Human rights activists from 20 countries sent an open letter to the US Congress in support of a “responsible crypto policy” and to praise Bitcoin (BTC) and stablecoins as important tools that help tens of millions of people live in democracy and freedom.
Just a week ago, an open letter to Congress that was supposed to be from the scientific community but was signed by well-known crypto critics and authors from high-income, democratic countries was sent to Congress.
People from Ukraine, Russia, Iraq, Nigeria, Venezuela, Cuba, and even North Korea are among the 21 activists who are clapping back. These people come from countries that have either recently been at war or have unstable economies. From the letter:
“We write to urge an open-minded, empathetic approach toward monetary tools that are increasingly playing a role in the lives of people facing political repression and economic hardship.”
They also say that they are good people and supporters of democracy who have used Bitcoin to help people in danger “when other options have failed” and want to protect an open financial system.
The group says that they have also used Bitcoin and stablecoins in their “struggle for freedom and democracy” and that “tens of millions of others” living under authoritarian regimes or in volatile economies use cryptocurrencies for the same reason.
“Bitcoin and stablecoins offer ungated access to the global economy for people in countries like Nigeria, Turkey, or Argentina, where local currencies are collapsing, broken, or cut off from the outside world.”
The group gave examples from all over the world of how cryptocurrencies are helping people. For example, Cuba, Afghanistan, Venezuela, and Nigeria have all seen a lot of people using cryptocurrencies because of high inflation or a lack of good financial infrastructure.
Cryptocurrencies further “helped keep the fight against authoritarianism afloat” the group added, providing an example of the role crypto played when financial systems broke down after the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.
The activists criticized “the anti-crypto letter” that was sent to Congress on June 1. The letter, which was supposedly signed by 1,500 computer scientists and engineers, asked Congress not to create a “safe haven for these risky, flawed, and unproven digital financial instruments” by not regulating them. Crypto critics like David Gerard, Molly White, and Stephen Diehl, who have been doing it professionally or for a long time, were among the main signers.
The human rights coalition said that almost all of the people who wrote that letter are from countries with “stable currencies, free speech, and strong property rights,” and that they probably haven’t been through hyperinflation or “the cold grip of dictatorship.”
“To most in the West, the horrors of monetary colonialism, misogynist financial policy, frozen bank accounts, exploitative remittance companies, and an inability to connect to the global economy might be distant ideas. To most of us and our communities — and to the majority of people worldwide — they are daily realities. If there were ‘far better solutions already in use’ to overcome these challenges, we would know.”
The Bitcoin Policy Institute, a crypto-focused think tank, organized the campaign. The letter was signed by activists from the Feminist Coalition in Nigeria, the Anti-Corruption Foundation in Russia, the Belarus Solidarity Foundation in Belarus, Ideas Beyond Borders in Iraq, the Digital Citizen Fund in Afghanistan, and, most notably, Garry Kasparov, a Russian chess grandmaster and chair of the Human Rights Foundation.
The human rights coalition agrees that crypto scams are becoming more common, but they say that confusing useful fintech products with these scams is not the answer. Instead, they say, people need to be educated so they can tell the difference.
“We hope that you and your colleagues do not craft or implement policy that hurts our ability to use these new technologies in our human rights and humanitarian work. […] We hope you choose a different policy path, one that allows us to save, connect, and gain freedom.”