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(en) Freedom 6322 Nov 16th 2002 - Around the world

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Thu, 28 Nov 2002 04:45:00 -0500 (EST)

      A - I N F O S  N E W S  S E R V I C E

The government has recently arrested more than 3,500 people, of
whom nineteen have died in custody. The arrests formed part of
'Operation Clean Heart', a crackdown on suspected criminals
carried out by nearly 40,000 soldiers. This operation has involved
checkpoints, personal searches, house-to-house searches and
arrests, all seemingly outside the law. Many of those arrested
belong to the ruling party and many others are elected officials,
including five pro-government councillors from the capital, Dhaka.
Leaders of the main opposition party, the Awami League, have
also been arrested.
Opposition forces called a half-day strike in protest at the
crackdown, but a government representative insisted, "there has
been no incident [sic] of human rights violations in this operation.
All the principles of human rights are being followed". But the
Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) said, "these serious
developments have created a terrifying environment for most
ordinary and innocent people. The AHRC urges the government
of Bangladesh to immediately stop its operation of mass arrests by
the country's armed forces, that are terrorising innocent people,
and to investigate any reports of torture in army custody through
an independent, impartial and competent body".
The crackdown seems to have had general public support,
probably triggered by a recent increase in the murder rate. 2,460
murders were recorded in Bangladesh in the first three quarters of
2002, an increase of almost 10% on last year. Constitutional expert
Dr Kamal Hossain blames this on the government. "The epidemic
of lawless violence from which people have been suffering, now
and under the previous government, is the result of those who are
at the helm of public affairs forgetting that they are subject to the
constitution, and that they have obligations not to violate the law
or permit the violation of the law by their supporters", he says.
The increase in the crime rate has occurred in spite of a similar
crackdown carried out in the capital in February. At that time 291
suspects were detained in an operation which was also
accompanied by reports of torture and the mistreatment of
The latest phase of Operation Clean Heart was a demand by the
government that Bangladeshis give up all weapons (and
ammunition), including ones that were legally held. This was to
have been done by 15th November, under threat of 'legal action'.
Opposition figures have said that the country is in a state of
'undeclared martial law'.
James Holland

Alex McGuigan, a Belfast-based member of the Industrial
Workers of the World (IWW), is currently off work due to
stress-related illness. He's willing to return to work, but the
company he works for is preventing him from doing so. His bosses
have also stopped his sick pay, which means he's prevented from
earning a living. He needs urgent support to get his employers to
continue providing him with sick pay.
He works for a housing association called Lee Hestia in Belfast,
which is owned by Novas in Liverpool. Alex says "the reality of
working for Novas, a self-proclaimed 'charity organisation', is a far
cry from their mission statement, which stresses 'empowering
people'. It's a joke. I've worked for them for three years, and they
treat workers like dirt."
Please contact Novas and urge them to reinstate Alex's sick pay.
Don't let him fight alone. Write to Mary Connolly, Novas,
Chancery Lane, Paradise Street, Liverpool or email
policy@novas.org or call 0870 901 9701. For more information,
visit www.iww.org.uk

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