FolkWorld #76 11/2021
© Absolut Promotion

Article in German

Political Prisoners for Playing Bagpipes

Free Irdorath

The Belarusian band Irdorath has toured all of Europe in the last five years - and in summer 2020 they played the protest song of the democracy movement "Peremen" by Viktor Zoi and his band "Kino" in their hometown Minsk with bagpipes, guitars and drums. That was the doom of the young musicians.


Artist Audio Artist Video Irdorath @ FROG

Hello dear colleagues, clients, artists and friends, As some may have already noticed, the world has been upside down for a few days because my Belarusian clients from Irdorath were brutally arrested and imprisoned on August 2nd, 2021 during the birthday party of band leader Nadia together with a total of 16 friends and colleagues. For the time being, everyone was imprisoned for 10 days. Resistance to state power (they are accused of failing to open a non-functional garden gate that no longer closes). In addition, 5 band members are charged with inciting the population and inciting criminal offenses because they played the song of the resistance movement with bagpipes, guitars and drums at the mass demonstrations last year. Here they are most likely facing a 4-year prison sentence, the maximum sentence would be 15 years.

The political situation in Belarus has been in the media in the last few weeks, which is why I am not going into the absurdity of these charges. My clients have simply fallen victim to the announced "purge" (yes, he really did use that word). For 10 months we have been fighting for visas and ways to get the band out of the country permanently - sometimes with great support from you. Unfortunately only visas for 3 months for Germany and only for 2 band members had been issued until the arrest, so that unfortunately it did not help us. The dramatic thing: These two band members had flights from Moscow to Germany on August 8th, 2021, because they were afraid they wanted to leave for good - no matter what happens after 3 months. Unfortunately that was 6 days too late. For these 10 months we have been in close contact with high-ranking German politicians, the Foreign Office, the embassy and, since last week, also with the High Commissioner of the United Nations as well as 3 NGOs and now 5 families of the 16 prisoners, in order to strategically jointly adopt the approach advise.

With further hearings taking place today, we have had to dampen all media attention for strategic reasons. This situation will change from tomorrow - and the first decisions have already been made in the morning (the bandleaders Nadia and Vladimir will definitely remain imprisoned) that definitely not all prisoners will be released into house arrest or in freedom, but until further negotiations (date unknown) remain imprisoned. The trial of the imprisoned opposition leader began only 10 months after her imprisonment ...

Due to the fact that diplomatic talks are not successful even at the level of the foreign ministers, even with dual citizenship, we assume that all prisoners who are not released today will have to remain in prison for the time being. Who this affects overall will be clarified later in the day. That is why we are starting the already prepared support campaigns tonight / tomorrow as well as the media attention in press & social media and ask for support and dissemination of the information as well as help with our campaigns, if your time, your strength and your possibilities allow. Please use the hashtag #freeirdorath for all social media activities

Since an insane inflation is raging in Belarus, the detainees are only allowed to speak to lawyers personally and the legal fees will of course be immense, we have set up a donation account in cooperation with the Belarusian resistance movement "Council for Culture", as both the money transfer to this country and the Securing a secret transfer channel to the families must be guaranteed. This organization, which the artists built themselves, has the most experience and contacts in Minsk who can act directly on site. Here is the description of the fundraising campaign via the Council for Culture for you: The direct link to getdonate:

These links are welcome to share and distribute. And since every euro really helps, we look forward to every small donation. The money will only be used to pay the legal costs and expenses for the 16 prisoners. If there is money left over, which cannot be assumed at the moment, it will then be made available to the musicians and artists who have been imprisoned for their further projects.

At the same time, we are currently organizing politicians who, in cooperation with the NGO Libereco, take on direct sponsorships for the prisoners in order to ensure the best possible security in the prison through direct correspondence. If you have contacts to politicians who will be active at the federal level after the election and who are willing to sponsor political prisoners in Belarus, please contact me. I have all the information about the procedure and I like to network directly with Libereco.

Regardless of this, the first major social media campaign starts tomorrow, to which all musicians worldwide are invited to participate in order to support the band. Initiated by Dutch musicians around Rob van Barschot: The song of the resistance movement that Irdorath played at the protests is played by musicians all over the world and made to sound on the Internet. We have prepared the information for this directly and provide all the necessary material under the links below so that every musician / band who would like to help and express their support publicly can act directly themselves. Rob said: “We would like to make a lot of different videos of the same song. We use #freeirdorath to make the hashtag go viral. In the package are separate instruments you can use, so you can take for example the drums and the guitar part, and play your own hurdy gurdy part over it. then you upload your video playing your instrument (in my example video you see me playing drums) .Of course if you are a DJ or so, you can also make a remix. More info is in a word file in the package.” We Transfer Link: : Lyrics - if someone wants to sing: :

Please pass this information on to all musicians with whom you work / are in contact, if you think, they could be interested in joining the action. I thank you for your attention, for every little help, support, assistance that you can realize. Best regards, Jeany Leinweber, M.A., Laetitium - Künstler- und Kulturmanagement, Foxy Records & Absolut Promotion

Photo Credits: (1)-(2) Irdorath (unknown/website).

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