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Systematic repression in Belarus

23 March, 2023This month, both the ILO Governing Body and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) have made strong statements on the human rights situation in Belarus, calling on the government to stop persecuting those involved in independent trade unions in the country.

In its session in Geneva, the ILO Governing Body again called on the government of Belarus to respect freedom of association and make independent trade unions and employers’ organizations legal.
The GB urged that all union leaders and members jailed for participating in peaceful assemblies or conducting trade union activities be released, and that all related charges be dropped.
Further, the GB has placed Belarus on the agenda of the next session of the International Labour Conference in June.
On 17 March, the UNCHR published a report documenting widespread and systematic violations of international human rights law in Belarus.
In the report, the UNCHR urges Belarus’ government to “end the systematic repression of perceived critics and immediately release all detainees held on political grounds”, concluding that “gross human rights violations are being committed across the country”.
Human rights defenders, journalists and trade union activists have clearly been targeted in what the report calls a campaign of violence and repression directed at those voicing opposition.

“The OHCHR report suggests that the Belarusian authorities will not be able to simply turn the page. The report offers hope that all those responsible for torture, the use of violence, including unlawful deprivation of life and numerous instances of arbitrary detention, ill-treatment, as well as sexual and gender-based violence, violations of the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association, denial of due process and the right to equal protection of the law, will be punished,"

says Maxim Pozniakov, president of IndustriALL affiliate BNP.
The authorities’ campaign to crack down on independent unions in the country is relentless. March saw further activists arrested on trumped up charges.

“The international community puts the spotlight on the violations committed in Belarus. We cannot idly stand by as our brothers and sisters are cruelly punished for exercising their fundamental rights,”

says Atle Høie, IndustriALL general secretary.