In April and May 2022, a wave of searches and detentions of activists of the independent trade union movement swept through Belarus, and in July, the Supreme Court liquidated all democratic trade unions. December 20 the trial against the leaders of the confederation of trade unions "Belarusian Congress of Democratic Trade Unions" (BKDP) began in the Minsk City Court. It concerns the chairman of the Aliaksandr Yarashuk, deputy chair Siarhei Antusevich and the accountant of the trade union confederation Iryna But-Husaim.
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Since the raids against the unions, the government of Belarus has continued to carry out a series of trials against trade unionists, with several having already received long-term prison sentences, while others continue to be held in custody over several months, deprived contacts with their colleagues and fellow unionists. At least 32 trade union leaders and activists are illegally imprisoned at the moment, of whom several already have been sentenced to years in jail.
At the trial the charges were read out against the defendants. According to the investigation, chairman of the liquidated Belarusian Congress of Democratic Trade Unions Alexander Yarashuk called for strikes for political reasons. In addition, Yarashuk, his deputy Siarhei Antusevich and accountant Iryna But-Husaim are also charged with participation in protests - they are alleged to have publicly shouted slogans, blocked the work of transport and did not obey police demands during the protest marches. At the same time, activists of independent trade unions - political prisoners Hennadz Fiadynich, Vasil Berasneu and Vaclav Areshko a
re also tried in Minsk.
The lawyer of accused Yarashuk petitioned for attachment of a number of characteristics and letters of thanks, including from the partners of the BKDP. The court granted this petition.
International trade union associations were shocked by the news of the arrests of the BKDP leaders and demanded the release of the Belarusian trade union leaders and an end to repression against trade unions.
The ITUC Congress condemned repressions perpetrated by the Lukashenko regime against the people of Belarus and the free and independent trade union movement of the country and committed to campaign for the release of all imprisoned unionists and democracy advocates in Belarus. Earlier in November, in a special sitting, the International Labour Organization (ILO) Governing Body deplored imprisonments, repeated disrespect of the ILO standards by Belarus, and invoked the most serious means within the ILO’s mandate to ensure respect of freedom of association in the country.