A couple of years ago, under its despotic leader Alexander Lukashenko, Belarus introduced the idea of a ‘social parasite’ tax, where an unemployed person has to pay an annual fee for not-working, or risk detention or other sanctions. The Presidential Decree #3 (2015) “decree against social parasites” imposed this unemployment tax on people who work (according to official record) fewer than 183 days a year and so do not take part in the “financing of the state”. The tax is the equivalent of US$250.
Now in 2017 people have taken to the streets against repression at a large scale in response to two particularly nasty developments. First, the suggestion to include ‘housewives’ with children under 7 years old if they are at nursery. Second, 470,000 unemployment tax notices were sent out in January, including to people working abroad, with a deadline of 20th February to pay or face arrest, forced labour, withdrawal of driving license or permission to work abroad. Perhaps not surprisingly non-payment was close to 90%.
The first protest march this year in the capital Minsk on 17th February was followed by similar massive protests and gatherings all across Belarus against the tax, and there was a growing feeling that it might even be possible to overthrow Lukashenko. The protests against the decree and discontent with the current regime has not been taken up by the official opposition, and it is clear that people previously not involved in politics have been self-organizing. Anarchists have been strongly involved in the protests in some areas of the country.
State response to the protests has been intense. A big march was planned for Saturday 25th March 2017 in Minsk, including anarchists from different groups who made a call-out to join the demonstration. This resulted in mass pre-emptive arrests of anarchists and others. 113 people (including around 30 anarchists) were put in prison for 12-15 days and around 17 were kept in custody charged with preparing and training to organize mass riots (mostly nationalists and some liberals). The 25th March 2017 demonstration resulted in the biggest police mobilization in years, bringing thousands of riot cops to Minsk, detaining hundreds of people before and during the demonstration. According to a Belarus ABC article, “This Saturday, the capital of Belarus looked like a war zone created by the police.”
The comrades in attendance at the meeting of the International of Anarchist Federations (IFA-IAF), Rome, May 2017, denounce these vicious attacks by the Belarus state on the working class and the violent repression of those who have resisted. We wish to express solidarity with our comrades who continue to struggle against this tyranny in the face of incredibly difficult circumstances.
For humanity and a better world, against state, capital, and religion.
Federations which attended IFA meeting in Roma (May 20-21, 2017):
Anarchist Federation (UK)
Federation of Anarchist Organizing (Slovenia)
Anarchist Political Organization (Greece)
Föderation deutschsprachiger Anarchist innen (Germany and Switzerland)
Federación Anarquista Ibérica (Spain)
Federazione Anarchica Italiana
Fédération anarchiste francophone (France, Belgium and Switzerland)
Human rights organization (which also accepts donations):
Taken from: Ekinaren Ekinaz