Salute the spirit of resistance to tyranny - 'We can only help ourselves': women in Belarus take protests into their own hands

The first chain of women appeared on Wednesday: a few hundred brave souls, dressed in white and holding aloft flowers, in a quietly powerful response to the gruesome violence inflicted on thousands of Belarusians over the previous days. By the next afternoon, columns of flower-waving women were everywhere, parading along the broad avenues of central Minsk smiling, laughing and resolutely demanding political change.

“We are here to show solidarity with all our men who were beaten up and abused,” said Tatyana, a 31-year-old waitress who was at the very front of a column of about 1,000 women holding flowers – one of many such groups walking through the centre of Minsk. She and her friend were holding a white flag, which she said was a sign of their desire for no more violence. On Friday evening, thousands of protesters descended on the Belarusian parliament, potentially setting the scene for a new show-down with riot police. 

As the demand for change intensifies and reaches even the factories that are the pride of Alexander Lukashenko’s neo-Soviet economy, the authoritarian ruler ends the week clinging on to power in defiance of an ever-broader coalition of opponents. But from the beginning, this has been an uprising inspired and led by women.....

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