By Jacqueline Starr, Intern, International Labor Rights Forum
In the early morning hours, on December 14th the home of Moshrefa Mishu, president of Garment Workers Unity Forum, was descended upon by individuals claiming to be part of the Detective Branch of the Bangladesh Police force. They were able to take Moshrefa without a warrant by threatening her with arrest. Moshrefa was unable to gather important medicines before being taken by the authorities to a detention center. The rough conditions at Headquarters, constant interrogations, and inability to take asthma and spinal injury medications for 24-hours seriously contributed to the rapid deterioration of her health. This arrest is a continuation of the targeting of labor rights leaders in Bangladesh by the government and owners of garment factories in efforts to blame someone for the worker protests that have continued. You can read about the overall situation at http://www.sweatfree.org/bcws.
The outcome of her court hearing was a 2-day remand, despite her obviously ailing health, and lack of evidence surrounding the allegations. After fainting on her way to the police van after the hearing, Moshrefa was finally admitted to the National Hospital. She was transferred several times as her condition worsened, and she is currently in the emergency ward at DMCH.
Also of great concern are the restrictions being placed on the media’s ability to cover this story, and accurately relay information regarding her recovery. The police force has given strict orders that nobody is to be allowed in to see her, nor are doctors allowed to comment on her physical state. Media coverage at this time is biased, as accounts of her arrest and detention have left out significant details that could potentially bring into question the government’s course of action.
In addition to ILRF, several organizations dedicated to worker rights have advocated for the release of Moshrefa from police custody, and charges to be dropped.
Update as of December 22:
"Moshrefa Mishu, president of the Garments Workers Unity Forum, is in DMCH, her MRI test was not, as expected, carried out today. Her asthma is under control, but her back pain is still unbearably bad. She has also developed fever.
"A police contingent of 7-8, went to GWUF office at midday looking for its `leaders.' They did not find any, and left.
"We are extremely worried that Mishu might be released from hospital soon, that further prayers for remand may be made by the police, that they may well be granted. I have already indicated that the government seems to be obstructing the judicial process.
"If further remand is granted -- besides being absolutely outrageous since her arrest itself is illegal (without a warrant) -- it will be particularly disastrous since Mishu's health is very weak and frail at the moment.
"Please do everything you can to bring public pressure on the government to release Mishu, all other leaders and workers immediately, and to take all possible action to ensure that workers are paid decent wages, and work in a safe and secure work-environment.
"A petition has gone online today demanding Mishu's freedom, I am forwarding the link, and also, for those of you interested, links to articles/News releases/Protest statement concerning the ongoing struggles of Bangladesh's garment workers. It is by no means a comprehensive list, I would be happy if you fwd-ed me any other link/s that you know of so that we can build an online archive of the Bangladeshi garment workers movement for a Living Wage."
ONLINE PETITION Free Moshrefa Mishu and all detained workers immediately!
Published by Global Citizens for Human Rights on Dec 22, 2010
Anu Muhammad, Dollarer mojuder nichey chapa-pora manush. Poshak Shilpo. Prothom Alo, 21.12.2010
Farida Akhter, Garment sromikder betoner dabi o Moshrefa Mishur remand nie proshno, bdnews24.com bangla, December 21, 2010
Mubin S Khan, Wage wars, New Age Xtra, December 17-23, 2010
Rahnuma Ahmed, Imprisoned, or dead. Reflections on Victory Day, 2010, New Age
December 20, 2010
Rahnuma Ahmed, Moshrefa Mishu, illegally arrested and remanded. LIVING WAGES FOR GARMENT WORKERS, New Age, December 21, 2010
Moshrefa Mishu Hospitalised
December 21st, 2010
Signatories to the statement protesting the arrest of Moshrefa Mishu, garment workers leader
December 15th, 2010
Breaking News: Moshrefa Mishu taken on remand
December 14th, 2010
URGENT. Release Garment Workers Leader Moshrefa Mishu immediately, arrested on fabricated charges
December 14, 2010
Besides these, at www.wsws.org
W.A. Sunil and John Chan, Factory fire and police killings fuel discontent among Bangladeshi garment workers, 16 December 2010 http://www.wsws.org/articles/2010/dec2010/bang-d16.shtml
Wimal Perera, Bangladesh police shoot striking garment workers
15 December 2010 http://wsws.org/articles/2010/dec2010/lead-d15.shtml
Sarath Kumara, Garment workers in Bangladesh continue protests, 4 August 2010 http://www.wsws.org/articles/2010/aug2010/bang-a04.shtml
Sarath Kumara, Bangladesh government cracks down on protesting garment workers
5 July 2010 http://www1.wsws.org/articles/2010/jul2010/bngl-j05.shtml
Wimal Perera, Bangladesh: Factory fire kills 21 garment workers, 4 March 2010
Threads of resistance
In Perspective column by Yuri Prasad, September 2010
Interview: the struggle of Bangladeshi garment workers
Shahida: The National Garment Workers Federation (NGWF, 1984), February 2, 2009
Links to many pieces posted on this web page. Fair wages and safe workplaces in Bangladesh.
Similarly so, many links are available on www.nosweat.org web page http://www.nosweat.org.uk/category/countries/bangladesh
Gallery. The Raveled Sleeve of Care. Photo by Taslima Akhter, 10.27.10 http://changeobserver.designobserver.com/entry.html?entry=21128
A project on Bangladesh garment industry and support for its workers initiated by Social Alterations:
In Solidarity // A letter of support for Bangladeshi garment workers
Monday, November 1, 2010
Social Alterations Bangladesh Project, available at http://socialalterations.com/sabangladeshproject/
nadiralamrad, Bangladesh// The Details, Thursday, July 29, 2010
Many articles at the Clean Clothes Campaign's website, among them,
Action for safe factories in Bangladesh on 5th anniversary of Spectrum disaster
Sunday, 11 April 2010 http://www.cleanclothes.org/news/action-for-safe-factories-in-bangladesh-on-5th-anniversary-of-spectrum-disaster
Labour-Rights Organisations Demand Safety in Bangladesh Garment Industry.
Press Release. Sunday, 11 April 2010
Bangladesh: Stop Harassment and Intimidation of Apparel Worker Leaders
Campaign of Repression Against Effort to Organize Unions, Raise Wages, Human Rights Watch, August 10, 2010