Representatives of the independent REP trade union officially charged

On 2 August 2017 the chairman of the Belarusian Independent Trade Union of Radio Electronic Industry Workers (REP) Henadz Fiadynich and REP chief accountant Ihar Komlik were arrested in Minsk. Henadz Fiadynich is currently under house arrest, and Ihar Komlik is still in custody. On August 10 they were charged.

In spite of the same charges under part 2 of article 243 of the Criminal Code (“Large-scale tax evasion”), the REP leader Henadz Fiadynich was released under condition of not leaving the country and Ihar Komlik was detained.

According to the head of the human rights center Viasna Ales Bialiatski (in photo), the reason for such difference is political. “Charges under Part 2 of Article 243 are sufficient to detain any person.When I was arrested and detained, all requests of my lawyer to change the preventive measure were answered standardly: “This Article allows us to keep you in custody, we are not violating anything.”

Therefore, I think that such separation, when one is being held in custody and another is released under condition of not leaving the country, has only political reasons. Because the authorities are really afraid of the international community’s protest reaction to the arrest of trade union leader Fiadynich, so he was released under a limiting condition.

At the same time, they clearly demonstrate to the democratic community of Belarus, that security services continue their repressive work against activists, including moral pressure. Such work did not stop, it will continue. So this is what we got here. I can see the reasons for their different physical treatment as only political.

This should push the entire civil society of Belarus to become more active. We must not allow this pressure and do everything so that Ihar Komlik will be released.”

Human rights defenders reaction

On 10 August the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders and a partnership of FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) made a joint statement and called on the Belarusian government to drop all charges against Ihar Komlik and stop the prosecution of leaders of trade union organizations for their peaceful activities.

In addition, human rights organizations in Belarus on 3 August declared that they consider Ihar Komlik as political prisoner. According to human rights defenders, the criminal case against trade union leaders is politically motivated and connected to an active trade union activities and the peaceful exercise of the right to freedom of association.

The IndustriALL Global Union and the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) made a statement in support of the trade union leaders and called on the Belarusian authorities to stop the persecution of Henadz Fiadynich and Ihar Komlik.

“We have serious reasons to believe that all these actions are aimed at undermining the activities of the independent trade union movement in Belarus in retaliation for an active civil position of trade union leaders and the activities of independent trade unions for the protection of the socio-economic interests of the working people of the Republic of Belarus,” says the letter.

Both ITUC and IndustriALL stress that the acts of harassment “constitute state interference in the activities of independent trade unions,” which is a flagrant violation of the International Labor Organization’s Convention No. 87 “On Freedom of Association,” and demand immediate termination of criminal proceedings against Henadz Fiadynich and Ihar Komlik, dropping all groundless accusations and the immediate release of Ihar Komlik from custody.

Related articles:

Belarusian human rights defenders speak against persecution of trade unions

The UN Human Rights Committee registered the first “parasite tax” complaint

The OSCE PA adopted a Resolution on the situation in Eastern Europe criticizing Belarus



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