United with Belarus

I come originally from the South-East part of Poland. I was 10 when the Berlin Wall collapsed and I must admit that I didn’t grasp the importance of these historical events, for my native country as well as the whole of Europe. I discovered its significance later on.

In the last couple of weeks, I was reflecting on the journey of each one of the countries behind the “Iron Curtain”. Slovakia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Czech Republic – they all did well and it is clear that a massive democratic transformation served them and their residents well.

However, there is one country, also a former Soviet Union republic, which has been struggling since 1990’s and which brought international attention for all the wrong reasons. Plane hijacked, which simply equals an act of terrorism, imprisonment of opposition leaders or ordinary members of the public, often as young as 14-15 year olds, lack of free speech, economical progress and recovery or inability to peaceful demonstrations; the list goes on. While completing my Master’s Degree in History, I had an opportunity to meet many people from Belarus, who were studying in my home town, Lublin. I often wonder in these situations whether there is anything I should be doing to help. But what, and more importantly how could I do that?

I am aware that “moving mountains” is not always possible, however I strongly feel that every, even the smallest act of solidarity is important and it can make a tangible difference. Every opportunity to show that we care about others gives us a real platform to grow, become better informed human beings and learn something new. Often, awareness of the huge difficulties of our fellow European citizens is equally significant.

Sometimes, the most spontaneous ideas can make a real impact. This week, a few people gathered in Welwyn Garden City Town Centre. Due to the COVID restrictions, the event itself wasn’t widely advertised. It wasn’t a political demonstration but an opportunity to come together to remember people, who are desperate to build a county, which is free from oppression, fear of unjust imprisonment or inability to be part of the fair participative process.

So what next for Belarus? More social and political unrest? Sanctions? Massive exodus of political leaders? Will the misery of Belarusian residents ever end?

This most recent series of painful events is also an important reminder. We all must be grateful for what we have. Let’s continue appreciating our democracies; local and national. Let’s continue to build political dialogue, seek opportunities to serve our communities, always try to be part of the process and put the needs of our residents and neighbourhoods at the heart of our social actions.

And for Belarus; we stand together, united.

* Michal Siewniak is a Lib Dem activist and councillor for Handside ward, Welwyn Hatfield.

Read more by or more about .
This entry was posted in Europe / International and Op-eds.
Advert

2 Comments

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

To have your photo next to your comment please signup your email address with Gravatar.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

*
*
Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?

Advert



Recent Comments

  • Joe Bourke
    The work of the Radical Association in identifying approaches to delivery of a basic income/minimum income guarantee is to be welcomed. Natasha rightly focuses ...
  • Jeff
    Malcolm Todd 24th May '22 - 3:17pm: Still touting that old rubbish, Jeff? Rubbish or not, it’s what we had signed up to. It was a treaty obl...
  • Joe Otten
    @Laurence Cox, I think you are trolling now. I am making a clear distinction between on the one hand deciding that other people are not worth having around ...
  • Malcolm Todd
    Still touting that old rubbish, Jeff? Have you actually read the text of the EU 'decision' that you repeatedly link to? The EU 'decided' that "an excessiv...
  • Joe Bourke
    Peter, The National Insurance threshold will increase to £12,570 in line with the income tax personal allowance from July this year. The combined income tax...