Belarus repression intensifies

One year after Belarus’s Alexander Lukashenko claimed victory in flawed presidential elections, the repression of independent trade unions and other civil society organisations has intensified.

The authorities are dissolving the journalists’ union BAJ and have arrested more than 20 democracy supporters in recent days. In addition, on the 14th of July, Nikolai Sharakh, chairperson of the Free Trade Union of Belarus, was detained for 72 hours and accused of criminal activities. Sharankh’s union is a member of the ITUC-affiliated BKDP union centre.

ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow said: “The Belarusian authorities seem determined to crush legitimate trade union activities in defiance of the findings and recommendations of the International Labour Organization at its annual conference this year.

“Systematic repression of the BKDP is being accompanied by a disinformation campaign aimed at its leadership. Belarus under Lukashenko has a record of flouting international labour standards, including failing to implement key findings of a 2004 ILO Commission of Inquiry.

“Trade unionists, including Igor Povarov, Alexander Bobrov and Yevgeny Govor, are still imprisoned for exercising the right to strike, which is protected in international law but suppressed by the Lukashenko administration. Governments need to step up pressure on the government to respect international labour standards, including the right to strike, and cease the campaign of repression.”