Strike closes main highways
The town of Tharri Mohabat, in District DADU (Sindh Province), remained closed for three days in protest against feudal repression and police atrocities. All the shops remained closed and a complete strike was observed. The whole town was protesting against the registration of two false and baseless police cases against the Hameed Chana Sindh Organiser TURCP and President Sindh Shehri Ittehad (there are 50 trade unions and community organizations affiliated to the Trade Union Rights Campaign Pakistan).
The main purpose of these false cases is to stop TURCP members to raising their voices against the feudal lords and police brutalities against working class people and poor peasants. TURCP members refused to bow down to police repression.
Hameed Chana, TURCP Sindh Organiser, described the situation:” The local feudal lords want to silence our political voice, which is constantly raised for the rights of working class people and peasants in this area. We are the only working class voice in this area [which is] completely dominated by the feudal lords. The local police are their best tool to repress any opposition. We will continue our struggle against all odds”.
This is not the first time that local police has registered false and fabricated cases against Hameed Chana; he is a constant target of feudal lords and local police. Many false cases were registered against him in the past to silence his voice (details can be seen in the interview posted on the CWI web site entitled, ‘Struggle against feudalism’). This whole district, with a population of around 1.3 million, is completely dominated by the family of present federal Minister for Power and Water, Liaqat Jatoi. He was also chief minister of Sindh for few years. His family considers this area as their own ‘state’, because Liaqat Jatoi’s two brothers are MPs and his son is Chief Mayor of the District. They have used the local police and administration to force all potential political opponents to join their ranks. No opposition to their rule comes from the local feudal lords and capitalists. Liaqat Jatoi’s clan wants to continue their domination and control over the whole area. The only real opposition and resistance come from the TURCP and Socialist Movement Pakistan (SMP – CWI) members. Liaqat Jatoi’s ruling clique are therefore worried about the increasing popularity of Hameed Chana and Trade Union Rights Campaign Pakistan members. It is very difficult for Liaqat Jatoi’s supporters to digest the fact that their main opponent is not a rival feudal lord but a working school teacher who belongs to a poor working class family.
This was very clearly shown by the younger brother of the federal minister during recent negotiations. He said, “Hameed wanted to become the leader of the town and area. He must stop opposing us, if he has a problem, he comes to us to solve it. We can not tolerate strikes, protests and road blocked under our nose”.
Police torture poor family
The present struggle started when police arrested and tortured a poor family. The police raided the house of local resident, Ghulam Rasool, and tortured female family members.
The police arrested four family members and registered false cases against them. The family’s only ‘crime’ was that they married one the daughters against the wishes of some influential feudals. These feudals wanted the father of the girl to marry her with a boy of their choice, but the father refuse to obey these demands.
The feudals used the police to ‘teach’ the family a lesson. The persecuted family used every possible means to get their arrested members released, but failed to do so. The family then contacted the TURCP members for help. TURCP and Sindh Shehri Ittehad organized a protest sit-in, along with family members. The police released three members of the family after this protest. TURCP members also challenge the illegal arrests and police tortures in the local court, which registered a case against a local police officer.
The local feudals were furious with TURCP members and they decided to teach them a lesson. They asked the police to registered cases against Hameed Chana and to arrest him immediately. The police made several raids to arrest the comrade, but failed. The TURCP and Sindh Shehri Ittehad immediately protested. The local administration and feudal lords completely underestimated the local authority and popularity of Hameed Chana. When Trade Union Rights Campaign Pakistan members issued an appeal for an all-out strike, the whole town shut down. After two days strike, the TURCP organized a protest demonstration and a road block. More than 800 people participated. The police tried to use force to disperse the demonstrators but failed, because the protesters fought back and forced the police to run away. Senior police officers and members of administration then entered negotiations to end the protest and road block. After negotiations, the police officers assured TURCP members there would be no victimization and that they will look into the false police charges.
These protests and strikes were major news in the media. The newspapers and TV channels gave huge coverage to the events. Human rights organisations, trade unions and political parties in Sindh showed their solidarity with Hameed Chana.
The TURCP started a country-wide solidarity campaign. Press conferences and protest meetings were held in different cities. This immense pressure forced the police and federal minister to retreat. They were astonished to see such reaction and response from different sections of the population. Now the family of the federal minister is trying to distance themselves publicly from the present situation. But they are fully involved and very active in trying to repress TURCP comrades. One of their close aides told TURCP members that Jatois is angry because the Trade Union Rights Campaign Pakistan also organised a protest demonstration about two months ago. This demonstration was held to protest against the closure of the local Rice Canal, which irrigates the whole area to cultivate rice crops. Comrade Hameed Chana made the main speech during this protest demonstration, in which more than 1,000 peasants participated. He criticized the federal Minister for Water and Power for not releasing water in the canal. The federal minister took this speech as a personal insult and now wants revenge.
These struggles are very important for the Trade Union Rights Campaign Pakistan, in this very important province of Pakistan. The actions have boosted comrades’ morale. It shows that the TURCP enjoys mass support in the area. The TURCP’s reputation as a fighting left organization is clear in the eyes of many politically developed workers and youth.