On April 19, a picket was held in the center of Berlin, near the Brandenburger Tor, organized by the Association "Salidarnast" demanding the release of trade union leaders from Belarusian prisons.
The event was timed to the anniversary of mass arrests on April 19, 2022, when the KGB conducted mass searches of all offices of democratic trade unions.
On that day, about 20 activists, leaders and employees of four trade unions, which are members of the Belarusian Congress of Democratic Trade Unions (BKDP), were detained. Arrests took place in BKDP headquarters, too. At that time, the chairperson of the BKDP Aliaksandr Yarashuk, his deputy Siarhei Antusevich and accountant Iryna But-Husaim were detained.
As a result of the arrests, which lasted for another month, more than three dozen trade unionists were detained. Almost all of them were sentenced to different terms from one and a half to nine years in prison. Pavel Sakalouski, a member of the executive committee of the BKDP, told about this at the beginning of the event.
The participants of the action put up banners with photographs of the arrested trade union leaders and posters demanding their release on Parisier Platz in Berlin.
The representative of the Belarusian Helsinki Committee (BHK) - Eduard Balanchuk, took part in the picket, and in his speech he noted the deterioration of the situation in Belarus not only with respect to trade union rights, but also with fundamental human rights:
- The KGB included the Belarusian Trade Union of Workers of the Radio-Electronic Industry in the list of extremist formations. BHC focused the attention of human rights organizations on this fact and called on the Belarusian authorities to stop repression against independent trade unions, their leaders and friends, to remove the REP trade union from the list of extremist organizations.
Rubén Tzanoff, representing the International Socialist League, also noted that the dictatorial regime became a springboard for attacking Ukraine, thereby spreading lawlessness and autocracy to neighboring countries:
- However, he noted, despite almost 30 years of despotism, the regime did not achieve complete submission of the workers and the Belarusian people. That is why the regime faced strikes, mass protests in 2020.
Bundestag deputies from "Alliance 90/Greens" - Helge Limburg and Beata Müller-Gemmeke - also came to support the demands for the release of political prisoners. Both MPs are symbolic godparents of political prisoners Andrei Paheryla and Hanna Ablab, respectively.
There are many women among political prisoners, the head of the women's department of the Belarusian Independent Trade Union Sviatlana Ushchapovskaya noted in her speech; she spoke about the conditions of detention and pressure on women and the elderly in colonies and prisons in Belarus.
In addition to speeches and appeals, the participants of the action distributed materials explaining what is happening in Belarus and "Salidarnast" booklets to passers-by, calling on them to support the LabourStart campaign, which was launched that day demanding the release of trade union leaders.
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