Belarusian silent protestors say “Hush!”

(RIA Novosti / Sergey Samokhin)
Belarusian opposition leaders behind the campaign “Revolution through Social Networks” have announced they will put their regular anti-government “silent protests” on hold till mid-September.

­“The aim of all the rallies was to fight fear and tell people that change is inevitable and irreversible,” the “internet revolutionaries” said in a statement.  Pointing out that they “have done a lot,” they were also willing to admit there had been “organizational drawbacks.”

The rallies against President Aleksandr Lukashenko’s policies were held every Wednesday in the capital Minsk for the last two months. None of the demonstrations were sanctioned by the authorities and each resulted in the arrest of dozens of activist.  Protestors would gather in central squares across the city, standing silently or sometimes clapping their hands and stomping their feet. Previously, no provision in the Belarusian law had envisaged punishment for this kind of protest. But last month a draft bill was submitted to parliament implying culpability for “organized inactivity” as well.

The wave of “silent protests” came after the government’s systemic crackdown on the opposition following last December’s riots in protest of the presidential election results which once again indicated a landslide victory for the long-standing leader. Silent rallies were organized and coordinated through the social network Vkontakte, a Russian analogue of Facebook, also popular in other CIS countries, including Belarus.

Earlier, it was reported that the organizers of the silent rallies were going to hand over the leadership of the campaign to prominent Belarusian public figures and politicians. 

On October 8, the opposition plans a nationwide rally to demand that Lukashenko step down. In the meantime, the “silent protestors” are calling for local rallies and urge people to help them in the promotion of the forthcoming national gathering.