15 July, 2022In its continued attacks on the democratic labour movement, the regime in Belarus has taken the country’s independent trade unions to trial in order to dissolve them.
Labelled “extremist organizations”, the government resorted to a sham court process to forcefully liquidate the Belarusian Independent Trade Union (BITU or BNP) and the Union of Radio and Electronics Workers (REP) on 12 July, after a trial at Belarus’ supreme court.
On 14 July, there were hearings in the supreme court on the liquidation of the Free Trade Union of Belarus (SPB). SPB chairperson Mikola Sharakh testified in court and in another outrageous move by the authorities, Sharakh was arrested when returning to his hometown, accused of an administrative violation. The following day, Sharakh was found guilty and sentenced to 15 days of arrest.
The Free Trade Union of Metalworkers (SPM) was also in court on 14 July. An official decision has yet to be announced by the supreme court, but it is safe to say that the regime in Belarus has effectively abolished all free, democratic trade unions in the country, with no right to appeal.
“The trials are an absolute scandal and have no place in a state which is governed by the rule of law. Belarus clearly defines itself outside any internationally recognized standard,”
says IndustriALL general secretary Atle Høie.
“IndustriALL condemns the rulings in the strongest terms. Our support for Belarus’ independent, democratic unions is unwavering and we will continue to fight for their rightful existence.”
The hearing of the Belarusian Congress of Democratic trade unions (BKDP) is scheduled for 18 July, but with all constituent members being liquidated, there is no legal reason for BKDP’s existence.
Acting BKDP chairperson Maksim Pazniakou says that an International Bureau of BKDP will be established.
"With the main goal to re-establish BKDP, the International Bureau is foreseen to maintain the independent trade union agenda, offer worker-friendly ideas to the workers of Belarus about how Belarus should look like, keep contact with workers in Belarus, provide mandatory solidarity support for the repressed as long as it is needed, and keep the work with international organizations."
As reported earlier, at least 15 BKDP leaders have been arrested, some of which are already imprisoned and some are awaiting trial.
There was some good news on 14 July, when Aliaksandr Mialeshka, SPB board member of the local union at the Belarusian research center for pediatric oncology, hematology and immunology, was released after seven days in jail.
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