What is happening in Belarus?Monday, March 20, 2006 at 21:28 | Posted in Belarus, Election, Human rights, Media, Politics | 3 Comments
Yesterday, access to the main oppositional Belarussian web site www.charter97.org was blocked by the authorities. Only a fraction of its contents could be seen through some mirror sites. The site is open again today. It is covering the events in Minsk also in English and almost in real time. Another site to cover the events operatively is belarus.blogsome.com/
According to young Estonian politician Silver Meikar, who is currently in Minsk observing the events together with some journalists and Scandinavian human rights activists, a tent camp was raised in the October Square in Minsk earlier this evening to mark the presence of demonstrators. Silver is also blogging from Minsk in Estonian.
It is obvious that the official election result that was announced today does not reflect the ballots cast by the people yesterday. Official results gave president Alexander Lukashenko 82,6% of the vote while independent exit polls yesterday granted him a popularity around 40 %. As customary in similar fake elections, the official result must have been drafted before the poll was even opened.
BBC quotes OSCE poll monitors as saying: "The Belarussian election was severely flawed due to arbitrary use of state power and restrictions to basic rights." That is of course a mild way to put it.
As Silver Meikar reports in his blog, the major problem in many of the Belarussian cities is access to free and independent information. He quotes one of the local demonstrators, Svetlana, according to whom there is only one computer with access to Internet in her home town Smorgon with 40.000 inhabitants. Broadband connections are way too expensive for the general public to afford.
As I failed to connect to www.charter97.org yesterday, I came to think that I have plenty of unused server space that I do not need immediately for myself. I could offer some of it to mirror the Belarussian oppositional web sites if a channel were to be figured out how I could get hold of fresh update files. It would not be of much help for the people in Belarus to get informed but it just might help the rest of the World to get independent news from Belarus. If let us say 100 of other volunteers could join me, it would be more than enough to keep the sites in the web. By the way, the site seems to be off again, as I am typing this post.
There is little hope, if any, for anything even resembling what we know as democracy in Belarus any time soon. The only realistic hope at this moment would be that no further violence would take place. A Czech journalist is currently in hospital after being beaten yesterday. His lap top was confiscated.
Update: www.charter97.org was very briefly up again but unfortunately not long enough for me to save any files from there. I'll try to do just that later and post them to one of my sites.