August 23, 2020 marks the 31st anniversary of the Baltic Way when over two million people joined hands to form a human chain across 400 miles connecting Vilnius, Riga, and Tallinn to protest Soviet rule.
To mark this anniversary, Lithuanians are forming a new human chain from Vilnius to the border with Belarus to show support for Belarus’s struggle against Lukashenka’s dictatorship. The dictator has claimed 80% of the vote in the elections that took place on August 9. The people of Belarus have been peacefully protesting ever since despite the brutal crackdown by the riot police. At least 5 people have died so far, dozens are still missing, several are expected to remain severely physically disabled for life, and hundreds more will endure PTSD.
Since Belarus, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia have embassies in Washington, DC, and the diaspora populations of all four countries are large, we have decided to replicate the human chain on a smaller scale and connect the four embassies.
People are asked to start at the Embassy of Lithuania, 2622 16th Street NW in DC by noon and take a spot in the human chain down 16th Street NW toward the Embassy of Belarus at 1619 New Hampshire Ave NW, and then possibly on to the embassies of Estonia and Latvia on Massachusetts Ave NW.
We are inviting anyone who cares about free and fair elections, freedom of speech, and separation of powers to join us.
MASKS ARE MANDATORY FOR ALL PARTICIPANTS. GLOVES STRONGLY RECOMMENDED. SOCIAL DISTANCING WILL BE ENFORCED TO COMPLY WITH MPD REGULATIONS.
PLEASE BRING SASHES, LINENS, RIBBONS TO ASSIST WITH DISTANCING.
SIGNS and POSTERS CAN SAY:
BALTIC WAY – 1989 – LITHUANIA – LATVIA – ESTONIA
FREEDOM WAY – 2020 – VILNIUS – BELARUS
Please dress or bring ribbons and/or balloons in these colors:
Belarus – white and red (more white)
Estonia – blue, black, and white
Latvia – red and white (more red)
Lithuania – yellow, green, and red
If you are coming to represent another diaspora, feel free to display your colors, too.
The White House
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President:
The Central and East European Coalition (CEEC), representing over 20 million Americans of central and eastern European heritage, is writing to express our concern over the prospect of withdrawing large numbers of American troops from Germany. Such a move would directly weaken the security of frontline states like Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland – and of the United States and the rest of NATO by extension; reduce U.S. influence in Europe; and embolden Russian President Putin to continue or increase his aggressive policies that threaten European democracy and transatlantic security.
These U.S. forces in Germany are what give operational credibility to American and NATO forces operating out of Poland and the Enhanced Forward Presence battalions in the Baltic nations. Many members of our communities have served in the U.S. armed forces, often in the European theater, and understand that Germany holds a unique position in the transatlantic alliance. Cleary, it has not yet increased its defense spending to the 2% threshold members pledged over ten years at the 2014 NATO summit in Wales. At the same time, the German government has allowed the U.S. and other allies to build bases, airfields, hospitals and communities, and host tens of thousands of servicemembers and their families, on German soil. This is an indispensable contribution to the success of NATO and the deterrence the alliance has enforced since 1949. The infrastructure and force presence established in Germany cannot be reduced or replicated elsewhere without compromising the military power they have come to represent.
NATO’s continued success depends on solidarity and strengthening the trust and relationships built among its allies over seven decades. Withdrawing U.S. forces from Germany would gravely undermine that trust and those relationships. The CEEC calls for U.S. policy and action that uphold the long history of American leadership in NATO to ensure that transatlantic security remains strong and effective. To this end, we ask that U.S. force levels in Germany remain at their current levels or higher.
The CEEC was established in 1994 and represents more than 20 million American voters whose heritage lies in this region. Its member organizations cooperate in calling attention to issues of mutual concern, especially as regards United States policy toward Central and East Europe. The CEEC regularly shares its concerns and ideas with the United States Congress and Administration.
We thank you for your consideration on this vitally important issue to U.S. national security. Please contact the undersigned at email@example.com with any questions or comments.
On behalf of the CEEC,
Karin A. Shuey
Commander, U.S. Navy (Retired)
Washington, DC Director
Estonian American National Council
Cc: Secretary of Defense
Secretary of State
Chairman and Ranking Member, Senate Armed Services Committee
Chairman and Ranking Member, House Armed Services Committee
CEEC letter to Pres on troops
August has a special meaning for Georgians. On August 7, 2008, military forces from the Russian government supporting separatists from Abkhazia and South Ossetia invaded Georgia resulting in the five-day Russo-Georgia war. Georgia suffered numerous casualties, and thousands of citizens were displaced and many still to this day. Although a cease-fire was negotiated between Georgia and the Russian government on August 12, 2008, the latter still occupies Georgia’s sovereign territory. The Russian government violates international norms in Georgia by annexing property, arbitrarily changing boundaries, destroying housing in the Tskhinvali region, and seizing farmland. It has also conducted kidnappings, arbitrary arrests, murders, harassment, and intimidation of private citizens. Georgians are historically resilient people and proud of their culture and traditions, and have earned the respect and support of the United States government. The U.S. government continues to press the Russian government to remove its troops and paramilitary forces from sovereign Georgian territory, and most recently Secretary of State Michael Pompeo reiterated U.S. support for Georgia’s sovereignty in a call with Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia. Georgia has survived many invasions of its territory dating back centuries. It will survive this most recent illegal incursion by the Russian government.
The Georgian Association in the USA stands with all Georgians in remembrance of this dark time in Georgia’s history, but one from which the county will continue on its path to a stronger democracy and economic power in eastern Europe.