Advocating for liberty is serious business, and it can be a dangerous one, too.
In Belarus, two student activists were arrested for protesting against communism. During a rehearsal for a military parade commemorating the end of WWII, which put the country under soviet rule, the students danced with a coffin. The students hoped to draw attention to the dangers of having large gatherings during a pandemic (watch the video here). They were placed under “administrative arrest”- one for five days and one for thirteen.
SFL leader Piotr Markielau did not participate in the demonstration, but was arrested while waiting in a courtyard for a decision to be made regarding the other activists. He was detained and taken to the Center for the Offenders Isolation, accused of hooliganism and disobedience, and served 10 days of administrative arrest. Shortly after his release, Belorusian police detained him again without any explanation, took him back to the police station, and then released him after a few hours.
All three of the detainees received brutal and inhumane treatment from the prison guards. They weren’t allowed to sleep at night, or wear warm clothes, and were forced to spend days standing in the cell. One described the experience:
“They never turned on the night lamps in the cell instead of the bright daytime lamps. I was bitten and my clothes were infected by body lice. 3 out of the 10 nights they woke me up and forced me to get out of bed every 1.5 – 2 hours. During the day, they took away the mattresses and prohibited us to lay or sometimes even sit on the bed (which was basically a metal grid without a mattress). They didn’t allow books, newspapers, pencils, or paper inside the cell and refused to pass letters and postcards. Once they pushed me in a “walking yard” (a 5×5 meter in size roofless cell covered with concrete) in a single T-shirt during a cold night. Another day after a “walk,” I found puddles of bleach in my cell — my eyes were watering and I kept sneezing. Many times they threatened to bind me, put me in solitary confinement, or beat me up. During the 10 days, I lived with 3 homeless people with alcohol-addiction and criminal charges.”
Jakob Lindenthal was only given eight hours to pack his belongings and get out of the country. He said, “I would have to leave the country immediately because I had violated the visa rules and the Indian government felt that my stay in India was inappropriate. Basically, she said that I was misusing my visa.”
There is no question that liberty is under attack on campus. Students face arrest, deportation, and expulsion for speaking their beliefs while being sold the false promises of big government.
We are proud to stand with students taking risks for liberty. Aren’t you?
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