In its essence, a mature society is one where unfettered availability of information facilitates rational citizen discourse on any issue of societal concern. Genuine discourse, in turn, reflects the process of critical thinking, a process whereby citizens are able to reach rational—and perforce varying—conclusions based on available evidence. In the case of Belarus, unfortunately, rational discourse has been discouraged if not prohibited since 1994. Rather, regime drones in a Goebbels-like Ministry of Information dispense regime-approved pablum that “helps” Belarusians avoid the necessity of thinking.
Against all odds, the journal “Arche” has for a number of years been a beacon of relatively free intellectual inquiry in Belarus. Its chief editor, Valer Bulhakau, has paid a heavy price to keep this beacon in existence. But continual ratcheting up of pressure from the government led, finally, to Mr. Bulhakau’s decision in November to leave Belarus rather than face probable imprisonment on trumped-up charges.
The Center for Belarusian Studies exists to promote Belarus’ renaissance through higher education. It is thus natural that the Center express its strong concern over the repressive actions of the Belarus government against “Arche” and, specifically, Mr. Bulhakau. We urge the government to reassess this unjustified campaign of repression and intimidation and to realize, finally, that the freedom to think poses no threat to healthy governance.