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Statement by Madeleine K. Albright, former United States Secretary of State and Chairman of the National Democratic Institute

March 25, 2006

To the People of Belarus—

I have watched with admiration as many of you have braved the cold and snow and the fear of intimidation and arrest in your peaceful call for democracy. You vividly remind me of the power and universal appeal of a simple idea: that the people should choose freely their government.

I deplore the violent actions taken by the government of Belarus on Friday morning to brutally disperse and arrest peaceful demonstrators. They should be released immediately along with those political and civic activists who have been detained over the last month.

I stand in solidarity with you, in the conviction that the principles to which we aspire together, for a political process based on equality and respect for human rights, reflect the hopes and aspirations of people the world over.

With courage and determination, Belarusians will claim their rightful place in the community of democracies. Your example is an inspiration.