In August 2020, #Belarus was thrown onto the stage of global politics as an upsurge of anti-government protests swept the country. President Alexander #Lukashenko, who was in power since 1994, declared his intention to run in the 2020 elections and on the evening of 9 August the results were an overwhelming 80% against the communist leader Kebic. While Lukashenko promised to bring the country back to order, to stop corruption and create new jobs, was also showing authoritarianism in running the country. This led to a 6 month long active protests against; the largest of its kind since independent Belarus.
People were frustrated at the way the state was being handled, they were angry with the corruption involved, and with the state’s refusal to adopt security measures for the #COVID19#pandemic. Thousands of protesters were arrested, with human rights organisations documenting hundreds of cases of torture and ill-treatment of detainees. Local and international journalists covering the events were also arrested and/or stripped of accreditation, internet access was periodically blocked, and an increasing number of books and media channels have been labelled ‘extremist’.
These #protests which were one of the largest ones since Belarus’s independence was repressed with violence. Still, protests continued in all major cities in Belarus. #Protestors marched in parks and residential areas across the country to demand the resignation of the Lukashenka. They also demanded accountability of those perpetrators who were involved in the violent crackdowns against demonstrators during the 5 months of protests.
In November 2020, 31-year old artist Raman Bandarenka died in police custody after being arrested at an anti-government protest in Minsk. His last known words, Ia vykhozhu (‘I’m going out’), which he posted on Telegram, became a rallying cry for thousands of protestors in the days following his death. Those words also form the title of this book, which brings together over 350 photographs of posters from the 2020 protests in Belarus.