposition: “I do not know what is happening outside the prison. I do not know who is still free. I am spending these ten days among people who came through the therapy of sacrifice, and these are bright days among the bright people “explains Andrei Dynko. He is the editor of Nasha Niva newspaper and was arrested on his way to prison bringing  food to those who protested and camped in the October Square in March 2006.

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