Skip to content

Shaheen Reaffirms U.S. Commitment to Pro-Democracy Movements Around the Globe in SFRC Hearing Featuring Belarusian & Venezuelan Human Rights Leaders

sfrc 3.28.23

**Shaheen leads U.S. policy towards Belarus in support of the Belarusians people’s calls for democracy**

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) and co-chair of the Free Belarus Caucus questioned activists and leaders from Belarus and Venezuela today during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on U.S. efforts to support democracy and human rights around the world. The Senators heard testimony from the Belarusian opposition leader, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, Venezuelan opposition leader, Leopoldo Lopez and the CEO of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), Damon Wilson.

As co-chair of the Free Belarus Caucus, Shaheen addressed challenges Belarusian civil society organizations and activists face from dictator Alyksandr Lukashenka’s regime. In addition, Shaheen addressed the urgent need for the U.S. State Department to appoint a Special Envoy for Belarus to lead U.S. policy towards the country and continue engagement with the pro-democracy movement.

Referencing a poster of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty journalist Ihar Losik, who has now spent over 1,000 days in unlawful detainment in Belarus, Shaheen said “If we were going to make a poster for everyone who’s been wrongly imprisoned in Belarus, we would not have enough room in this room, much less in the building.”

Watch Shaheen’s full line of questioning here.

Shaheen is also chair of the SFRC Europe and Regional Security Cooperation Subcommittee, where she has long focused on supporting civil society and human rights defenders across the European continent. Shaheen is a leader in the U.S. Senate in rallying support for Ukraine in response to Russia’s invasion and defending pro-democracy movements around the globe. Shaheen is a cosponsor of the International Human Rights Defense Act, which was introduced by Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) earlier today. Earlier this week, Shaheen helped introduce the Global Voices of Freedom Act, legislation that would improve the United States’ ability to support pro-democracy movements and human rights defenders and help prevent, mitigate and respond to retaliatory attacks against those who stand up to uphold democratic values. Last week, Senator Shaheen and Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS), co-chairs of the Free Belarus Caucus, hosted Tsikhanouskaya in Washington, DC. Senator Shaheen previously penned an op-ed in USA Today on why the West must come together to address the political situation in Belarus. Last month, Shaheen and Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) travelled to Georgia to address recent democratic backsliding with the Georgian government and meet with civil society leaders.