Freedom of association and freedom of assembly are fundamental rights, not crimes.
In April 2022, more than twenty representatives of the Belarusian Congress of Democratic Trade Unions (BKDP) were detained a few days after they had expressed their opposition to the involvement of Belarus in the Russian war against Ukraine. While some were released a few days later, others still remain in jail.
When the BKDP’s vice-president, Mr Siarhei Antusevich, last spoke at the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) in September 2021, the situation for independent trade unions was relatively safe in Belarus. Since then, it has significantly deteriorated and Mr Antusevich has now been in prison for more than a month, along with other colleagues.
The EESC denounces all attempts to crack down on independent trade unions and condemns any kind of repression and intimidation aimed at those peacefully exercising their fundamental freedoms.
As the European institution representing trade unions and other economic and social components of European civil society, the EESC considers the detention of Belarusian trade unionists as a breach of fundamental rights.
The EESC supports the European Trade Union Confederation in its call for the immediately release of all Belarusian trade unionists.