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Human Rights Defenders Beaten and Detained by Bangladesh PoliceWilliam Nicholas Gomes, Human Rights Ambassador
Police violently attacked human rights protesters participating in a hunger strike.
(LONDON) - H.E. Sheikh Hasina
I am William Nicholas Gomes, Human Rights Activist and Freelance Journalist.
I came to know about the illegal detention of Human rights defender Ms Moshrefa Mishu, Ms Joly Talukder, Ms Shabnam Hafiz and Mr Quamrul Hasan detained by Bangladesh police.
I was infromed by frontline defenders that on 7 August 2014, police officers from the Detective Branch detained trade union leaders Ms Moshrefa Mishu and Ms Joly Talukder before releasing them at 9 pm that evening. One day earlier, police attacked a group of human rights defenders at the Hossain Market of Badda in Dhaka, where over a thousand Tuba Group garment workers have been protesting on hunger strike since 28 July 2014.
On 6 August 2014, the human rights defenders were violently beaten at the scene, including Ms Shabnam Hafiz and Mr Quamrul Hasan, who were temporarily detained in Badda police station.
Shabnam Hafiz is President of Garment Workers' Mukti Andolon (Garment Workers' Union) and Quamrul Hasan works with Activist Anthropologists, a group of social anthropologists who promote the rights of garment workers, particularly women.
Moshrefa Mishu is President of the Garments Sromik Oikko trade union, and had been leading the Tuba Group hunger strike since 28 July 2014.
Joly Talukder is Joint General Secretary of the Garments Sramik Trade Union Centre.
At least 1,200 workers from five factories under the Tuba Group have been on a hunger strike at Hossain Market since 28 July 2014 demanding three months of unpaid wages and festival bonuses. Several human rights defenders and union leaders have paid frequent visits to the protesters, bringing doctors and medicines including salines. The protesters have said that the hunger strike will end only when their demands are met.
Early on 6 August 2014, the main gate of Hossain Market was locked by an unknown individual. It is believed that this was done to stop human rights defenders from providing medical supplies to the hunger strikers.
When negotiations failed that morning, police broke the lock at around 12 pm and entered the market, while more police officers surrounded it to prevent human rights defenders and doctors from providing medicine and saline the hunger strikers.
By around 2 pm, a crowd had gathered outside Hossain Market and the police started charging the crowd with batons, specifically attacking union leaders and human rights defenders.
Members of the pro-government workers' union also reportedly joined in with the police in attacking human rights defenders.
Five human rights defenders, including Shabnam Hafiz and Quamrul Hasan, received violent beatings at the hands of police. The other human rights defenders are Ms Saydia Gulrukh of Activist Anthropologists, Professor Samina Lutfa Nitra of Dhaka University and Mr Salim Mahmud from trade union Garment Sramik Front.
Shabnam Hafiz and Quamrul Hasan were arrested and taken to Badda police station in Dhaka, and were released late on 6 August 2014.
On 7 August 2014, police reportedly used rubber bullets and tear gas on the crowd before arresting human rights defenders Moshrefa Mishu and Joly Talukder as they came out of Hossain Market. They were both released later that evening.
I urge the Government of Bangladesh to take action against the perpetrators of the violent beatings of human rights defenders and to take effective steps to meet the legitimate demand of the workers who remain on hunger strike.
I urge the authorities in Bangladesh to:
1. Carry out an immediate, thorough and impartial investigation into the violent beatings of human rights defenders Ms Shabnam Hafiz, Mr Quamrul Hasan, Ms Saydia Gulrukh, Ms Samina Lutfa Nitra and Mr Salim Mahmud with a view to publishing the results and bringing those responsible to justice in accordance with international standards;
2. Take all necessary measures to guarantee the physical and psychological integrity and security of Ms Shabnam Hafiz and Mr Quamrul Hasan, Ms Saydia Gulrukh, Ms Samina Lutfa Nitra, Mr Salim Mahmud, Ms Moshrefa Mishu, Ms Joly Talukder, and all other human rights defenders who are participating in peaceful protests;
3. Ensure that the provision of adequate medical supplies is not blocked from reaching the hunger strikers during the peaceful protests at Hossain Market;
4. Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in Bangladesh are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions.
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