Bangladesh po­lice jail la­bor un­rest reporter

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

A lo­cal television jour­nal­ist in Bangladesh has been ar­rested for in­cit­ing un­rest in one of the coun­try’s big­gest gar­ment man­u­fac­tur­ing zones, po­lice said yes­ter­day. Naz­mul Huda has been ac­cused of “in­ac­cu­rate re­port­ing” on al­most daily protests in Ashu­lia-home to Bangladesh’s big­gest gar­ment plants that make cloth­ing for top Western brands like GAP, Zara and H&M-ac­cord­ing to a se­nior of­fi­cer. “He is ac­cused of in­cit­ing il­le­gal protests, hold­ing se­cret meetings with seven la­bor lead­ers whom we’ve ar­rested, and try­ing to desta­bi­lize the govern­ment,” head of Dhaka dis­trict po­lice SM Shafiur Rah­man told AFP.

He added that po­lice have charged Huda un­der con­tro­ver­sial in­for­ma­tion and tech­nol­ogy laws, which have been widely used in Bangladesh to crack down on dissent. Huda’s ar­rest comes af­ter mass protests by thou­sands of work­ers prompted the clo­sure of 55 gar­ment fac­to­ries in Ashu­lia, on the out­skirts of cap­i­tal Dhaka. Bangladesh’s $30 bil­lion gar­ment in­dus­try has a woe­ful his­tory of poor con­di­tions for its four mil­lion work­ers, who are also among the low­est paid in the world’s tex­tile sec­tor.

Those in Ashu­lia launched a strike two weeks ago to protest the fir­ing of 121 col­leagues, and sub­se­quently de­manded their salaries be tripled from 5,300 taka ($67) — the cur­rent monthly min­i­mum wage-to 16,000 taka. Sev­eral hun­dred po­lice­men have been de­ployed in the in­dus­trial zone since the strike be­gan and at least seven peo­ple who were lead­ing the strike have been ar­rested.

Gar­ment man­u­fac­tur­ing makes up 80 per­cent of Bangladesh’s ex­ports and a pro­longed in­ter­rup­tion could have a cas­cad­ing im­pact on the im­pov­er­ished coun­try’s economy.

Huda, a cor­re­spon­dent for the pri­vate ETV net­work, was the first jour­nal­ist to re­port on the shoddy struc­ture of the Rana Plaza factory, just a day be­fore it col­lapsed on April 24, 2013 and killed more than 1,100 peo­ple in one of the world’s worst in­dus­trial dis­as­ters.

He shot video footage of the cracks that had de­vel­oped at the Rana Plaza, which was later used as ev­i­dence in court. He had also re­ported on how the owner of the rick­ety nine-storey gar­ment com­plex forced thou­sands of work­ers to en­ter the build­ing for their shifts de­spite cracks in its pil­lars, less than an hour be­fore it caved in. The tragedy trig­gered in­ter­na­tional out­rage, forc­ing US and Euro­pean cloth­ing brands to im­prove de­plorable safety con­di­tions at the fac­to­ries that sup­ply them. — AFP

DHAKA: Bangladesh po­lice of­fi­cials stand alert as by­standers gather at the scene of an op­er­a­tion to storm an al­leged mil­i­tant hide­out yes­ter­day, as a team from the coun­tert­er­ror­ism unit of Dhaka Met­ro­pol­i­tan Po­lice cor­doned off a two-storey build­ing in the cap­i­tal. —AFP

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