Open Letter

to the President and Parliament of the Republic of Belarus, the citizenry of Belarus and the world community from the oldest inhabitants of Belovezhskaya Pushcha

We, the hereditary inhabitants of the Belovezhskaya Pushcha, send this letter in hope of receiving understanding and support of the Head of State, Parliament, the citizenry of Belarus and the world community.

Our land, a natural monument now, a part of human heritage and world legacy, is threatened as never before. The relentless feeling of our forest continues: an endless flow of valuable timber crosses the borders of the National Park. The face of the Belovezhskaya Pushcha has altered over the last few years. We see only one reason behind this: greed and avariciousness. With pain in hearts we witness the "dumping" of the national legacy, the continuous machinations and the heartless trade of the environmental resources that are transforming our land into a lifeless wasteland and turning us into a native population deprived of its rights.

We are in our sixties, seventies and eighties. The actions we are witnessing do not only perplex us, but elicit in us the indignation and anger. To seek protection forces us to be exiles in our native lands. The Belovezhskaya Pushcha is both our homeland and our home. Here lie the graves of our ancestors; here is our destiny and our life history. The fact that the Belovezhskaya Pushcha has remained unique is a testimony to the locals' achievement, their caring for their native lands.

The Belovezhskaya Pushcha administration does not settle accounts with us; our opinion is not taken into account. We, the indigene population, feel terrorized; the work and livelihoods of those who were raised here and have remained here to work and raise their own families are threatened. Hundreds of people - among them specialists, scientists and laborers - have been fired. Our working places are filled instead by "strangers" from other regions of the country, as well as from Russia and Ukraine. We don't know what will happen tomorrow. Traditional forms of social support, such as an assistance in agricultural work (potato planting and harvesting, hey making) have been discontinued. The administration would like to deprive us of hay mowing sites. The Pushcha's inhabitants are restricted from freely communicating with their relatives and friends who live outside the National Park, for the Director has banned them to enter the territory of the Park.

The authorities do not consider the consequences of forcing the local inhabitants into the deadlock, humiliating and harassing our children. Such actions embitter the people and destroy our belief in the equity and future". Through this Open Letter, we are seeking the attention of the President and Parliament of Belarus, and other organizations and institutes who would like to take an action. We both ask representatives of the world community to show their interest in the Belovezhskaya Pushcha National Park and also invite you to visit the National Park. We would like to preserve the Belovezhskaya Pushcha and protect ourselves

Below signed,