Photo by Artem Podrez from Pexels
In full of admiration of the relentless resistance at the workplaces in Belarus, we appeal to you for far-reaching support of the labor movements in that country.
For almost three decades, Belarus may have seemed to be an enclave of social policy. But, in fact, it has been a country where minimum social benefits were supplied by a ruthless dictator, who used it to centralise his power. The rights to self-organisation and freedom of expression have been brutally suppressed. Belarus is a country of political murders and control over workers’ unions by the state apparatuses. In addition, the ruling class, led by the paternalist Alyaksandr Lukashenka, has accumulated a fortune and comfortably exercised self-granted privileges.
That was the case until August this year. The falsified election results were met by the country-wide street protests which led to hundreds of arrests. In response to the widely applied state violence, workers from over 150 workplaces (including power plants, car and tractor factories, heavy and precision industry companies, hospitals, media, theatres, museums) announced an open-ended strike. They demanded the release of the detained protesters and that the public’s voice be heard. Today, thousands of women and men are being held in Belarusian prisons. They are often beaten and tortured, and cases of sexual violence committed by the police officers on both genders have been reported. The security services organized raids, arresting random people. So far, the deaths of at least five protesters have been confirmed (and civil organisations expect the death toll to be several times higher). At the same time, the state has introduced absolute censorship of information about resistance to violence and dictatorship. Newspapers are being blocked, TV and radio programmes are being silenced, state television news is being manipulated, the Internet is being turned off. People are standing up to this machine of violence and political intermediaries have been limited to a minimum. Only a Coordination Council has been established, composed of representatives of workers, officials and intellectuals, to express the people’s will to end the dictatorship.
If anyone has had doubts whether a struggle between capitalism and socialism is taking place in Belarus, the scale of repressions directed against the society ultimately proves the actual power relations. These are struggles between people’s initiatives, self-government, equality, the right of workers to self-determination and a paternalistic, oppressive dictatorship that executes uncontrolled authority.
Therefore, the ICL calls for every possible support to the Belarusian people. The support may take the form of an information campaign for the international labour community and beyond, contact with the Belarusian labour community, access to organizational and technological structures (e.g. servers to bypass the information blockade), assistance in self-organizational activities.
Moreover, we call for permanent solidarity. If the regime can be overthrown, we must support the commitment to change towards a more equitable, and self-governing society. We all have to be unified against possible neoliberal and nationalist agenda in case of regime change and the quasi-fascist dictatorship in case it remains in power.
The path that Belarusian workers consistently follow has become a necessity. Therefore, we are committed to support them in these struggles. New social relations, which will emerge in Belarus after the fall of the dictatorship, are, however, an opportunity to accomplish the demands of freedom, equality and solidarity.
The future is ours! We are the future!
Links to Belarusian workers’ organisations:
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