We have received the following message from Pakistan. We urge all our readers to act immediately to protest against the brutal repression of our fellow workers and trade unionists.
100 TRADE UNION ACTIVISTS ARRESTED AND TORTURED
The Civil Secretariat Employees Association Baluchistan carried out an-all out strike in Quetta, Baluchistan yesterday (November 19, 2001) demanding implementation of the charter of demands accepted by the government in July 2001. After reaching an agreement the union called off a two week-long strike in July. This union is also an affiliate of the Pakistan Trade Union Defence Campaign, and PTUDC members played an important role in this strike.
But after four months the Government refused to implement the package which had been agreed. Now after lengthy meetings and negotiations with the government, the union has started a protest campaign. When they called a one-day strike on November 19, 2001, the police and other law enforcement agencies attacked the striking workers. The police used brutality and heavy baton-charges to break the strike.
The police have so far arrested more than one hundred trade union activists and members of the union. The president and secretary general of CSEA were arrested and have been severely tortured. Now the strike is being led by Hameed Khan (the organiser of the PTUDC in Quetta and press secretary of the CSEA), a longstanding comrade in the region. The police are also trying to arrest him. He is the only leader of the union who has not yet been arrested. His arrest would be a defeat for thousands of workers.
The government is trying its best to control the situation in Quetta because of its strategic position. Quetta lies on the border with Afghanistan, where the imperialist aggression has been going on for the last six weeks. Brother Hameed Khan and other office-bearers of the union are playing a very important role in the PTUDC anti-war campaign. This is one of the main reasons for this state brutality.
The PTUDC arranged an emergency meeting of the most prominent trade union leaders in Lahore to discuss the prevailing situation. They have condemned the arrests of the leaders of the strike and demanded the immediate release of the leaders and workers of the strike. We are launching a nationwide solidarity campaign. We have plans to hold protest demonstrations in all the big cities and towns of Pakistan. We are in urgent need of international solidarity and help. The strike is still continuing, with news of further arrests, brutality and torture still coming in.
As soon as a new situation develops we will keep you posted. Meanwhile, the working people and trade unionists of Pakistan need your help - urgently.
Please send your protest messages to:
President of Pakistan (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org )
Federal Interior Minister (e-mail: email@example.com )
Ministry of Interior
The Governor of Baluchistan
Please send copies of all protest and solidarity messages to the Pakistan Trade Union Defence Campaign: firstname.lastname@example.org
Our demands are:
- Immediate and unconditional release of the leaders and workers.
- Police harassment should be stopped.
- All the cases against the arrested should be dropped unconditionally.
- Implementation and acceptance of Charter of Demands put forward by CSEA.
Visit the PTUDC website at www.ptudc.org
Donations to the Pakistan Trade Union Defence Campaign can be made here.