Today the 98th anniversary of the proclamation of the Belarusian People’s Republic (BNR) is commemorated.
Freedom Day (Dzień Voli) is an unofficial holiday in Belarus, which is celebrated on March 25 to commemorate the creation on that date in 1918 of the Belarusian People’s Republic (BNR). It came into existence at the end of the First World War, when Bolshevik forces left Minsk and the city was occupied by German troops. On March 25, 1918 the Provisional Government (Rada) proclaimed the independence of the BNR. After the Red Army re-entered Minsk, the Communist government replaced the Rada; its members had to emigrate. The current regime denies Freedom Day and often prevents the opposition forces from celebrating it.
Ivonka Survilla, the chairperson of the Rada of the Belarusian People’s Republic in Exile has addressed all Belarusians:
98 years ago, on March 25, 1918 in the morning, a miracle happened in our country: the Belarusian nation, dependent and exhausted by war, stated that ‘from now on the Belarusian People’s Republic is declared a free and independent state’.
And Belarus does live today!
It is alive due to our predecessors’ determination in 1918, but owing to each of us as well!
The 20th century was one of the most horrible times in the history of the human race, and our land was badly hit. We came through two wars of other states, many attempts of genocide of our nation – deportations, executions, dictatorships, expulsion of one third of our people to foreign countries. Aliens destroyed our beautiful language, our centuries-long culture, our faith, our sense of dignity. Despite all of that we have survived. We live, and long live Belarus!
Dear countrymen, I am carrying you back to the hard times to prevent you from losing will.
When sometimes we become more careful or overtolerant, that is because we anticipate hard times and we know we should come through them.
However, today I want to show you my belief in our achieving a better future we are dreaming of. Our strength was proved by the event of our recent history, when on August 25, 1991 Belarusians managed to take a chance and regained their independence, which made the dream of generations come true. Our country has been independent for a quarter of the century, but it is still not free.
“The time will come when we will become that independent and free state, of which our grandfathers dreamt, when our land will join the family of prosperous and respected European nations. We have proved that we are worthy of respect. I wish you courage and patience. We will see a free Belarus! I believe in it, and I want each of you to believe in it.”
Long live Belarus!”