Politically Motivated Charges Against Belarusian Trade Union Leaders
Henadz Fiadynich and Ihar Komlik, leaders of the Belarusian REP trade union, have officially been charged with tax evasion. Civil Rights Defenders is deeply concerned about the recent actions of the Belarusian authorities and condemns the politically motivated charges against the two trade union leaders. Belarus must immediately stop harassing trade union members, as well as drop all charges against Henadz Fiadynich and Ihar Komlik.
The charges against Henadz Fiadynich, Chairman of the Belarusian Independent Trade Union of Radio and Electronic Industry Workers (REP), and Ihar Komlik, chief accountant of the REP trade union, became public on 10 May 2018. They are both accused of tax evasion on a particularly large scale, and charged under Part 2 of Article 243 of the Criminal Code. The charges are based on accusations that the two union trade leaders did not pay their taxes in 2011.
Henadz Fiadynich and Ihar Komlik have been given one month to study the materials of the case, after which it will be submitted to the court.
“The criminal charges against Henadz Fiadynich and Ihar Komlik are unacceptable. The two union trade leaders must be freed of all accusations immediately, and Belarus must comply with its international obligations and honour everyone’s right to peaceful assembly and association as per Articles 21 and 22 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,” said Joanna Kurosz, Programme Director for Eurasia at Civil Rights Defenders.
Civil Rights Defenders recalls the case of Ales Bialiatski, Chairperson of the Human Rights Centre Viasna, who was charged with tax evasion in 2011. He was sentenced to four and a half years in prison and confiscation of property as a direct result of his legitimate activities in defence of human rights in Belarus. In 2013, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention concluded that his detention was arbitrary and that Belarus failed to meet its international obligations.
According to Valiantsin Stefanovich, Board member of the HRC Viasna, the case against Henadz Fiadynich and Ihar Komlik is “politically motivated, opened in connection with the exercise of freedom of association”.
Civil Rights Defenders renews its call on the Belarusian government to comply with its international obligations and honour their right to peaceful assembly and association, and drop all charges against Henadz Fiadynich and Ihar Komlik.