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Belarus protest signs

Belarus demonstration. Photo by Karin Shuey

 

Two of EANC’s sister organizations from the Central and East European Coalition (CEEC) recently held events in Washington to call attention to Russia’s actions in the region. The Ukrainian Congress Committee of America (UCCA) sponsored its annual “Ukraine Days” advocacy effort on March 8th. On April 2nd, the Belarusian communities in Washington, DC – including representatives from the Belarusan-American Association – organized a demonstration near the White House to call for U.S. and European Union action in their nation. EANC and the Joint Baltic American National Committee (JBANC) supported both events.

 

The Ukrainian program included a briefing session with leaders of the Ukrainian-American community from throughout the U.S., followed by visits to both Senate and House members’ offices. EANC Washington, DC Director Karin Shuey and JBANC Managing Director Karl Altau joined the team of Ukrainians from Virginia and North Carolina to visit offices representing those states. During the course of the day, they met with staff working for Virginia Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, Virginia congressman Don Beyer, and North Carolina Senators Thom Tillis and Richard Burr. The advocates spoke up about pending legislation affecting the region and pushing back against the aggression of the Putin regime. The day ended with a reception in the Capitol, which gave them another opportunity to discuss issues with Members of Congress and staff and with friends from the Ukrainian community and other friends of Ukraine.

 

The Belarusian demonstration took place a week after peaceful Freedom Day protests in Belarus were met with crackdowns by heavily-equipped riot police and detention of protesters. JBANC has regularly supported demonstrations by the Belarusian community in Washington and was invited to participate on this occasion. Ms. Shuey represented EANC and JBANC, presenting remarks on the nations’ shared history of defense of democracy, human rights and rule of law in the face of aggression by Russia. She pledged continued support from the Baltic-American community until democracy is firmly established in Belarus. The demonstration drew over 60 Belarusians, Americans and international supporters, to offer a united voice in appealing for appropriate engagement by the U.S. government, to include the extension of sanctions against Russia.

 

EANC values very highly its relationships with the other member organizations of the CEEC. While the EstonianAmerican community makes up a small percentage of most congressional district populations, teaming up with the communities from our former Soviet Republic and Warsaw Pact neighbors, our  voices become much stronger and more likely to get the attention of our lawmakers. Our ongoing work with the CEEC produces policy statements and press releases, summaries of relevant legislation that wedistribute on the Hill, and biannual forums for Congressional staffers and members of the foreign policy community that draw high-level speakers to shine a light on the hottest topics affecting our region. For more information on the CEEC, please visit www.ceecoalition.us.

 

Karin Shuey

Washington, DC Director

Estonian American National Council

www.estosite.org

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