Birds Not Tanks: the Rave Conference in Belarus

The 9th of May is massively celebrated in the majority of post-soviet countries as Victory Day. In Belarus, where so-called “state ideology” is built on the victory over Nazis, festivity is especially lush. Preparation and rehearsals begin in advance. On the very day, the main avenue in Minsk is blocked. Ranks of children in forage caps saluting, the minister of internal affairs dressed in NKVD (Soviet ministry that carried out the Great Purge) uniform, but no military parades this year (73rd anniversary is not enough of an important date).

Military parades are organized in Minsk every year on Independence Day on the 3rd of July. This was the day when in 1944 Minsk was liberated from Wehrmacht Army. Decision to celebrate independence on this day was made on the undemocratic referendum of 1996. This was the second of the three referendums that helped to consolidate the dictatorship and give absolute power to Lukashenka the president, which rules the country since 1994.

Students For Liberty Belarus and activists of the Civic movement “Dzieja” offer an alternative. It is the third year when we organise Europe Day events, preaching peace and love instead of promoting war. More than 30 youngsters gathered in the forest near Minsk for the Rave-conference for Peace, Love & Liberty. The rave part lasted until 6 a.m. In the morning anti-conference started, where almost every participant had a speech or interactive action, connected to Peace, Love or Liberty. That was indeed a feast of thought and discussion: we talked about totalitarianism and state, love and God, peace and war, drugs and Liberty, and the purpose of life.

“Is it easy to fall in love? I started to fall in love with moments and people. Started trying to stop time and enjoy the moment. How much time do I need for that? Few hours is enough sometimes. I truly fell in love with those people that were in that far forest on the 8th of May”, — one of the activists wrote in her Instagram, posting pictures from the event.

People were very satisfied with the format and next year we hope to gather even more young and open-minded individuals to connect with each other and discuss ideas that matter.

– Piotr Markiełaŭ, Local Coordinator at Students For Liberty Belarus

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