Friday, March 16, 2007

Suppression of free speech…

    Note: within the last few days since I posted the following article, the New Federalist decided to run the comment. This is very good. However, they have also replaced the article itself since then, and because of their format, my comment got buried along with the article. Still, an acknowledgment is in order for allowing an opposing view.

Photos in this article are from Save Our Civil The pictures are from demonstrations staged in New York City
Oh, it is terrible to be in Belarus where you are not allowed to speak your mind. It is like living in an isolation chamber. All you want is to express yourself; you yearn, literally yearn to be free.

Wow, that was dramatic wasn't it? Sends a chill right up your spine really.

What, you may ask, has me thinking like this? I'll tell you. While putting together the latest Being Had Times, I came across an article from the New Federalist titled:

Kazulin, a political prisoner in Belarus as many others…

Basically the article is a call to arms in favor of our own "Gandiesque" cultist Alexander Kazulin and how the evil dictator has got the man locked up in his dungeons. Here is a quote:

    Alaksandar Kazulin, the leader of the Belarusian Social Democratic Party (Assembly) “Hramada”, in opposition to the ruling Alexander Lukashenka, has been kept in prison for more than nine months now.

    Why is that? Simply because presidential elections were held one year ago in Belarus - on March 19, 2006 - and Alaksandar Kazulin was one the candidates running for president. This way, he dared challenging the incumbent president Alexander Lukashenka.

    One should keep in mind that since he took over power in 1994, the soviet-style dictator Alexander Lukashenka has pursued only one goal: remaining as long as possible in power and going back in time to the yet abolished soviet era. To reach his goals, Lukashenka has been using referenda and non-free elections, as in 2006, when thanks to a fake landslide favourable referendum he was allowed to change the constitution limiting presidential mandates. Wanting no further obstacles on his way, Lukashenka has had no shame reducing to silence all his challengers.

Frankly, I took a little offence to this blatant propaganda piece. First of all, the man is in prison for trying to start a riot. Nobody stopped him from campaigning or speaking. Secondly, they cropped a photo from a Belaruski Novosti piece about a demonstration about the new entrepreneurial tax laws to make their point. Frankly, after this I don't believe either of the photos as being a real representation of public interest. And thirdly, I really hate when people use words like "abolish". To me this sounds like G-d or the king or somebody made a decision. It's, pretty egotistical really. I was of the mind that the heads of the Politburo democratically voted to dissolve the union. It was not a popular decision, the leadership voted, but that is what happened. It is still not a popular decision to this day by the way, democratically speaking. But I don't know that we have a system in the world where someone can abolish things, do we? Nobody ever said you couldn't have a Soviet Union; it is not against the rules or anything like that. They just stopped it, that's all. I would say that people have the right to like what they want, wouldn't you. I mean, they do have this right, don't they?

But in any case I decided to write in to the New Federalist and express my personal opinion. Now my opinion, though perhaps not consonant with that of the New republic's view, was not vulgar or violent. It was just my opinion. But I thought that as long as I am actually living here in the Republic of Belarus and have been, Poland not withstanding, for five years now, that because my life is actually tied to the fortunes of Belarus, my opinion might at least inspire some healthy, intelligent debate.

I mean, I am free to speak, right? The article asked for comments. The New Federalist has not "abolished" free speech, have they?

But what happened is that they didn't run the comment. It was rejected as if it was spam. I have checked it twice and they still as of this second have refused to even acknowledge me privately. Hmm… I think I have been suppressed. I think I have had my voice cut off. I think I have been silenced. Interesting.

Why has this happened? Do you think that they thought of me as a trouble maker? Do you think that by disallowing me to participate in their argument, they are DICTATING POLICY as to who has rights to speak and who does not? Am I not allowed into their private party? Or did they just dismiss me as a radical?

Here is my comment to them.

    You know, I saw Kazulin on his free 15 minute spot on TV here and I thought he was nuts. In fact, at the time of the elections, when people spoke about who they voted for, if they answered Kazulin, it was meant to be a joke, to be laughed at. This is not to insult the man's intelligence in any way; I am just telling you that when he said what he had to say, people didn't think he would in any way be a real leader, someone with whom you could bank your trust.

    What do you think George Bush would do to demonstrators who attempted to start riots? You know the answer. What was Kazulin doing at the people's congress in Minsk when he got arrested? He was stirring up trouble. He wasn't debating. He wasn't talking. He was picking a fight and he got one. And believe me, the story was not suppressed, it is in all the news.

    I think that this has become a tired argument. If Europe is going to come, it will be to Lukashenka because he is the boss. Kazulin is not the boss. Milinkevich is not the boss. Lebdzko, though in his mind he thinks he is, is not the boss. And not one of these guys has ever said a single word about policy, how to better do the job of governing or has spoken about genuine issues or solved any problems. All they ever do is yell "Lukashenka bad!", and people here, inside this strangled little country are simply not listening any more. And that's why they got no votes.

Do you think that was too terribly harsh? I hope they are not thinking of doing anything bad to me now. Do you think the New Republic will start putting tabs on me, figuring out ways to keep my voice down? Perhaps they will start a slander campaign against me. Do you think that they will try and find a way to arrest me? Actually, I am really in quite a lot of fear right now. They could just do anything they want to me and I would have no way to defend myself…

Do you see my point? It is hell to be in Belarus, not because of the great dictator but because people from outside of the country who have no idea at all what life is like here- and more so, have absolutely zero vested interest in Belarus except from what they can exploit from her, sit there dictating policy as if they have a right to.

Why can't anyone understand that it is undemocratic to deny the results of a democratic election just because you did not like the results? Why should foreign opinion be held to a higher value than internal choices made by people who are voting for their own lives?

To me, Kazulin made… a spectacle of himself. He did when he tried to get into the democratic congress. He picked the fight, not Lukashenka, not the police; he did. He wanted to be a martyr, G-d love him. He did this himself and everyone here knows this.

And what is more, he was playing not to the home audience, by rather to the European money people.

But hey, why are you complaining? Kazulin danced like hell for you. Look at all the attention he has got? Look at how many people know his name. He is a big hero now. And just look how much money people like the New Federalist can make from exploiting him!

OK? All of this is just super. But at the end of the day, the one thing Alexander Kazulin is not is the leader of this or any other country. I wouldn't follow him to the water fountain and Belarus wouldn't either. I think he only got ½% more than Gaidukevich in the election. (Note: This is wrong. Kazulin finished last in the vote and actually got a full 1% less- 2.5% to 1.5% of the vote than Gaidukevich) The great European, Alexander Milinkevich- who is on the way to be ousted as #1 of the five party group (probably in favor of Lebedzko) for not having any popular support inside of Belarus, only got 6%.

I can't understand why people outside of Belarus cannot let themselves hear this: These men were not popular here. I understand that this is scandalous, corrosive, and insidious information, but for one, it is the truth and two, you are not supposed to suppress my right to say what I think in a free information society.

The last article in the BHTimes is a quote from the Belarus foreign ministry.

    The United States of America has no moral or political right to prepare reports on violations of human rights in the world, spokesman for the Belarusian foreign ministry Andrei Popov said when answering questions of reporters.

    According to him, no international decision has been ever made to authorize the USA to prepare the documents of the kind. The more so as “the USA itself is far from being a role model in the sphere of human rights”, Andrei Popov said.

    He noted there is no sense to comment on the report of the country which has no moral or political right to prepare documents of such a kind.

    The spokesman for the Belarusian foreign ministry also said that China prepares annual reports on the violations of human rights in the USA. “Let the USA voice the opinion on this document”, Andrei Popov suggested.

    “Why does Belarus, a sovereign state, have to respond to documents prepared by another country?” the foreign ministry official said.

I really think that it is time for people to stop suppressing democracy in Belarus
and their real ability to speak. I think it is time to stop dictating policy, strangling them economically and denying them their rights to govern themselves. To call these foreign actions hypocrisy is simply too lenient. In fact, it is criminal.

They say those who live in glass houses should not cast stones. I think it is time for folks like the New Federalist to break out the pans and brooms and start cleaning up their own mess.

More soon...