Ripon Advance

Following last month’s illegal election in Belarus, U.S. Reps. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) recently urged the Trump administration to institute sanctions against the Belarusian government for human rights violations against its own people.

“As long-time supporters of liberty in Central and Eastern Europe, we write in strong solidarity with the people of Belarus in their struggle for freedom following that nation’s August 9 fraudulent presidential election,” wrote the congressmen and their colleagues in a Sept. 2 letter sent to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

The members seek increased U.S. efforts to support the Belarusian people by condemning the violence, requesting the release of all political prisoners, and facilitating diplomatic support for new free and fair elections, according to their letter, which was also signed by 19 other congressmen, including U.S. Reps. John Shimkus (R-IL) and Marcy Kaptur (D-OH).

The lawmakers also requested that Secretary Pompeo enhance support for Belarusian civil society, ensure access to balanced and independent media, and coordinate with America’s European allies on applying sanctions.

The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s (OSCE) Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights reported there was “significant administration misconduct,” according to the members’ letter, which noted that OSCE and other international observers were prevented from observing the election and multiple candidates were barred from running.

“In response, the Belarusian people took to the streets demanding dignity, liberty and an election that reflects the will of the people, not dictators,” they wrote. “Tragically, these peaceful protests have been met with violent crackdowns from security services, arbitrary arrests, information lockdowns, persecution of civil society, as well as large-scale torture and ill-treatment of the Belarusian people.”

Rep. Fitzpatrick, Rep. Kinzinger, and their colleagues noted that this movement for change is not about geopolitics, but rather a demand for basic rights and dignity. “For these reasons, we urge you and the administration to provide greater leadership and to continue diplomatic efforts,” the members wrote.