An Urgent Call for Solidarity with the Workers and People of Belarus

Belarusian workers and representatives of the organized left call for solidarity and support in resisting both Lukashenko and the pro-capital opposition.
Comrades! We, Belarusian workers and representatives of the organized left — in struggle against the Lukashenko regime, rising nationalism, and the organized forces of international capital — call on you for support at this critical hour.
Comrades! We, Belarusian workers and representatives of the organized left — in struggle against the Lukashenko regime, rising nationalism, and the organized forces of international capital — call on you for support at this critical hour.

The political crisis that followed the recent presidential election has led to unprecedented police violence that no one in Belarus could have imagined. During the long years of Lukashenko’s reign, the people of Belarus have grown ever more tired and discontent. We saw abuse of power by the bureaucracy and courts, laws directed against the people and workers, and creeping privatisation of our public industries. Now, workers are rising up against the electoral fraud that took place in the recent presidential election — and facing brutal police repression.

The protests are indeed spontaneous, as the old political opposition had lost much of its support before the elections and do not have a sound footing amongst the masses. Yet there is increasing influence of liberal and nationalist channels, which are mainly responsible for the flow of information to the people. The mainstream opposition is set on winning no matter the cost, and so is the regime, ready to defend itself with any means. We are now witnessing a fight between the state-capitalist system — personified by Lukashenko and his state apparatus — and various international imperialist forces, represented by the mainstream opposition.

Many are calling the factories to stop working in order to stop police brutality. But this is not enough.

We need organization to lift up the workers everywhere — not only in the state-owned industrial giants. Today, most Belarusians work in the private sector. The situation there is often no better than at state-owned enterprises, and private owners are no less of a ‘sponsor of the system’ than state-owned enterprises.Without workers' organizations and without struggle in the private sector, the oppression of the people in Belarus will never disappear.

What are our demands?

We demand a ban on the privatisation of Belarusian enterprises; the preservation of jobs; the democratization of the political system; the immediate release of those detained without grounds at protests; the cancellation of Decree No. 3, "On the prevention of social dependency"; a ban on fines and penalties to bonuses; a cancellation of the contract system; increases in social support; the cancellation of the latest pension reform; and the creation of trade unions that will defend our interests.

What forms of solidarity do we seek?

We must broadcast the true reasons of worker discontent — reasons that are not relayed by the talking heads on television, but which relate to the actual conditions of life and work in Belarus. This cannot be corrected by simply voting or overthrowing the president. The only way to correct the situation is by an organised force of workers who stand up for their real class interests here and now. And the working class of Belarus is starting to become aware of its power; it was the working class that stopped police violence on the streets, and that initiated a mass strike to demand their political rights.

What do we need?

We desperately need all help from friends and comrades who speak Russian and Belarusian, as they can help with agitation and campaigning. The Internet and social networks give us direct access to people, almost on an individual basis. We must take this opportunity, start agitating and try as hard as we can to explain the class struggle that underlies the political situation, spelling out their actual interests. We are counting on your organisations to contact us, take a share of workload and help amplify our struggle.

If you are a representative of an organisation or a media, get in touch with our comrades through Telegram to work with us.

You can help us by simply promoting the circulation of our appeals and campaign materials through your channels. You could also do more, if you or your comrades are prepared to distribute our leaflets to workers online. It is a dull and repetitive task that could nevertheless help our common cause. If necessary, we can send you detailed instructions on how to go about it.

You can find our campaign materials here. And you can find us on Telegram: @zabastabel.

Photo: Isabel Sommerfeld / Flickr

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