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Belarus: ICFTU denounces assault on union activist

Belarus: ICFTU denounces assault on independent trade union activist

Brussels, 16 March 2004 (ICFTU OnLine). The ICFTU today denounced a physical attack on a Belarussian trade union activist, which occurred earlier this month in the city of Grodno and urged the government of President Aleksandr Lukashenko to open an investigation into the assault.

According to the ICFTU, Ivan Roman, an activist of the independent trade union "ASM", was walking in the Old Town section of Grodno, on his way home, on the evening of March 8, 2004, when he was suddenly pushed into a car by an unknown individual. Once inside the car, he was beaten on the head and passed out. He woke at least one our later, lying in the snow in a field, on the outskirts of the city. His notebook and keys had disappeared, though his passport was in the snow not far from him.

When he tried to report to the police, the officers refused to note his complaint and refused to issue him with a written instruction needed under regulations in force to obtain a doctor's certificate of injury. He had sustained a facial bruise and suffers from severe headaches. He has since written a formal complaint to the local prosecutor but is still awaits a reply from the prosecutor's office.

"I would like to think the assault is not connected to my trade union activities, says Roman, but I doubt it. My wife is convinced the two are closely related". Ivan Roman had been dismissed last November from his job as a production-line operator in Grodno's "Republican Unitary" enterprise of automobile spare parts, after several years of increasingly active involvement with the ASM trade union. He suffered serious harassment after denouncing the conditions under which the factory had been privatised. These conditions violated both the law and provisions of the collective agreement in force at the plant. Amongst other measures, he had been detained three times by the plant's security guards and on two occasions had been brought by the guards to the local police station. He had, since his dismissal, been distributing the independent union newspaper Rabocha Solidarnosc ("Workers' Solidarity"). While distributing the union paper, he was summoned by the police and asked why he was involved with it. When he asked the officer questioning him for the purpose of the interrogation, he was told it was carried out under instructions of the State Security Committee, "KGB".

The ICFTU represents over 150 million workers in 233 affiliated organisations in 152 countries and territories. ICFTU is also a member of Global Unions: http://www.global-unions.org

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