Democracies are built on the simple concept that citizens have a right to elect their leaders and have a say in their country’s future. After suffering systematic repression for the past 26 years under the authoritarian regime of President Alexander Lukashenka, the people of Belarus are demanding their voices be heard.
After a presidential election marred by electoral fraud, citizens peacefully protesting to demand an accurate vote count are now being met with riot police using stun grenades, tear gas, and rubber bullets. The Lukashenka regime has cut internet access, arrested protesters and independent journalists, and tried to muzzle foreign observers. These are not the actions of a political leader confident that he has won a fairly conducted election. But thanks to brave citizens — journalists, activists, and ordinary people documenting these extraordinary events — we know the truth about the assaults on democracy being committed by the regime.
I stand with those who are calling for a transparent and accurate vote count and the release of all political prisoners. I also call on President Lukashenka to respect the rights of peaceful protestors and to refrain from further violence. My administration will never shy away from standing up for democratic principles and human rights, and we will work with our democratic allies and partners to speak with one voice in demanding these rights be respected.