The Struggle for Belarus Continues

Protest in Minsk. Credit: Max Katz, licensed under CC-BY-SA 2.0 (source)

Since August, hundreds of thousands have protested the authoritarian rule of Aleksandr Lukashenko in Belarus.

On October 26, the main opposition leader, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya called for a general strike to force Lukashenko out. One hundred thousand workers and students marched in Minsk, the capital, meeting some repression and arrests. But many of the biggest workplaces, especially those run by state-owned enterprises, did not see mass work stoppages. While some workers did strike, others feared reprisals, and 30 workers who attempted to strike were arrested at a state-run fertilizer plant.

Women have played a major role in in leading the uprising, and the oppression of women is being challenged in different ways. The three most visible opposition leaders are women. And collectively, women have developed new and effective ways to protect protesters, including forming protective crowds of women around small groups of protesters.

What will happen remains to be seen. In the past days, amidst a new wave of protests, at least 1,000 have been arrested in an intensification of repression.

But the protesters in Belarus have shown fierce determination in this uphill battle, and serve as an inspiration to us all in the worldwide struggle against oppressive regimes.