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Protest theatre, not-for-women jobs, and Kurapaty defense – Belarus civil society digest

Good Neighbour festival gathered around 120 grassroots leaders in Minsk. Urban festival Kartonka held in Vitebsk for the first time at a local printing plant. Petitions.by team starts a tour over Belarus to change the regions for the better. Civil...
Belarus festival

Good Neighbour festival gathered around 120 grassroots leaders in Minsk. Urban festival Kartonka held in Vitebsk for the first time at a local printing plant.

Petitions.by team starts a tour over Belarus to change the regions for the better. Civil society involves the business and the media community in the discussion of the restaurant near Kurapaty and puts a pressure on the restaurant’s owners.

The report by Legal Initiative CSO confirms human rights violations in the Belarusian army. Her Rights Center discussed not-for-women jobs in Belarus. UN Human Rights Council adopted a critical resolution on Belarus,  ‘absurd by design and substance’ according to Belarusian MFA.

This and more in the new edition of Belarus civil society digest.

Summer festivals

Good Neighbor festival gathered around 120 grassroots leaders in Minsk. The event took place on June 30 and aimed to share best practices in engaging neighbours into joint activities to change the life of their local communities. The event was organized by the Office for European Expertise and Communications and supported by the US Embassy.

CSOs presented themselves at Our Day festival. On June 30, the Assembly of NGOs brought together civil society organizations and initiatives to present the third sector at a large music festival of Belarusian music Our Day. 12 CSOs organized their interactive, creative spots at a zone of civic activity.

ART picnic Mezhan’ to be held on July 14-15. This is an annual open-air festival held by downshifters who moved to live to Chyrvony Kastrychnik village in the Gomel region. They bought most of the houses there and organize festivals and excursions for the youth to promote the rural way of life. The art picnic includes fair of artisans, performances, as well as starry sky and amazing beauty of nature around.

Education

Biz4all-2 School trained new social entrepreneurs. The final presented 16 teams, which showed that many charitable projects and CSOs put the business component in the first place, which reduces dependence on foreign assistance. The Biz4all-2 School was held under Incubator of Social Entrepreneurship program, organized by ODB Brussels and supported by the EU.

Belarus education

A lecture in ECLAB. Source: eclab.by

ECLAB has the fourth graduation of students. During the academic year, the students took up to 10 academic courses. European College of Liberal Arts in Belarus (ECLAB) was created in 2014 as an informal alternative to the system of Belarus’ higher education with its shortcomings from the Soviet epoch. The Liberal Arts model combines research, contemporary art, intellectual journalism, and teaching.

Belarus Urban Fellowship accepts applications. The new program is organized by the New Ideas Center and designed for new leaders under 30 years’ old who is engaged in the development of regions and small cities. The first three sessions of the program will be held in Minsk and the fourth – in Berlin. Applications are accepted until July 15.

Media Management School opens its next set. During 5 months of training, the participants will deepen their knowledge in strategic planning, content management, the editorial board organization, etc. The School works since 2017 and has almost 50 graduates. The School is organized by Studio for Useful Competencies (Hrodna) and IBB School of Journalism. Deadline for applications is August 1.

Civil society activities

Petitions.by team starts a tour over Belarus to change the regions for the better. The organizers warn that they are not going to solve problems instead of local residents, but help to form a team of activists and tell how to achieve specific results. Petitions.by is a website through which every Belarusian can exercise her/his right to take part in governance through e-appeal to state bodies.

Civil society wins concessions while defending Kurapaty. The protest leaders attempted to enter into a dialogue with the authorities to discuss the situation around the place of Stalin-era executions near Minsk. They also involved the business and the media community in the discussion and put pressure on the restaurant owners near Kurapaty.

Belarus civil society

Belarusian civil society activists install a cross near Kurapaty. Source: racyja.com

Theatre play is dedicated to the construction of a battery plant. The independent theatre Krylya Khalopa in Brest presented a performance titled Antigone.IPOWER. The play is linked to the ancient Greek tragedy Antigone with the activity of Brest residents against the construction of a battery plant near the city. Thus, the art raises and communicates current public problems.

Talaka: 4 out of 5 Belarusian crowdfunding campaigns fail. During 5 years of its activity, a crowdfunding platform Talaka.by launched 1,824 initiatives. However, the results show that only 1 in 5 running projects successfully implemented. Most of them stop in the beginning. To solve this problem, Talaka kicks off its own crowdfunding campaign Talaka 2.0 to upgrade its functional.

Other

Discussion about not-for-women jobs took place in Minsk, on July 9. The event was organized by Her Rights Center and presented a survey on the list of prohibited jobs for women in Belarus. The list includes 181 professions and 42 working fields and forbids women to work as a diver, a carpenter or a driver of long-distance passenger buses with over 14 seats.

CASE Belarus: Employment of former prisoners can be profitable. The benefits of re-socialization and recruitment of former prisoners in Belarus can be up to $56K per person. This is one of the findings of a study on the assessment of the program for the reintegration of the released from prisons, conducted by the CASE Belarus Research Center. The study involved 30 former prisoners during 2014-2017.

Report on monitoring human rights violations in the Belarusian army released. 171 respondents took part in the online survey conducted by Legal Initiative CSO. 56.1% answered positively to the question of applying psychological pressure, a humiliation of honour and dignity during their obligatory military service. An interactive map with problematic military units of Belarus is expected on the results of monitoring.

UN Human Rights Council adopts a critical resolution on Belarus, renews country mandate. The resolution on Belarus was supported by 19 delegations, with 6 votes against and 21 abstentions. The document is based on the report prepared by Miklós Haraszti, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus. Belarusian MFA calls the resolution ‘absurd by design and substance.’

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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Olga Hryniuk
Olga Hryniuk
Olga Hryniuk holds degrees from Coventry University and the European Humanities University. She is based in Minsk, Belarus.
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