It's time to head to the centre.
They had enough time. The chances were more than enough. We granted them many opportunities. They failed to take advantage of them. They should have. The time is running out, the chances turn into a pumpkin, the opportunities melt away like the Snow Maiden during the thaw.
Lukashenka had time to accept the choice of the people and resign voluntarily. There were chances to avoid bloodshed and remain at large. Of course, the possibilities are only hypothetical. However, who knows what decision the new independent court of a free country would make. We can't influence it in any way. We can't influence the new, democratically elected head of state, who might pardon the former president, simply because the new one is kind and forgiving. Now, it's too late.
The officials had time to reflect and make the right decision. They had chances not to remain a "society of acquiescent," but to become equals to the people. After all, there were opportunities for sabotage. Replace the flag on your district executive committee or elsewhere with a white-red-white flag. It is not even about being a hero. It means you are not alone. You're a part of the people, a comrade standing in the coupling - in short, one of us. Now all of them are shaking in their boots and thinking around the clock about what is safer for them: for Lukashenka to retain power or for the people to win. Moreover, they take it only from the point of immediate survival, forgetting about their plans for the future. Their future is as foggy as the window of a run-down shop in the countryside, dirty and unwashed for years. One cannot see anything through it, no matter how hard one tries.
The law enforcers had time to see what they were doing. They had chances to farewell their arms. They had opportunities to escape reckoning. After three days of blood and shooting in August, people were suddenly released from Okrestina and not beaten anymore or dragged into the police van; the noble and generous Belarusians were ready to give law enforcers flowers. Remember the girls with flowers, hugging the riot policemen. Speaking frankly, I was annoyed with them (the girls, not the riot policemen): I did not understand how one could give flowers to the chastener, and even smile at him, give him a hug, and forgive. However, everyone has the freedom to choose in a democratic society - to forgive or not, to present flowers or curse. That's fine. Anyway, we no longer need to wonder about what was right in August - time passed. Another time has come. A worse or better one. It will be up to us.
Perhaps, unlimited time and endless opportunities, numerous chances we gave them were not an act of generosity but a mistake on our part. By late August, we had quickly set a revolutionary schedule: marches of thousands of people on Sundays, going to work on Mondays. The chasteners got used to this schedule very quickly, as we did not wear them out. One went out on Sunday, waved a baton, shot at people, and had a week's rest. Well, one may appear in court and testify as Ivanov in a mask against the demonstrators someday. Or one may drive around the courtyards in the evening, waving a baton, jingling handcuffs, and grabbing locals who happened to be at hand. The rest of the time, from Sunday to Sunday, is leisure. High calory diet. Recreation.
If it was a mistake, not a fatal one, but an ordinary pupil's mistake, the kind that first graders usually do. It's the process of learning. We had no experience in prolonged, exhausting resistance. For years, we have taken to the streets, been dispersed. Some went to prisons; others went home until the next rally. We'd never had that kind of protest: every day, regardless of the weather, our mood, or workload. But that's what we should have.
Our partisan winter was a great learning experience. The actions took place in the yards and were not numerous, but they took place daily. It was a great result for winter. However, winter is already over. The change of seasons calls for a new tactic. These are daily mass protests in the central streets and squares of our cities. The courtyards have become partisan squads. It is time to head to the centre.
Spring is coming. However, it brings no miracles. After all, freedom is just the logical outcome of a long struggle. Revolution is very hard work.
All the same, we are accustomed to hard work. We have already learned how to do miracles. All the more, it's spring. All the more, we act together. All the more, it's for the sake of victory.
Iryna Khalip, especially for Charter97.org