Vereinigung für Vernetzung und Partizipation e.V. from Berlin (The Association for Networking and Participation) reports on their website about impressions from their trip to Vilnius. We also would like to share them with you.

In preparation for the youth exchange in October, we visited our partner organization “Our House” in Vilnius. “Our House” is a Belarusian human rights organization that is currently campaigning for the rights of Belarusian conscientious objectors and refugees. Following the presidential elections on August 9, 2020 and the subsequent mass protests, many Belarusian people and organizations were forced to go into exile due to for the pressure of repression. Therefore, “Our House” has its headquarters in the Lithuanian capital. The highlight of our visit: every year on August 9, the Belarusian diaspora holds a demonstration there. And we were there.

White-red-white sea of ​​flags

The demonstration began with a rally on Cathedral Square in the historical center of Vilnius. Our main impression from the demonstration (we, of course, did not understand either the Belarusian or Lithuanian speeches) was a sea of ​​white-red-white flags. It seems that every second person had such a flag with him or was dressed in its colors. This is the state flag of the first independent Belarusian state, which existed from 1918 to 1919 and was social democratic.In modern Belarus, the flag is considered extremist, and its public display is criminalized. It was also an important symbol during the 2020 protests. We found it particularly interesting: Organizations put their logos on the flag: “Our House” had a flag with a house in the middle, the Social Democrats had a flag with a rose, and there were also flags with the coat of arms of Lithuania.

Photo wall with prisoners

The photo wall with photographs of more than a thousand political prisoners in Belarus made a great impression on us. We’ve already made red poppies out of fabric with “Our House” and saved a few for them. The photographs showed us once again why the work of organizations like “Our House” is so important.


March of demonstrators

Finally, a sea of flags swept from the starting point on Cathedral Square through the entire city to the Belarusian embassy. We could hardly keep up with him and finally joined the procession at the very end. There, our attention was attracted by four chic, wide guys with headphones in their ears. We noticed that we were following Svetlana Tikhanovskaya (the presidential candidate who had the greatest chance of success against Lukashenko in 2020 and who declared herself the official president-in-exile after the invasion in 2022). Before reaching the building of the Belarusian embassy, Svetlana withdrew with her bodyguards.

Memorial in front of the embassy

Directly at the embassy fence, demonstrators left a white-red-white flag and a memorial made up of photographs of Belarusian victims. Among the victims are Belarusians killed by the Belarusian regime, as well as Belarusians who died as part of the volunteer legion in Ukraine. The accusations against the Belarusian government are obvious: it is the main supporter of the Russian war of aggression. All demonstrators agreed that this must end.