Statement on Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya visit to Washingto D.C.

July 16, 2021

The Honorable Joseph R. Biden, Jr.
President of the United States of America
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President:

We American friends of democratic Belarus thank you for your support of the Belarusian people in your meetings with U.S. allies, friends, and partners as well as for your administration’s actions to increase sanctions against the Lukashenka regime and his enablers. Last fall, you said regarding Belarus, “No leader who tortures his own people can ever claim legitimacy” and “I will continue to join Svetlana Tikhanovskaya and the people of Belarus in calling for the peaceful transfer of power, the release of all political prisoners, and free and fair elections.” We urge you to meet with Ms. Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, the leader of Belarusian democratic forces who beat Aliaksandr Lukashenka in the presidential election on August 9th, 2020, during her visit to Washington, D.C. the week of July 18th, 2021.

Meeting with Ms. Tsikhanouskaya will demonstrate American solidarity with the Belarusian people who are fighting for liberty and democracy against the brutal tyranny of the Lukashenka regime. It will also communicate clearly to Lukashenka and those who support him that the United States will stand firmly against human rights abuses in Belarus and support the democratic aspirations of its people.

By voting for Ms. Tsikhanouskaya in August 2020, the Belarusian people rejected dictatorship, choosing instead democracy and freedom. Even after a year of unprecedented state-sponsored violence and repression against their peaceful protests, the Belarusian people have continued their non-violent fight for self-determination. To date, the regime has arrested over 30,000 people. 563 Belarusians are now designated as political prisoners. In the past week alone, the Lukashenka regime closed several media outlets, raided more than a dozen human rights organizations, arrested journalists and human rights defenders, and disbarred lawyers representing political prisoners. Just today, the Minsk office of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty was raided and ransacked and the homes of some of its journalists were searched. If not deterred, the Lukashenka regime will eradicate civil society in Belarus. As the intercept and diversion of Ryanair Flight #4978 demonstrated, Lukashenka is a threat not just to Belarusians, but also to our NATO and European friends and allies. The Belarusian people seek nothing more than to co-exist with the citizens of the neighboring countries and to thrive as an independent nation.

Mr. President, many of us have experienced life under autocratic rule. We know what it is like to be deprived of rights and freedoms. As Americans, we believe it is a moral obligation of the United States to protect human rights and support those who fight for democracy. The Belarusian people have already paid an enormous price to make their voices heard. We cannot just look the other way. We hope you will meet with Ms. Tsikhanouskaya.

Yours truly,

Association of Belarusians in America
Belarus Freedom Forum
Free Belarus Coalition
The Belarusian-American Association