Why mass Belarusian protests against Lukashenko are an inspiration to progressives around the world

·5-min read
Expatriate Belarusian demonstrators demanding pro-democracy reforms in Belarus in Berlin, Germany (Getty Images)
Expatriate Belarusian demonstrators demanding pro-democracy reforms in Belarus in Berlin, Germany (Getty Images)

As activists, writers, trade unionists and politicians on the left in the UK, we are writing to extend our solidarity with the people of Belarus in their struggle for democracy. Since the rigged elections on 8 August, millions of Belarusians have defied the regime of Alexander Lukashenko.

The strikes and mass protests taking place across Belarus are not just an important means of defying Lukashenko. They are an inspiration to workers and progressives across Europe and the world.

Our solidarity extends to all those who are struggling for democracy, the rights of minorities, and for the right to freely dissent and organise in Belarus. We note also the special role of organised workers in the uprising, and we send our solidarity to them in the face of persecution and strike-breaking by the regime.

We utterly reject the idea that democratisation, or a more open society, need be a move towards neo liberal economic reforms. Only by organising together as a mass movement can ordinary people guarantee and extend democracy in society and the economy.

We will organise in solidarity with the people of Belarus. We call on the left, progressives and the trade union movement in the UK and across the world to do likewise, and to oppose the introduction of repressive forces from outside Belarus.

John McDonnell MP

Nadia Whittome MP

Caroline Lucas MP

Owen Thompson MP

Kenny Macaskill MP

For the full list of signatories, click here

Boris Johnson still doesn’t get it

The more this disaster of leadership continues, the more I think that Boris Johnson has badly misread the situation. He has missed a great opportunity to safeguard the nation and secure his reputation and place in history.

With a sizeable majority in parliament, he had good reason to recognise that a global pandemic should be dealt with as a public health issue and not as an opportunity to perform as a campaigning party politician.

By consulting openly with opposition and regional leaders, drawing upon their experience and acting in a consensual way, he could have ensured that the nation remained united in its resolve, drawn the plaudits when events turned out well and shared the blame if things went wrong. In any event, his political capital would have been enhanced and his capacity to govern in the post-Covid world secured.

This seeming pig-headed incapacity to listen and learn from others, or work alongside people with relevant experience and expertise (beyond his closed group of inexperienced acolytes) means that he has missed an opportunity to be remembered as a leader who secured national unity at a time of crisis – and much more besides.

Graham Powell

Cirencester

Hard-working NHS staff

It is possible to go into a hospital and come out with a negative Covid-19 test result.

I was discharged yesterday from Royal Preston Hospital after nine days on a ward with Covid positive contacts and only three patients Covid free, after the fitting of a heart pacemaker.

The nurses, doctors and cleaners managed with their conscientious efforts to keep me safe.

Treatment of other than Covid cases are still being treated, although in reduced numbers.

We should try to be more positive about our hard-working NHS staff who are working hard under unusual conditions.

Michael Pate

Preston

Young people and unemployment

The UK’s working landscape has changed beyond imagination. Young people are more than twice as likely to lose their jobs than older workers due to coronavirus. Over half of UK workers think we’ll see a “reverse brain drain” of talent away from big cities like London and Manchester to regional areas, according to our latest research.

While there are undoubtedly difficult times ahead, this seismic change is an opportunity. Companies will always need up and coming talent. Young people and those at the start of their careers will bring just that, helping UK businesses grow with confidence and move beyond the pandemic.

Further, while cities will reinvent themselves post-pandemic, they will undoubtedly remain popular and a pull for top talent. Even if we do see people move out of the city, we will always need places where people come together to do business – to network and learn from colleagues. Young people especially will benefit from the networking opportunities presented by city life.

While nobody asked to be in this situation, it is an opportunity for businesses and young people to work together and create a future that works for everyone. We cannot waste it.

Alex Fleming

London EC4V

What are the rules?

Does anyone understand the pandemic restrictions that have been imposed? Here in Australia at various times, we could walk together on a golf course but not play golf. We could get our dogs groomed but not ourselves. Twenty people can go to a pub for drinks but only 10 to mass. I can go to a barber to get a trim but must wear a mask. As I am basically bald but now have a bushy beard, do I have to shave around it like the old bowl on the head haircuts?

I understand the need for the rules and follow them but am confused by the anomalies. Please mask up and vaccinate when it becomes available so that my life can go back to something understandable.

Dennis Fitzgerald

Melbourne, Australia

The Premier League

I may be a little naive but it seems that too big a portion of the money sloshing around this industry goes to players, managers and on transfer fees.

The clubs, if they want to survive, should seriously look at their expenditure, reduce their bills and stop doing what I see as ripping off the fans and viewers.

Doug Flack

Derby

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