For the attention of all workers, trade unionists and readers of Marxist.com:
This morning we have received the news from Pakistan of the arrest of comrade Hameed Khan, the leader of the strike of the Baluchistan Civil Secretariat Employees Association, which we reported on yesterday.
This is an extremely serious situation. As the main strike leader, Hameed faces severe torture at the hands of the state.
It is essential that we move IMMEDIATELY to protest against this action and to bring every pressure to bear on the Pakistani authorities. Experience has shown that such pressure has an effect.
Speed is essential if we are to save our comrade. Please give this matter the maximum publicity in the trade union and labour organisations in your country.
What YOU can do:
- Organise protest lobbies with placards outside the Pakistani embassies and consulates and invite the press.
- Pass resolutions in your trade union branch, student or youth organisation or political party, condemning the actions of the Pakistani authorities and pledging support for the Pakistan Trade Union Campaign (PTUDC). Where possible, raise a donation to help the work of the Pakistani trade unionists.
- Send articles and letters to local newspapers.
- And send letters of support and donations to the Pakistan Trade Union Campaign. (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org )
It is a scandal that western governments which claim to be democratic are supporting a military dictatorship in Pakistan which is daily trampling on the rights of the people and arresting and torturing workers for the "crime" of going on strike to defend their interests.
WE MUST NOT REMAIN SILENT!
We urge all our readers and friends to act immediately to protest against the brutal repression of our fellow workers and trade unionists in Pakistan. Please give this matter the widest possible circulation.
DO NOT DELAY. TAKE IMMEDIATE ACTION, IF IT IS ONLY A LETTER OR A PHONE CALL TO THE EMBASSY. BUT PLEASE ACT NOW!
The workers' demands are:
- Immediate and unconditional release of Hameed Khan, and all other arrested union leaders and workers.
- No more police harassment of trade unionists.
- All the cases against arrested strikers must be dropped unconditionally.
- Implementation and acceptance of Charter of Demands put forward by the CSEA.
Here is the appeal from the Pakistan Trade Union Defence Campaign (PTUDC):
THE ARREST OF HAMEED KHAN
Comrade HAMEED KHAN has been arrested. This is yet another act of brutality against the workers of Pakistan. This morning, 10.30am Pakistan time, comrade Hameed Khan was arrested in his office by the Quetta Police. Now he is in custody of civil lines police station in Quetta.
Yesterday the union [CSEA] observed a complete strike in the secretariat offices of Baluchistan Province. Comrade Hameed Khan led yesterday's strike, in defiance of the government atrocities. Today all the main newspapers in Pakistan published threatening statements by the spokesperson of the governor of Baluchistan: "This strike is illegal, and if the workers do not return to work today they will be sacked and punished."
This statement shows that the jobs of hundreds of workers are in danger. The military government is wasting no time to crush the labour movement. The workers of CSEA were protesting for better working conditions and salaries. But they are now facing the actions of a brutal and repressive regime.
Last week the president of Pakistan General Pervez Musharraf introduced new laws for public sector workers. Under these laws no sacked worker can appeal in any court of law, nor has any court the right to give relief, or even interfere in these matters. This is the major attack on the rights of the workers. It means that the government can sack all the striking workers without any prior notice or inquiry.
It is an historic fact that Baluchistan is a province plagued by misery, poverty, drought and lacks basic facilities and infrastructure. The sacking of these workers will bring more social chaos and suffering for hundreds of families. The government is trying desperately to defeat the strike. On the other hand, the mood of the workers is resilient. They are determined to fight to the end.
The intervention of PTUDC cadres is playing a key role in this strike. The arrest of Hameed Khan is a serious below to the struggle of CSEA workers. But the strike is still continuing. The PTUDC has stepped up its efforts and recourses to win solidarity from different trade unions which are in struggle against this regime and this system of exploitation. Immediate international solidarity will play a key role in this fight. The PTUDC is also grateful to those who have already pledged their support and solidarity for this cause.
PTUDC National Organiser,
November 21, 2001
Please send your protest messages to:
President of Pakistan (e-mail: email@example.com )
Federal Interior Minister (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ministry of Interior
The Governor of Baluchistan
Mr. Justice (Retired) Amir Ul Mulk Mengal
Please send copies of all protest and solidarity messages to the Pakistan Trade Union Defence Campaign: email@example.com
Visit the PTUDC website at www.ptudc.org
Donations to the Pakistan Trade Union Defence Campaign can be made here.