ITUC condemns prison sentences against Aliaksandr Yarashuk and two other BKDP officials

The ITUC has condemned the prison sentences handed down on officials of the independent trade union centre BKDP 26 December. BKDP President and ILO Governing Body member Aliaksandr Yarashuk, Vice-President Siarhei Antusevich and BKDP employee Iryna But-Husaim were imprisoned for 4, 2 and 1.5 years respectively for “offences against public order” relating to peaceful demonstrations and workplace protests against the Lukashenko regime’s authoritarian and anti-worker policies.

Boris Kravchenko, President of the Confederation of Labour of Russia (KTR) and Vice-President of the ITUC, observed the trial and provided testimony. He said “I was able to deliver to the court the position of my organisation, as well as that of the ITUC. The court trial itself was implemented in a procedurally correct manner, but our colleagues are sentenced under articles that themselves violate international obligations, including ILO Conventions, but also the Constitutional rights of Belarusian citizens. The application of these articles to trade unionists is absurd. We will continue fighting for their full rehabilitation, for restoration of the BKDP and for freedom of association in the Republic of Belarus”.

Owen Tudor, Deputy General Secretary of the ITUC said “trade unions around the world are scandalised at the injustice of this attack on freedom of association. We will continue to fight for their release, for the ending of persecution of all trade unionists in Belarus and for the complete lifting of the bans imposed on the BKDP and its member organisations. We stand with the workers of Belarus.”

Appeals against the convictions will be lodged in the coming days.