Pakistan: Police brutally attack peaceful workers’ demonstration in Karachi

Trade Union Rights Campaign (TURCP) condemns police brutality and organises solidarity demonstration

The workers of Dadu and Thatha sugar mills are continuing to protest against the non payment of their wages. They organised a peaceful demonstration on 13 May and tried to march towards the Chief Minister’s residence in Karachi. Riot police attacked the peaceful demonstrators and arrested at least 45 workers. The police not only baton charged the workers but also brutally tortured the female family members of protesting workers. The police grabbed women by the hair and proceeded to beat them upt them up. Workers and their families have protested against the arrests and police brutality and tried to organize another protest rally on Monday 15 May. The police surrounded the place where families of these workers were staying and prevented them from joining this protest rally. They also arrested thirty workers who had set up a protest camp where they had started a hunger strike.

This police brutality and excessive use of force has once again exposed the real face of the present regime, which claims to be a champion of human rights and democracy. The government officials, ministers and General Musharaf himself daily claim that they are introducing real democracy in Pakistan. They also claim that there is no ban on peaceful demonstrations and political activities. But this brutality against peaceful protesting workers clearly shows that this regime has absolutely no respect for the fundamental rights of the working masses. Their lies about democracy and human rights have been completely exposed again.

The workers of Dadu sugar mill and Thatha sugar mill are suffering from the effects of privatisation of their sugar mills in 1995 and 1998 respectively. The government signed an agreement with the workers prior to privatisation to pay their wages. Eight hundred workers have not been paid their dues since then. Government also agreed to provide the alternate jobs to the employs with service of less than 10 years. The government violated this agreement and yet paid huge Golden Hand Shakes to former members of management.

The TURCP organised a protest demonstration against police brutality on 16 May in front of the Karachi Press Club. We strongly condemned this police action and showed solidarity with protesting workers and their families. This demonstration got excellent coverage in the print and electronic media. All the main TV channels and newspapers covered this protest and they also repeatedly mentioned the horrific and miserable condition of these workers. TURCP members in Karachi are also helping the workers to organise further protest demonstrations and marches. TURCP members led the protest march towards Press club with 200 workers participating in this protest. Police tried to stop this march but failed. TURCP is preparing other solidarity demonstrations over the next few days and months.

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