The Bagpipe Society

News from Belaurus

On August 2, 16 people were detained at a summer house near Minsk (Belarus) including members of the internationally acclaimed Belarusian fantasy-folk band IRDORATH (https://www.facebook.com/Irdorath.by/ ). The detention with machine gun shooting took place at the birthday celebrations of the vocalist of the band, Nadezhda Kalach. The press service of the Ministry of Internal Affairs reported that criminal proceedings have been instituted against six detainees. According to human rights activists, members of the band are charged with Art. 342 of the Criminal Code (Organization of actions that grossly violate public order). They face up to 4 years in prison.

The reason? They were playing bagpipes on the streets during the mass demonstrations in Minsk in August 2020. Then hundreds of thousands of people across the country took to the streets in opposition to electoral fraud of the Lukashenko’s regime and unprecedented violence of security forces. Active but peaceful protests continued for several months.

Here is the quote from the MIA press-secretary: ]

“In August last year, a group of "bagpipers" repeatedly led a column of protesters and used musical instruments to involve citizens in an unauthorized mass march. The coordinators 'performance strengthened the participants' protest mood and pushed them to take illegal action against the police.”

Video of the “crime”: https://bit.ly/Chanter121

Music is a crime. In Europe. In the 21st century.

Some of the detained friends of Irdorath have already been fined by the court for disobeying police officers (Article 24.3 of the Administrative Code) and not opening the gate to police. Though there were no gates in the location, just a broken wicket.

HOW CAN YOU HELP? That's a damn good question. The law does not work in today’s Belarus, so the musicians will likely get into prison. There is however a Belarusian Cultural Council in exile which have several options to show solidarity: https://byculture.org/en#support. Another option is to somehow raise the attention of EU politicians to help them make decisions. Or at least just tell people about the law disaster now happening in Belarus.

Eugen Baryshnikau

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