Belarusian Americans Condemn Brutality Against Peaceful Demonstrators in Minsk

On December 19, members of the Belarusan-American Association monitoring the results of the presidential election in Belarus had adopted the following statement:

· We, the members of the Belarusan-American Association, both American citizens as well as new immigrants, express our concern with yet another election in Belarus, that was neither free nor fair.

· We condemn the brutal actions of the SpetsNaz forces in forcibly dispersing a peaceful demonstration in Minsk protesting the flawed elections at the conclusion of voting on December 19. We also protest the beatings and the arrest of the following opposition candidates: Nyeklayeu, Statkevich, Sannikau, Rymasheuski, Kastusyeu.

· Since free and fair elections are not possible without freedom of expression and without ongoing access to the local media, we are calling on the United States Government to provide sufficient support to such media that are directed to Belarus from the outside.

· Since the establishment of democracy, respect for human rights and the rule of law can be aided by relevant American institutions, we are therefore calling for the restoration of an effective and unhampered operation of the U.S. Embassy in Minsk, as a first step.

· Toward these ends we are calling on the U.S. Government to show greater engagement toward Belarus, balancing economic aid with sanctions against those responsible for the continuance of the dictatorial rule.

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