Trade union activists fined over hunger strike in Babruisk

2014 2014-12-19T10:28:02+0300 2014-12-19T10:28:02+0300 en The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”

The Babruisk Court has heard the charges brought against four members of the Free Trade Union of Belarus, who were earlier dismissed from the factory TDiA – Aliaksandr Varankin, Mikalai Zhybul, Aliaksandr Hramyka and Aleh Shauchenka. The activists were charged with participating in an unauthorized mass event.

The case was considered by Judge Natallia Sheheda.

The trial was attended by several policemen who testified as witnesses, including a police officer who was on duty in the building of the executive committee on the day of the hunger strike and deputy chief of the factory’s security department.

“The judge asked the witnesses whether they had seen the guys in the days of the hunger strike at the factory gate and in the executive committee, and they confirmed it. They said that there were no posters, and they chanted no slogans. There were no more questions,” says local leader of the Free Trade Union Mikhail Kavalkou.

The activists plead not guilty. The only thing they admitted was that they did not ask for permission to hold a hunger strike. They explained to the judge that it was a gesture of despair after their dismissal.

“The judge read the personal profiles of the activists and saw that none of them had been prosecuted before. This could have been a mitigating circumstance, and we had high hopes for it, because even the policeman who wrote the offense report spoke about a small fine. But Natallia Sheheda said that the hunger strike had received wide publicity, and therefore awarded seven basic units each,” says Mikhail Kavalkou.

The convicted trade union activists do not believe that appealing against the decision will give any result. But they do not rule out that they will try to lodge an appeal.

“We are going to launch a fund-raising campaign to pay the fines. After all, the guys have been unemployed for a long time already, and they have no money,” adds local trade union leader.