This was reported by "Green Portal" on February 22 with reference to an open letter to the FSC.

According to "Green Portal", the problem is that the FSC certification mark opens the doors of Lukashenka's regime for trade with the European Union, contributes to the enrichment of itself and the environment, legalizes torture and the use of forced labor in Belarus;

EZ trade networks profit from the exploitation of political prisoners in Belarus.

Representatives of Belarusian civil society, politicians, human rights defenders and "green" activists from around the world are demanding an independent investigation into how FSC systems allowed certification:

  • prisons in Belarus related to human rights violations;

  • forests that are "owned" by Alexander Lukashenko;

  • wood processing enterprises that purchase products from these forests and prisons.

The demand was signed by 55 political subjects and persons, including Belarusian politicians and political prisoners, members of the European Parliament, civil society organizations, other interested parties from around the world: Australia, Austria, Great Britain, Germany, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Slovakia , Slovenia, USA, Ukraine, France, Czech Republic, Sweden, Switzerland, Estonia.

From Belarus, the demand was supported by:

  • Viasna Human Rights Centre,

  • Ecohome,

  • Civil movement Legalize Belarus,

  • Association of Law Enforcement Officers of Democratic Belarus — BELPOL,

  • Paval Latushka, head of the People's Anti-Crisis Administration (NAU),

  • Andrei Sannikov, a former candidate for the presidency of Belarus and a former inmate of correctional colony No. 2 in Bobruisk.

  • Former political prisoner Vitaly Zhuk, who served time in the FSC-certified correctional colony No. 2 in Bobruisk.

Vitaly Zhuk, who served time in the FSC-certified correctional colony No. 2 in Babruysk, emphasized

"The sale of this furniture supports Lukashenka's regime, which continues to torture both political and ordinary prisoners.

Several political prisoners have already died in Belarusian prisons, those who are still alive suffer from vitamin deficiency and diseases such as scurvy.

We must continue to ask questions because we live in a time when each of us must make a choice: to be an accomplice to evil or to preserve our honor and soul.

The letter is addressed

to Mark Jessel

, director of system integrity, and Kim Carstensen, director general of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).

  • FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) is an international non-profit organization that develops and promotes forest management standards.

  • FSC certification is a certification system for forests and forest products that ensures that forestry is conducted in an environmentally responsible, socially oriented and economically sustainable manner.

  • FSC claims leadership in forestry certification.

    Its label—found on everything from toilet paper and furniture to books and clothing—is intended to assure conscious consumers that the wood products it certifies are legal, ethical and environmentally sustainable.

  • For many years, the FSC mark has been applied to wood products produced by forced labor in penal colonies, including political prisoners.

The human rights report says that although the FSC left Belarus in March 2022 for other reasons, it did not acknowledge or remedy its previous "failures" in that country.

In the November 2022 Earthsight report:

It is shown that the largest European chains of retail trade in furniture made a profit from the exploitation of political prisoners in Belarus.

It is told how these purchases served the personal enrichment of Alexander Lukashenko.

A significant proportion of this trade has proven to be FSC certified.

Many warning signs about the state of human rights in Belarus existed long before the publication of this report.

The FSC continued to allow the use of its mark in forests controlled by Lukashenka, in prisons and in woodworking plants where furniture was made for international markets.

The Earthsight report also revealed that

the forests under Lukashenka's control were managed by Viktar Sheyman, who has been under EU sanctions since 2004.