On Feb 18, the U.S. Department of State imposed visa restrictions on 43 additional individuals for undermining Belarusian democracy. (via State.gov)
The U.S. Congress will consider the House Resolution 124, “Supporting the people of Belarus and their democratic aspirations and condemning the election rigging and subsequent violent crackdowns on peaceful protesters by the illegitimate Lukashenka regime.” (via GovTrack)
Three U.S. senators and nine representatives recognized the International Day of Solidarity with Belarus on Feb 7 by joining PEN America and expressing their commitment to the support of human rights in Belarus.(via Pen.org)
The International Committee for the Investigation of Torture in Belarus released its report for Sept-Nov 2020.Torture of detainees started escalating in September, culminating in the murder of Raman Bandarenka in November. Arrests were carried out as abductions by militia with no signs of identification. Protesters also faced deliberately inhumane conditions of detainment.
(location: google drive)
Belarusian groups in the USA held multiple rallies in support of people in Belarus.
Protesters detained in Belarus since August: over 35,000
“Political prisoners”: 258
Detained in January: at least 873 (via Spring96)
Journalists and human rights defenders were targeted in police raids across Belarus on Feb 16. (via IFJ)
Two women journalists received 2-year prison sentences for live-streaming from a protest rally. (via HRW)
Three workers at the BMZ metals plant were sentenced to prison terms of 2.5 and 3 years for organizing a strike. (via ITUC-CSI)
In Gomel, a 16-year-old teenager with epilepsy was sentenced to 5 years for "mass riots." (via RFERL)
Belarus’s Investigative Committee admitted that the security forces killed a protester but won’t open a criminal case. (via meduza)
Businessman Aleksandr Trotski [Trocki] is facing from ten years in prison to the death penalty. On Aug 12, Trotski's car was stopped by black-clad policemen in balaclavas, who threatened him with a gun. He attempted to drive away. A police officer trying to retrieve Trotski from his car suffered minor injuries. Trotski was severely beaten and tortured and suffered brain injuries and permanent hearing loss. (via Spring96 in Russian only)
March 8: Belarusians will celebrate International Women's Day.
March 25: Belarusians will celebrate Freedom Day. On that day 102 years ago, Belarus first declared its independence. Belarusians in the U.S. urge their states' governors to show solidarity with the people of Belarus and recognize March 25 as Belarusian Independence Day.(via BelarusChicago)
Write to political prisoners on their birthdays using the online service "Pisma v kletochku". Find the list of birthdays from the Telegram channel @dissidentBY.
Support the workers of BelarusKali, GrodnoAzot, Naftan in their strike. (via BelarusTogether)
Buy food for repressed people of Belarus via ineedhelpby.com (in Russian only).
The Belarusian Student Support Association is looking for educational
opportunities for persecuted students and professors. (via bystudentsol)
Show your solidarity on social media. Amnesty International launched its online global solidarity action #StandwithBelarus. (via amnesty)
BelarusTogether.org is collecting assistance for victims of repressions.(via BelarusTogether)
Seattle, WA, sent postcards to political prisoners who had birthdays, listened to a famous opera singer, read poems, and sang together. About 150 people came, including allies from Russia, Ukraine, and Poland.
In Chicago, IL, weekly Buffalo Grove rallies took place in the coldest month ever.
In Portland, OR, Belarusians celebrated the International Day of Solidarity by marching from the Waterfront to the Pioneer Square.
In Boston, MA, over 60 people gathered next to the Massachusetts State House on the Day of Solidarity with Belarus. The event started at the statue of Tadeusz Kosciuszko, who was born in Belarus and sailed to the U.S. in 1776 to support the American revolution.
Belarusians of Los Angeles, CA, and allies of the community ran the 2,334 m (1.45 mi)-long “Marathon for Freedom” along the Santa Monica beach. The distance refers to the notorious Article 23.34 of the Code of the Administrative Offenses routinely and liberally used by the regime to persecute protesters in Belarus.
Belarusians from Philadelphia, PA, and New Jersey and allies of the community got together on the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art to celebrate Valentine’s Day and express our solidarity with political prisoners in Belarus and the Naftan strike.
Belarusians of San Diego, CA, gathered in beautiful Balboa Park.
Pittsburgh, PA, ran a marathon of solidarity on the streets of a busy neighborhood of Lawrenceville and rallied on the steps of majestic Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall.
On the International Day of Solidarity with Belarus, San Francisco, CA, held a joint event of the Belarusian and Russian communities of SF Bay Area. Our communities stand together to condemn the human rights violations in Russia and Belarus!
March 2021 marked eight months since the start of mass protests against the rigged presidential elections of August 2020. According to human rights observers, in March the human rights situation in Belarus “deteriorated significantly, indicating a further aggravation of the crisis.” (via Spring96 and UN Human Rights)
Detained since August: >35,000
Detained in March: at least 1,139
‘Political prisoners’: 322
The police carried out preventative arrests of numerous activists and admins of local chats. The authorities sought to prevent the renewal of large-scale protests on March 25, Belarus Freedom Day. On March 25 and 27, more than 400 people were detained in brutal and random arrests, targeting journalists especially. (via AP, CPJ, and Spring96)
631 peaceful protesters faced criminal charges in March. 400 were convicted, often receiving long sentences. (via Spring96)
Several prisoners protested inhumane detention conditions by going on hunger strikes or harming themselves. (via Spring96)
Nikita Zolotarev, a 16-year-old teenager with epilepsy who in February was sentenced to 5 years for “mass riots”, is now also accused of allegedly attacking a detention guard. According to his father, the boy is held in solitary confinement and is beaten regularly by guards. (via Belsat, in Russian)
A mother of five faces up to 7 years in prison for her “active protest activities.” She was the admin of a local chat and organized neighborhood tea parties, walks, and concerts. (via Spring96)
Human Rights Center "Vyasna" is facing a criminal investigation and is accused of financing "unauthorized mass events." (via Amnesty)
The U.S. State Department will impose sanctions for nine state-owned Belarusian companies. The sanctions were in place before 2015 but were paused then. The State Department calls for the release of all political prisoners. (via RadioFreeEurope)
U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs held a hearing with Belarusian human rights activist and pro-democracy leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya. (via Committee on Foreign Affairs)
Belarusian pro-democracy leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya says the OSCE and UN are ready to facilitate negotiations between the opposition and the Belarusian government. (via DW)
The UN Human Rights Council adopted a resolution on the human rights situation in Belarus. It provided independent UN experts with powers to examine human rights violations in Belarus in order to bring perpetrators to justice. (via UN)
The U.S. State Department, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Bob Menendez, Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Representatives Gregory W. Meeks and Michael McCaul, Representatives Bill Keating, Marcy Kaptur, Adam Kinzinger, Brian Fitzpatrick, and Jim McGovern released statements on March 25, Belarus Freedom Day. (via Committee on Foreign Affairs, StateDept twitter)
Representative Chris Smith called on the Biden administration to use the Belarus Democracy, Human Rights and Sovereignty Act of 2020 to help the people of Belarus. (via Office of Chris Smith)
“Face It: Faces of the Belarusian Protest” exhibition opened at Newman’s Art Gallery in San Francisco. It displays illustrations and photos of Belarusian artists inspired by 2020 election events. Another exhibition, “Come and See,” took place in Boston, MA, on Belarusian Freedom Day.
With the project B4B Journey, a white-red-white Belarusian flag travels from a Belarusian to a Belarusian worldwide to unite the diaspora. It arrived from Minneapolis, MN, to Chicago, IL, where a group of local Belarusians went on tour with it, covering iconic landmarks of the city. (via Падарожжа БЧБ and Belsat in Belarusian)
Rufina Bazlova’s online exhibition “The History of Belarusian Vyzhyvanka,” featuring protest-related comic embroideries, opened on the library platform of UCLA on March 3. (via UCLA)
FUTURE DATES & HOW TO HELP
April 26 will mark 35 years since the Chernobyl nuclear accident, the largest nuclear accident to date. 70% of the radioactive fallout covered the territory of Belarus. (via BBC)
How to write letters to political prisoners if you are outside of Belarus. (via Spring96)
Support workers of BelarusKali, GrodnoAzot, Naftan in their strike. (via BelarusTogether) More than 100 workers of Belaruskali continue their strike amid a brutal crackdown by the authorities. (via RFERL, Belsat)
Volunteer with the Belarusian Student Support Association helping persecuted students and professors. (via BeSSA)
Belarusian communities gathered together in all major cities on the West Coast to Freedom Day. With the help of sponsors and local artists, activists in Los Angeles and Orange County organized an art fair. $2,000 raised from its sales will go to Belarusian solidarity funds.
Belarusians of Philadelphia marked Freedom Day with outdoor performances from Belarusian, American, and Ukrainian bands. More than 300 guests arrived from New York, New Jersey, Ohio, Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC to savor delicious potato pancakes and a red-white-red cake.
Communities in Houston, Dallas, and Austin, TX, organized celebratory picnics. In Dallas, a family posted information about Belarus on a billboard to draw attention to the events there.
Viachka Statkevich, deputy of the BNR Rada, addressed the Belarusian community of Miami, FL, in his commemorative speech. Later, guests played guitar and sang popular songs.
In Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, Honolulu, Minneapolis, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, South River, NJ, and Noblesville, IN, local groups held festive dinners with Belarusian dishes and quizzes.
Belarusians in Boston, Denver, Detroit, and Washington, DC held their rallies near iconic landmarks in their respective cities. Along with many Belarusian American communities, they recorded celebratory addresses to the people of Belarus.
April 2021 marked 9 months since the start of protests against the rigged presidential elections of August 2020.
Detained since August (out of population of 9.5mln): >35,000
Detained in April: at least 304
Politically motivated criminal trials in April: at least 98
‘Political prisoners’: 360 (Spring96)
Ongoing repressions continue to rely on criminal prosecution for political reasons – along with arbitrary detentions of peaceful protesters, arrests for displaying white-red-white symbols in private homes, use of torture in prisons, and politically motivated firing of employees. (via Spring96 report, pen-center.by)
At least six minors faced politically motivated criminal charges and prison sentences. (via Svaboda, in Belarusian)
Military and police forces flooded Minsk to prevent rallies on April 26, the 35th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear accident. (via RFERL)
The authorities attempted to portray non-violent protests as plotting a military coup and assassination of Belarus’ dictator Lukashenka. Belarusian and Russian security services detained three alleged plotters: lawyer Yuri Zyankovich, politician Ryhor Kastusiou, and political analyst and critic Aliaksandr Fiaduta. (via Belsat)
The U.S. DoS denied conspiracy to eliminate Lukashenka. (via Belsat)
LGBTQ+ activists took an active part in the 2020 protests. (via Baltic Words)
The U.S. Congress adopted Resolution 124, stating that the August 9, 2020 election in Belarus was neither free nor fair, and the House of Representatives does not recognize Alyaksandr Lukashenka as the country's legitimate president. (via congress.gov)
The U.S. Congress held hearings on democracy and human rights in Belarus. The hearings were organized by Representatives Christopher H. Smith and James P. McGovern. Pro-democracy leader Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya testified. (via house.gov; includes written testimonies).
In a recent interview, Julie Fisher, U.S. Ambassador to Belarus, noted that “There can be no question that Alexander Lukashenko remains in power and is in control of the government in Belarus. But there is a difference between legitimacy and the exercise of power… We do not recognize that he won the election in August.” (via NPR)
PEN International called for the immediate release of literary critic Aliaksandr Fiaduta. (via PEN International)
Thirteen Belarusian communities in the US sent a joint letter to human rights organizations on behalf of Mikita Zalatarou. Amnesty International came out with a statement asking for his release.
Mikita Zalatarou, a 17-year-old teenager with epilepsy, was tortured in detention, received a 5-year sentence for participation in protests, and is currently in solitary confinement.
Project B4B Journey continues! The white-red-white Belarusian flag traveling between Belarusian communities worldwide to unite the diaspora made it to Detroit, MI, Cleveland, OH, and Pittsburgh, PA. (via Падарожжа БЧБ Facebook)
Cultural events in April included lectures on art and the protests in Belarus: "Art, Memory, and Protest in Belarus" (Havighurst Center Annual Lecture; read more here); "No Time for Art?" (Institute of Radical Imagination; watch here); "We Came out into the Streets!" (University of Bergen)
of BelarusKali, GrodnoAzot, Naftan in their strike. (via BelarusTogether)
According to Amnesty International, the Belarusian authorities are ruthlessly targeting independent trade unions as part of the crackdown on the protests.
The nonprofit organization Belarusians in Chicago, IL, along with Ukrainian and Polish communities, planted grass and trees for the conservation of the beach ground and cleaned the Sam Leone Beach Park. After hours of work, people gathered for a small picnic.
Belarusians of Boston, MA, observed a minute of silence for all the victims. Against the background of a giant three-meter radiation sign and to the sounds of a Geiger counter, representatives of the diaspora told their stories of the tragedy.
Belarusians of Western PA held in Point State Park, Pittsburgh, PA. Activists held an installation and performed a reading from Voices of Chernobyl by the Nobel laureate Svetlana Alexievich.
In New York, NY, Belarusians from different states gathered near the UN headquarters to express solidarity with victims, clean-up workers, and those who still live in the contaminated areas.
In San Diego, CA, members of the Belarusian community marched through the downtown with informative posters about the disaster and its outcomes.
In Austin, TX, Belarusians marched through the downtown. Among the attendees was an eyewitness of the events of the night of 26 April 1986 in Chernobyl.
May 2021 marked 10 months since the start of protests against the rigged presidential elections of August 2020.
Detained since August (out of population of 9.5mln): >35,000
Detained in April: at least 332
Politically motivated criminal trials in May: at least 109
‘Political prisoners’: 454 (via Spring96)
On May 23 the Ryanair Flight FR#4978 from Athens to Vilnus carrying dissident journalist Raman Pratasevich was forced to land. As a result, there are currently no passenger flights between Belarus and European Union. Authorities released two confession videos under torture. (via NPR, CNN)
Belarus opens a criminal case against Tut.by, the largest independent, online media outlet in Belarus, blocks its website, and detains everyone inside. (via abcNEWS, Freejournalists.info) Authorities raid a Minsk studio of the news channel Belsat and homes of its journalists (via RFERL, Euronews)
The regime continues to kill. After a police interrogation for participating in political protests,17-year old orphan Dmitry Stahovski jumped out the window, blaming the pressure from the authorities for his death. (via Reuters) Vitold Ashurak died in prison. (via The Guardian) Stepan Latypov tried to commit suicide in court. (via CNN) Lyudmila Khlusevich who suffers from leukemia and will be tried for a comment in a social network wrote in a death note “I ASK THAT YOU BLAME THE STATE FOR MY DEATH.” (via Belsat)
Reports suggest beatings and torture are rife during raids and in detention. (via BBC)
President Biden issued a statement calling for the release of Raman Pratasevich and hundreds of other political prisoners and for an international investigation of the diversion of Ryanair Flight FR#4978. (via whitehouse.gov)
In her statement Press Secretary Jen Psaki underscored that the United States will continue to advocate for action against the Lukashenka regime for its "affront to international norms and undermining of democracy and human rights" (via whitehouse.gov)
Several members of the U.S. Congress issued statements condemning the forced diversion of a commercial flight and called for Aleksander Lukashenka to be accountable for these violations of international laws and norms. (via Twitter, FCFR)
U.S. Senators Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) held a joint press conference with Belarusian leader and activist Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya in Vilnius, Lithuania. (via TheHill)
In a recent interview, Julie Fisher, U.S. Ambassador to Belarus, noted that the ‘West must respond in terms that Lukashenka is able to understand’. (via Belsat)
In a new publication Amnesty International reports about brutal reprisals against students and reveals the disruptive impact of the state’s repression on academic life in Belarus. (via Amnesty)
Twenty Belarusian communities in the US sent a joint letter in support of Raman Pratasevich. (via aba-together.org)
The Belarus Freedom Forum, on behalf of Belarusian-American communities, calls on President Biden, Vice President Harris, the US Congress, and the State Department to initiate an immediate investigation, demand Belarusian cooperation with the international community, and set consequences for the Lukashenka regime’s diversion of Ryanair Flight #FR4978 and arrest of journalist Raman Pratasevich on May 23, 2021. (BelarusFF)
The Association of Belarusians in America (ABA) has formed in California. It unites community leaders from 25 cities across the United States. Its first membership meeting took place on May 16th, 2021, in Philadelphia, PA.
Two claims have been filed by Belarusian citizens against President Alexander Lukashenko and his security apparatus: one with Germany's Federal Public Prosecutor's Office, and the other with the International Criminal Court in The Hague. (via Deutsche Welle, belaruswomen.org)
In light of reports of police intimidation of people writing to political prisoners, it is crucial to send letters from abroad. "Support has no boundaries: how to write letters to political prisoners if you are outside of Belarus." (via Spring96)
In May, eleven Belarusian-American communities joined the Global Solidarity Picket with Belarus to voice their support of the detained journalists and the students on trial (via RFERL) and to urge the United States to make the release of Belarusian political prisoners its central demand of the Lukashenko regime.
In Portland, OR, Belarusians gathered in the Waterfront Park to mourn the passing of Vitold Ashurak and to show their support of the brave striking workers at BelAZ factory.
On May 22, a group of protesters from New England held a rally at the New Hampshire State House in Concord, NH, drawing attention to human rights atrocities committed by Lukashenka.
Belarusians in Minnesota held their rally on Irene Hixon Whitney Pedestrian Bridge to protest Russian interference in Belarusian internal affairs.
May 21-23 Belarusian communities of North Carolina spent the weekend paddleboarding and hiking in Jackrabbit Mountain National Forests.
In Denver, CO, Belarusians expressed their support of friends and relatives back in Belarus in front of the Museum of Nature and Science.
Belarusian diaspora of Honolulu, HI, protested next to the "Surfer on a Wave" statue and urged the Belarusian government to release all political prisoners.
August 9 will mark one year since the blatantly falsified presidential elections in Belarus and the start of the protests.
Political prisoners: 603
The brutal crackdown continued with at least 232 politically motivated criminal trials in June and July (via Viasna and Viasna). Trials of Sergei Tikhanousky, Igor Losik, Nikolai Statkevich, and other activists were held in their place of detention. Former presidential candidate Viktor Babariko was sentenced to 14 years in prison.
In July, the authorities organized massive purges (chistki) of the remaining independent and local news media, human rights, and civil society organizations. More than 50 organizations were closed down. Polish-funded news media Belsat was labeled ‘extremist.’ Among the detained were Ales Belyatski, the head of the human rights organization Viasna, along with many dozens of human rights and civil society activists, journalists, and independent analysts. (via The Guardian, AP, Viasna, and Viasna).
Earlier in June, special forces also raided private businesses, accusing them of tax fraud and support of the protesters (via tut.by/zerkalo.io and Belarusian officials, in Russian). Arrests of protest activists continue. (via Belta).
Pro-democracy leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya visited the US on July 18-31. In the course of the visit, Tsikhanouskaya:
- met with President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Anthony J Blinken, and other top officials of President Biden’s administration, as well as former Secretaries of State Madeleine Albright and Condoleezza Rice;
- attended the opening ceremony of the bipartisan Friends of Belarus Caucus in the US Congress, meeting with Representatives Bill Keating, Chris Smith, Marcy Kaptur, and Joe Wilson; met with Rep. Bob Menendez, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and other representatives;
- met with Ambassador Julie Fisher and all EU ambassadors and heads of missions;
- gave interviews to CNN, MSNBC Morning Joe, Foreign Policy, National Interest, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Atlantic Council, AP News, Bloomberg, Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty, Voice of America, tut.by / zerkalo.io, BuzzFeed News, Kennan Institute, TV Rain.
Tsikhanouskaya described Belarus as on the frontline of the struggle between autocracy and democracy. She called for the support of Belarusian civil society, political and financial isolation of the regime, and support for democratic Belarus in the future.
The vlog diary of the visit is on Strana dlya Zhizni.