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That night must not repeat

The National Anti-Crisis Management and the Free Belarus Museum recently organized an event as part of the international memorial event called "The Night of Poets."

The Free Belarus Museum hosted a literary and theatrical gathering led by Kupalaucy actors. During the event, they recited poems by executed poets, and historian Ales Smolenchuk delivered a lecture titled "Belarus (not) executed."

In his speech at the event, the head of NAM Pavel Latushka noted:

"Today, we observe that Lukashenko's regime is destroying the national culture of Belarus and the self-awareness of the Belarusian people. We remember the tragic chapters of our history and ensure they are not forgotten, while also steadfastly preventing the totalitarian system from overpowering our Motherland."

The night of October 29 to 30, 1937, holds immense significance in Belarusian history. Today, it is known as "the Night of Poets," a day to honor the memory of outstanding innocent compatriots who were victims of the Soviet authorities' brutal actions.

To commemorate this anniversary, Pavel Latushka's full address on the occasion of the Night of Executed Poets was published on the NAM YouTube channel on October 29, 2023.

We strive to prevent a similar night from ever happening again.

The events of that dark night, 86 years ago, saw a mass murder of prominent Belarusian cultural and scientific figures by the NKVD punitive forces. On flimsy grounds, these individuals were detained, imprisoned, and ultimately executed. Without substantiated evidence of real crimes, they were condemned as enemies of the state. Since then, Belarusians worldwide have commemorated this tragic date, known as the Night of the Executed Poets.

It is often said that history repeats itself in cycles. Eighty-six years have passed since the night of the executed poets, and today we witness Lukashenko's criminal regime attempting to suppress Belarusian culture. They rewrite history textbooks, ban national symbols with millennia-old histories, and suppress the use of the Belarusian language. Even the national cry "Long live Belarus!" is branded as Nazi in Belarus, and over 140 cultural figures currently face imprisonment. Unfortunately, we still witness cultural figures losing their lives in captivity. Similar to 86 years ago, the pro-Russian government continues its assault on Belarusian culture.

The Pishchalovsky Castle, specifically Volodarsky Street, once housed the prison where thousands of Belarusians accused of dissent were held. It is the same castle where the victims of the Night of Executed Poets walked its corridors 86 years ago. Today, individuals are detained by the employees of the Belarusian State Security Committee, along with other punitive institutions. The victims of the Black Night, 86 years ago, were detained by the employees of the State Security Directorate of the NKVD of the BSSR. Cultural figures were deemed enemies of the people then, and today, they are considered enemies by the Lukashenko regime.

On the night of October 29-30, 1937, Belarus lost hundreds of unwritten poems, potential folk songs, cultural works that could have brought recognition to our country worldwide, and dozens of inventions that could have improved our lives today. In 1937, we lost what Belarusian culture currently lacks. While we cannot bring back the victims of the Night of the Executed Poets or those who lost their lives during the nights of August 2020, we can shape our future and that of our descendants. Today, we fight for an independent Belarus with a rich national culture, encompassing theater, cinema, music, and art—our very own culture. Therefore, we strive to prevent the bloody night against Belarusian culture and science from repeating itself.

It is crucial to learn from historical mistakes and remember national tragedies to ensure they are never repeated. Therefore, it is of utmost importance to recognize that Lukashenko's regime is leading Belarus towards a similar wave of terror, where people continue to lose their lives due to the dictator's thirst for power. It is our responsibility as Belarusians to do everything within our capacity to stop these crimes.

Historical events may echo, but it is only through human agency that they can be influenced and halted. While the voices of cultural and scientific figures in Belarus may be diminishing, the enemies of Belarus will never succeed in eradicating our culture. Today, Belarusian culture and science thrive abroad, with cultural events, scientific conferences, theater tours, and the continuous work of Belarusian publishing houses. Belarusian culture will never be destroyed. Belarusian identity will prevail, and the regime will be held historically and legally accountable for its crimes against Belarusians. We will not cease our efforts until we achieve the transformative change we seek.

Today, we remember the Belarusian cultural and scientific figures who suffered at the hands of criminals. They were killed by the NKVD punitive forces for being Belarusian and for working for the betterment of the Belarusian nation. Weremember the tragic pages of our history and vow not to let them be forgotten. We refuse to allow a totalitarian system to reign in our Motherland, and we are determined to fight for a brighter future.


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