A Crime: One Last Hand for Pavel

We reported it here on 05 October 2011. That was the day when clapping hands in public became a crime in Belarus.

Following months of protests after the stolen elections in 2010, the streets of Belarus were filled with peaceful citizen protesters. Pavel Sheremet was there, reporting from the thick of it all as journalists were beaten and dragged off to jail like anyone else who dared to defy the dictatorship’s curfew. Pavel was one of those who was arrested and then suffered at the hands of the KGB thugs who protect president-for-life Aleksandr Lukashenko.

Thousands of brave citizens, longing for freedom, made their stand. It was not a pretty sight as the violence unleashed against a people was like something most in the West have never seen. In a country where ordinary citizens cannot possess weapons, citizens were forced to use their hands. Literally.

Public gatherings were banned, but citizens gathered anyway. They marched while shouting slogans and holding banners. Then, slogans and banners were banned. So, using social media they mobilized in groups by walking up and down streets while clapping hands in unison.

Hand-clapping in public was banned.

That brought on the “silent protests” with groups walking together quietly. It was not long before that too, was declared to be illegal.

On Saturday, the 23rd day of July in 2016, hand-clapping in public was once again heard in Belarus. It began slowly at first, as the body of murdered journalist Pavel Sheremet was carried from his funeral service at All Saints Church to the waiting burial van. As the van proceeded to the Northern Cemetery just outside Minsk, small groups of onlookers stood along the way to clap as Pavel’s body traveled to his final resting place.

It was one last hand for Pavel.