The processes that began a year ago are irreversible.
An activist of the European Belarus civil campaign Andrei Sharenda, who has been participating in the resistance to the dictatorship in Belarus for many years, spoke to the website Charter97.org about the simplest way to force the regime to make concessions.
- Recently you signed an appeal supporting ten demands of the Belarusian Workers' Association. Why is it important today to show solidarity with workers who are preparing for a strike?
- Many people say that the revolution that began a year ago is “over.” But this is not the case. The processes that began a year ago are irreversible. We can even say that we are doomed to win. This requires a little more work.
Last year we went to protest rallies, there were rallies of hundreds of thousands, but that was not enough. It cannot be said that we were mistaken in something, it was just that it was not enough. Now we have realized that it is necessary not only to take to the streets but also to economically put pressure on the regime. The simplest form of economic pressure is absenteeism.
Yes, now those who are in Belarus face a difficult choice. They need to feed their families, pay for loans, and so on, but there is no future under the Lukashenka regime. The workers must, in the end, make their choice. We, as ordinary people, activists who are not indifferent to the fate of our country, must support them in every possible way, so I signed this petition.
I urge all workers to follow the events in Belarus, to be ready for the moment when their help is needed - not to go to work, to say “no” to this regime in a simple way.
- What is the peculiarity of the situation in Belarus today? Why is a strike seen by many as the most effective way to force the Lukashenka regime to negotiate and make concessions?
- The level of repression that activists have faced is simply off the scale.
At such a moment, you need to look for a new way to fight. And this is exactly such a "strike" when people do not go to work. This is the only option to resist the regime. Going on strike, staying at home, not paying taxes by this, saying “no” to the regime is the easiest way. If at least 15-20% of workers do not come to work, then the regime will not last even two weeks, so this is very important.
- What facts show that the regime is afraid of the general strike and the solidarity of Belarusians with the workers?
- Any mention of a strike just infuriates the regime. Therefore, we must not be afraid and stop, we must act to the end.
- Many in Belarus are delighted with the courage of your wife Palina and your associates, who are now in prisons. Will the strike help free political prisoners?
- Yes, now my friends from European Belarus and my wife are behind bars. Their position should be an example: do not give up until the end. Even behind bars, my friends and wife continue to defend their rights and continue to fight the Lukashenka regime.
I appeal to ordinary workers: only our common position will free all the thousands of political prisoners that we now have in the country. Only our united position, acting as a united front will help to overthrow the dictator once and for all.
The first thing we must prepare for is a strike. For a simple worker, it's just to stay at home at one moment and not go to work. To do this, you need to have a very minimal supply of food and money. I ask all ordinary people to get ready for new protests. After the general strike, we will have to take to the streets once more in order to finally claim our victory.
- You also call for even stronger sanctions against the Lukashenka regime. In your opinion, which sectors of the US and EU regime should hit first?
- First of all, this is the export of petroleum products. This is what has been holding the Lukashenka regime in recent years. Although there are thousands of political prisoners in our country, European countries still buy oil products from Belarus. These are billions of dollars, which the dictator gets very easily.
The companies that cooperate with the Lukashenka regime have long been known, and if we put a little pressure on them, the regime will be left without the last means of subsistence. To do it, I urge the diaspora to be active. We must identify companies that help the dictator. Thereby putting pressure on them, so that the sanctions have even more power.
- Do you associate the strike with the hope of an ultimate victory for the advocates of change in our country?
- It's not that I do, I'm confident that the strike will be our first common step in victory, so I call on all workers to unite for our one goal. That's the only way to win.
- What would you like to say to the Belarusians who are now preparing for a strike?
- I just want to encourage them to be ready. You do not need much - to stock up on groceries that a person and a family need for a few weeks, also have a minimum reserve of cash, better in currency. The national currency tends to depreciate at such times. And also be mentally prepared to continue the fight. Just a little bit is left, the regime is living out its last months, together we will win.