Belarusian Peasants' and Workers' Union
The Belarusian Peasants' and Workers' Union (Belarusian: Беларуская Сялянска-Работніцкая Грамада, Lacinka: Biełaruskaja Sialanska-Rabotnickaja Hramada) was a socialist political party in Poland-controlled West Belarus that demanded independence of Belarus and social rights for the discriminated Belarusian minority in mid-war Poland. The BPWU was created in 1925 by a group of Belarusian deputies of the Polish Sejm. The group included Branislaw Tarashkyevich, Symon Rak-Mikhailouski, Piotra Miatla, Paviel Valoshyn.
Being Socialist they were in opposition to Communist party, although there were some common points regarding general social policy.
Fearing its attempts to establish Belarusian independent state and to promote Belarusian self-awareness, and under the false claim that BPWU cooperates with Soviet Russia, the Polish authorities began to suppress the activities of the BPWU already in late 1926 through arrests, seizures and searches. Finally by February 1927 the party was banned and most of its members were arrested (some were held at Bereza Kartuska prison until the late 1930s). Some of them were later exchanged for Polish prisoners imprisoned in Soviet camps. Polish authorities were well aware that those Belarusian prisoners exchanged would be repressed by Soviet authorities. Soviet authorities also viewed these exchanges as possibility to crack down on Belarusian nationalists and to lessen their competition with Communist party of Western Belarus.
Having more than 120,000 members by late 1926, BPWU is currently the largest political party in Belarusian history. At its height, the party had 5 MPs in the Polish Sejm (out of 11 members of the "Belarusian club").
The main points of BPWU's program were:
- Democratic self-governance for West Belarus
- Introduction of an eight-hour working day
- An official recognition of the Belarusian language in Poland
- Cancellation of Osadnik-colonization of Belarus
- Confiscation of land owned by landlords and its free distribution to peasants
The BPWU expressed certain sympathy to the Soviet Union and its support for the Belarusian national revival in early 1920s that was later brutally ended in the 1930s. The Soviets also tried to gain control over the Belarusian Peasants' and Workers' Union and to give the Belarusian national liberation movement in Poland a communist context.
The Belarusian Peasants' and Workers' Union became active and established several periodicals. By November 1926 the party had more than 120,000 members.
- Чаму была разгромленая Беларуская Сялянска-Работніцкая Грамада? - 150 пытанняў і адказаў з гісторыі Беларусі
- Разгром “Грамады” за кулісамі палітычнага скандалу
- У новай айчыне. Штодзённае жыццё беларусаў Беласточчыны ў міжваенны перыяд.