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Lukashenka has invited former political prisoner Lula da Silva to Belarus

Updated: Aug 29, 2023

At the BRICS summit on August 24, a meeting took place between the Foreign Minister of Belarus, Siarhei Aleinik, and the President of Brazil, Luiz da Silva. The representative of the Lukashenko regime extended an invitation to the Brazilian president to visit Belarus.


BKDP leader Alexander Yaroshuk (far left) and deputy chairman Sergei Antusevich (center) are in prison
BKDP leader Aliaksandr Yarashuk (far left) and deputy chairman Siarhei Antusevich (center) are in prison

According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the meeting discussed the supply of potash fertilizers from Belarus to Brazil. However, behind these commercial issues lies a more complex reality. Siarhei Aleinik presented the Brazilian president with an invitation from Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko to visit Belarus. This invitation is inherently contradictory, considering that Belarusian prisons hold many political opponents of the regime. Among them are left-wing political activists and trade union leaders.



Photo: Belarusian Foreign Ministry
Hockey jersey for Lula // Photo: Belarusian Foreign Ministry

As a gesture of friendship, Lukashenka sent a sweater of the national ice hockey team to Brazil. This sweater bears the inscription "Together we are strong!" and the dictator's autograph. At first glance, such a gift symbolizes unity and solidarity, but the irony of the situation is that Lukashenko, who severely represses the trade union movement in Belarus, refers to the trade union motto "Together we are strong!"


The contrast between Lukashenko and Brazilian President Lula is startling. Lula, a former outstanding trade unionist, one of the founders of the Brazilian independent union CUT, emerges as a figure who shares the interests of workers and fights for their rights. While Lukashenka is a grim example of the repression of the trade union movement, the intensification of repression and the restriction of the basic rights of workers. It should be noted that shortly before the invitation of Lula, there were mass brutal arrests in various factories in Belarus, where workers were put on the ground, hit on the neck and head with a knee, and then taken away in handcuffs surrounded by special forces in full ammunition as if those workers were dangerous criminals - terrorists. In addition to the humiliations suffered by the prisoners, videos of beaten prisoners admitting their guilt are also published.


Detention of workers at the enterprise
Detention of workers at the enterprise // Screenshot from security forces video

It is important to note that the situation in Belarus has deteriorated to a critical degree. Half a hundred trade union leaders and activists are in prison. The country is now the only one in the world to which the 33rd article of the International Labour Organization (ILO) Constitution has been applied for violating basic workers' rights.


Lula's upcoming meeting with Lukashenka is thought-provoking. The development of economic relations between the two countries remains high on the agenda. However, it is important to remember Lula's reputation as a left-wing political leader and his historic role in defending workers' rights. The international trade union movement will do its best to inform the Brazilian head of state about the situation of the one and a half thousand political prisoners, including dozens of trade union leaders.

It should be recalled that Lula himself was recently imprisoned and politically persecuted. Protests and actions in support of his release attracted the attention of thousands of trade union activists around the world, including the independent Belarusian trade unions. Many of those who participated in these actions are now in Belarusian prisons.


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