Story of Yana
I had never taken an interest in politics before, but last summer's events in Belarus changed everything. I was one of the many who protested the reelection of Alexander Lukashenko as president.
It was very sunny on the day of the demonstration. Soon several minivans without number plates arrived. Men in #balaclavas and without police uniforms started to detain protestors.One of the men grabbed a girl, twisted her arms, and threw her face down on the ground. She tried to escape, but he pressed her neck with his foot. I saw how it hurt her. I tore off this riot police officer's mask as he was punching the girl on the ground. I quickly realised that my actions could lead to a long prison sentence, I made a decision ask for political asylum in Poland.
I cannot explain my actions logically. I did everything out of fear. One could ask why I went to the protests if my child could be taken, but I wasn’t able to do otherwise. When others go and risk their families, I could not stay away. I then grabbed my most important belongings and went to a friend's house, where my son was waiting for me. The next morning, a neighbour called to warn that the door to my apartment had been broken open. I was in a state of panic, and called my mum who lives in Italy, and she advised me to flee as soon as possible. I booked the nearest bus to Poland and decided to apply for political asylum.
After my arrival I was transferred several times between refugee camps. Now I study Polish, and my son goes to school. The Poles welcomed us very well. They said: 'Do not be afraid, we will give you a shelter'. I didn’t expect that we would get so much help. I was preparing for the unknown future and for the fact that we will find ourselves at the very bottom. But it was better than being in prison in Belarus.I never wanted to leave Belarus. I really want to come back to my friends and family, but to be honest, I am very afraid of the man from whom I tore off the mask. Even if the government will change, I am afraid of his personal revenge.