Hello, I’m sorry for not having sent my regular updates for the last two days, caused by writing deadlines.
Moshrefa Mishu’s health has worsened. Her back pain from a spinal injury has increased. She has constant fever, her heart palpitation has increased and medicine, her youngest sister tells me, is not alleviating her condition.
Police who keep her under close watch have begun behaving very badly with her family members and her organisation’s colleagues. Since Friday afternoon, 24 December 2010, they have begun shouting and using abusive language. Only one attendant is permitted to sit beside her, no one else, not even her sisters are allowed to approach her bed, or to speak with her, whether in person, or over the mobile phone.
We are deeply alarmed, both at her worsened health while in hospital, while receiving medical care and attention, and at the changed behaviour of the police on duty, overtly aggressive and abusive, that too, towards a person who has been hospitalised, that too, in a woman’s ward in a government hospital where there are other patients, most of them severely ill, since hospital authorities generally discharge a patient as s/he improves due to scarce resources and pressure for beds, medical attention and treatment.
Left political alliances held protest rallies on Friday, December 24, 2010 in front of the National Press Club, Dhaka, demanding the immediate release of Moshrefa Mishu, and Bahrane Sultan Bahar, president, Jago Bangladesh Garment Workers’ Federation. Speakers said, arresting labour leaders would not contain labour unrest, acceding to living wages and trade union rights would.
Letters of solidarity have been pouring in from both organisations and groups committed to workers rights, and individuals, both at home and abroad who are aghast and angry at the government’s repression of workers and their leaders, who are struggling hard for a bare minimum.
Please keep passing the message around, and also, pls fwd the online petition as widely as you can.
ONLINE PETITION Free Moshrefa Mishu and all detained workers immediately!
From Rahnuma Ahmed:
Moshrefa Mishu, president of the Garments Workers Unity Forum, who was admitted to Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH) last night, is under strict police surveillance at the hospital. Although she is in a woman’s ward, she is being guarded by both police men and women who surround her bed 24 hrs. It is very inconvenient and distressful for both Mishu and other patients in the ward as many are confined to their bed and have to use bedpans.
Her breathing difficulties have largely eased but her back pain is still severe, she is largely immobile; her sister told me that she cannot turn in bed without any assistance. X-ray and ECG tests were conducted today; she was taken to the examination room on a stretcher as she cannot sit upright.
Media reportage last night after news of her illness spread in Dhaka, particularly, news coverage in private TV channels, led to strict restrictions being placed on journalists and reporters today. Since no beds had been vacant when she was admitted last night, a `bed’ was improvised for her on the floor of the women’s ward; however, this afternoon she was upgraded to a `proper’ bed.
After last night’s media reporting, police are understood to have pressurised doctors at DMCH today to not allow anyone to enter the ward or to approach and talk to her. She is reported to be?receiving medical care and attention but doctors at DMCH are not answering any queries about the state of her health. If asked, they reply, they cannot say anything without the permission of the hospital’s director. Since Mishu’s falling sick — I learnt today that she had to be rushed to the National Hospital after court proceedings yesterday because she fainted when the police were helping her on to the police van to take her back to the DB headquarters — has received good coverage, it has meant `bad’ publicity for the government and has reportedly aroused the wrath of an Awami League-supporting doctor, who’s also very influential in the doctors’ association. He has threatened Mishu’s family members that she will be discharged tomorrow regardless of the state of her health.
Different labour and human rights organisations have contacted us in the meanwhile, they have expressed deep concerns over Mishu’s safety and security,?and promised to take up the matter with the Bangladesh government/ministries.
I request everyone to do the same, to spread the word, and to protest.
Tomorrow brings uncertainties, in addition to the state of her health, since Mishu’s sister is not sure whether she will actually be suddenly discharged from the hospital.
I promise to keep everyone posted.
Please add your name in support of this statement
against the unlawful arrest of garment workers leader Moshrefa Mishu, and all garment workers, who have either been arrested or are being?intimidated and persecuted, for protesting against non-implementation of promised wage increases.
If you are supporting it as an individual, press `reply’ and write (a) your name (b)?profession or affiliation, etc.
For groups, please write (c) name of the group.
Please do this right now,?we will collect all signatures by BST noon tomorrow and send out the press release by tomorrow afternoon (15 December 2010).
We strongly protest the unlawful arrest of garment workers leader Moshrefa Mishu, demand that she be immediately released, and that the fabricated charges against her be dropped.
Moshrefa Mishu, general secretary of the Ganatantrik Biplobi Party and the president of the Garment Workers Unity Forum, was picked up from her home in Kala Bagan at 1.15 am on 14.12.2010 by a force of 12 persons or so claiming to be from the Detective Branch of Police, and was compelled to accompany them to an undisclosed destination. The force did not have an arrest warrant, and when her sister persisted in asking them to show a warrant, they threatened to arrest her. Mishu was only allowed to change her clothes but not allowed to take her medication with her, for asthma, and for a severe spinal injury caused by an attack on her life several years ago.
Moshrefa Mishu was produced in CMM court after noon today and remanded for two days. We protest against her illegal arrest, and demand her immediate release.
We also protest, and condemn, in the strongest possible terms, the government’s response to the garment workers demands for the implementation of a new minimum wage that should have come into effect last month. More than 3 million people, mostly women, work in this sector which accounts for 80% of annual export earnings and make clothes for major Western brands including Wal-mart, Marks & Spencer and Carrefour. Three persons were killed in clashes with the police in the Chittagong EPZ yesterday, hundreds injured, 33 arrested, and 3 separate cases lodged against about 30,000 unknown people.
Instead of taking `tough action’ to ensure that factory owners implement what is, by all accounts a low increase, prime minister Sheikh Hasina has in effect ordered that action be taken against the workers who, even with the increases remain the least-paid in the world, and largely unable to arrange shelter and buy food in a situation where food-prices are spiralling upwards uncontrollably. Safety conditions in many factories are below standard, as can be gauged from the deaths of 24 people, and injuries suffered by scores more, when a fire broke out at a garment factory in Ashulia, Savar today.
We condemn the government’s anti-people actions (killing, baton charges, firing tear gas, filing cases), we demand that Moshrefa Mishu and all others arrested be released immediately, and that the government take immediate and transparent action to identify those who were behind the acts of vandalism, who, according to the Home Minister herself, are `outsiders.’
BREAKING NEWS: Moshrefa Mishu was produced before the Chief Metropolitan?Magistrate (CMM) Court after midday today.* *The court granted 2 days remand.
We would like to remind everyone that she was arrested unlawfully, i.e.,?without any warrant; from what we have learnt since from her sister?Jebunnessa Jebu, despite repeatedly being asked the reason for their?presence, or whether they had a warrant, members of the force responded by?threatening to arrest Moshrefa Mishu if she persisted in asking to see a?warrant.
She was only allowed to change her nightclothes and to put on a sari but was?not allowed to take her medication for asthma and severe spinal pains,?caused by an attempt on her life several years ago.
Moshrefa Mishu has been receiving threatening calls over telephone warning?her to stop fighting for the rights of workers in the garments sector.
(Torture under police remand in Bangladesh : a culture of impunity for gross violations of human rights)