The 2014 International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) world championship tournament is set for Belarus. But a lot of people, such as the president of the European Parliament, Jerzy Buzek, all the way to the Obama administration, say that these plans should be suspended in order to expose the extreme corruption of President Alexander Lukashenko. The concept is pretty good in theory – kind of the way you take things away from a disobedient child to teach him a lesson – but the people being punished in this particular case are the hockey players themselves.
A Ukrainian feminist group decided to protest this decision according to Russia Today. The group, called Femen, organized a game of 2 on 2 hockey in front of the IIHF headquarters in Switzerland. Sound innocent, right? The twist, however, was that the women played topless. The women were clad in unbuttoned coats wearing nothing underneath, while others held signs that read: “Do not encourage dictatorship!” “Lukashenko, let’s play in Hague!” and “Slaves can’t play hockey!” Hm. Good way to attract attention, or just playing into stereotype?
The group later released a statement, asking sports officials “not to give rejuvenating injections to the rotten and dying body of Lukashenko’s regime.” They said that “the dictatorship is ruling Belarus by suppressing its own Constitution and fundamental human rights, suppressing all dissident attempts with torture and blood.”
From Russia Today:
The protest took place near the main office of the International Ice Hockey Federation in Zurich. Braving a severe frost, the protesters started a hockey game in the street wearing unbuttoned coats with nothing on underneath. Their demands, spelt out on banners, read: “Do not encourage dictatorship!” “Lukashenko, let’s play in Hague!” and “Slaves can’t play hockey!”
Femen also reminded the IIHF that top officials of the Republic of Belarus had been banned from entering the European Union and the United States following a series of human rights violations and complaints from pro-democracy NGOs and Lukashenko’s opponents.
Femen said several of its activists had been abducted and tortured by Belarus’ State Security Committee in December after staging a protest in Minsk.
Last month, the International Ice Hockey Federation said it supported the idea of holding the World Championship 2014 in Belarus, thus distancing itself from politics. A number of EU and US politicians have asked the IIHF to change its decision.