Help Us Promote Belarus Democracy Act

Updated: Nov 16, 2020

How to promote Belarus Democracy, Human Rights and Sovereignty Act of 2020





What Belarus Democracy Act is and why it’s important


H.R. 8438 Belarus Democracy, Human Rights, and Sovereignty Act of 2020 is a bill introduced into the House on September 29, 2020 It’s important to act now because Congress will be in session until mid-December 2020. If the bill doesn’t pass before the deadline, it will have to be reintroduced in 2021

Can I reach out to my legislator?

You do NOT have to be U.S. Citizen If you live, work, or pay taxes, you are a constituent and can reach out to legislators It’s important that you reach out ONLY to Senators representing your State and the Representative from your Congressional District

1. Find your legislators (two Senators and one Representative)

Representative (one per Congressional District): · Go to https://www.house.gov/representatives/find-your-representative · Enter your ZIP Code (you may additionally need to enter your full address) · Once you found your Representative, click on the envelope icon below their photo to get to the Representative’s contact form Senators (two per State):

· Go to https://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm · Under “Choose a State”, please select your State · You should see two Senators with links to their websites 2. Reach out via an electronic form · Go to the legislator’s website · Look for a section “Contact Me” or “Share Your Opinion” · You should arrive at an electronic contact form · Under “Issues your email relates to” or “Topic” select or type in “Human Rights”, “Foreign Affairs”, or “International Affairs” · If there is a Subject line, please use “Vote for Belarus Democracy, Human Rights and Sovereignty Act” · Copy-paste the full version letter below · Fill in the name of the legislator in the space that is in red (e.g., the first line should say Dear Senator Cardin: or Dear Representative Smith:) · Fill in your name in the space that is in red at the bottom of the letter · If there is a limit on the number of characters, use the short version of the letter below, too · Click Submit 3. Follow up with a phone call · Find the phone number of the legislator’s office in Washington, DC (it usually starts with 202-22*) on their website in the contact info · Either use the full phone script or explain in your own words that you would like the legislator vote for the Belarus Democracy, Human Rights and Sovereignty Act · The full script and the talking points are attached below in the Word file. 4. Spread the word · Ask your family and friends in the US to contact their legislators regarding the issue · Share your position on Facebook and Twitter · The volume of correspondence is important to get the Belarus Democracy, Human Rights and Sovereignty Act passed before December 10, 2020 5. Repeat the next day Send the letter or call again the next day.

Optional (but very helpful): Once the forms have been submitted, please send an email to democracyforbelarus@gmail.com with the name or the representative or the Senator you have submitted the form to so we can track your submission. No other personal information is required.

Letter Template (Full Version)


Dear <Representative Name> or <Senator Name>:

As your constituent, I am writing to express my grave 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 and foreign media operating in Belarus, disrupt Internet access, and block content online;

· 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 as well as the introduction of measures to deter the Government of Russia from doing so in the future;

· Expansion of the list of persons under U.S. sanctions to include those directly responsible for elections fraud and violence against the peaceful protesters;

· Coordination with the European Union and its member states, the United Kingdom, and Canada to develop a comprehensive, multilateral strategy to further the purposes of the Act.

In early August, Alyaksandr Lukashenka, the authoritarian ruler of Belarus for the last 26 years, often referred to as “the last dictator in Europe”, blatantly rigged a presidential election that was denounced as neither free nor fair by every major democratic country in the world, including the U.S.

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 the peaceful rallies and strikes, while also restricting the free flow of information by disrupting Internet access and silencing journalists.

Nearly 15,000 people were arrested and jailed, hundreds were gravely injured, and several protesters were killed. Much experienced cruel treatment by the security forces in detention centers, as evidenced by over 500 documented cases of torture. 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 hundreds of thousands all over the country in defiance of the Lukashenka’s repressive machine. Thousands of employees at Belarusian government agencies and state-owned enterprises, who have been always seen as the core of Lukashenka’s electorate, went on strike or resigned in protest against the illegitimate election and the violence by the security forces.

Deaf to the calls for a new election from within the country and the world community 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 similar disastrous scenario seen in Ukraine’s Donbass region and Crimea being played outright at the NATO’s eastern borders.

A free and democratic Belarus is at the core of the U.S. national interests in Eastern Europe. The Belarus Democracy, Human Rights, and Sovereignty Act of 2020 will set in motion robust mechanisms to promote democracy in Belarus and ensure its sovereignty, thus strengthening security in a region crucial for the U.S. and its allies. Therefore, I urge you to vote in favor of the bill.

Sincerely,

<Your Name>

Letter Template (Short Version – Under 3,000 Characters)


Dear <Representative Name> or <Senator Name>:

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.

Sincerely,

<Your Name>



Phone Scripts (Two Options)


OPTION 1 - Full Script

My name is <Your Name>. I’m calling from <Your City> or <You Congressional District> about the Belarus Democracy, Human Rights, and Sovereignty Act of 2020.

I am a <Belarusian> American and it is especially important to me that the United States do everything possible to support the democratic movement in Belarus.

The Belarusian dictator Alyaksandr Lukashenka has been in power for 26 years since 1994. He has rigged five elections and has just inaugurated himself for the sixth term. The people of Belarus have been protesting against the rigged elections for two months now. But Russia’s Vladimir Putin continues to support the regime with money, propaganda experts, and threats of military intervention.

The reauthorization of the Belarus Democracy Act gives the US government the tools to help the people of Belarus, including a broad authority to impose personal sanctions against Belarusian and Russian officials involved in rigging the elections, the security forces crackdown on protesters, and the creation and the distribution of propaganda.

The Belarusian people need all the help that the US can give them. The unified action by the US and the European Union shows the people of Belarus that the world supports them and it shows to Lukashenka that it’s time for him to step down.

It’s very important to me that <Senator Name>/<Representative Name> votes for the Belarus Democracy, Human Rights, and Sovereignty Act of 2020.

I also would like to make sure that this call was logged in your constituents’ issue tracker.

OPTION 2 - Talking Points


· Introduce yourself: name and the city where you live

· Tell you are calling about the Belarus Democracy, Human Rights, and Sovereignty Act of 2020 (the bill # is HR 8438)

· Describe your heritage (Belarusian, other ex-USSR or ex-Soviet Bloc) or the interest in the issue

· Explain what the bill does. The most important points are at the top. You don’t have to mention everything:

o Expands the list of persons under U.S. sanctions, including Belarusians involved in the rigging of elections and security forces brutality as well as Russians involved in the production and the distribution of propaganda

o Refuses to recognize any incorporation of Belarus into a so-called “Union State” under the control of Russia

o Refuses to recognize Lukashenka as the legitimately elected leader of Belarus

o Calls for a new presidential election in Belarus in accordance with OSCE standards

o Calls for an immediate release of all political prisoners in Belarus, including the U.S. citizen Vitali Shkliarov

o Provisions assistance to avert attempts by the Government of Belarus to harass independent media and block Internet access

o Requires an investigative report on Russia’s efforts to undermine Belarus’ sovereignty and independence

· Provide a background on the situation in Belarus. You don’t have to mention everything:

o Lukashenka has been in power for 26 years since 1994

o He illegally amended the Constitution to remove checks and balances and give himself legislative powers

o His rule has been marked by rigged elections, closures of independent media, and persecution of political opponents

o Most prominent political figures disappeared in the late 1990s

o Lukashenka’s cronies rigged 5 elections including the latest on August 9, 2020

o Hundreds of thousands of people have been protesting for two months now, since the last election

o Nearly 15,000 people have been detained and subsequently fined or jailed, including a US citizen. The United Nations recorded nearly 500 cases of torture because of severe beatings in custody

o Russia has provided technical assistance to support the dictatorship including sending its Russia Today staff to replace Belarusian state TV workers who had gone on strike or quit their jobs

· Say that you want the Senator or the Representative to vote for the Belarus Democracy, Human Rights, and Sovereignty Act of 2020

· Confirm that the call was logged in a constituents’ issues tracker


Long and short forms of the petition to reflect the text in the attached Word document


Letter in Support of Belarus_v2020.10
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Download 12 • 122KB