HR 8438 Belarus Democracy, Human Rights, and Sovereignty Act of 2020



Timeline:


Now it is going through the necessary formal steps and should be finalized before the EOY. You may track the overall progress of the BDA here.


December 21, 2020, 11.59 pm - The Senate just called the vote results. HR 133 passed with 91 votes for and 7 votes against. It is a veto-proof supermajority. The sanctions bill will be enacted within 10 days.


December 21, 2020, 7.00 pm - The US House of Representatives has passed the amendments to HR 133 proposed by the US Senate turning Division FF, Title III, Subtitle C into the Belarus Democracy, Human Rights, and Sovereignty act of 2020. The Senate is expected to approve it quickly later tonight, and then the entire 5593-page bill will be sent to the White House for President's signature. It will be signed next week because of some technical issues. We will share the details of the law and its sister laws later.


December 21, 2020, 12.00 pm - The provisions of HR 8438 The Belarus Democracy Act of 2020 are officially included in HR 133 (PDF), the omnibus appropriations bill, under Title III —Foreign Relations and Department of State Provisions Subtitle C. The section also includes Subtitle G Other Provisions, which establishes the Office of Sanctions Coordination at the Department of State


December 20, 2020, 6:30 am - The House and Senate leadership announced that they had come to an agreement on the COVID relief package and the rest of the omnibus appropriations bill. We do not know for sure whether the provisions of HR 8438 are included in the final draft of the omnibus bill. It appears that the text is not finalized and Congress will be passing another 1-day stopgap bill to have the time to finish it. We remain hopeful.


December 14, 2020, 10.00 am - The news from Washington, DC suggests that both parties are coming toward a consensus on the key component of the appropriations bill, the COVID relief package. The bill must pass both chambers and be signed by President by Friday to avoid a government shutdown on Saturday. We have heard that HR 8438 is being considered for inclusion but we will not know for sure until the final omnibus bill is introduced. So please send your letters tonight hr8438support.netlify.app Congressional offices count one contact for every day so repetition is the key to success.


Thank you, everyone, for your incredible efforts!

We did something incredible. The US is now on the field as a result of tremendous, focused effort by a small, but very determined group.

We could not have done it without you. We are sincerely grateful for all your efforts to help, sympathy, and support the people of Belarus peacefully fighting for freedom and Democracy.

Here is a brief video message with the words of gratitude from Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya (in Russian with auto-translated captions in English)



This is an intermediate result and we are proceeding with other initiatives. If you would like to contribute and participate - please leave us a message.


If you do not know why we’re trying so hard to pass a sanctions bill against the dictatorial regime in Belarus, you can watch this 7-minute video on YouTube about the situation in Belarus or read the recent op-ed in the Washington Post by the national leader of Belarus in exile Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya. There another 3-min video specifically about Belarus Democracy Act (HR8438).


Why this Act is important to Belarusians:

Among its many other provisions, the legislation:

  • Calls for new elections in Belarus.

  • It recognizes the Coordination Council as a legitimate institution to participate in a dialogue on a peaceful transition of power.

  • It calls for the release of all political prisoners.

  • It supports the aspirations of the people of Belarus to exercise their religious freedom.

  • It authorizes assistance to promote democracy and civil society in Belarus.

  • It unequivocally states that it is the policy of the United States “not to recognize any incorporation of Belarus into a ‘Union State’ with Russia.

  • It requires a U.S. strategy to promote broadcasting, internet freedom, and access to information.

  • In addition, it gives much-needed support to the Belarusian media, and to the IT sector.


Some analytics:





Ask Your Friends and Family to Support the Belarus Democracy Act and Other Initiatives


Please see the flyer you can share with your friends and family below (next 2 pages). Also, you can share the link to this Document as one of the alternatives.



Contact Your Place of Worship and Ask for Their Support

Articles containing examples of how Lukashenko is trying to suppress the clergy in Belarus:

Catholic News article discussing the violence in Belarus

The Hill article discussing religious freedom oppressions in Belarus

Tut.by article discussing the arrest of a Catholic priest in Belarus (in Russian)



Svetlana Tsikhanouskaya’s statement in support of religious communities of Belarus:

“I know that priests, pastors, and believers of different denominations came out to actions of solidarity against violence and lawlessness, opened the doors of churches to shelter peaceful protesters, rang bells, volunteered at prisons, visited the victims in hospitals, and prayed for peace and truth. ... And I know that you continue to do so.

But the regime responded with reprisals. Two Catholic priests, Eduard Sinkevich and Alexander Fedotov were arrested in Baranovichi immediately after the elections. The Orthodox priest Vladimir Drobyshevsky from Gomel, the father of six, was arrested and held in custody for 25 days. In Volkovysk, Orthodox priest Alexander Bogdan was tried twice, and many of the participants in the prayer service for Belarus in the Orthodox church were taken to the detention centers right after the prayer. Irena Bernatskaya, a Catholic believer from Lida, was fined for prayer. There was pressure on the Greek-Catholic priest Igor Kondratyev from Brest: he was threatened that his parish would be removed from the list of allowed religious organizations. In Vitebsk, the Greek-Catholic believer Marina Bulatovskaya was fined, and the same is true for the Protestant pastor Taras Telkovsky in Misk. In Gomel, the Snezhkov family of Old Believers was detained: spouse Natalya was fined, two minor children were taken to an orphanage, and a criminal case was opened against the head of the family Hermann. The religious family of Alexander and Tatiana Tsilindz from Grodno is also awaiting trial. Finally, the Catholic Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz has not been able to return to his homeland for almost two months. Despite all that, you continue to talk about a world based on justice.

I reach out to religious leaders and religious communities with words of gratitude. I thank you for your solidarity with people who want to stop violence, free prisoners of conscience, and achieve fair elections. The support of the Church is now more important than ever. True democracy respects everyone's faith and voice. Let this voice continue to rise, and sound more and more distinctly - and it will be heard. "


More information can be found here