PROFILE: Struggle for democracy in Belarus

by ganna
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It is not by occasion that over the recent months, the Bulletin of the IndustriALL Global Union has, amid its numerous problems in all parts of the world, twice paid attention to problems in Belarus. Thus, on December 7, it published a big analytical material, reading, in particular:

For 26 years Lukashenko’s regime ruled Belarus more or less uncontested. Despite the absence of economic and political reforms and modernization, the support from neighbouring Russia through preferential oil and gas tariffs simplified access to the Russian market, allowing the regime to remain in power.

Workers and unions never stopped fighting for their rights, even in a shrinking space for protests. The first time riot police was used in independent Belarus was at the subway drivers’ strike in 1995. To curtail workers’ resistance, Lukashenko limited the possibility of receiving foreign financial solidarity aid and introduced fixed-term, typically one-year, contracts in 1999.

In the face of massive repression against workers’ rights, in 2000, democratic unions, including IndustriALL affiliates, submitted a complaint to the International Labour Organization (ILO) over continuous workers’ rights violations in Belarus. Since then, Belarus has constantly been subject to a scrutiny process by the ILO.”

On December 10, on the International Human Rights Day, another article entitled “Belarus – human rights must be respectedwas published  stating that even after four months of struggle for freedom and democracy, most Belarusians cannot fully enjoy this day.

No-one could predict, 70 years after the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), rigged presidential elections in Belarus would slip the country into a huge uncertainty.

Since August this year, human rights’ protection groups have noted more than 30,000 detentions, over 900 criminal cases opened against protesters, 373 arrests of journalists, 156 political prisoners and at least seven people killed in relation to the protests. In addition, there have been staggering 4,000 declarations of torture during and after detentions, and not a single of investigation ended against police involved in violations and brutality at the peaceful protests.

Workers’ rights have been seriously oppressed since the current regime came in power in 1994, but the scale of recent repressions bypass all previously reported cases. IndustriALL’s Belorussian affiliates report of hundreds of detentions, forced dismissals and other persecutions for their members.

Workers’ rights are an integral part of human rights, including the right to decent conditions of work, freedom of association, equality of rights and protection against discrimination. What is happening in Belarus is arbitrary and the impunity of the culprits undermine trust in the governmental institutions.

The international community is outraged with the current situation, and those responsible with all the violations are already facing with sanctions, particularly from the European Union. But more need to be done and a stronger pressure must be put on Belarusian authorities to do an immediate restoration for a democratic and transparent governance.”

The article ends with the citation of Valter Sanches, General Secretary of the IndustriALL:

“IndustriALL Global Union fully supports Belarussian people and workers in their struggle for democracy, fundamental human rights and freedoms. Our solidarity actions will continue until workers’ and human rights are fully settled and respected in Belarus.”