Belarusian Cartoons at Cairo Human Rights Film Fest

Belarusian Cartoons at Cairo Human Rights Film Fest

Pavel Yahoravich Marozau is a Belarusian activist that has been involved in the politics and diaspora community for the last 5 years. He created a cartoon called “Lukashenko”, named after the current president of Belarus, that details the politic workings of his home country and the government’s infringements on their citizens’ human rights. The short cartoons, each is around a minute long, are available on Youtube and several will be screened at this year’s Cairo Human Rights Film Festival that opens December 20.

Pavel was born in 1978 in the city of Minsk. He graduated from Belarusian State University of Economics (BSUE) in 2000 and obtained a master’s degree in political Science from the European Humanities University in 2004.

That year, he founded the Third Way, a community of Belarusians living in the country and abroad. By 2005, he had been accused of slandering the Belarusian president, a crime that carries a punishment of two to four years in prison. However thanks to the intervention of some friends and the international media, he was able to avoid detention. Since 2006 he has been in political emigration in Estonia after Belarusian authorities unsuccessful attempted to arrest him in Minsk.

In 2006, he established and took charge of the New Way organization, which deals with projects involving the Belarusian diaspora in Europe and the United States, as well as activists from Belarus and support of Belarusian culture. Pavel is a member of Rada of Belarusian People’s Republic (BPR’s government in exile) since 2008. He deals with cultural, informational, and youth projects, as well as joining efforts of the new generation of the Diaspora’s Belarusians and civic activists from Belarus. Together with his colleagues he created the concept of broad Belarusian International Movement. In 2009 during the Geneva Summit he, together with his dissident-colleagues from Iran, Burma, Venezuela, Cuba, Zimbabwe, and Egypt founded a coordination and cooperation network between dissidents from these countries.

Bikya Masr: Why did you choose this medium to address human rights?

Pavel Yahoravich Marozau: In Belarus, where censorship is pervasive and President Lukashenko presides over an autocratic regime, humor and satire are key ways for citizens to express dissent and discontent with the government. The internet is a unique place for expression and free discussion in Belarus, since most other forms of media are tightly controlled by the government. Cartoons distributed via the internet are a good medium to bring attention to human rights issues in our country to a wide audience of Belarusian around the world.

BM:Who is the intended audience for the film and why do you think human rights is important them?

PYM: Three million people in Belarus are currently connected to the web, and thirty percent of the population is in their youth or middle-age – a demographic more comfortable with the social networking capabilities of the internet. Human rights are important for them simply because they feel violations of own rights on every corner.

BM: What made you want to become involved in human rights?

PYM: Our personal experience of our rights violation in Belarus.

BM: What do you hope to accomplish with these films?

PYM: We hope to show to the local public how we work with human rights issues in Belarus using modern media forms and also raise awareness about human rights problem in Belarus.

BM: What is the significance of screening the film in Cairo/Egypt/the Middle East?

PYM: This is a region that is quite new for us. But we knew that a lot of problems with human rights in my region and in the Middle East are very similar. Because of this, we want to have feedback from the local public on our cartoons.

BM: What are you future plans regarding work with human rights?

PYM: We plan to expand forms of our work on documentary films and TV reports and start, in addition to our animation project, an internet television project called ARU TV.

ARU TV is liberal internet television – this initiative was created as a separate media company in summer 2009 with the purpose of promoting human rights, liberal and European values in post-Soviet countries. It will also create new opportunities for the dissemination of independent experts’ opinions in Belarus and Russia, increase the amount of independent TV products broadcasted to Russia and Belarus and engage young people in media creativity. ARU TV was created with the support and effort of liberal activists from Estonia, Belarus, Russia and Ukraine.