Belarus Bans Standing in One Place with Others

Monday, August 01, 2011
Belarus dictator Aleksandr Lukashenko (photo: AP)
The authoritarian regime of Belarus, Europe’s last remaining dictatorship, is determined to eradicate all forms of public protest, even those involving people doing nothing but standing around together.
A new law proposed this week would ban the “joint mass presence of citizens in a public place that has been chosen beforehand, including an outdoor space, and at a scheduled time for the purpose of a form of action or inaction that has been planned beforehand and is a form of public expression of the public or political sentiments or protest.”
Violators of the law could face up to two weeks in jail.
Unhappiness over the economy and the repressive political system has inspired people to take to the streets. But formal protests are nearly impossible to carry out because the government usually won’t issue the necessary permits.
Instead, Belarusians have resorted to creative forms of expression, such as triggering their cell phone alarms to go off at the same time, or clapping all at once.
Security forces have still cracked down on protesters, arresting nearly 2,000 people since the so-called clapping protests began in June.
Belarus has been ruled by President Aleksandr Lukashenko for 17 years.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
In Belarus, Just Being Can Prompt an Arrest (by Ilya Mouzykantskii, New York Times)


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