Yesterday, on the 20th of December, a protest action organized by the association “Salidarnast” was held near the embassy of the Republic of Belarus in Berlin. At the same time the Dutch trade union FNV held a picketing of the embassy of Belarus in The Hague, while the Turkish trade union confederation DISK held its action in the centre of Istanbul. The protesters demanded the release of trade union leaders and activists of independent trade unions.
In front of the Embassy of the Republic of Belarus in Berlin the participants put up banners with photos of Andrei Khanievich, Gennadiy Fedynich and Alexander Yaroshuk.
On that day the criminal case against Aliaksandr Yarashuk, chairman of the Association of Trade Unions "Belarusian Congress of Democratic Trade Unions" (BKDP), vice chairman Siarhei Antusevich and the accountant of BKDP Iryna But-Gusaim started at Minsk Court.
The picket participants called out the names of the political prisoners and demanded to release the trade unionists as well as to stop persecution of the democratic trade unions. Maksim Pazniakou, acting chairman of the BKDP, told the participants of the action about what was going on in Belarus. About mass arrests, liquidation of democratic trade unions and persecution of trade union’s activists. About the fact that after the open statement of the Executive Committee of the BKDP, which condemned the Lukashenko regime's support to the war of the Russian Federation against Ukraine, the activity of independent trade unions became impossible.
It was the terror of the authorities against the independent trade unions that prompted the International Labour Organization to accept paragraph 33 of its Statute against Belarus for violations of workers' rights and trade union rights.
Together with “Salidarnast” activists, representatives of the German trade union association DGB and the Verdi trade union also took part in the action.
Synchronously with the action in Berlin, leaders and activists of the Dutch trade union association FNV picketed the Belarusian embassy in The Hague.
Petra Bolster, FNV board member and international secretary:
"This makes no sense. It's a mock trial. These people are being punished just for organising themselves into independent trade unions, standing up for workers' interests, and criticising the Belarusian authorities".
At the end of the protest action they handed a letter to the ambassador demanding the release of the trade union leaders unjustly detained by Alexander Lukashenko's regime.
Together with the picketing of the embassies in Germany and the Netherlands, DISK, the largest confederation of Turkish trade unions, held a protest in central Istanbul. The Turkish trade unionists unfurled the banner in Belarusian language "Release all arrested trade unionists" on the Bakirköy Freedom Square.
Dozens of letters from trade union associations from all over the world were sent to the Belarusian authorities with the demand to stop persecution of the activists. The Labour Start information campaign made almost 8000 demands to the Belarusian authorities to release the trade union leaders from prisons.
In Belarus today, over 30 trade union activists and leaders are imprisoned. Some of them have already been sentenced. The total number of political prisoners in Belarus, as stated by the human rights organizations, is about 1,500 at the moment.