Belarus: International campaign of workers’ solidarity

The following is the denunciation published by the Solidarnast Association regarding the events at the factory “Gomel Maltal and Normal Molders Plant”. The International Socialist League (ISL) actively supports the campaign against Alexander Lukashenko’s dictatorial repression and for the freedom of imprisoned workers. 

By Ruben Tzanoff

“Demonstrative terror against workers in Belarus”

“Recent events at the joint-stock company ‘Gomel Maltal and Normal Molders Plant” speak of the formation of a totalitarian management model in Belarus. A video posted on the official pages of the plant shows a brutal scene of the arrest of the mechanical assembler Vital Svatkouski for liking a post on social networks.

The video shows armed riot police jumping out of a minibus and roughly throwing the man face down on the pavement. The officers pressed his knee into his neck and asked him questions related to his ideological affiliation.

In the video, Svatkouski claimed that he was detained because of the “likes” he left on the social network Odnoklassniki on videos of the 2020 protests. After his arrest, he was subjected to psychological pressure and forced to make a “penitential” video in which he admitted his ‘guilt.’

According to journalists, riot police arrived at the factory grounds and harshly detained workers. A total of 14 people were abducted.

According to the logic of the usurper Lukashenko, such a demonstrative and brutal action of detention and subsequent humiliation of workers should intimidate those who disagree with his policies. This is not the first case of brutal repression of dissent and trade unions in the country. Belarusian workers are deprived of the right to join trade unions created by them. Instead, they are forced to join the pro-government Federation of Trade Unions of Belarus (FPB), which serves the function of controlling workers in the company.

It is known that the court sentenced the man to 25 days of administrative arrest. He served the punishment in a temporary detention center in Gomel. Meanwhile, a “penitential” video of the worker was posted on the social networks of the Gomel plant. Below it appeared hundreds of similar comments condemning the worker’s action. As a source familiar with the situation at the plant explained to Flagshtok, the arrest of the worker and his subsequent harassment is a planned action.

Gomel Casting and Normal Plant, which is under Lukashenko’s special control, has long been the object of attention of the security services. It is reported that in recent years former “law enforcement officers” were hired at the plant, who now actively persecute and oppress opponents of the regime. A similar situation can be observed at all strategic companies of the country: Belaruskali, Naftan, Mozyr Oil Refinery, BMZ, Hrodna Azot, etc. Detention and harassment of workers at the company has been denounced.

The detention and harassment of workers who even passively express discontent or criticize the government is part of Lukashenko’s strategy to suppress all forms of activism after the 2020 mass protests. The authorities seek to intimidate or eliminate any opposition and labor movements to maintain their power.

The global community and trade unions have already reacted to the terror in Belarus. In June this year, the International Labor Conference (ILC) adopted a resolution on Belarus. It demands the release of trade union activists from prisons and the implementation of all recommendations of the International Labor Organization (ILO).”

Worker and internationalist solidarity The ISL has actively participated in the campaign “Trade union activity is not extremism” demanding the release of imprisoned workers. It has sent solidarity signatures of workers’ leaders and activists from different countries, for example, from: ANCLA (National Classist Antibureaucratic National Organization) – Trade Union Current of the MST- Argentina, Venezuelan workers’ leaders of Marea Socialista and Brazilian union activists. In addition, in response to the request expressed by the campaign, different delegations have delivered petitions to Belarusian diplomatic representations located in Brazil, Chile, France and Spain.