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March 07, 2007

Linking Trade with Terrorists

The Clean Clothes Campaign is gravely concerned about the recent developments in Sri Lanka, where trade unionists are intimidated and threatened with abduction, as a result of a public campaign depicting them as traitors and terrorists. Please write to the Sri Lankan president to demand safety for all trade unionists under threat.

Take action now! at: http://www.cleanclothes.org/urgent/07-03-06.htm#action
On 6 February, three men, including a trade unionist, were abducted in
Colombo by unknown groups. This sparked a spontaneous protest the next
day in front of the main Fort Railway Station by trade unionists. Two
days later, on 8 February, the Sri Lankan government declared that the
abducted men, including the trade unionist, were in government custody,
and that they were being interrogated on suspicion of collaboration with
Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam (LTTE) insurgents.

Trade unionists receiving death threats
This seems to fit in with a campaign explicitly aimed at linking trade
unionists with insurgents. Key trade union activists who participated in
the Fort Railway Station protest on 6 February are now being publicly
accused of being covert terrorist operatives.

Since 8 February, posters depicting trade union leaders as traitors and
terrorists have begun to appear in many parts of the country, calling
for their arrest. Anton Marcus of the Free Trade Zone and General
Services Employees' Union (FTZGSEU)- which is affiliated to the
International Textile, Garment and Leather Workers' Federation (ITGLWF),
Sman Ratnapriya and Ravi Kumudesh of the Health Sector Trade Union
Alliance (HSTUA), Sampath Rajitha and Raja Kannangara of the Joint
Railway Trade Union Alliance (JRTUA), and Joseph Stalin of the Ceylon
Teachers' Union (CTU) are among the targeted trade unionists.

As a result of these false allegations, several threats, including death
threats, have been made against trade unionists. On 21 February, the
FTZGSEU and the HSTUA lodged a number of complaints with the police, in
order to seek protection for their right to continue their trade union
activities and to protect their lives. To date the law enforcement
authorities have failed to take constructive measures to guarantee their
safety. Click here [link to report] for the original appeal issued by
the Sri Lankan trade unions.

The Asian Human Rights Commission warns that in Sri Lanka in recent
decades disappearances have been developed as a very sophisticated
technique to deal with opponents, whether they be political opponents,
trade unionists or anyone else engaged in any form of protest. The AHRC
stresses the lack of significant action on the part of the government to
bring the recent increase in disappearances to a halt. For the AHRC
press release please visit:

Posted by cat at 10:57 AM