Target:
Prime Minister, Government of the People's Republic of Bangladesh
Region:
Bangladesh

On December 12, four people including a rickshaw driver aged 35, were killed as garment workers clashed with police. According to media reports, the protest started in Chittagong Export Procession Zone as the management of South Korean-owned Youngone failed to pay the employees but offered much less than what was originally agreed.

When the workers demanded full payment the management feared a protest of 10,000 workers and factory went on closure for an indefinite period without prior notice. This action aggravated the deprivation and anger among the workers which was further aggravated by the state security agents. As police opened fire on the workers it took a violent turn that left four people killed and at least a dozen seriously injured. Police filed cases against an unidentified 33,000 workers on trumped up charges.

During the protests and the violence led by police the president of Garments Workers Unity Forum, Moshrefa Mishu, was visiting Narsingdi- a district 50 km away from Dhaka. Yet, in less than two days, on 14 December, Mishu was picked up from her residence in the middle of the night by agents (as many as 12) claiming to be working for the detective branch (DB) of the police. They did not have an arrest warrant, nor did they dress in uniform. Mishu was given as little time as to change but had to leave behind her medications which she used to take for asthma and spinal injury. She was produced in the Central court after midday and taken to police remand for two days on charges of vandalism in Kuril– albeit with no proof of evidence. At the end of first two days when she went to the court for bail they remanded her for yet another day on fresh trumped up charge of connections with Jamaat-e-Islami, an Islamist organisation and known as anti-liberation allies in Bangladesh.

Both of her charges are false as no evidence has been produced. It is obvious that the charges are being used merely as a pretext to keep her away from the movement and to intimidate activists - ‘whoever speaks against the power holders will be punished’.

Moshrefa Mishu’s lawyer Sadia Arman reported that Mishu is enduring severe torture being held on DB remand. The level of torture has reached to such an extent that Mishu could hardly walk. She was found stretching her legs as was produced at the CMM court for the third time on 19 December. Nonetheless, she was remanded for further two days that resulted in her fragile health condition and she ended up at hospital.

Mishu’s friends reported that permission to visit Mishu in the prison was denied and media report indicates that no prison cell was issued to her as the interrogation took place in DB Headquarter.

Many would presume that the story ends here. But the story goes on and outrageously Moshrefa Mishu’s arrest remains valid even in the hospital. More disgracefully she is surrounded by male police in a female ward where most of the patients, including Mishu herself, have to use bedpans. Doctors and nurses are not allowed to speak to journalists or human rights activists about Mishu’s health. Although she is currently out of danger her health condition remains fragile.

Mishu's sister urges for her immediate release as officers of DB police remind Mishu will be on remand as soon as her health condition improves.


We, the undersigned, call upon the Prime Minister of the Government of Bangladesh to release Moshrefa Mishu immediately and unconditionally!

All charges must be lifted immediately from Moshrefa Mishu. We also demand the same for the hundreds of other garment workers arrested and to be arrested.

As stated above, the arrest of Mishu is extremely unlawful and undemocratic. We strongly protest such unlawful arrest of Moshrefa Mishu. We condemn her persecution and remand. We call upon the Prime Minister to take immediate action against the officers of detective branch who failed to show her arrest warrant.

As concious citizens of the world we have also noted with grave concern that working environment and living condition of the garment workers in Bangladesh, most of whom are women, are sub-human. We understand the added problem of payment has aggravated the deprivation of the workers and it is time for management to take over the responsibility. We demand that the minimum wage must be paid to all the workers without delay.

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