When I first heard of the charities supporting democracy in Belarus, including BYSOL (on Facebook), By_HELP (on Facebook), and MediaSOL, an initiative of BYSOL (on Facebook, donate via Facebook), I was a bit skeptical of their legitimacy. At the time they almost exclusively gathered donations via Facebook and had very minimal websites. (Now their presence appears more legitimate.) So, in addition to reading about them in a few news articles, I reached out to a more well known charity that vouched for them. Here is part of an email I received from the Human Rights Foundation (donate) back in February. I hope it helps you in making your decision to support the victims of tyranny and torture.
HRF continues to work with several Belarusian human rights organizations to distribute funding, including BYSOL, BY_Help, and MediaSOL. All donations from the Belarusian Solidarity Fund go directly to victims of government repression, including peaceful protesters, journalists, and striking factory workers. You can read more about the recipients at the links provided above.
In December, HRF announced a new partnership with the Belarusian community in Boston, who started a fundraiser to support the GrodnoAzot strike committee on a monthly basis. That fundraiser has now raised $18,000 for the striking workers of the GrodnoAzot chemical factory.
Since the success of the GrodnoAzot fundraiser, HRF has started partnerships with the Belarusian community in New York, which has adopted the Belaruskali factory, and the Belarusian community in Seattle, which has adopted the Naftan factory. Together, these three fundraisers have raised over $35,000 for striking factory workers.
GrodnoAzot and other state-run factories are one of the largest export revenue sources for the Belarusian dictatorship and have been the focus of some of the harshest repressions, including unlawful firings, arbitrary detentions, criminal prosecution, and even beatings by police to force the striking workers back onto the factory floor.
Your support for these initiatives keeps the struggle for democracy in Belarus alive by supporting activist worker’s families and their initiatives to build a workers’ movement at the factory and solidarity beyond it. Above all, it makes it possible for the activists to continue working on the ground, instead of choosing the path to immigration.
In January, the Belarusian democracy movement scored a big victory after the International Ice Hockey Federation moved the Ice Hockey World Championships away from Belarus, after facing public backlash from Belarusians, as well as the international community. Ice Hockey is an important propaganda tool of the Belarusian regime. Top officials in the Belarusian Ice Hockey Federation are close associates of Lukashenko, and are directly involved in the crimes of his regime. For example, Dmitry Baskau, the Head of the Belarusian Ice Hockey Federation, has been identified as one of the individuals who beat peaceful protester Raman Bandarenka to death in November.
Prominent Belarusian athlete Alena Leuchanka, the Belarusian Sports Solidarity Foundation, and politicians from the European parliament successfully convinced the IIHF to take the tournament elsewhere and prevent the Lukashenko regime from whitewashing its crimes with ice hockey. HRF also wrote a letter to the IIHF, urging them to move the Championship. You can read the letter in full here.
February 7th is the six month anniversary of the fraudulent elections that sparked the incredible Belarusian democracy movement.
Six months later, Belarusians continue to take to the streets every Sunday, even in freezing temperatures, where they face extreme brutality from officers of the state security appartus, arbitary arrest, and torture in detention cells. According to the Human Rights Centre “Viasna,” in 2020 more than 33,000 individuals were detained, more than 1,000 cases of torture were documented, and at least 7 people were killed since the beginning of the protests.
In honor of the hundreds of thousands of Belarusians who have stood up for democracy, the Belarusian democracy movement has announced the Day of Solidarity with Belarus on February 7th. Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda has nominated Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Here is what you can do to show your solidarity with Belarusians:
– Hold or participate in a solidarity rally with Belarus in your city.
– Initiate and adopt resolutions/proclamations in support of democratic Belarus.
– Write letters to political prisoners in Belarus or take godparenthood over one of them.
– Light up the facades of buildings in national Belarusian colors.
– Support Belarusians through funds helping repressed people and striking workers.
– Write a tweet/social media post or take a video in support of Belarus with the hashtag #StandWithBelarus and/or tag Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya.
Please find below a personal message of thanks from HRF Chairman Garry Kasparov for your continuing support of the Belarusian democracy movement.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sf2E0A4xSEc&feature=youtu.be Thank you so much for your support and for standing with the people of Belarus. If you ever have any questions about HRF’s work on Belarus, please email us.