Solidarity with the People of Belarus: Stop the Wave of Violence

26 Aug 2020


Solidarity with the People of Belarus: Stop the Wave of Violence

Congress has written to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney, denouncing the vicious crackdown by the Belarusian government on demonstrators protesting over disputed presidential elections and urging Irish Government support for a strong and effective response from the EU.  

The electoral campaign was marked by massive and brutal repressions aimed at civil society, including, searches, threats, dismissals from work, fines and intimidation. People have shown their discontent as they took to the streets since the 9th August. Police and special security forces have clamped down on the peaceful protestors using teargas, batons, rubber bullets, water canons and grenades. More than three thousand people have been detained for participating in ‘unauthorised mass events’; including union activists. Factory strikes have broken out, including in the famous Minsk tractor factory and journalists are being arrested.

As the people of Belarus battle on, trade unions from across the world have called on the Belarussian authorities to ensure that the fundamental rights of freedom of association, freedom of speech, peaceful assembly and media freedom are recognised.

Congress International Officer, David Joyce states “EU leaders need to send a clear and powerful message to the Lukashenko regime. We are calling on the Irish Government to urge the European Union to take decisive actions including reintroducing commensurate sanctions for electoral fraud and violence as well as reconsidering cooperation with the country, including within the Eastern Partnership. Strengthening support to Belarussian civil society-including independent unions-and stopping any EU financial support to the government and state-controlled projects-including through multilateral development banks-must also be urgently addressed”.

Yvonne O’ Callaghan, Chair, ICTU Global Solidarity added “The people of Belarus have clearly expressed their choice and wish for political change. The actions of Lukashenko demonstrate that the regime was not, and is not, open to any real change. This new wave of repression has continued to suppress democratic institutions, independent civil society and the trade union movement and has violated fundamental rights and freedoms of its citizens.

The Belarusian Congress of Democratic Trade Unions has now called for a national strike until Lukashenko resigns. It is therefore important that the international community speaks out in support of the fundamental right to strike of Belarusian workers as enshrined in ILO Conventions 87 and 98.

The workers and unions of Belarus can rest assured that solidarity from unions around the world in support of their cause is strong and will continue until their demands are met.”