August 21, 2020
The Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL), in solidarity with the people and workers of Belarus, condemns the authoritarian violence against peaceful protesters following the presidential election in Belarus.
The OFL joins the Canadian Labour Congress in calling for an end to the violence, persecution, and arrests of peaceful protesters and demands the release of all imprisoned union leaders, activists, and civil society representatives. We also demand that new election be held in Belarus, with an independent election commission and international observers.
The OFL stands in solidarity with the Belarusian people and does not recognize Lukashenko as the legally elected president. The Federation stands in support of the mass protests that have begun throughout the country and support demands to release everyone who was placed in isolation wards and prisons from August 9th onwards for political reasons. We firmly denounce any retaliation, including dismissals, for joining peaceful protests.
The recent election of Alexander Lukashenko was not conducted in a free and fair manner. However, despite evidence indicating that Lukashenko lost his bid for the presidency, his 26-year regime continues to suppress democratic institutions, independent civil society and the trade union movement, violating the fundamental rights and freedoms of the citizens of Belarus. Belarus continues to be ruled by a dictator.
Since August 9th, riot police have used violence to disperse peaceful protesters across the country, using teargas, batons, rubber bullets, water cannons and grenades. Six thousand five hundred people were detained for participating in protests. Seventy people, including Chairperson of the Independent Trade Union of Miners (UMTO) Maksim Seredа, are still detained. Protests in Minsk continue. Journalists are being arrested and major strikes continue.
The OFL stands with Belarusians, who are fighting for freedom and the right to choose their own future.
To read more about the struggle for democracy in Belarus:
- Statement by Minister Champagne on Belarusian presidential elections
- Belarus: potash workers strike to support victims of police violence
- Joint Statement of IndustriALL Global Union and industriAll Europe on Belarus
- The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) and the Pan-European Regional Council (PERC).
- Canadian Labour Congress: Letter of Support