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                     Office of the Press Secretary
                             (Chicago, IL)
For Immediate Release                                     March 13, 2000


                 Belarus: Pro-Democracy Demonstrations

     The Belarusian democratic opposition has announced it will stage a

series of demonstrations beginning on March 15. These demonstrations are intended by the organizers to be peaceful gatherings to signal the public's support for human rights and democracy and their opposition to Belarus's anti-democratic, self-isolating regime.

We strongly urge the Belarusian authorities to live up to their international commitments to respect freedom of expression and freedom of assembly by not interfering with these rallies. The international community will be watching the Belarusian regime's actions closely, given its recent brutal crackdown on the October 17 Freedom March in which ninety-two demonstrators were injured during clashes with government forces.

The United States strongly supports freedom of assembly and freedom of citizens to change their government by peaceful and lawful means. Steps that contradict these fundamental human rights will only deepen Belarus's isolation from the international community.