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20th Anniversary of BAS
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The poet said: Remember when you were young, you shone like the sun...

2009-01-12, 20:46

Late November 2008 marked the 20th anniversary of the official founding of the Belarusian Association of Students in Poland (BAS; Belarusian: Беларускае Аб’яднаньне Студэнтаў; Polish: Białoruskie Zrzeszenie Studentów). The event, nearly overlooked by everyone else, was celebrated with a friendly meeting of the organization’s former and present members, as well as a concert by a Belarusian band, led by singer Ilona Karpiuk, one of the former leaders of the organization.

BAS was founded on May 30, 1981, in Warsaw by a group of students from Podlachia, who, following the political thaw — 1981 marked the beginnings of the Solidarity movement in the country — were striving for the revival of the Belarusian national minority in Poland. At the time, the communist authorities in Poland did not recognize BAS, claiming that the members of the newly created organization could achieve their goals within the framework of the government-controlled Belarusian Social and Cultural Association in Poland. The martial law instated in December of the same year froze all civic initiatives in Poland for most of the next decade, but Belarusian students continued their activities, either in the underground or through official student organizations.

In May 1988, a new generation of Belarusian students from Podlachia, filed a new motion with Warsaw’s municipal government to register their independent student association. After a six-month bureaucratic battle, on November 29, 1988, the communist authorities of Poland finally recognized BAS.

BAS became an important part of cultural and political activity of the Belarusian national minority in Poland, initiating many events aimed at maintaining Belarusian national identity among the young generation of Polish Belarusians. The Festival of Belarusian Rock Music „Basovishcha” (Belarusian: „Басовішча”) probably serves as the most well-known example of such events in this corner of Europe.

The BAS movement, which I was involved in, had undisputedly great influence on my youth, as well as my continued life...

The photos shown here are from a students’ magazine „Sustrechy” („Сустрэчы”; 1983-1990), my own archive, and the collection of Łukasz Stepaniuk. The background music is, of course, an excerpt from Pink Floyd’s „Shine On You Crazy Diamond” (1975). And the whole composition is my New Year’s gift — according to the Julian calendar that is still used by the Orthodox Church — to all those friends of mine who have not given up ideals of their youth in their adulthood.