Arrested representatives of independent trade unions recognized as political prisoners
Joint statement by the Belarusian human rights community
May 13, 2022
We, representatives of the Belarusian human rights community, in our Joint Statement of April 21, 2022, firmly condemned the attack on the independent trade union movement, whose representatives were searched and arrested.
According to our data, the following individuals are currently arbitrarily detained as suspects and defendants on various trumped-up grounds:
the Chairperson of the Belarusian Congress of Democratic Trade Unions (BCDTU) Mr. Aliaksandr Yarashuk, his deputy Mr. Siarhei Antusevich, the leader of Belarusian Radio-Electrical Manufacturing Workers' Trade Union (REM) Mr. Henadz Fiadynich, activists Mr. Vatslau Areshka, Mr. Mikhail Hromau, Ms. Iryna Bud-Husaim, Mr. Miraslau Sabchuk, Ms. Yanina Malash, Mr. Vital Chychmarou, Mr. Vasil Berasniou.
The imprisonment of these individuals took place in the context of a large-scale campaign of persecution of independent unions and union leaders, which has recently been of a systemic nature. Thus, on April 7 it became known that the KGB recognized the Belarusian Independent Trade Union REM as an extremist group. And on May 11 Hrodna Regional Court decided upon request of the prosecutor of Hrodna region to recognize the primary organization of the Belarusian Independent Trade Union of Hrodna Azot employees extremist, prohibit its activity and liquidate it by immediate execution of the court decision.
In this regard, we consider their prosecution and imprisonment politically motivated, related to the non-violent exercise of freedom of expression, freedom of peaceful assembly and association, as well as related to non-violent activities aimed at protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms and recognize them as political prisoners in accordance with para. 3.1, 3.2 of the Guidelines on the Definition of Political Prisoners. We demand that the Belarusian authorities:
- Immediately release political prisoners Mr. Aliaksandr Yarashuk, Mr. Siarhei Antusevich, Mr. Henadz Fiadynich, Mr. Vatslau Areshka, Mr. Mikhail Hromau, Ms. Iryna Bud-Husaim, Mr. Miraslau Sabchuk, Ms. Yanina Malash, Mr. Vital Chychmarou, Mr. Vasil Berasniou and stop their criminal prosecution.
- Immediately release all political prisoners and stop political repression.
Human Rights Center Viasna
Barys Zvozskau Belarusian Human Rights House
Belarusian Association of Journalists