Thousands of students, most of them university students, took to the streets of Minsk on Tuesday to demand democracy in Belarus and to cry out against Aleksandr Lukashenko. On the first day of the course, the mobilization reached the classrooms, where strikes were called. Dozens of students have been arrested in the center of Minsk, and even in the courtyard of some high schools or universities, where they gathered to protest against electoral fraud in the last elections on August 9. Most have been released already.
“We cannot go back to the classroom and become part of a system that has helped steal the voices of the Belarusian citizenry,” claimed 20-year-old Boris Borzunov. In Belarus, in many places it is the teachers or school principals who are part of the committees that control the conduct of voting in the polling stations and sign the minutes. Now, after the allegations of massive electoral fraud, the focus is also on those who have allowed it, says Borzunov.
The educational protest has been joined by calls for parents to boycott school activities and refuse to contribute the small payments that are customary to make in Belarusian schools to cover any new item or repairs. Added to the outrage over electoral fraud and police repression is the rejection by some parents of going back to school amid the coronavirus pandemic without any special measures.
Meanwhile, the authoritarian leader has visited a vocational training school in Baránovichi, in the south-west of the country, and has tried to downplay the historical mobilizations that Belarus is experiencing and to overturn student demands: “They turned on their Iphone, their cell phones , and they are glued to them all day. A part of our people is trapped in that virtual world. Unlike them, there are those who choose to live in a real world, ”Lukashenko said.
The Belarusian leader, who defends that the presidential elections with which he claims his sixth term were clean, proposes making a constitutional reform that would be subject to “public consultation.” He has refused to discuss it with the opposition although he has claimed that he could do so with workers in factories and state companies and with students. However, this Tuesday he has not addressed any of his claims.
“We believe, we can, we will win!” “Resignation!” Cried the students, who marched to the Ministry of Education, trying to circumvent the police cordons that surrounded the heart of the Belarusian capital.
When the civic movement tries to keep up the pressure with constant mobilizations, count Lukashenko, despite threats and increasingly prominent police pressure, two of the large industrial plants that support the Belarusian economy have joined the protests this Tuesday. Even in the Minsk technology park, on the outskirts of the capital, there have been mobilizations. Lukashenko threatened retaliation again: “The hectic summer is over.”