Polish actor Bartosz Bielenia has used his appearance at the EU parliament to stage a protest against ongoing political repression in Belarus.
The actor spent 60 seconds screaming into the microphone at Strasbourg’s European Parliament in solidarity with Belarusians protesting against the continued rule of president Alexander Lukashenko and his brutal crackdown on civilians.
Bielenia, who was at the EU institution to receive second place at the Lux Audience Awards for the film Corpus Christi, used his time on stage to express support for the victims of state repression in Belarus. He told the audience that in 2020, more than 30,500 people had been tortured, 476 political prisoners had been detained, and 13 people had died in Belarus following pro-democracy protests. Street demonstrations erupted in the country last August, when Lukashenko won a sixth term in office in a vote widely condemned as rigged.
Bielenia’s scream was inspired by Poland-based Belarusian activist and artist, Jana Shostak, who has been gathering crowds in front of the EU Commission office in Warsaw to scream for Belarus for one minute each day since last summer. “All I can do is to give my voice in solidarity,” the actor said. He then read Shostak’s own call to action: “we’ve been silent for 27 years. For every broken family, for every woman raped, for the tortured, for those who have to keep quiet in Belarus right now, join me for one minute of screaming every day at 6pm until the end of the revolution, and one day longer.”
The actor, who was born in the town of Bialystok on the Belarusian-Polish border, ended his protest with the words “Zhive Belarus” — or “Long live Belarus”, the mantra of the country’s pro-democracy movement.
Founded in 2007, the Lux Award is given annually for “excellence in illustrating the universality of European values and the diversity of European culture”. In 2021, the winning picture was the Romanian documentary Collective, which follows a team of journalists as they investigate a major corruption scheme that led to the deaths of dozens of young people in a fire in 2015.