Estonian Americans in several communities came out to show their support for the ongoing fight for democracy in Belarus. Socially-distanced, COVID-aware rallies have been held across the U.S. in recent weeks as outrage over disputed elections and demand for change continue in Minsk and beyond. In addition to Washington, DC, Estonian communities supported events in New York City and Lakewood, NJ.
The Estonian American National Council’s (EANC) Washington, DC Director, Karin Shuey, offered supportive remarks at two events in the nation’s capital. On August 23rd, over 200 supporters of Belarus gathered at the Embassy of Lithuania and then created a Baltic Way-like human chain stretching toward the Embassy of Belarus, about a mile away. The participants stood in solidarity with a chain organized in Lithuania, dubbed Freedom Way, taking place at the same time, that stretched from Vilnius to the country’s border with Belarus. According to euronews.com, 50,000 people took part in that event. The Baltic Way’s anniversary date was chosen intentionally as a symbol of hope that freedom will flourish in Belarus as it did in the Baltic nations.
The Freedom Way DC event was organized by the local Lithuanian and Belarusian communities, with high-level leadership by Ambassadors Kurt Volker (former U.S. Ambassador to NATO and Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations) and John Herbst (former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine). Other notable participants included Ambassador Daniel Fried (former Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs and Ambassador to Poland), Ian Brzezinski (former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Europe and NATO Policy), and Damon Wilson (Former Senior Director for European Affairs at the National Security Council).
On August 12th, a rally was organized by Belarusian community leaders on Black Lives Matter Plaza. It was attended by over 100 Belarusian Americans and friends of Belarus.
At both events, Karin represented EANC, the Joint Baltic American National Committee (JBANC), and the Central and East European Coalition (CEEC). She stressed that Belarus is not alone in its fight for democracy. EANC, JBANC, and the other member organizations of the CEEC represent over 20 million American voters with heritage from those parts of Europe and make regular contact with Congressional offices to raise awareness of issues important to our communities. Supporting freedom in Belarus is currently at the top of the CEEC’s list. Belarus is at a pivotal moment in its history, similar to where many European nations were in 1989, and Americans with roots in those nations want democracy in Belarus to succeed. JBANC and the CEEC issued statements that are posted at jbanc.org and ceecoalition.us, respectively.
EANC will continue to advocate for new elections in Belarus and sanctions against those who participated in election fraud or human rights violations. We thank all who have taken part in rallies and advocacy on Belarus’s behalf.
Жыве Беларусь! Žyvie Bielarus’! Elagu Valgevene! Long live Belarus!