In 2020 Belarusians abroad recognized themselves as Belarusians
In his interview with Deutsche Welle, sociologist Henadz Korshunau spoke about the transformation of the Belarusian diaspora after 2020, its goals and challenges, and the importance of solidarity and protest actions taking place in the streets of cities all around the world.
“There have always been a lot of Belarusians abroad. But in 2020, they separated from the shared post-Soviet Russian-speaking space, which they had been dissolved in for a long time, and recognized themselves as Belarusians. The street protests showed the world that Belarusians exist and they are not just out there – they act and remember Belarus. Such protest and solidarity actions are necessary for showing the cities where they take place that Belarusians are not the same as the regime, that they are against the regime, against repressions, and against war. They are also needed by the Belarusians abroad themselves. Such street protests and solidarity actions present an opportunity for an individual to remind themselves that they didn’t just leave but that they are Belarusian.
The people who were forced to flee by the regime are those who shaped Belarusian civil society, Belarusian media and cultural space and those who were working on supporting Belarusianness. The goal of the Belarusians abroad now does not only lie in self-preservation and protection of all things Belarusian, but also includes the creation of a bank of resources and connections that can and should be used for the benefit of a new Belarus, for the delineation of reform plans, financial connections, and possibilities – overall, for the creation of a new Belarus. During the two-year struggle, the Belarusian diaspora has realized both large-scale projects of all-Belarusian value, such as BYSOL, BYPOL, ByHelp, and a significant number of volunteer projects that are not advertised but solve numerous smaller tasks.
If the political situation is not resolved in the near future, the activity of Belarusians abroad will undoubtedly decrease. But the Belarusian diaspora was formed mainly thanks to a certain core group of enthusiasts, and this core will remain in any case. The regime will likely continue giving reasons for this core group to become politicized and for others not to forget and join the Belarusians abroad movement.”