For Immediate Release|
April 26, 2005
Contact Joseph Fairbanks|
Students for Global Democracy Launches New, Major Initiative: Belarus Endowment for Life and Liberty (BELL) Campaign
STANFORD, CA/BLOOMINGTON, IN— Students for Global Democracy, the new non-partisan, student-run movement promoting non-violent democratic reforms worldwide, is taking aim at Belarusian dictator Aleksandr Lukashenko. This week SGD launched the BELL Campaign, a fundraising and support effort intended to raise money for Belarusian student activists working against the Lukashenko regime. BELL, which stands for “Belarus Endowment for Life and Liberty,” was started by SGD with the intention of directly funding and supporting dissident movements in the dictatorship.
Belarus is commonly referred to as Europe’s last true dictatorship. Since coming to power in 1994, Belarusian President Lukashenko has earned scorn across the Europe and America for violently repressing political discourse and denying his people basic rights. Charges against him range from falsifying election results to beating peaceful protestors and instigating the murder of journalists and politicians to censoring independent media.
SGD President Charlie Szrom noted that “in America, we fought for and won our liberty over two centuries ago with the help of others. Unfortunately, the Belarusian people still don't have their freedom, so hopefully the BELL campaign will help them achieve it by getting important information out to the Belarusian people themselves.”
According to Szrom, money raised through the effort goes directly to the pro-democratic student group Zubr who then uses the money to print independent newspapers which are banned under Lukashenko’s regime. Since the Belarusian economy is extremely underdeveloped, American dollars go a long way there. For instance, Szrom says $25 American dollars pays for the printing of 1562 pro-democratic newspapers.
In order to get expert advice and aid with the BELL project, SGD has formed relationships with individual scholars in the National Endowment for Democracy, Sagamore Institute of Policy Research, Project for a New American Century, and the German Marshall Fund.
SGD has several American chapters working on the BELL campaign. Chapters are located on college campuses in Berkeley and Stanford, CA, Indiana, New York City, and Ontario.