Belarus: ITUC deplores political trials against BKDP leaders

photo: Jakub Porzycki, NurPhoto via AFP

The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) has denounced political trials against leaders of the Belarusian Congress of Democratic Trade Unions and demanded access to trade unionists imprisoned by the regime of Alexander Lukashenko in Belarus.

In April, the regime implemented raids and imprisoned dozens of trade union leaders and activists, including the BKDP President Aliaksandr Yarashuk. In July, the regime completed a process of abolishing the country’s independent trade union movement through a bogus court process and a ruthless campaign of persecution.

Since then, the government of Belarus has continued to carry out a series of trials against trade unionists, with several having already received long-term prison sentences, while others continue to be held in custody over several months, deprived contacts with their colleagues and fellow unionists.

The court trial against BKDP President Aliaksandr Yarashuk, BKDP Vice-President Siarhei Antusevich and BKDP media officer Iryna But-Husaim is scheduled to take place on 20 December in Minsk. All three are charged under two criminal articles: active participation in actions that grossly violate public order and calling for restrictive measures and other actions harmful to the national security.

Congress resolution

The ITUC Congress condemned repressions perpetrated by the Lukashenko regime against the people of Belarus and the free and independent trade union movement of the country and committed to campaign for the release of all imprisoned unionists and democracy advocates in Belarus. Earlier in November, in a special sitting, the International Labour Organization (ILO) Governing Body deplored imprisonments, repeated disrespect of the ILO standards by Belarus, and invoked the most serious means within the ILO’s mandate to ensure respect of freedom of association in the country.

ITUC General Secretary Luca Visentini said: “The world must not stand by while this systemic repression continues. The ITUC and its members around the world stand in solidarity with Aliaksandr Yarashuk and all BKDP unionists. All governments and international organisations have a responsibility to use their influence to demand the release of all the imprisoned activists.

“We have serious concerns about their welfare and we’re also demanding information about these sham trials, some of which were held in complete secret.

“We also call on the international community, individual governments and human rights defenders to ensure international observance of the court trial of Aliaksandr Yarashuk, Siarhei Antusevich and Iryna But-Husaim that will take place in Minsk on 20 December.

“This regime cannot be trusted to respect human rights. Everything possible must be done to pressure Lukashenko to comply with international law, release the trade unionists and respect the independent trade union movement.

“The regime must understand that they can’t stop the people of Belarus demanding their basic rights. We stand in solidarity with the imprisoned activists, the independent trade union movement and the people of Belarus as they endure this dark moment in their history, knowing that they will prevail.”