On February, 11 Yury Korzun – one of the Belaruskali strike committee leaders, the legendary Belarusian miner who chained himself to the mining equipment back in September, was kidnapped and taken to the police to be further judged and prosecuted for “violating the article 23.34 part 3 of the Administrative Code” namely for participating/organizing a sports event to honor those who had been punished for violation of the same article 23.34.
On February, 12th in court Yury got 15 days of imprisonment for this “violation”. In court he announced a termless hunger strike in protest to the fact of:
The actual refusal to eat began on February, 11 at 7:10 a.m. from the time of detention and ended on February, 18th.
The Independent union and the strike committee fear that the term in police prison might be prolonged the way it used to be done by the authorities before. Let us remind you the story of Yury Korzun and of the cases LabourStart was campaigning for Yury and his comrades recently.
September, 10 the morning shift at 1 mine of Belaruskali started with an individual strike of the BITU member Yury Korzun. At -305 meters he chained himself to mining equipment and announced that he would not leave his work place until his demands are satisfied. His demands were
Shift master and chief production engineer came down to the mine. Accident elimination plan was introduced. The mine squad came. According to our information, threats of physical violence against Yury appeared. Yury Korzun's handcuffs were forcibly cut off; he has been carried out of the mine. An ambulance was waiting by the shaft. Yuri was sent to the emergency room of Soligorsk regional hospital. The column in support was moving along the Lyubanskoe highway towards the Soligorsk Central Regional Hospital, on the street. No prosecution is taken against Yury. He joins the strike.
On 3rd of October there were mass arrests of locals in Soligorsk Public Park. People of Soligorsk and guests of the city were spending their leisure time drinking coffee, tea, having snacks – that was a pick-nick. The strike committee claims that there were 18 men and 8 women arrested there. Among the arrested are members of the strike committee: Nina Tulayeva (punished with a fine of 30 basic units), Aliaksei Kryzh (punished with a fine of 25 basic units), Yury Korzun (punished with 15 days in prison), Siarhei Charkasau (punished with 15 days in prison), Siarhei Taras (punished with 7 days in prison) and Pavel Puchenia (punished with 15 days in prison).
17-18 October - the expected release of Anatol Bokun - co-chairperson of the strike committee, Siarhei Charkasau - Vice-Chairperson of the Belarusian Independent trade union, member of strike committee, Yury Korzun and Pavel Puchenia - members of strike committee due to the end of their imprisonment terms.
The Vice-Chairperson of Belarusian Independent trade union Siarhei Charkasau was to be released by 18th of October, location of imprisonment - Staryja Darohi. Together with Yury Korzun and Pavel Puchenia they have been relocated to Soligorsk police detention center on 16th of October. Anatol Bokun, Siarhei Charkasau, Yury Korzun and Pavel Puchenia were brought to Soligorsk before their terms passed, they were asked to sign a document saying that they admit their guilt and remorse for their actions and after that they could be free. However, there were additionally proposed to record an interview for the State TV channel BT (Belarusian Television) saying the same thing, that they admit their guilt and that they remorse for their strike activities. Of course all the four refused. Since then they were kept in jail awaiting another trial on 19th October and each was sentenced to 15 more days of imprisonment.
BITU started an online solidarity campaign at LabourStart in partnership with the IndustriALL global union on 22nd of October. Campaign was supported by about 6300 unionists from around the world. The campaign is now closed as it reached its goal: the four comrades were released and their terms in prison were not prolonged like it happened last time.
On 13th November an excursion bus with 43 activists from Soligorsk, members of BITU and the strike committee of Belaruskali went to visit historical places of Belarusian protests. Yury Korzun, Pavel Puchenia, Aliaksandr Novik and other strike committee members who were previously arrested and sentenced to jail before are there. On the way the activists had a minute of silence to commemorate the murdered by the police Minsk activist Raman Bandarenka. Later they visited the museum of Tadeusz Kosciuszko – the national hero of Belarus, Poland and the USA who fought for freedom and justice. The activists had been arrested by the police for hanging the white-red-white flag. They were taken to the police station in Ivatsevichy, later to Baranovichi and are kept in jail till court hearing on Monday, 16th of November. Minor kids are among the detained.
LabourStart online union platform in partnership with the BITU and ITUC has urgently started a solidarity online campaignto release the activists. It is supported by over 5700 unionists and activists by Nov.17th noon. The strike committee tried to involve human rights organizations to support the detained comrades. Human rights organizations were not let to communicate with the arrested activists.
The 45 people altogether including the excursion bus driver spent three days in police prison before the trial. On 16th of November the court hearings took place in Baranovichi. 23 activists were judged by the Baranovichi regional court. The rest was judged in police prison via Skype.
Activists of Belarusian Independent trade union, the strike committee members and civil activists from Soligorsk that have taken part in a bus excursion, are accused of taking part in an unauthorized mass event under article 23.34 (parts 1 and in several cases 3) of the Administrative Code of the Republic of Belarus. The sentence for Yury Korzun was 15 days of imprisonment.
We will closely follow the development of the Yury’s case.