Two trade union organisers and one cleaner were arrested, blind folded and severely beaten and tortured by the police according to information received by the Clean Clothes Campaign on the 24 May.
Instead of launching an immediate investigation into the root cause of the riots and measures to address them, as called for also by the ITGLWF, the government yesterday had the police arrest several union officials, either in their offices or on the road (none of them at the protests). One was released yesterday evening, but this evening (24 may) Dhaka time, BIGUF received reliable information that all three of their staff members who were arrested (two organizers and one cleaner) had been blindfolded and severely beaten and tortured by the police. The lawyer who is helping them reported that she saw them this afternoon when they were brought to court. She said they were given medical aid before they were brought to the court, and personally saw the bruises cuts. She also said that the court ordered that they remain in detention five more days for further questioning.
(BIGUF = Bangladesh Independent Garment Workers Union Federation).
Suggested Action: Write to your Bangladesh Ambassador/High Commissioner expressing your concern.
May 24, 2006
Dear Ambassador/High Commissioner
I/We (my organization) am/are greatly shocked to learn that you have arrested,
beaten and tortured a number of union officials in relation to the
worker protests of the past days, which follows years of negligence of
I (my organization) call upon you to immediately release them and instead launch an investigation in the root causes of the riots focusing in particular on the following problems:
- repression of unions and failure to respect the right to organize and
to collective bargaining;
- unfair dismissals of elected worker representatives
- excessively long working hours;
- low rates of basic earnings;
- abuses in piece rate payments;
- the late payment of wages;
- the use of child labour;
- issues of structural and fire safety in the sector;
- the corrupt police practice of charge sheeting workers on the
flimsiest of evidence;
- the practice of supervisors acting as labour contractors and illegally
raking off a percentage of wages;
- the practice of using hired goons to terrorise and intimidate workers;
- the behaviour of the police and other paramilitary forces when unrest