19 October 2021, Tuesday, 3:53
Sim Sim, Charter 97!
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It’s Time to Go Home

14
It’s Time to Go Home

The Belarusian authorities go on a shooting spree.

The Belarusian Association of Workers published their brief manifesto three days ago. The ten points of their demands are the quintessence of what we all took to the streets for last year. And in all previous years too. There were fewer of us before. Now there is 97 per cent of us, and the protracted story called "Belarus is Europe's last dictatorship" should end.

The workers are not demanding higher wages. Well, they do. However, not for themselves but all. Secondly, it is not the first point of their manifesto, but the second: adjust the wages, scholarships and pensions to the actual economic situation (in simple words, to the prices. The correlation between the growth of prices and wages must be proportional, not inversely proportional, as it has been common in Belarus for a long time). The first point, of course, is the release of political prisoners.

The list of demands includes everything: reinstatement of those fired on political grounds, freedom of speech and movement, creation of favourable conditions for the development of small and medium-sized businesses, and even initiation of direct negotiations to resolve the political and economic crisis. Otherwise, a strike begins.

The manifesto is such that if you implement each demand on the list today there will be a way out. Everyone will feel better, including the authorities. This list takes into account even their interests. An ultimatum and a compromise in one statement is a delicate thing. A wise authority would have said "thank you" and initiated negotiations, and released political prisoners. On the contrary, the Belarusian authorities, unlike the smart ones, still go on a shooting spree and hang back, hoping for their own mythical omnipotence and an equally mythical weakness of the society.

Society, however, no longer needs to prove anything to anyone: the whole world has seen and realised how many of us there are. No one, neither Europe, nor America, nor Antarctica, doubts that 97 per cent of Belarusians are really against the current authorities. And the workers' manifesto is the very idea that can unite millions of people now. These ten points represent not only the workers. They stand up for everyone.

By the way, Lukashenka can call himself the inspirer. Because people want to work honestly and earn decent money. And he has been telling them for years: no, Belarusians, I am not going to let you work and make good money. And he used to jail businessmen and doctors, financiers and officials, journalists and workers. All of them were high-class specialists. For the others, he created unbearable working conditions. Now Lukashenka is simply reaping the fruits of his wise leadership: 97 per cent of hatred (which is even stronger than alcohol) and readiness of people to go on strike.

If the enterprises go on strike, it would be great. But if all 97 per cent go on strike - state employees, entrepreneurs, athletes and so on, it will not just be great. More precisely, we will not even have time to enjoy our self-organization, solidarity and courage when victory comes, there will be so much work that the days of the strike can only be recalled with a slight sadness - "eh, those days...." There are no other options, as it turned out this year anyway.

By the way, a strike in modern Belarus is the only safe way of protest. And if we add the undoubted effectiveness to its safety, it is unclear why we are still at work. It's time to go home.

Iryna Khalip, especially for Charter97.org