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Trade Unionists Arrested in Pakistan Clampdown

Posted to the IUF website 06-Nov-2007

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Emergency rule has been declared in Pakistan as the IUF Outreach Office in that country was preparing to celebrate its tenth anniversary.

Trade union activists are among those currently being arrested in their homes and on the streets. The IUF-affiliated Pakistan Hotels, Restaurants, Clubs, Tourism, Catering and Allied Workers Federation and National Federation of Food, Beverages and Tobacco Workers are among the most active organizations in the civil society coalition struggling for democracy. In Karachi, the Pearl Continental Hotel Workers Solidarity Committee had been actively supporting Pakistan's lawyers fighting against authoritarianism and for the rule of law.

Police began arresting activists nationwide on November 3 when the state of emergency was declared. In Multan (southern Punjab) Mohammad Ashiq Bhutta, Information Secretary of the National Federation of Food, Beverages and Tobacco Workers was arrested at his home at 3 AM on Sunday. and detained for 14 hours without charges before being released.

On November 5; in Karachi, trade unions took the lead in organizing, together with civil society organizations, a protest at the Karachi Press Club. Police arrested the convener of the PC Hotel Workers Solidarity Committee, Liaqat Ali Sahi, and two members of the Solidarity Committee, G. Fareed Awan, Assistant General Secretary of the All-Pakistan Trade Unionsí Federation (APTUF) and Ayub Qureshi, Information Secretary of the Pakistan Trade Union Federation (PTUF). Police also baton charged and arrested journalists and press photographers. The journalists and photographers were released later but not the trade union leaders, who were remanded by court decision to remain in police custody for two days.

The IUF is closely watching the situation of our members in Pakistan, and expresses its full solidarity with all those struggling for peace, democracy and trade union rights.