Presidium of the BFTU
"April 19 is a black day for the independent trade union organizations of Belarus.
Over the 30 years of protecting the rights of workers in Belarus, independent trade unions have repeatedly faced discrimination, infringement of rights and persecution by the country's leadership. Trade union leaders deliberately continued their activities in such ruthless conditions for many years. However, now we are witnessing total lawlessness on the part of law enforcement agencies.
On the morning of April 19, the chairman of the Belarusian Free Trade Union (BFTU) Nikolai Sharakh was detained. The law enforcers conducted a search first at Nikolai's house, and then at the apartment of the trade union leader's daughter. At the same time, a search was carried out at the office of the BFTU in Minsk. At the moment, the office is sealed by the KGB.
Also on that day, more than 20 of our colleagues were detained. Among them are Chairman of the Belarusian Congress of Democratic Trade Unions (BKDP) Alexander Yaroshuk, Deputy Chairman of the BKDP Sergei Antusevich, Chairman of the Free Trade Union of Metalworkers (SPM) Alexander Bukhvostov and many others. The offices of the SPM and the BKDP were searched.
We strongly condemn such an intrusion into the legal activities of trade unions, the right to which is protected not only by International Conventions, but also by Belarusian law. We demand the immediate release of UPB chairman Nikolai Sharakh and all detained colleagues. We remind you of the criminal liability for such unauthorized intrusions and detentions.
It is now essential for the global trade union movement to demonstrate its unity and solidarity. The systematic mass violation of the rights of independent trade unions in Belarus should not go unnoticed.
We call on our international and strategic partners, all fraternal trade unions and organizations for solidarity and support. The attempt by the Belarusian authorities to disable the independent trade union movement should not and will not be successful."