Saturday, August 04, 2012

Teddy Bears for Human Rights

Two Swedish ad agency employees--Thomas Mazetti and Hannah Frey--flew a small plane from Lithuania into Belarus last month and dropped 879 teddy bears with parachutes and human rights messages over various cities, including Minsk, the capital. This week, in response, Alexander Lukashenko, who has ruled Belarus since 1994 and is called Europe's last dictator, fired the country's generals in charge of border security and air defense.

Belarus represses all forms of dissent and regularly jails those suspected of opposing the regime. Dissidents in the country have posed teddy bears on the streets of Minsk in silent protests against the Lukashenko regime. This, in fact, was the inspiration for the air drop undertaken by Frey and Mazetti.

Frey said, "Hopefully, we've made people more aware in the world and that there will be more people supporting Belarusian people."

For more on the air drop, see the Associated Press story here or the Los Angeles Times story here.  Mazetti and Frey's video appears below.