Support the Belarus Democracy, Human Rights, and Sovereignty Act of 2020
I am writing to express my concerns about the deteriorating human rights situation in Belarus and its implications to the national security interests of the United States. I urge you to support the Belarus Democracy, Human Rights, and Sovereignty Act of 2020, which was introduced to the House of Representatives by Rep. Chris Smith on September 29, 2020. The bill, co-sponsored by a broad bipartisan group, calls for: • Support of the aspirations of the people of Belarus for democracy, human rights, sovereignty, and the rule of law, • A new presidential election in Belarus in accordance with OSCE standards, • Assistance to avert attempts by the Government of Belarus to harass independent media and block Internet access, • Immediate release of all political prisoners in Belarus, including the U.S. citizen Vitali Shkliarov, • Refusal to recognize any incorporation of Belarus into a so-called “Union State” under the control of Russia, • Investigation of Russia’s efforts to undermine Belarus’ sovereignty and independence, • Expansion of the list of persons under U.S. sanctions. In early August, Alyaksandr Lukashenka, the authoritarian ruler of Belarus, blatantly rigged a presidential election that was denounced as neither free nor fair by every major democratic country in the world. Following the fraudulent election, historic massive protests swept across the entire country. The people of Belarus are demanding the rights and freedoms promised to them by the Belarusian Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In response, Lukashenka unleashed truly barbaric violence and oppression against peaceful rallies and strikes. Several protesters were killed. Nearly 15,000 people were arrested and jailed. There are over 500 documented cases of torture in detention centers. Scores, including U.S. citizen Vitali Shkliarov, are still being held in custody on spurious, politically motivated charges. Despite the brutal crackdown, Belarusians continue to impress the world with their courage and determination. Every weekend since the election, they keep flooding the streets in tens of thousands all over the country in defiance of the Lukashenka’s repressive machine. Deaf to the calls for a new election and fully reliant on his only ally Vladimir Putin, Lukashenka secretly inaugurated himself on September 23, further indicating his rejection of any dialogue. By cutting all ties with the West and pushing Belarus into complete dependency on Russia, Lukashenka intends to trade Belarus’ sovereignty for his own political future. Any attempt to further incorporate Belarus into Russia may lead to a disastrous scenario right at the NATO’s eastern borders. A free and democratic Belarus is at the core of the U.S. national interests in Eastern Europe. Therefore, I urge you to vote for the bill.
First sent on October 12, 2020 by Belarusian Americans
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