To protect people, it is necessary to demand from the ILO to impose sanctions against Lukashenka.
Present Time journos talked with Siarhei Dyleuski, the leader of the Belarusian Workers' Association (BOR). Siarhei had to leave Belarus a year ago, but he hopes that he will be able to prepare a new strike in the country. The leader of the Belarusian Workers' Association told what the pre-strike state he called for is, and how people can protest and avoid reprisals.
“People need to stay at home, leave the city”
- Siarhei, do you really suppose that workers, employees can go on strike and stop working now?
- We do not just suppose, we are firmly convinced of this. Huge work has been done to date. Our initiative, the Belarusian Workers' Association, is supported by a huge number of employees of Belarusian state-owned enterprises, private business, doctors, teachers, athletes - yes, virtually everyone.
- How much is a huge amount?
- I, probably, in the interests of [people] in the light of the recent events will not disclose specific figures, I will not tell you about particular factories - again, for the reasons of safety of people who are inside the country. those who remain at their workplaces, and who theoretically can be subjected to reprisals.
- You know what I don’t understand: this strike will happen, people will really stop working - but, judging by the past year, they will simply be detained, imprisoned, given new terms in jail, right?
- Unlike last year, we are not going to urge people to gather for protest marches, block workshops and so on. Our main task is to prevent workers from physically starting their work. So that they just stay at home, leave the city - so that the machines at which people are working stay idle, so that the machines do not work. Our main task is to hit the regime precisely economically and in terms of image.
- Well, they won't come out, they will leave the city. And then they come back - and they will be detained?
- For what?
- You know, it seems to me that in Belarus it is not so difficult to find an article on which to detain or imprison a person.
- Last year, people were detained for so-called unauthorized mass events. What we offer cannot be called an unauthorized mass event in any case. Because this is a consciously made decision of a person not to start work - that's all.
“Pre-strike” and information
- What is the “pre-strike” you are talking about? How will it work, or is it already working?
- It's already working. This is a general mobilization of people, that is, specifically the physical, financial preparation of people. Education - how to prepare yourself and your loved ones to prepare and carry out this strike, for each person specifically, with as little pain as possible. This is a huge informational work that is already being carried out today, as you saw and as you correctly noted on air. That is, this is a set of measures aimed specifically at mobilizing workers before the actual announcement.
- What do you mean by physical and financial support?
- These are the same educational moments: how to stock up on food, to minimize exits to the street, to minimize the possible cut-off by security forces, and so on. Financial support - the formation of the strike funds, mutual assistance funds between citizens of the Republic of Belarus, and so on. That is, this is a whole complex of measures that I can talk about for hours.
“The demands not even to Lukashenka, but to his closest circle”
- Siarhei, do I understand the logic correctly: you put forward a number of demands to Lukashenka, and if he does not fulfill them, then you intend to start a strike. Right?
- Of course. The demands are directed primarily not even to Lukashenka, but to the entire so-called power in Belarus as a whole. That is, the requirements are not directed to a person who is not able to think soberly and sensibly assess the situation that is happening in the country, not to a person who has completely outlived himself and whose orders and decrees are based only on a sick fantasy, bluff and unawareness of what is happening in the country -but to his environment, to his immediate circle.
- Do you set any deadlines?
- We do not name specific dates - I repeat once again, for the reasons of personal safety of every potentially striking citizen of the Republic of Belarus.
- How is this supposed to happen? Lukashenka's entourage, or Lukashenka himself, most likely, judging by experience, will not fulfill these requirements. And when will this strike start? How will [people] understand that it has already begun?
- Let's just say they will understand. They will understand.
- What do you know about those detained in recent days?
- Yes, indeed, there have been facts of detention in the recent days. These were employees of Hrodna Azot, the Belarusian Railways. Most detainees, in my opinion, are officially members of the so-called independent trade unions. And here is a big question for the leaders of these independent trade unions, who last year strongly advocated against sanctions: “We will protect everyone,” and so on. Today I really want to name personally Comrade Yarashuk, with whom I spoke directly, as now with you, who promised that every worker from his independent trade union will keep their job, everyone will be protected by him. In this regard, I would like to appeal precisely on the fact of recent arrests to this particular comrade: fight for your people!
- Well, how to fight? Do you have a recipe?
- Last year he said that he had a recipe.
- Let's move away from his personality. Seventeen people have already been detained, the names of sixteen are known. How to fight for them?
- Let him address - as a person who is included in the circles of the International Workers' Union, the so-called ILO. Let them write appeals, let them demand the imposition of sanctions due to violation of workers' rights.
- Do you know of a successful case of such a struggle, which would have ended with the release of the detainee?
- Of course! Such examples were even in Belarus back in 2010, when the sanctions imposed by Europe directly influenced the release of political prisoners in the country.
- Are such cases known in 2020, 2021?
- In 2020-2021, there have been no such cases yet. There are supposedly some “cloud trades”, some sort of lists of pardons and other nonsense. Attempts to bargain precisely by the junta, namely by the dictator, with Europe. This was not a deliberate liberation of people, it was just a bidding attempt.
- Just after everything that has happened in a year: the brutal suppression of protests, key people in the opposition are in prison or were forced to leave Belarus, cases are opened every day, sentences are passed every day, there is simply no strength to read these news feeds. Is it possible to organize such a strike so that this flywheel of repression does not start again?
- Naturally, we can. If we don't just sit and read news on the sofas at home, huddled in a corner, but start to act, if every Belarusian realizes that nothing will be better in the country, if this particular person does not start to act, then everything will work out. It just can't fail.
“It's easy for you to talk from abroad”
- Siarhei, have you heard such words addressed to you when you talk to people, “Well, it's easy for you, you’re abroad, but we would go to jail here, if anything”?
- Of course I heard.
- What do you answer?
- I would say the following: even here, abroad, I have done much more for Belarus today than the majority of such critics who say that “it’s easy for you to talk there from abroad”. For my part, I've done a lot more than them. And believe me, there are dozens of thousands of people like me even abroad - people who are ready to return to the country at any time. People who are ready to start rebuilding at any moment, to raise this country from its knees after the government leaves.