Non-Formal Education, Minsk Brand, Gender Conference - Belarus Civil Society Digest

Winners of the fesitval of non-formal education

Festival of non-formal education, National Gender Platform approval, discussion of Minsk brand and human rights defenders of the year were among the most notable civil society events in Belarus last week. 

Festival of Non-Formal Education. On 7-9 December, the 4th Festival of Non-Formal Education took place in Minsk. The Festival was attended by about 250 participants – teachers, trainers and other people sharing the values of life-long learning and non-formal education. The Festival format included various activities: a panel talk, more than 60 master classes and presentations, exhibition boxes, discussions, contests, etc.

The largest number of awards went to the Grodno-based NGO Third Sector, including the top prize for the best educational website Golden Age University. For the Festival, The Association Life Long Education released a special issue of Adukatar magazine.

Minsk brand discussion. The past week was marked by hot public discussion around a new symbol of Minsk "Think Minsk", which turned out to be very similar to a London one. Alexander Zimovsky, former chief of state propaganda in Belarus, dismissed it as flawed. TUT.BY hosted a large talk show among various advertising and creative groups to discuss the brand. A group of Belarusian marketing professionals announced that they are going to create an alternative original brand.

Human rights defenders marked anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. On 10 December, human rights defenders and representatives of civil society celebrated the date in different ways in different parts of the country, mostly going out onto the streets and handing out brochures with the text of the Declaration and other human rights publications.

Human Rights Defenders of the Year. On 10 December, representatives of human rights organisations announced the winners of the Belarusian human rights prize of 2012. This year the lawyers of the year were Alina Shostak and Alvira Drygo, human rights defender of the year was Liubou Kavaliova, and journalist of the year was Andrei Poczobut.

Intellectual conference in Minsk. On 14-15 December, The Flying University held a conference titled "Intellectual situation in Belarus: the circumstances and self-determination of thinking." The purpose of the conference was a joint discussion of the contemporary intellectual situation in Belarus. The conference was attended by Valentin Akudovich, Vladimir Matskevich, Mikhal Anempadystav, Valeria Kastsyugova, Alexei Pikulik, and other researchers, intellectuals and cultural figures.

Statement of the National Platform. On 12 December, members of the National Platform of the Civil Society Forum of the Eastern Partnership adopted a statement expressing deep concern regarding the repressive actions of the Belarusian authorities. In particular, the statement condemns the confiscation of the Viasna premises, the practice of criminal prosecution of journalists, independent media and youth organisations, and the denial of visas for foreign partners of Belarusian organizations.

Gender conference in Minsk. On 8 December, in Minsk, participants of the conference “Women’s movement in Belarus: challenges, achievements and perspectives” approved the National Gender Platform (NGP) and adopted an appeal to the National Gender Council under the Council of Ministers of Belarus. NGP suggests introducing basic provisions guaranteeing gender equality in Belarus, as well as hope for equitable cooperation of civil society with state structures. The conference initiated by the Women’s Independent Democratic Movement was timed to the 20th anniversary of the women’s movement in Belarus.

Legal Transformation Center (Lawtrend) issued invitations to the press conference "Non-freedom of associations in Belarus after December 19, 2010: Facts, trends, and recommendations". The event is to take place on 17 December in Minsk. The press conference speakers will present two unique publications on administrative and criminal proceedings on the events of December 19, 2010, as well as an analytical report of the monitoring group Lawtrend on administrative cases in 2012. 

Presentation on Poverty and Social Inclusion in Belarus. IPM Research Center and the Center for European Transformation invite to the presentation of the study Poverty and Social Inclusion in Belarus. The presentation will be held on 17 December in the Minsk IBB. The survey's text is available on the IPM website.

Monitoring of barrier-free environment. On 7 December, the members of the "Accessibility" coalition went on to conduct regular tests to study the availability of architectural objects and buildings. This time the research was conducted at newly opened Minsk underground station Petrovschina and the Berestye cinema. The project titled Monitoring of barrier-free environment initiated by the Office for the Rights of People with Disabilities aims to create a barrier-free environment monitoring tool and its pilot implementation.

Essay competition on Accessibility and DisabilityThe Office for the Rights of People with Disabilities has announced the essay competition, Accessibility and Disability, aimed at increasing knowledge about the issues of disability rights in Belarus, the promotion of the ideas of equal participation, etc. The winner will be awarded with a laptop.

New website to help in cases of domestic violence. A New website has been launched to help people - both victims and aggressors - in situations of domestic violence. Online consultations are conducted by experts of 19 CSOs dealing with domestic violence. The website is coordinated by the Belarusian Association of Young Christian Women.

Belarus Press Photo Multimedia Winners. The awarding ceremony of the Belarus Press Photo - Multimedia contest took place on 9 December, in Minsk's Zнята photo studio. First place went to a clip dedicated to the presidential elections in 2010; second place to the Food not Bombs project; and third place to Andrei Liankevich for a multimedia-clip called Paganstva.

Meetings in Washington. BAJ Chairperson Zhanna Litvina, wife of political prisoner Ales Bialiatski Natalya Pinchuk and activist Tatiana Revyaka are visiting Washington DC, where they have a number of meetings at the Senate, the State Department and the US Security Council. The main topic of the visit is the freedom of speech and the situation of political prisoners in Belarus. The Belarusian guests took part in the event with Congressman Christopher Smith dedicated to the 2nd anniversary of the events of December 19, 2010.

Belarusian photo-exhibition in Brussels. On 18 December, the Office for a Democratic Belarus and the Secretariat of the Steering Committee of the EaP CSF will host the opening of theDiscovering Belarus: Images of Today and Beyond exhibition by the Belarusian photographer Siarhei Balay, which will be followed by an informal presentation of the EaP CSF Secretariat and a Christmas cocktail reception.

Belarus Digest prepared this overview on the basis of materials provided by Pact. This digest attempts to give a richer picture of the recent political and civil society events in Belarus. It often goes beyond the hot stories already available in English-language media.

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