activists visited PavelSeverinets and honored the memory of Belarusian
and Ukrainian patriots (photo)
Special prison detention unit in Okrestinastreet
in Minsk is quite notorious in the Belarusian society for being the detention
place for political prisoners. Democratic activists who dared to express
their protest against the current authorities during the mass demonstrations
are brought there. However, few people know that a small town of Bereza,
located in Brest Oblast, has a similar “Okrestina” that dates back to
the times of Y.Pilsudskiy.
The concentration camp Bereza-Kartuzskaya
was created by the Polish authorities in 1934 as a place of extrajudicial
internment of the opponents of the ruling regime. Y. Pilsudskiy’s political
opponents, communists, activists of Jewish, Belarusian and Ukrainian national
movements were kept there. The formation of the camp was caused by the
assassination of BronislavPeratsky, the Polish Minister of Internal Affairs,
by GrigoriyMatseiko, a militant of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists
(OUN). It is quite natural that initially Ukrainians were the main “visitors”
to the institution: in 1934, 120 out of 200 prisoners were Ukrainian nationalists.
People were allowed to be detained in Bereza-Kartuzskaya for up to three
months without trial, solely on the basis of the administrative decision
made by the police of the head of the province. The camp administration
had the right to add another term (i.e. to keep the detainee for three
more months), and this right was quite regularly used. The detainee could
be released earlier if they renounced “the anti-state activities” and
signed a special obligation note. The total number of the detainees for
the entire time that the camp existed is estimated to be 8-10 thousand
people. According to the Soviet data, on September 17, 1939 the detainees
kept in Bereza-Kartuzskaya were freed by the Red Army.
On September 17, the Solidarity Movement “Razam” (“Together”) honored
the memory of the Belarusian and Ukrainian patriots by visiting the former
prison location in Bereza. TatsianaZelko, the Our Generation’s leader,
took part in the trip, as well as Nina Baginskaya who had recently been
arrested in the Nezavisimosti Square with a white-red-white flag. Later
on, the flag was confiscated. By the way, MsBaginskaya made a new flag
for September 17…
The poor state of the historical landmarks should be mentioned here. The
place that, ideally, could be a pilgrimage shrine for representatives
of at least three countries, is in an extremely poor condition. In fact,
one can only look at the facade of the building… Although the Bereza-Kartuzskaya
prison has an interesting history and all the chances to be an excellence
tourist spot for the Ukrainians and the Polish. This place symbolizes
the suffering of the citizens who dared to love their Motherland and defend
it against the intervention. This prison was a place of concentration
of people with various political views (both communists and OUN members
were kept there). It also demonstrated that the common enemy could only
be defeated by joint efforts.
The trip participants also visited PavelSeverinets, the patriot of the
country, who is serving his sentence for the events of December 19, 2010.
At the meeting with Our Generation’s Leader TatsianaZelko, Pavel said:
-- Only then there will changes in our country when our society consolidates.
We should stop subdividing people into young and old, “left” and “right”,
and so on. This year experience shows that the consolidation of the political
forces at the high level is not as important as the consolidation of citizens
at a more local level. The consolidation of citizens, and not that of
the leaders, brings much more tangible results.