(12 August 2020) Security forces have detained and used violence against peaceful demonstrators in Belarus who are protesting the outcome of the country’s fraudulent presidential election. EPSU strongly condemns the falsified elections, demands an end to the police violence and calls for the immediate release of journalists and trade unionists involved in the protests and strikes.
It was declared on Monday that dictator Alexander Lukashenko, who has held power in Belarus since 1994, had won 80 per cent of the presidential election vote. The European Commission and other European organisations have called the elections neither free nor fair, and the result sparked protests in Minsk and other cities.
According to independent trade unions in Belarus, members of the ITUC, it was actually the presidential candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya who won a landslide victory in the elections, by up to 64 per cent. Other main opposition candidates were harassed and not allowed to compete, and the whole election campaign was characterised by repression aimed at civil society and journalists, and the suppression of internet and media to prevent the flow of information.
The peaceful protests which broke out in response to the election were met with riot police, teargas, batons, rubber bullets, water cannons and grenades. Three thousand people were detained for participating in ‘unauthorised mass events’, including Nikolai Zimin, former chairman of the Belarusian Independent Trade Union, Maxim Sereda, chairman of the Independent Trade Union of Miners, and numerous journalists.
Along with the European trade union movement, EPSU calls on the Belarusian authorities to stop all violence, release imprisoned protestors, and bring all officials responsible for excessive force to justice. We also urge the Belarusian authorities to engage in dialogue with the opposition to launch a new electoral process, and ensure that internet connection is restored and journalists can freely inform the population about the situation in the country and outside.
The EU must now act on this, and convene an urgent EU Summit to assess the Belarusian authority’s actions and review the EU relations with Belarus.
For the ITUC statement
For response of the European Commission calling the elections “neither free nor fair” and the police violence disproportionate
For the response of the Council of Europe on the elections
Belarus and Council of Europe: joint statement by the Committee of Ministers Presidency, PACE President and Secretary General
For the reaction of the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe
For the protests of women against the election result (12 August)
Position of the Russian Federation of Trade Unions (FNPR) RU & EN (26 August 2020)
The International Committee for the Investigation of Torture in Belarus - a second interim report , it concerns the use of torture and inhuman treatment against detained citizens in the period from September to November 2020 .