PERC Youth Committe’s statement on the situation in Belarus

PERC Youth Committee is deeply concerned about the violation of human and labour rights in Belarus. Since the start of this year Belarusian activists and trade unionists have been actively opposing the tax levied on unemployed workers, envisaged by Decree No. 3 ‘Prevention of Social Dependency’

PERC Youth Committee supports out brothers and sisters in the Belarusian Congress of Independent Trade Unions. We are convinced that levying high taxes on vulnerable population groups is unacceptable. This policy not only adversely impacts the lives of young people struggling to find jobs and young mothers wanting to dedicate more time to raising their children, it violates international conventions on forced labour and wrongly punishes those who are unable to find work.

Regretfully, Belarusian authorities do not want to hear the concerns voiced by their citizens opposing this policy, or follow international conventions established by the ILO. Trade unionists around the world are watching with compassion and revulsion as Belarusian trade unionists, civil activists and ordinary people are being repressed and must suffer for their convictions.

Rallies against Decree No. 3 were held across Belarus: approximately 300 people were detained, including at least 30 members of independent trade unions. We regard this reaction by the authorities as exceedingly harsh. According to data collected by human rights organizations, on 25 March more than fifteen thousand people took part in rallies in Minsk and other cities, with around one thousand participants arrested as a result, including members of the independent trade unions affiliated to BKDP (Belarusian Congress of Independent Trade Unions).

We stand by our brothers and sisters in the Belarusian Congress of Independent Trade Unions in their protest against this draconian policy and the repressive actions of the Belarusian government. The freedom of people to have choice with employment, and to protest openly and peacefully is fundamental to ensuring the development of a strongly, healthy society. These values are important to the labour movement.

PERC Youth Committee expresses solidarity with the independent trade union movement of Belarus. We demand the revocation of the Decree No. 3 and call on the Belarusian authorities to:
- stop these repressive policies and respect freedom of speech and assembly.
- release all detained people, participants of rallies, including trade unionists.
- stop the practice of conducting searches and arrests of trade union activists.

PERC Youth Committee