Dear Secretary Mayorkas: We, members of the Belarusian-American community, urgently request that you grant Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designation for Belarus and Special Student Relief for Belarusians studying in the US. Belarus satisfies the third condition for granting TPS: political repression in Belarus has created the extraordinary and temporary condition of a political and humanitarian crisis that prevents Belarusians from returning safely to Belarus. Further, Belarus is participating in Russia’s war against Ukraine as a staging ground and launch site for attacks on Ukraine, satisfying the first condition for granting TPS. Both of these qualifying conditions for TPS threaten US national interests and sovereignty.
- We are a bipartisan advocacy organization of Belarusian-Americans working to facilitate a democratic breakthrough in Belarus. We envision a strong Belarusian-American community that positively contributes to the fabric of American society and promotes its democratic values in the global arena.
- Provide support to the democratic movement in Belarus
- Create an informational resource about culture, history, and current events in Belarus
- Offer a platform for discussion of U.S. policy related to Belarus
- Facilitate constructive dialogue between Belarusian and American societies
Lukashenka’s new decree forces Belarusians to take chances on imprisonment in Belarus or be trapped abroad without documents. The United States should not tolerate the rogue government of Belarus forcing Belarusians residing legally inside the U.S. into an untenable choice between statelessness and arbitrary imprisonment. Granting Belarusians Temporary Protected Status and Special Student Relief will demonstrate the United States’ dedication to supporting democracy and human rights against dictatorship and oppression.
As the courageous mass protests and the ongoing brutal oppression in Belarus fade from public attention in the U.S., we see growing criticism of the sanctions imposed on the Lukashenka regime by the U.S. and its democratic allies. While a critical reassessment of the U.S. policy towards Belarus is always worthwhile, and Belarus Freedom Forum has published our vision of the U.S. policy on Belarus, we believe that much of the recent criticism of Belarus sanctions is misleading and the idea of relaxing sanctions on the Lukashenka regime is harmful both to the prospect of democracy in Belarus and to global security.
On August 9, the Belarusians who fled the Lukashenka dictatorial regime mark the third anniversary of the Belarusian mass protests against the dictatorship and the fraudulent presidential elections of 2020. Rallies in honor of the protests are planned in 38 cities in the United States and the European Union, where the Belarusian exiles have found refuge. This day has become a tribute to the lives of those killed and persecuted by the regime, a tribute to a courageous battle against the ruthless dictatorship, and a new step toward freedom and democracy for the Belarusian nation.
Use this script to call your elected officials and ask them to get Belarus designated for Temporary Protected Status. Call the Washington, DC, office and ask to speak with the foreign policy advisor. If they are unavailable, leave a message with the receptionist. If you get their voicemail inbox, please leave a message.
Tuesday, July 11, 2023, marked a new low in the developing tragedy in Belarus. In the early morning, Belarusian society was shocked by the death of a prominent artist and political prisoner, Ales Pushkin. Ales died in the custody of Belarusian prison authorities under unclear circumstances after being rushed from prison to an intensive care unit. According to sources, Ales developed stomach ulcers while in prison and was not treated for his medical condition. The Belarus Freedom Forum calls on the Biden-Harris Administration and U.S. Congress to increase pressure on the Lukashenka regime to release all political prisoners and investigate all deaths in police custody.
A Russia-controlled dictatorship in Belarus is a clear and present danger to the security of the United States and its transatlantic allies and partners. In 2020, Belarusians made a clear choice for democracy and independence. Instead, the Belarusian people had the last vestiges of political rights and civil liberties taken away, the Lukashenka regime facilitated Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022 and signed the nuclear weapons deployment deal in 2023, dragging Belarus toward gradual annexation by Russia. The Russian assault on Kyiv via Belarus in February 2022 demonstrated the strategic importance of Belarus for European security. The U.S. government should take concrete steps to safeguard independence of Belarus, to help Belarusians in forced exile build the expertise and recognition needed for a peaceful transition of power to a democratically elected government, and to ensure accountability for human rights violations and war crimes committed by Lukashenka and Putin regimes.
The Belarus Freedom Forum calls upon the U.S. Government to set consequences for any current or potential plans to deploy Russian nuclear weapons in Belarus. We ask that additional sanctions be considered if Belarus and Russia move forward with the nuclear weapons plan.
The Belarus Freedom Forum seeks your help to urge U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and the Department of Homeland Security to designate Belarus for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) in response to the extraordinary and temporary conditions that prevent the safe return of Belarusian citizens to their home country.
On March 25, Belarusian Americans will celebrate Dzien Voli, Belarus Freedom Day, to mark the 105th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence and the Sovereignty of the Belarusian Nation. On March 25, 1918, the Rada of the Belarusian Democratic Republic announced its independence from the Russian Empire. The Rada established the White-Red-White Flag and coat of arms Pahonia as national symbols. March 25 became a symbol of the Belarusian pro-democracy movement celebrating freedom, human rights, and resistance to dictatorship and oppression.