Declare the letter to ILO from Belarus null and introduce sanctions against Belarus

Declare the letter to ILO from Belarus null and introduce sanctions against Belarus

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Стачком Гродно Азот создал(а) эту петицию, адресованную The International Labour Organization

RU

Dear Guy Ryder and the esteemed members of the Governing body and its committees.

We, the citizens of The Republic of Belarus, are asking you to annul and to not take into consideration the “Letter from the professional labor unions and workers of Belarus” recently sent to you by the Belarusian authorities asking you to exercise your influence over the governments of nations introducing sanctions against Belarus. That letter is stating that the European Union and the United States of America are arbitrarily and without factual reasons are enacting such sanctions. Also, the letter states that the economic sanctions against Belarusian state-run businesses do not reflect the will of Belarusian workers.


This is blatantly false! It was the workers themselves who in August 2020 were able to temporarily halt the unbridled lawlessness perpetuated by police and security forces who killed, maimed, and raped peaceful men and women, locked our citizens up without food or water while beating, otherwise torturing, and denigrating them.

We would like to make you aware that workers who signed the letter you received were forced to do so. Moreover, the text of the letter itself was changed multiple times and people were forced to sign separate empty pages. The workers do not even know what text their signatures have been ultimately affixed to. Signatures were extracted under threats of being fired, or otherwise harshly reprimanded, including having their employment contracts terminated or salary cut back, as well as relentless psychological pressure. Many workers in Belarus are unable to publicly express their disagreement and refuse to support government’s or management’s initiatives, due to fear of repressions and responsibility to provide for their families. This is why we started this petition.

Messages from the workers (first-person narrative, names have been changed on purpose):

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- My name is Slavomir. I work in one of the administrative departments. Ever since the end of last week, signatures for some kind of a letter to remove sanctions have been collected in our department. We were told that signing was voluntary.

As you can imagine, only very few people signed it (none in our department, including the boss). When the CEO saw this, he was reportedly enraged and started threatening our boss. He told him that if the number of signatures needed from our department was not collected, the boss would be fired. And we were told that if we want to preserve our department and job we also must all must sign. Otherwise, the department would be shut down. In addition, all those who will not sign will have their bonuses cut until the end of their contractual term, and then the contract will not be extended.

Here's how our entire department sign that letter...

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- My name is Maria. I work at one of the state departments. I should start by saying that after all the events of August and the subsequent months, my health has been seriously damaged. I was detained at one of the peaceful protests, got beaten with a police baton. Since then, I can't sleep. I have nightmares about people in black masks holding batons. I am afraid to walk outside, especially when I see a minivan driving by. But this is not the end of it. At some point recently, I started to be pressured at work to sign a letter denouncing sanctions against Lukashenko's regime. 

  I was given a letter which said that "the people of Belarus denounces the sanctions and is asking for them to be lifted". First, I refused to sign. After that, I was ask for a talk by a deputy director responsible for ideology. He immediately pointed out that I am still quite new in my job and have quite a long way to go to complete my mandatory work placement after graduation. He said that if I don't sign, I will be forced out of my job and will need to pay the government back the cost of my degree, plus fines. 

  He also added that he knows that I live alone and do not have family in this city. And if I lose my job, I may end up homeless and with no one to turn to for help. On top of that, he also threatened to get the KGB involved in following up on who of the workers dared to write a separate letter to recall their signatures under the government's letter, and also fire all those who did. I started crying, and he just push the letter towards me and said "just sign it, and get out!" 

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- Nadezhda, working at the marketing department, have just under a year until retirement. I have seen it all and am not afraid of anything. I categorically refused to sign that piece of paper which says that the Belarusian people are asking ILO to help lift economic sanctions. 

I am not asking to lift those sanctions. I think it is actually quite a powerful way to apply pressure on Lukashenko. I am ashamed to say, but they did manage to make me cave in eventually. My daughter also works at the same factory. My grandson is just 5 years old. And my daughter has just a couple of months left on her yearly contract. They first did not mention that, but eventually brought it up. I was stunned and could not believe it - what does my position have to do with my children? But in response I only heard: "Think about it, and consider what will happen to your daughter, it is all in your hands".  

Please forgive me, I am very much ashamed, but I did sign. 

…………………

Shortly afterwards, police and security forces started pressuring those workers who walked out. Belarusian Federation of Labor Unions is led by a Lukashenko’s appointee and has abdicated any responsibility of defending workers’ rights. Its head has publicly declared his support for Lukashenko and at the same time declined to support the demands of workers. Belarusian workers are denied the right to strike in order to stand up for their freedoms and rights. Those who dare to strike are often criminally prosecuted and jailed. Many citizens and workers had to flee the country, others are facing trumped up false charges, while the rest are being pressured and threatened.

In today’s Belarus, citizens are living with a sense of fear that police or other state security forces can at any time abduct and disappear them, to then beat, berate and, ultimately, throw them in jail. At the memory of blood-curdling images of violence unleashed by those taking their orders from Lukashenko, both women and men in Belarus often struggle to hold back tears. And for good reason, as these crimes continue unabated to date - people continue to be detained, beaten, and jailed, and on November 12, 2020 31-year old Roman Bondarenko died after being beaten.

Under Lukashenko’s brutal dictatorial regime, his functionaries in the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government systematically break the laws on the books and disrespect human rights of Belarusian citizens. Rights to legal defense, free speech and free expression do not exist in Belarus and those who disagree are being charged administratively and jailed on mass. The country had descended into a state of internal terror. And without external help in the form of sanctions against Lukashenko’s regime, Belarusian people will be wiped out.

Belarusian people ARE IN SUPPORT of introducing economic sanctions until the power in Belarus continued to be held in the hands of Lukashenko. Our signatures under the “Letter from the professional labor unions and workers of Belarus” have been extracted forcibly and are, therefore, fictitious.

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Когда эта петиция соберет 50 000 подписей, она вероятнее всего станет одной из наиболее подписываемых на Change.org на данный момент!