Opposition Steps Up Challenge Against Lukashenko With Strike In Belarus

Despite repression and new arrests, Belarusians reinforce mobilizations to demand democracy

The ultimatum to Aleksandr Lukashenko has expired without any fruit The opposition had given him until this Sunday to leave power without obtaining a minimum response from the Belarusian leader In response its critics have called on the Belarusian public to a general strike to demand the departure of the man who has ruled the country with an iron fist for 26 years

This Monday despite the threats from the authorities and the arrests  groups of workers have supported the strike and thousands of students and pensioners who have taken the witness of the mobilization with force have taken to the squares One more challenge to the Belarusian president a day after the authorities harshly repressed another mass demonstration in the capital of the former Soviet republic

With the new initiative in the form of a work stoppage the opposition seeks to break the dynamics of the protests with which Lukashenko is keeping a strong pulse but which seem stalled since August However the fear of further reprisals the economic crisis and the arrests of the organizers already weighed down the previous strikes

The main thing is to show that no one will work for the regime opposition leader Svetlana Tinajóvskaya from exile stressed in a statement The deadline to meet the requirements of the peoples ultimatum has passed said Tijanóvskaya who called on public and private workers religious communities and sports personalities to join the strike The objective is not only to paralyze production but also consumption he explained

The opposition claims that a significant number of employees of the main state factories including the symbolic Minsk tractor plant or Grodnos Azot fertilizer industry have gone on strike

The authorities assure however that the work in all the public companies where this morning there have been some preventive arrests  continues without surprises

A group of workers of technology companies one of the flags of the countrys development have been arrested this Monday when they participated in the mobilizations in a sector in which the mobilization has been the majority

We believe we can we will win Chanted thousands of students in Minsk We will not rest until Lukashenko leaves we have to fight for our future says Natasha Terekulova a language student from Minsk who has gone on strike and participated in the demonstration The student march has joined a mobilization of pensioners against the Belarusian leader who has blocked the main street of the capital

The protests against Lukashenko have not stopped since last August 9 when thousands of people clamored in the streets against electoral fraud in the presidential elections in which Lukashenko claimed victory with 80 of the votes

The opposition does not recognize the results of the elections which accumulate complaints of manipulation Nor the European Union  which has added to its list of sanctions against Belarus

The Belarusian leader who claims that the protests are being driven from the West as a plot to evict him faces the gravest political crisis in his 26 years in power

However after asking for help from Russia  which has ended up providing him financial support and guaranteeing police aid if the protests pose a threat Lukashenko is resisting the pulse It has forced into exile or arrested the main faces of the opposition and sharpened the repression of the demonstrations threatening citizens with even using live ammunition

At yesterdays demonstration in Minsk on the eleventh Sunday in a row riot police used stun grenades and rubber bullets The Belarusian civil rights organization Viasna has reported more than 200 detainees and several injuries

Meanwhile Lukashenko assures that he has launched a process to reform the Constitution which still seems vague and has come to meet with a group of prominent jailed opponents in a gesture that observers see as another formula to buy time

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *