Belarus trades unionists released from jail

Freed Belarus trades unionists
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From LabourStart newsletter

Ten days ago we launched a campaign demanding the release of jailed trade union leaders in Belarus.

The jailings followed a strike at the JSC Belaruskali potash fertilizer plant, as workers peacefully demanded freedom, democracy and respect.  The response of the authorities was to arrest Siarhei Charkasau, a vice chair of the Belarusian Independent Trade Union (BITU), and three others: Pavel Puchenia, Yury Korzun and Anatol Bokun.

Our campaign, launched at the request of BITU and IndustriALL global union resulted in 6,291 messages being sent, demanding the release of our four brothers.

We know that the targets of our messages were not happy to get them, as they attempted to block delivery.  But we had other options.  The trade unionists in Belarus printed out the lists of campaign supporters (in all 15 languages) as a petition.

They delivered these by hand to the office of the CEO of Belaruskali, Ivan Halavaty.  Due to Covid-19 regulations, they stuffed the petitions through the letterbox. 

As a result of their efforts, the voices of all 6,291 of you were heard.

And the authorities were forced to listen.

On Saturday Anatol Bokun, the co-chairperson of the strike committee of Belaruskali, was released after 55 days in police custody.

And this afternoon the other three were finally set free.

As we have been told by our friends in BITU, the campaign was a success because it brought a huge amount of international and local attention to the cases of our jailed brothers.  Their jail terms were not extended.  That is the real achievement of the campaign.

So, if you ever want to know if these campaigns work, and if your support really makes a difference, remember these names: Siarhei, Pavel, Yury and Anatol.  

They are free today because of the power of international trade solidarity.

Thank you so much for what you have done.

Please share this message with your friends, family and fellow trade union members.  Thank you!

Eric Lee