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Support Bangladeshi Garment Workers! Demand Moshrefa Mishu Be Released

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Back Bangladeshi Garment Workers!

This is very important.

Disputes Background BBC – Here.

Rallying to Demand Garment Workers Leader Moshrefa Mishu’s Immediate Release!!

Moshrefa Mishu, president of the Garments Workers Unity Forum (GWUF) was picked up from her house in the middle of the night, 14 Dec 2010 by a contingent claiming to belong to the Detective Branch of police. They did not have an arrest warrant. She was produced in court after midday (15 December), the court granted DB police a 2-day remand. She had not been allowed to take her medicine with her (for asthma, and a spinal injury from an attack on her life several years ago), the next day her sister Jebunnessa was permitted to meet her, and much later (past midnight), to drop medicines and a blanket for her.
I had sent out a Protest Statement on 14 December but in my haste I had been unable to include many of you. My subsequent updates, I am afraid, were not as systematic as they should have been, often not including those who had been unable to respond immediately. I have now finally had the time to make a comprehensive list of people, both the initial signatories and those who later posted messages of solidarity on Shahidul’s Blog, or got in touch me with through e-mail, I have also included those who I know to be supporters of workers’ movements and would like to be informed about Mishu, her arrest, and government repression of garment workers movement for the implementation of wage increases previously agreed upon. For those who have been newly included I have pasted messages sent out earlier, our Statement of Protest, and daily Updates (below).
TODAY’S UPDATE: Mishu was produced in CMM court today, the DB sought a 5-day remand on allegations that she had been seen in the company of some members of Jamaat-e-Islami (in a car) but were unable to substantiate it (not suprisingly). The court extended remand for another day, and Anu Mohd tells me that our Statement of Protest which was published in some dailies today, was produced by her defence lawyers, and presumably helped to weaken these bizarre allegations, and to reduce the number of days sought by the government. Thanks Hameeda apa, for making sure that the news got published!


  Release of Mashrefa Mishu demanded
http://www.prothom-alo.com/detail/date/2010-12-17/news/116398  Moshrefa Mishur greptarer protibad, Mukti dabi


http://www.newagebd.com/2010/dec/17/nat.html  Release of RMG leader Mishu demanded
A Protest Rally organised by writers, teachers, artists and cultural activists will be held tomorrow Saturday 18 December at 3.00 pm at TSC island, Dhaka University, we will gather to protest against Moshrefa Mishu’s unlawful arrest and to demand her immediate release, an immediate end to the repression of garment workers, and to all other acts that imperil the garment industry. Shommilito Nari Shomaj has told me that they will join the Rally, with their banner.
A correction from Sara Hossain who has informed me that the writ petition challenging the legality of Mishu’s arrest has not yet been filed, that more time was needed to collect the needed information, that she expects the petition to be filed tomorrow.
Anu also tells me that Mishu’s asthma is much worse, so please come to the Rally tomorrow so that we can collectively raise our voices in protest against the sheer injustice of arresting/remanding Mishu, who is being persecuted by the government for fighting for a decent pay, and for safe and secure working conditions for garment workers.
Please pass around the news of tomorrow’s Protest Rally, urge everyone you know to join it so that there is a big turnout, so that we can all raise our voices together demanding Mishu’s immediate release
In solidarity/r
On Fri, Dec 17, 2010 at 2:45 AM, rahnuma ahmed <rahnumaa@gmail.com> wrote:
Dear Friends

Victory Day greetings !
UPDATE: Mishu’s sister Jebu was permitted to go and deliver medicines and a blanket at DB Headquarters where they are interrogating her, at 2:30 am on 16th December. Jebu says, Mishu’s resolve is unbroken but she seems to be suffering health-wise.
It is expected that she will be taken to court tomorrow, about midday. I request everyone to spread the message loud and clear that she should be released immediately, and that (heaven forbid) the remand should not be extended.
A Protest Rally has been organised by writers, teachers, artists and cultural activists, it will be held on Saturday 18 December at 3.00 pm at TSC island, Dhaka University, to protest against Moshrefa Mishu’s unlawful arrest and demand her immediate release, to demand an immediate end to the repression of garment workers, and to all other acts that imperil the garment industry. I have attached the Rally’s leaflet, courtesy of Faruk Wasif, as an attachment.
If Mishu has not already been released by then, it is urgent that there is a big turnout at the Rally, and that our voices of protest against state repression of garment workers, and the arrest of leaders like Mishu who put their lives at stake to fight for workers’ rights, should ring collectively.
I urge everyone to come, and to urge many others to come. It is the need of the hour, let’s not miss it.
Not many have added solidarity messages to the link that I forwarded yesterday, and I would request that you do so, even if you are a signatory to the statement. And I request eveyone to forward the link to friends, co-workers and comrades so that new names keep getting added, so that our strong protest at Mishu’s unlawful arrest and detention, continues to ring till she is released, and free again.
It is a matter of intense shame that she should have to spend Victory Day in prison.
Please spread the word around to organisations that fight for the rights of workers, to media both at home and abroad, and to activist groups, and please come on Saturday.
In solidarity/r


On Wed, Dec 15, 2010 at 10:16 PM, rahnuma ahmed <rahnumaa@gmail.com> wrote:
Dear Friends
Many thanks for quickly responding and supporting the statement against Moshrefa Mishu’s unlawful arrest. The statement has been sent off by Anu Mohd, to both Bangla and English dailies, in our name. It was translated to Bangla by Faruk Wasif.
The full list — which includes names forwarded by Moshrefa Mishu’s organisation, Garments Workers Unity Forum — has been posted on Shahidul’s blog and I request everyone to forward the link to friends, co-workers and comrades so that new names keep getting added, more messages of support pour in for Mishu, and for the people and ideals that she’s fighting for.
UPDATE: Mishu’s younger sister Jebu was granted permission to meet her today and reports that Mishu is mentally as strong as ever, but health-wise, a bit worse. In the meanwhile, a writ petition was filed today, Jebu and several academics are the petitioners, they challenge the illegality of her arrest; I have also learnt that the CMM court is open even on Victory Day (December 16), so let’s see what tomorrow (when the 2-day remand is supposed to expire) brings. Amnesty International, I hear, has expressed its concern about Mishu’s arrest to the Bangladesh government.
If anyone would like to be struck off this list, please let me know, because I have added new names (from the Signatories list) to the list of people whom I mail my weekly columns and writings that I think will be of interest to many (such as Nayanika Mookherjee’s interview on 1971 rape victims, published in Xtra, New Age), or urgent notices such as this one.
May Bijoy Dibosh 2010 herald victory for Bangladesh’s garment workers!



ps: a line was added to the statement below, it was added at the last minute and i am afraid there was no time to circulate it to everyone and seek assent because we wanted to catch tomorrow’s papers before they close down for 2 days (17-18 December). It was added in the light of the terrible fire that broke out at Ha-Mim in Ashulia yesterday claiming 31 lives, and injuring many hundreds, it demanded that the government should institute an inquiry into why repeated fires break out at garment factories this time each year. Sara Hossain pointed out a mistake which was corrected in the English version but unfortunately not in the Bangla one, that it was Jebu who had repeatedly asked members of the DB force if they had a search warrant, and that they had responded by threatening to arrest her.


———- Forwarded message ———-
From: rahnuma ahmed <rahnumaa@gmail.com>
Date: Tue, Dec 14, 2010 at 9:26 PM
Subject: Statement protesting the arrest today of garment workers leader Moshrefa Mishu
To: Rahnuma Ahmed <rahnumaa@gmail.com>
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).
in solidarity/rahnuma
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 Mishu persisted in asking them to show a warrant, they threatened to arrest her. She 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.’


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.

Written by Andrew Coates

December 19, 2010 at 11:39 am

11 Responses

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  1. Has this guy advocated violence? I’m asking this because there is nothing about him on Amnesty International’s site.


    December 19, 2010 at 2:14 pm

  2. @ ariversideview

    Moshrefa Mishu is a woman


    December 20, 2010 at 9:56 am

    • http://www.thedailystar.net/newDesign/news-details.php?nid=166675


      “A Dhaka court yesterday placed Garment Sramik Oikya Parishad President Moshrefa Mishu on a two-day remand in another case filed with Khilkhet Police Station on charge of creating unrest in the garment sector recently.

      Meanwhile, Mishu was admitted to Dhaka Medical College Hospital in the evening with breathing problems, said the doctors.

      Later, she told journalists in the hospital that she became ill as law enforcement agency mentally tortured her.

      Metropolitan Magistrate Munshi Abdul Mazid passed the order after she was produced before it with a 10-day remand prayer.”

      Andrew Coates

      December 20, 2010 at 12:02 pm

  3. UN-conditional release of Mishu.& Other labor rights activist.

    mehedi hasan

    December 20, 2010 at 9:35 pm

    • Hello everyone,

      A very brief Update tonight: Moshrefa Mishu, president of the Garments Workers Unity Forum, is in DMCH. Her breathing difficulties, as I reported last night, have eased, she did not need any oxygen support but her back pain has increased, she is also suffering from severe pain in her legs, especially the lower part. An attempt to turn her, to prevent bed sores, has worsened her back pain.

      I believe a medical board met today (Dec 21) and decided on further examination and treatment, she will undergo MRI and blood tests tomorrow (Dec 22).

      Police surveillance is constant and close, 5-6 police officers, both men and women, are present in the ward, which is a woman’s ward. Plainclothes officers loiter outside the hospital entrance. I have also learnt that one of her cases came up for hearing in court today and the judge is reported to have said, she has every right to a bail but I am afraid I can’t give it.

      This confirms our suspicions, which I had mentioned in an earlier Update (20 Dec), that political pressure is being applied to thwart the judicial process.

      Many labour and human rights organisations, and also individuals who support workers demands for a living wage and safe and secure working conditions, have contacted us, have spread the word around.

      I thank everyone, on behalf of Mishu, her organisation, and her family members. Your support means a LOT to them, to all of us. Most of all, it means that the cause is worth struggling for, despite the times being gloomy. It also means that we need to struggle harder.

      In solidarity/r

      From Campaign.

      Andrew Coates

      December 22, 2010 at 10:20 am

      • Rumana Hashem

        Dear Friends,

        Moshrefa Mishu, a gifted organiser, dedicated feminist and the leader of the Garment Worker’s Unity Forum has been unlawfully arrested and undergoing life threats. Her crime is she worked for the rights of garment workers in Bangladesh. I know her in person for nearly 20 years. She is a wonderful personality and brave woman. Her charges are false and we must not let her die in detention.

        Please read, sign and circulate the following petition as widely as possible

        To learn more about Moshrefa Mishu’s situation you can visit the following link


        I have also added some pictures to let you see her condition.

        In solidarity,

        Andrew Coates

        December 22, 2010 at 4:42 pm

  4. ‘ten-day reman prayer’? is that praying for ten days non-stop?

    Sue R

    December 21, 2010 at 4:47 pm

  5. Thanks Andrew for putting it up here.
    As our latest updates from Dhaka says situation remains unchanged and fear of arrest increased. See message below:

    Sent: Thu 23/12/2010 20:33
    To: Rahnuma Ahmed
    Subject: Mishu Severely Ill and Hospitalised

    Hello friends,
    Moshrefa Mishu, president of the Garments Workers Unity Forum, is still in
    hospital. Her medical condition is largely unchanged, as is the strict and
    constant police surveillance within which she is confined.

    For those who may not know, a clarification: her two-day remand period is
    suspended while she is in hospital, which means that she will be back in
    remand as soon as she gets a bit better and is discharged from the hospital.
    The threat of a quick discharge as a punitive measure hangs over her, and the
    High Court being in recession until January 2, 2011, delays our attempts of
    seeking a legal reprieve.

    It is in this situation that we are attempting to overcome the odds stacked
    against her. And overcome, we must, for it is part of the garment workers’
    struggle for a betterment of their living conditions, of their lives.

    In solidarity/r

    Sent: Wed 22/12/2010 21:31
    To: Rahnuma Ahmed
    Subject: Moshrefa Mishu Severely Ill, Hospitalised


    Another brief *Update*: 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.

    In solidarity/r

    Rumana Hashem

    December 24, 2010 at 1:49 am

  6. A Protest Rally organised by writers, teachers, artists and cultural activists will be held tomorrow Saturday 18 December at 3.00 pm at TSC island, Dhaka University, we will gather to protest against Moshrefa Mishu’s unlawful arrest and to demand her immediate release, an immediate end to the repression of garment workers, and to all other acts that imperil the garment industry. Shommilito Nari Shomaj has told me that they will join the Rally, with their banner.


    January 8, 2011 at 7:33 am

  7. Andrew Coates

    January 20, 2011 at 4:25 pm

  8. The online petition created by Global Citizens for Human Rights to Free Moshrefa Mishu and all detained workers (http://www.gopetition.com/petition/41542.html) was send to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday.

    From: Paul Dudman
    Date: Mon, Jan 24, 2011 at 3:58 PM
    Subject: Global Citizens for Human Rights: Free Moshrefa Mishu immediately and unconditionally
    To: pm@pmo.gov.bd, ps1topm@pmo.gov.bd, psecy@pmo.gov.bd
    Cc: chief@bdcom.com, supremec@bdcom.com, info@minlaw.gov.bd, minister@mha.gov.bd, nhrc.bd@gmail.com, ig@police.gov.bd, pcdmp@police.gov.bd

    Sheikh Hasina
    Honourable Prime Minister
    Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh

    Dear Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina,

    Subject: Free Moshrefa Mishu and all detained workers immidiately

    I am writing to you on behalf of the Global Citizens for Human Rights for the release of workers’s leader Moshrefa Mishu who has been arbitrarily detained in Dhaka by your security agents since 14 December, 2010. Please find attached PDF copy of the global petition and the list of signatories demanding immediate and unconditional release of the president of the Garment Workers Union, Moshrefa Mishu. To view the individual comments please click on ‘view comments’.

    The petition can also be accessed through http://www.gopetition.com/petition/41542.html For your information, the signatories of the petition include workers, human rights activists, lawyers, journalists, academics, students, writers, researchers, politicians and professionals from across the world. Many of these signatories have ignored the fields of city, country and regions as they belief in global citizenship and as such, Moshrefa Mishu’s arbitrary arrest and trumped up charges are seen as a global issue.

    In sending this petition I would like to aware you that we, the signatories of the global petition for Moshrefa Mishu and all detailed workers, will need to go to physical programs including blockading Bangladeshi Consulates in the respective countries that signatories reside unless prompt intervention by your administration is found.

    I look forward to hearing from you soon.


    Paul Vernon Dudman
    (on behalf of Global Citizens for Human Rights)
    London, United Kingdom

    Rumana Hashem

    January 25, 2011 at 4:29 am

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