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Thousands of activists demand release of trade union prisoners in Belarus

Trade unions of various countries of the world are turning en masse to the embassies of Belarus with the demand to immediately release the trade union leaders who are in Belarusian prisons. Actions of this kind have already taken place or will take place soon in Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, Lithuania, Poland, the USA, Spain, Brazil and Italy.

Representatives of the labour movement from around the world are actively participating in the information campaign "Trade unionism is not extremism!" Its goal is to highlight the shame of the Belarusian government that thousands of Belarusians are in penal colonies and prisons because of their views and beliefs, including more than 40 leaders and activists of democratic trade unions.

Like other forms of civil activism, the trade union activism is persecuted in Belarus and its members are imprisoned. Not only active members of the trade union movement are persecuted, but also former members of the democratic trade unions. They are arrested, fired from their jobs, humiliated on video and forced to confess to opposition activities. Subsequently, this type of video footage is disseminated throughout Belarus via propaganda channels.

"Salidarnast", together with global trade union federations, organized a solidarity campaign on the LabourStart portal, in which more than 6,500 trade union activists from around the world participated. In the petition, they demanded the following from the Belarusian government:

​Free union and political prisoners. Stop the repression against trade union activists. Restore guarantees for the legal activity of independent trade unions.

Since it is impossible to send letters to the Lukashenka government e-mail, the organizers of the campaign turned to the trade unions with the offer to deliver the signatures with the demands personally to the embassies of Belarus in the countries where they are located.

This action is of symbolic importance because, in parallel, the International Labour Conference (ILC) adopted a resolution containing similar demands to Belarus, including the release of trade union activists from prisons and an end to repression.

Of course, no measures will take effect immediately after the end of the annual International Labour Conference on June 16. However, "Salidarnast" is sure that the release of the trade union leaders will largely depend on the solidarity work of the representatives of the countries that voted in favour of the resolution, as well as on the pressure of the trade unions of these countries to implement the demands of the resolution. Solidarity campaigns play an important role in achieving the goal.

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