Petruška Šustrová: Belarus can boldly go to Europe
15:32, — Politics
Former Czech dissident Petruška Šustrová thinks Belarusians should use non-violent methods to move towards democracy.
A meeting to commemorate first Czech president Vaclav Havel was held in Minsk on January 14. Petruška Šustrová, a dissident, journalist and translator, said in a video address that Belarusians should use non-violent methods to go to democracy, BelaPAN new agency reports.
More than 50 people – journalists, human rights defenders, activists and diplomats – took part in the meeting organised by the For Freedom movement, the Belarusian Association of Journalists (BAJ), the Belarusian Helsinki Committee, the Solidarity committee with the support of the Czech embassy in Belarus.
As a young girl Šustrová was jailed for two years on accusations of treason against the Czech Republic for handing out leaflets against the Soviet occupation. After Havel's death, she took over his post as head of the supervisory council of the Czech-based organisation Civic Belarus. Šustrová planned to attend the meeting Minsk, but the Belarusian embassy in Prague denied a visa to her.
The former Czech dissident noted the situation in today's Belarus resembles the situation in Czechoslovakia in the late 1970s. She thinks the current state of Belarusian society is similar to the period of the so called normalisation in Czech society of those times.
“You have a long road ahead of you,” she said. “You can do something for Belarus as Lukashenka sees it. But I see another Belarus. I have friends here. I visited Minsk and travelled across the country. In my view, your country can boldly go to Europe. It simply depends on whether you want it or not.”
She underscored she knew the situation was “difficult” and how difficult it was to live, because Czechs and Slovaks had live in the same social and economic conditions. “The hardest thing was to seek freedom for our jailed friends. You should use non-violent methods, apply to institutions and appeal for international solidarity. You know these methods. You can see them from history of Poland and Czechoslovakia. You need to go together,” Šustrová said.
She advised the Belarusians, who want changes in the country, to be together and never lose hope.
“Hope is a serious thing,” the former Czech dissident said. “Vaclav Havel always repeated that hope is a state of spirit, it is something you can share with others. One of our poets said: Don't lose hope whatever happens. If you lose hope, someone else will find it and never give it back to you.”