Members of US Congress speak out in support of the Belarusian people

This statement was originally published on pen.org on 4 February 2021.

Since Belarus’s fraudulent presidential elections in August of last year, tens of thousands of Belarusians have poured into the streets in protest, demanding a free and fair election and the immediate removal of long-time dictator Alexander Lukashenko. Belarusians have continued to demonstrate peacefully and in large numbers, despite thousands of arrests, the police’s escalating use of violence, and the exile of legitimately-elected President Sviatlana Tsikhanouvskaya.Cultural figures, in particular, have faced heightened risks since the election, with some 600 cases of rights violations against writers, artists, actors, singers, and public intellectuals over the last year. Among the targets of this cultural crackdown: our partners at PEN Belarus, whose secretary Hanna Komar, project manager Uldaz Liankevic, and members Siarzh MiadzvedzeuDmitry Strotsev, and Olga Shparaga, among others, were detained simply for exercising their right to freedom of expression.In recognition of the International Day of Solidarity with Belarus on February 7, PEN America is sharing statements from members of the U.S. Congress expressing their support for the Belarusian people and reminding the world that the struggle for free expression and democracy in Belarus has not been forgotten. From across the nation and political spectrum, three senators and nine representatives join PEN America in expressing their commitment to supporting human rights in Belarus.

Click here to read the statements by the Members of Congress in Russian.

НАЖМИТЕ, ЧТОБЫ ПРОЧИТАТЬ ОБРАЩЕНИЯ КОНГРЕССМЕНОВ НА РУССКОМ ЯЗЫКЕ »

“My message to the people of Belarus is this: we see you, we hear you and we support your efforts to achieve a free and fair society,” said Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV).

“Your sustained actions on the streets months after fraudulent elections, in the face of beatings and arrest, have inspired me. Believe me, it does not go unnoticed, even as we deal with our own domestic issues in America,” said Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY).

“You are not alone. You are not forgotten. So many of us here in the United States and in Congress – we stand with you,” said Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL).

As the Biden administration and the 117th Congress begin, PEN America urges government officials to consider how they might strengthen their support for Belarusians, including the “writers, reporters, academics, and above all, innocent protesters” whose persecution “is particularly concerning to those of us who cherish free and open debate” (Representative Steve Chabot, R-OH).

“It is part of what being a human being is, to have freedom and the opportunity to live in a non-censored and non-structured supervised world,” said Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN).

“In a democracy, you value citizens’ participation and support civil society groups because their voices are essential. In a democracy, you don’t oppress free expression. I’ve been so impressed by the fortitude of Belarusians,” said Rep. David Trone (D-MD).

The plight of the Belarusian people “epitomizes the continuing struggle for self determination and freedom of speech, freedom of expression, and human dignity,” said Representative Jamie Raskin (D-MD).

“As the government of Belarus strips free speech and fundamental human rights away from their own people, the United States Congress will not hesitate to hold the government to account, and to support the people of Belarus in their quest for a better future after a generation of Lukashenko rule,” said Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA).

“Our message is your message. The voices of the Belarusian people must be heard. The crackdown on peaceful demonstrators must end. And all those who have been unjustly detained must be released,” said Rep. Bill Keating (D-MA).

“To the Belarusian protestors who have demanded that their voices be heard; to the women dressed in white who have formed long solidarity chains to protest police violence; to the employees at the state-run companies who have gone on strike despite the threat of losing their jobs; to the university students who have risked expulsion to join the protests; to the TV anchors who have walked offset, no longer able to support the regime’s propaganda; and to the thousands of pensioners who have marched in opposition to the Belarusian dictator, I want to say to you that you have not been forgotten and that you are not alone,” said Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX).

“We were deeply moved by [Svetlana Tikhanovskaya’s] determination to bring your country into the community of democracies. I welcome that effort. I’m going to continue to do everything I can in the United States to support your aspirations and hope,” said Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL).

“Please join me in calling on the government of Belarus to immediately release all those arbitrarily detained, to respect the right to peaceful assembly, and to assure independent, impartial, and thorough investigations of all allegations of torture and other human rights violations, including the deaths of at least four protestors,” said Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA).

Today, PEN America joins PEN Belarus, Members of Congress, and many others in expressing our solidarity with the people of Belarus, who are not alone in their struggle.

Sign our statement of solidarity with the people of Belarus »

The post Members of US Congress speak out in support of the Belarusian people appeared first on IFEX.

Source: MEDIA FEED

HRNJ-UG Admin

Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda) is a network of human rights journalists in Uganda working towards enhancing the promotion, protection and respect of human rights through defending and building the capacities of journalists, to effectively exercise their constitutional rights and fundamental freedoms for collective campaigning through the media.

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