Page:United States Statutes at Large Volume 114 Part 6.djvu/125

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CONCURRENT RESOLUTIONS-JUNE 23, 2000 114 STAT. 3181 BELARUS—HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS June 23, 2000 Whereas the United States has a vital interest in the promotion of democracy abroad and supports democracy and economic development in the Republic of Belarus; Whereas in the Fall of 1996, Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka devised a controversial referendum to impose a new constitution on Belarus and abolish the Parliament, the 13th Supreme Soviet, replacing it with a rubber-stamp legislature; Whereas President Lukashenka organized a referendum in violation of the 1994 Belarusian Constitution, which illegally extended his term of office to 2001; Whereas Lukashenka's legal term in office expired in July 1999; Whereas Belarus has effectively become an authoritarian police state, where human rights are routinely violated; Whereas Belarusian economic development is stagnant and living conditions are deplorable; Whereas in May 1999, the Belarusian opposition challenged Lukashenka's unconstitutional lengthening of his term by staging alternative presidential elections, unleashing the government crackdown; Whereas the leader of the opposition, Semyon Sharetsky, was forced to flee Belarus to the neighboring Baltic state of the Republic of Lithuania in fear for his life; Whereas several leaders of the opposition, including Viktor Gonchar, Anatoly Krasovsky, and Yuri Zakharenka have disappeared; Whereas the Belarusian regime harasses and persecutes the independent media and works to actively suppress freedom of speech; Whereas former Prime Minister Mikhail Chygir, who was a candidate in the opposition's alternative presidential elections in May 1999, was held in pretrial detention on trumped up charges from April through November 1999; Whereas the Lukashenka regime provoked the clashes between riot police and demonstrators at the October 17, 1999, "Freedom March", which resulted in injuries to demonstrators and scores of illegal arrests; Whereas hundreds of peaceful demonstrators and over 30 journalists were arrested during a March 25, 2000, pro-democracy rally in Miensk, once again illustrating the Lukashenka regime's disregard for freedom of assembly, association, and information; Whereas the Lukashenka regime has refused to engage in meaningful dialogue with the opposition and has used the tactics of delay and obfuscation in disregarding the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)-mediated dialogue process; Whereas genuine dialogue with the opposition and legitimate, free and fair elections cannot take place in the present climate of repression and fear existing in Belarus; Whereas on April 3, 1996, Russian Federation President Boris Yeltsin and President Lukashenka signed an agreement to form a Union State of Russia and Belarus; [H. Con. Res. 304]