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The authorities in Belarus are continuing to threaten and repress workers and their union representatives to stop them organising strike action, following huge public turnouts at the weekend.

In Minsk alone, 100,000 people joined a protest march. Despite the repression, work stoppages are taking place in factories and other workplaces, and many small businesses have closed in solidarity. Union representatives are being detained and imprisoned in order to stop them organising workplace actions.

Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary, said “The right to strike is guaranteed under international law, and the government is obliged to respect this right, all the more because Belarus has ratified ILO Conventions 87 and 98. Freedom of Association also depends on freedom of assembly, which the government is repressing through violence and threats aimed at the public. We call on the government to cease violating these fundamental rights and recognise that the people of Belarus have the right to make their own decisions free from fear and interference.”

Belarusian athletes are one group that has been specially targeted by the authorities, with several detained and imprisoned for criticising the Lukashenko government. Some 900 athletes have criticised the conduct of the October elections, and ten have been imprisoned. On Friday, Belarusian athletes led a march to the International Olympic Committee in Lausanne, calling upon it to act.