2011 Belarusian protests

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2011 Belarusian protests
Date 23 May 2011 (2011-05-23)17 August 2011 (2011-08-18)
(2 months, 3 weeks and 4 days)
Location  Belarus
Goals Democracy; resignation of President Alexander Lukashenko
Methods Political lobbying, public rallies, demonstrations, riots, industrial action.
Result Currently unclear
Lead figures
18 injuries, including 2 police officers

The 2011 Belarusian protests were a series of peaceful protests by demonstrators in Belarus demanding the resignation of current Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko, who had been the president of Belarus since 1994.[1][2] Belarus is an authoritarian state, and in May 2011 presidential candidate Andrei Sannikov was sentenced to 5 years in prison for taking part in the Dec 2010 election. Lukashenko claims he won that election with 80% of the vote.[3]

Context[edit]

Lukashenko was known as "Europe's last dictator".[4]

On 29 June 2011, hundreds of people gathered in Minsk, the capital of Belarus, to protest against the rule of Alexander Lukashenko. Belarus has been affected by a severe economic crisis, inspiring this demonstration to happen. Unlike previous demonstrations, the protesters this time just simply applauded. It was not long before people were forced on to police buses, and about 40 were detained.

The protests and reaction[edit]

On 3 July, the Belorussian independence day, about 3000 demonstrators took part in a "clapping protest" in the main square of Minsk, in which protesters clapped instead of chanting slogans. Lukashenko responded by banning clapping in public.[5] Plain clothed police later came, and arrested many protesters, including arresting a one-armed man for clapping, and a deaf-mute for shouting anti-government slogans.[6] Lukashenko and the state police were awarded the 2013 Ignobel Peace Prize for these actions.[7]

The government also began blocking social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook.[8][9]

Much of the protesting fervor stemmed from a rapidly degrading economy that Belarus had been facing in the months before the protests; and the opposition movement predicted that come autumn, the protests will escalate greatly as working class citizens would demonstrate their frustration over the economy.[10]

Following the protest on 3 July 2011, activists widened their tactics of civil disobedience, including distributing videos of police brutality to random citizens, in order to help bolster sympathy against the authoritarian aspect of the government.[11]

On 13 July, hundreds of people showed up in Minsk with cellphones set to go off at 8 am, in gesture to tell people to "wake up". Several dozen people were arrested by the police.[12]

On 29 July, the government banned assemblies and gatherings, making them illegal.[13]

Legacy[edit]

As of November 2014, Lukashenko remains in office.

See also[edit]

References[edit]