Unprotected – Неабароненая
in the smoke
from your stun grenades
we don’t see
where to run
the past coming up
against our flags
Late on August 9, as voting ended and the exit polls were released, demonstrators took to streets to express their disagreement with the 80% of the vote claimed by Lukashenko. Riot police fired stun grenades, used batons, and made arrests as they dispersed the demonstrators. Stella and Zaslavskaya street were where the protests began. Up that hill, the protesters constructed barricades and hid from the riot police in the buildings.
twenty-six years of barricades
lined up between me and you
try to hunt me with your dogs
i’m not afraid anymore
now it’s you
who’ll be offal for ravens
Late on August 9, as voting ended and the exit polls were released, demonstrators took to streets to express their disagreement with the 80% of the vote claimed by Lukashenko. At Niamiha, hundreds of unarmed people were met with water cannons and batons.
when you rush to attack
with your shields and batons
with water cannons
what should i do,
beg you to stop
or run away?
Stop it! Stop it!
Several thousands people took to the area around Pushkinskaya metro station in Minsk on August 10 to peacefully protest. Stun grenades, tear gas, and rubber bullets were used against them. The unarmed protesters tried to build barricades using rubbish bins and other materials at hand. Alexander Taraikovsky died there. Police reported that Taraikovsky died after an explosive device that he intended to throw at officers blew up in his hand. Demonstrators say that he was shot by the police; a video was published on 15 August that shows the protester empty handed and getting shot by the policemen.
On 14 August thousands of Belarusians gathered to pay tribute to Taraikovsky where he died, on Pushkin Square, and they laid flowers forming a pile, thus creating a memorial. Several times, the writing on the asphalt “Не забудзем” (We won’t forget) was covered with salt by the public utilities officers; every time people cleared it off. After a number of attempts to destroy it with salt, the utilities officers painted it over. People bring flowers every day, and every day they the flowers are removed by the authorities.
you covered with salt
our “we’ll never forget”
on the asphalt, there where
you killed our countryman
but it’s the salt from our tears
it will sting your eyes
and your hands will dry up from it
while we still won’t forget
we’re ninety-seven percent
and each of us brings flowers
Around 5000 people took to streets near Riga shopping centre on the night of August 10. The protesters tried to erect barricades three times, using improvised means (building fences, fittings, boards and trash cans as well as road bricks), and the security forces demolished them. Explosions of stun grenades were clearly audible within a radius of three kilometers.
we disassembled your terror
we’ll build a new road
you’re running your
on the potholes
From August 12 when the protests took a more peaceful form started by women in white clothes and carrying flowers, up to early September, people would gather on the Independence Square (where the Central Election Commission is located) in Minsk to chant slogans, sing, dance, and interact.
you stole my vote
give me my voice back
i will come every day
until I can hear it again
let the echo of my footsteps
crack your concrete walls
let the reproach in my eyes
break the glass
of your empty windows
Unprotected – Неабароненая
A project by Hanna Komar (poems) and Urbanparadox (photos)
«За нами Беларусь — чистая и светлая, честная и красивая, трудолюбивая, немножко наивная и чуть-чуть ранимая. Но она наша, она любимая, а любимую не отдают».
October 11, 2020.
This photo project is a collab between a poet Hanna Komar (myself) and photographer @urbanparadox (IG) based in Minsk, Belarus.
On the 9th, 10th and 11th of August, dozens of thousands peaceful protesters poured into the streets of Belarus to call for justice after the rigged election when Alexander Lukashenko, the dictator who’s been in power in Belarus for 26 years, claimed he had received 80% of votes. These people were met with unprecedented brutality; stun grenades and water cannons, tear gas and rubber bullets were used against the unarmed people. Protesters and journalists were beaten and injured, some hospitalised, and there have been at least five deaths among the protesters. Over 6000 protesters and random people were detained and tortured, forced to lie in the dirt while police kick and beat them with truncheons, stripped naked and subjected to sadistic beatings while listening to the screams of other victims, raped.
In one of his speeches, Lukashenko said, “you don’t hand over your beloved”, namely Belarus. That triggered a lot of discussions in which Lukashenko is viewed as an abuser and Belarus as finally divorcing him.
A friend of mine, Sergey, disappeared at 17:30 on the 11th of August, from the bus stop as he was coming back from the city centre with a big backpack and a bucket of white paint. That was enough for him to look suspicious. He called us three days later from hospital; he had head injury and a bunch of other injuries, bruises all over his body were probably the mildest of those.
A month later, on September the 8th, I myself was detained and sentenced to 9 days of arrest for participating in a peaceful protest against kidnapping of activists and illegal arrests.
On August 30, Sergey, who’d been out of hospital by then, brought me a dress to show. “It’s my granny’s wedding dress, perhaps from the 1950s or so…” I tried it on… I knew straight away it was the perfect symbol for an artistic reflection of these horrifying events that we are mainly not able to speak about yet, as we’re hurting.
The setting for this series of photos were some of the main hotspots of the most brutal nights of the post-election protest in Minsk: Stella monument (Minsk City Hero Obelisk), the hill in Zaslauskaya street, Pushkinskaya metro station, Riga shopping centre, Niamiha river, as well as Independence Square.
The peaceful protests have been ongoing, and so has the brutality towards the protesters, but the “beloved” Belarus has been further and further away from her abuser, she isn’t going to return to him, neither is she going to forget and forgive all his atrocities.
Hanna Komar is an award-winning Belarusian poet and translator as well as an activist; she’s been an active participant of the peaceful protests in Belarus since June and attempts to reflect on them by artistic means.
@urbanparadox has been documenting the ongoing protests to her film camera providing a unique view of them because on one hand, this wave of protests is unprecedented for the independent Belarus, and on the other hand, her photos, due to the qualities of film and soviet camera, are in a way a reminiscence on the 90s when Belarus saw huge protests last time.
Sviatlana Kurganava in Interview with Hanna Komar
Original BE Ганна Комар – пра тое, як з «сутак» нараджаецца мастацкі тэкст
[Anna Komar about how an artistic text can be born from prison “days”], 34mag.net, October 28, 2020.
The article gives the views of the author, not the position of the Institute for Human Sciences (IWM).