Our project is international. Our authors climb mountains all around the world. Our Anna Aleksandronets lives in Belarus. So now we are lost a little bit. We would love to write about sports and the achievements of our women. But what about Belarusian mountaineers who are currently fighting not only for their future in the mountains but also for their future in cities? To pass by will be, if not hypocritically, at least, difficult to explain. First and foremost, to themselves.
I’m used to meeting Belarusian climbers in different mountainous areas. But even from abroad, you can see that the outdoors in the country are now in decline. And the last week is not the time for the people of Belarus in principle. From the standpoint of a woman and a climber, Anya Aleksandronets told the WGH what’s going on in her native country.
Text: Anna Aleksandronets
Photo: Daria Buryakina, Vadim Zamirovsky, Olga Shukailo, Dmitry Brushko, Oleg Kindar, TUT.BY
I might be too emotional, but I’m a human being, and I’m scared and hurt.
I understand that it would be strange to see this article published by WomenGoHigh, but what I’m writing about is about alpinism and women!
On August 9th presidential elections were held in Belarus. In the evening, many voters returned to their voting stations to see the results. But some did not manage to wait for them, because members of the election commissions under the protection of SWAT, were taken away from the polling stations, and citizens were first asked to leave the polling stations, and then violently dispersed.
At first, I did not believe that the election commissions would honestly count the voices, so in the evening, together with my friends, I went to Minsk’s streets to peacefully express my protest against the existing system, authorities, and Lukashenko.
The evening began perfectly: crowds of people from different parts of the city, chanting “Live Belarus!”, “Go away!” merged into a single stream. I smiled and believed that this night was going to bring changes. There was a change. A peacefully protesting crowd faced low powerful resistance from the law enforcers!
I am not a naive girl who thinks that in a country where there is no freedom for a long time, I will be allowed to walk around the city. A friend before leaving explained to me what to do if I was attacked by SWAT or police:
– Do not resist!
Any scratch left on the law enforcement officer will be considered an attempt to harm his health. And this is the time frame.
– Anya, if a light and noise grenade breaks nearby, close your eyes and open your mouth. Rubber bullets tangentially tear through the tissues, and hitting the body leaves severe bruises and bruises out the sights.
I was sure I was strong, and I could handle this. I’m a climber! I’m a multi-mountaineer, I can run through forests and marshes 24 hours a day,” I calmed myself down… I was sure that the resilience, patience, and courage I had developed in the mountains and races would help me.
But reality had torn my mind. I still do not understand how one can fire rubber bullets at peaceful people who just want to say that they are tired of eternal deception of power? How can girls and unarmed guys throw light-noise grenades at their feet? How can a peaceful citizen be beaten with clubs?
There’s so much outrage I’ve never seen with my own eyes. One to watch Euronews is to be a witness. If it weren’t for the friends who fled beside me from the SWAT team and its atrocities, I would surely lie down hopelessly yielding to fate.
I’m so tired. It was hard for me to move. No sporting experience has helped me in this brutal fight against the police and riot police.
We were chased around the yards by law enforcement officers in civilian clothes until 3:00 a.m. like wild beasts. We climbed fences, jumped off roofs, hid behind cars, and when I came home, I couldn’t sleep. I sat in a trance all day, and during the day, I could finally cry.
The next day I couldn’t make a peaceful protest because I was scared! Now I sit at home in the evenings and am afraid that somebody will shoot me in the head, that I will not be able to run to the entrance and I will be pushed to the car park, and then the jail will be exhausted. I am afraid every day that my friends, my brave friends, will be caught and discharged to them 15 days of torture and taunting. I look through the prisoner lists and am afraid to find familiar names there (but still find them there). I am so scared every day.
I do not want to describe in detail the excessive aggression of law enforcers and their massacres against us. I want to tell you about the fantastic solidarity of our people and a new wave of actions initiated by women!
Against the background of all lawlessness on the part of the authorities, I see how Belarus is consolidating! The guys can’t be stopped: they still go out after work to peaceful protests. If rubber bullets drive us into the house, we turn on flashlights and shine in the windows, showing that we are united, and we will defend our opinion. The special forces are so mad; they’re already firing at the windows! But it won’t shut us up either!
For a few days now, there’s an action involving women. We go out into the streets of cities with flowers in white clothes and line up in chains. It all started with a hundred girls in the center of Minsk, and now the campaign is spreading all over Belarus! In all regional centers and even small towns in Belarus, hundreds and thousands of women express their disagreement with the regime!
On August 14, I stood for six hours next to beautiful ladies who want the same thing as me. I came out to show that I’m standing against the violence that has been organized for peaceful Belarusians by Lukashenko, I want political prisoners to be released, I want a new president, I want to be able to express my opinion!
I smiled for the first time after the events of August 9, and it was easy for me, there was hope that all this dirt would disappear. We were escorting a column of cars, riot police, select vehicles and cars carrying barbed wire, shouting joyfully, waving flowers and pointing a sign of peace with our fingers. I don’t want to respond to aggression, because I still don’t have enough strength to resist at least one law enforcement officer. I’d rather fight peacefully! Of the three service cars, the law enforcers were waving their hands at us. I think it’s ridiculous, others – “there are people among them too.”
Cars were stopping near us. The first reaction was to jump back because it is unclear who it is? Maybe a law enforcer in a civilian, which we call “Iftikhar’s”? No, it was the guys who brought in the water.
I look around cautiously because even an ordinary bus causes fear: a rider rides a rifle like this. But no, we get a signal of solidarity!
You know, there’s a new anthem in Belarus, and it’s a car horn. Minsk is buzzing; it’s the sound of unity. We must express our opinion and look for different ways to do it: the horn of the car, white ribbon, white flowers, a sign of peace.
Even my grandmother came out with me today. The first thing she said when she got in the chain was, “Goosebumps on your skin!” She won’t let me out of the house, she asks me on my knees not to go anywhere, but today she changed her mind. We hope that through peaceful protest, the Belarusians will achieve the president’s resignation and hold new fair elections, and this will save us from the repressions that Lukashenko is so actively using!
Friends from Russia, Spain, Sweden, Uzbekistan, and Norway write to me. While listening to stories about the consolidation of Belarus, my Norwegian friend joked that we are not only the world’s leaders in potato production but now the famous producers of “goosebumps on the skin” – he is so pierced by stories of our peaceful protests.
– Is this your first time on the action? – a stranger asked me.
– No, I was here yesterday.
– Didn’t you hear: Does the SWAT team pick up women? Well, they can’t hit women either, can they?
I didn’t answer anything. I thought I wasn’t sure about anything when it came to the Lukashenko-controlled group.
While women are waving flowers, men carry drinks, sweets, hand out flowers, or just thank you, collect garbage. This incredible feeling of mutual help! I’m freezing – a strange guy gave me tea—one of the cafes in the shopping center where we stood offered food for free.
After the protests, some of them brought flowers to the subway stations, clashing with law enforcement officers. August 12, giant bloodstains remained at Uruchye metro station in Minsk after a peaceful protest. Yesterday, flowers were carried there; people were crying. Today there are no traces of blood left; flowers have been taken out. But we remember everything and continue to bring flowers.
My thoughts are confused now, maybe I’m writing cliche, but I want the world to know about how we fight, about the power of our solidarity, about how brave women take to the streets, which now, thanks to the law enforcement officers, have turned into places of battle!
I am glad that my heart beats in unison with my people!