Statement | Situation in Belarus

Education International and the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) stand in solidarity with workers, students, teachers and academics as well as all citizens of Belarus.

From August 2020, Belarusian citizens will exercise their right to freedom of expression and peaceful public fraudulent elections. The students are at the center of civil mobilization. Workers, students and teachers who take part in broader democracy demonstrations have been arrested, violently suppressed and have their rights deprived of their rights. State administration and security forces are being forced to put pressure on demonstrators, strikers and their families. More than 25,000 citizens were punished for participating in protests, hundreds are serving various prison terms, and several thousand have had to flee the country.

In early September, the Director General of the International Labor Organization (ILO) urged the Belarusian government "to do everything in its power to prevent human rights violations from occurring and to ensure full respect for the rights and freedoms of workers". It was also found that the 2004 recommendations of the ILO Commission of Inquiry, many of which related to serious interference in trade unions, including mandatory union registration and membership as a lever to intimidate workers, have not yet been fully implemented

We regret that the management of several universities has succumbed to pressure from the authorities and has joined these repressive actions to threaten and put into practice sanctions against demonstrators. University staff and students have been pressured by their university administrations to set up trade union organizations and try to join the Free Trade Union of Belarus (SPB), which is a member of the ITUC affiliated Belarusian Congress for Democratic Trade Unions (BKDP). At least 180 students were expelled, and professors and academics were fired. We believe that education has a unique mission in promoting and defending these rights and freedoms and democracy in general.

We call on the Belarusian government and education authorities to respect the fundamental rights and freedoms of students and university staff, including freedom of expression, freedom of peaceful assembly and association, and academic freedom and professional autonomy of teachers and academics. We urge the authorities to refrain from any form of violence or threats to peaceful demonstrators and to listen to the democratic aspirations of the Belarusian people.

Education International and ITUC stand in solidarity with workers, students, teachers and academics as well as all citizens of Belarus. Their courage and determination to restore democracy and regain their legitimate rights and freedoms are a source of powerful inspiration for the whole world. EI and ITUC hear their voices and stand by them.

David Edwards, General Secretary of Education International

Sharan Burrow, General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation

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