The Belarusian Supreme Court’s decision to liquidate all Belarusian independent trade organizations – the Independent Trade Union, the Belarusian Trade Union of Radio-Electronic Industry Workers, Free Trade Union of Belarus, the Free Trade Union of Metalworkers, and the Belarusian Congress of Democratic Trade Unions – is the latest attack on the freedom of the Belarusian people, an attempt to crush civil society and to protect a regime frightened of the power of its own citizens.
These moves to dissolve independent labor unions would deprive approximately 10,000 Belarusian workers of any meaningful ways to protect themselves or their families from a dictatorial regime. Such actions perpetuate a system in which laws are cynically used to safeguard the power of the few instead of protecting the rights of all the Belarusian people. For two decades, violations of workers’ rights in Belarus have been decried by the UN and international labor organizations, and Belarus has frequently been cited by those organizations as among the world’s worst violators of workers’ rights. These latest decisions not only make things worse for hard-working Belarusians, but they fully expose the fiction that the regime has any aims beyond protecting its own selfish interests at the expense of the people of Belarus. And they bely the regime’s realization that the dire condition of the Belarusian economy in the face of debilitating international sanctions could generate significant discontent among the working class.
With the destruction of the independent labor movement, the Lukashenka regime has continued its efforts to destroy Belarusian civil society. But the United States, together with its Allies and partners, will continue to support those inside Belarus and abroad who continue to fight for workers’ rights and all who pursue a sovereign, democratic, and more prosperous future for the people of Belarus.