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Belarusian Review


Vaclav Havel - in Defense of Jakub Kolas Humanities Lyceum

Vaclav Havel, former president of the Czech Republic, came out in defense of the students of the closed independent Belarusian-language school who are now forced to attend classes in private homes. The school's parent-teacher association received this letter from Mr. Havel:

Dear members of the Parents association:
I am very grateful for the trust in me that you have expressed in your letter.
Believe me, I am well informed about the situation in Belarus from the official as well as from unofficial sources. I know about the pressure of the current political regime on conscientious citizens, about the consequent russification and destruction of Belarusian-language schools, and about the liquidation of the Jakub Kolas Lyceum. I am greatly outraged by it; this is violence directed against your national identity.
I belong to a people that several times in its history was on the verge of disappearance, because enemies - domestic and foreign - directed their hate against our elite, faith, culture and education. The Czech people found strength and were fortunate to overcome all these obstacles - although often at the cost to their pride in their civil development. I do not doubt that Belarusians too will be able to find a way to preserve their national identity in unfavorable times, resisting the present official authority.
As you know, about a year ago the Czech Foreign Ministry refused to issue an entrance visa to Alaksandr Lukashenka. At that time around fifty of the most influential politicians from around the world were shaking hands in Prague. I agreed with this decision of the Czech Foreign Ministry and believe that it represented the most effective way for the international community to act in such cases.
Believe me, your situation does not cease to disturb me. I will use every occasion to inform about it those of moral authority and those now in power in Europe.
In conclusion please transmit my cordial greetings to those who are defending democracy and assure of my support all those who fight to preserve Belarusian national consciousness.
Yours, Vaclav Havel.

This article appeared in
Belarusian Review, Vol. 15, No 4
Copyright 2003 Belarusian Review
All rights reserved.

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