Belarus 2021: A Creative Statement
The state of things, our response and responsibilities. In this opinion piece we hear from our student Anastasiya Kasatkina about the protests and crackdowns that are rocking her home.
The protests in Belarus began in August 2020 after the results of the presidential elections were announced; which were for the first time in recent history not actually rigged. This announcement was followed by massive peaceful protests and demonstrations during which special means and brute force were used against the protesters.
To this day, one can observe the inhuman actions of the security forces against their own peaceful people. Torture, murder, psychological and physical violence against men and women are taking place on our streets and in our prisons. People are being fired from their jobs, expelled from universities, while countless searches of private property are carried out because of someone’s civil position.
There is an endless stream of propaganda and lies from the television, blocking any independent media. In Belarus at the moment there is no such thing as “law” or “human rights”. Many people have lost hope due to the repression and lawlessness. But despite this there are many who support and help the Belarusian people, which in turn gives many an incentive to go on until the end. We all hope to lose the title of “the last dictatorship in Europe”.
Support and understanding is very important for every Belarusian right now.
How can an Academy support its students?
We at the Polish-Japanese Academy of Information Technology have been asking ourselves that question since news of the protests first reached us. However it was also the constant pressure from students like Anastasiya that made keep the question fresh and urgent in our minds.
The New Media Art department, spear headed by Dr. Ewa Satalecka, has reached out into its contacts to create a network of support for out current Belarusian students. The department contacted some of Poland’s top studios and designers to make sure that the graduates can find stable employemnt while engaging their creative and critical skills: having a job contract is one of the conditions for obtaining a visa. There is a lot to be said for hosting exhibitions in foreign countries to keep up the pressure and the presence of such a cause. Especially when places within our explosive global politics.
Creative responses to such violent acts can engage people in a narrative that maybe wouldn’t usually interest them. We can see examples of this in the exhibition Belarus // Art of Resistance held at Arti et Amicitia in Amsterdam and the online exhibition CULT PROTEST.
We need to keep reminding our immediate communities as well the global one of the continued struggle of the Belarusian people. A graphic intervention can remind us of things we would often rather forget. But if it exists in our minds then we can act. And action should define the decade to come.
The establishment of the network of solidarty is the first step, and a solid one for 2021. But it’s going to be long year and we need to keep meeting, doing and acting if we are going to change things.