Here in Washington, protests are a part of the scenery, often happening year-round (even in the president’s back yard). As a conservative, I’ve never seen much effectiveness in demonstrations, but I do support the people’s right to protest — even when I disagree. After all, that’s the beauty of the First Amendment.
It doesn’t work that way everywhere. Take Belarus, for example. Alexander Lukashenko, who has been president since 1994, bullies dissent, and knows not the meaning of “term limits.” Due to Lukashenko’s antics, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has awarded Belarus a prestigious spot on her “Outposts of Tyranny” list.
It’s not difficult to see why. Take the developing case of Dzianis Dzianisau:
One of Belarusian political prisoners held on charges of “taking part in manifestations which disturb public order”, Dzianis Dzianisau has been released on bail four hours ago.
He was in prison for nearly two months for taking part in a manifestation in Vitebsk, during which a group of people raised a white-red-white flag on a pole overlooking a local park and amphitheatre. If found guilty, he would face up to 3 years in prison.
The “white-red-white” flag is an older national flag that was “discontinued” by Lukashenko and is now used of the opposition.
The good news is that bloggers and other online activists helped raise his impossibly high bail.
While Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, North Korea, and other flash points around the globe are given attention (and rightly so) by the media, let us not forget Belarus. I know first hand that its people are first-rate. He has his bail, let’s now pray that Dzianis Dzianisau gets a fair trial.