Valter Sanches, IndustriALL Global union general secretary, and Sharan Burrow, International Trade Union Confederation General Secretary, are deeply concerned over the recent raids in the offices of independent trade unions in Belarus as well as arrests and detentions of its activists.
The organizations are urging president Alyaksandr Lukashenka to immediately release Ihar Komlik and stop criminal persecution of Henadz Fyadynich. Belarusian human rights defenders recognized Mr Komlik, who is kept behind bars, a political prisoner.
“This is an attack on independent trade union movement in Belarus. We will continue supporting our affiliates in Belarus. We are not going to sit and wait, while they oppress our brothers and sisters there. Belarus remains for many years under a special attention of the international community precisely because of the violations of trade union and workers’ rights. We will denounce this case to the International Labour Organization,” Sanches said.
“Belarus must bring its legislation into conformity with its international obligations and implement in full the recommendations of the ILO Commission of Inquiry, including on external aid, and cease using existing legal provisions like these to harass trade union leaders. Earlier this year we witnessed mass protests against a law that effectively branded more than 400,000 Belarus citizens as social parasites, and independent unionists were at the forefront of the protests. This is a case of retaliation by the authorities against unions which are simply standing up for fundamental principles and the people of Belarus,” Burrow stressed.
On August 2, the Minsk and Salihorsk offices of two key opposition trade unions were raided by the Department of Financial Investigations. Computers, hard drives were seized; the law enforcers were looking for documents. According to the investigation, trade union activists regularly traveled abroad to withdraw money from accounts in foreign accounts and bring them to Belarus.
A criminal case was initiated against the activists of the Independent Trade Union of Radio Electronic Industry (REP) Henadz Fyadynich and chief accountant Ihar Komlik who were accused of tax evasion. The both may face up to seven years in prison and confiscation of property.
According to Henadz Fyadynich, the case initiated against is nothing but retaliation for their civic activity during spring ‘non-parasite’ protests.