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Day of action on 19 April in solidarity with Belarusian unionists

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8 April, 2024On 19 April 2022, more than twenty leaders and activists of the Belarusian Congress of Democratic Trade Unions (BKDP) were detained by the State Security Committee. While some of them were released afterwards, many of them are still in prison, and those who have been released are under constant harassment and persecution and have been placed on undesirable lists that make it impossible for them to receive adequate health care and apply for jobs.

On 18 July 2022, the Supreme Court decided to liquidate and dissolve the Belarusian Congress of Democratic Trade Unions (BKDP), and its four members, three of them affiliated to IndustriALL - the Belarusian Independent Trade Union (BITU or BNP), the Union of Radio and Electronics Workers (REP), the Free Trade Union of Belarus (SPB), and the Free Trade Union of Metalworkers (SPM).

Convicting trade union leaders for exercising their legitimate right to freedom of association constitutes a violation of the principles of freedom of association. Trade union rights lose all meaning in the absence of full respect for those civil liberties enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, particularly concerning the right to freedom and security of the individual, freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention, freedom of opinion and expression, freedom of assembly, the right to a fair trial and the right to protection of trade union property.

Says IndustriALL general secretary Atle Høie:

"We demand that the Belarusian authorities immediately and unconditionally, including dropping all charges related to participation in peaceful protests and industrial actions, release the arrested trade unionists and all the human rights defenders and political prisoners, and cease the repression of independent trade unions and individuals demanding respect of their human rights."

IndustriALL will continue to publicly support the movement for independent unions and democracy in Belarus and will use our global voice to condemn the heavy oppression they face. 

Join the campaign through some of the following actions:

  • Send letters to the Republic of Belarus and organize actions at embassies demanding access to, and release of, trade union leaders, including BKDP president, ITUC vice-president and ILO Governing Body member Aliaksandr Yarashuk.
  • Record a solidarity message with union leaders stating that trade unionism is not extremism, calling for freedom of association and democracy and the release of imprisoned trade unionists in Belarus. Please share your message on your channels, tagging IndustriALL so that we can re-share it.
  • Send letters to your national governments requesting the implementation of the ILO resolution adopted by the International Labour Conference in June 2023, taking into account cultural, economic, trade, scientific and other areas of international cooperation with Belarus, seeking information on actions already taken in this regard including matters regarding non- refoulement and engagements with other UN and international bodies and demanding diplomatic efforts to get access to and release of imprisoned trade unionists.
  • Hold human rights due diligence meetings with employers and governments on Belarus and analyze supply chains and financial and other business services in which Belarusian enterprises are involved and take steps to exercise leverage to address violations.
  • Demand national representatives – tripartite partners, but also state representatives in different UN agencies, to participate in the high-level thematic meeting on Belarus prior to the ILC, as decided by the ILO Governing Body, urging Belarus to respect the recommendations of the ILO supervisory bodies and to ensure that trade unions are owned and controlled by workers and not the government.

Join the online meeting, organized by the ITUC and ETUC, on 19 April, 9.30 - 11.00 CEST, as part of the Day of Action for Trade Union Rights and Democracy in Belarus. The meeting will be in English and Russian and you can register here.