Today, December 23, 2013, the Asian Human Rights Commission releases the 11th Episode, of the Human Asia Rights Weekly Roundup with special reports on Labour Rights from Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and India. In these countries, specifically in Bangladesh, labour rights have been a matter of serious international concern following several tragic incidents that have led to the death of hundreds of workers there. Our reports also expose how workers struggle in Bangladesh for safe working conditions and their demands for life with dignity are being repeatedly quashed by the authorities.
The state’s rule of lawlessness has paved the way for exploitation of workers by native and non-native companies. To discuss further about labour rights in Bangladesh the AHRC has interviewed human rights defender Mohammad Ashrafuzzaman on these issues.
On the issue of labour rights in Sri Lanka, we bring you a special report which reveals that trade unions have been continuously undermined since the crushing of the 1980 general strike, after which 40,000 workers, who called for strike, were dismissed from their jobs.
The report will feature how, in the recent years, the government has been using military forces on the protesters even to the extent of using live bullets, killing protestors in the process. Amongst the examples of such state belligerence are the shootings of workers at Katunayake Free Trade Zone, the killing of a fisherman in Negombo, and the killings of residents of Rathupaswala who protested against the operation of a factory that has poisoned their water supply. Despite the promises made, the government has to date failed to conduct any form of a genuine inquiry into the shooting.
In India, we bring you the story of how middle-men chopped off the hands of two labourers in the Kalahandi District of Odisha, India. A group of 10 villagers informed the police they had each taken Rupees 10,000 as advance from local middlemen to enable employment in the brick kilns of Raipur in the Indian state of Chhattisgarh. Disbursing such advance loans is a standard method used by middlemen to entrap impoverished villagers and compel them to become bonded labour. Poor labourers in these areas, where distress migration is endemic, often have no choice but to fall into traps set by middlemen.
From Indonesia, we bring you the story of Jeremy Bally’s visit to the prison, which completes his ‘Pedalling for Papua campaign’, a 12,000 km international cycling and performance tour, aiming to raise awareness on the ongoing human rights abuses in West Papua. Jeremy Bally, has met with many Papuan political prisoners in Abepura Prison, Jayapura. Jeremy’s visit to the prison was covered by several media in Indonesia, including the Jakarta Post. Jeremy has claimed, however, that he and his campaign have been mischaracterised by Indonesian media.
Speaking earlier to AHRC, Jeremy explains of his experience and how he witnessed the Papuan political prisoners being subjected to torture and regular isolation.
Finally, a report from India on the criminalization of homosexuality by its Supreme Court has been part of the broadcast. In its judgment in Suresh Kumar Kaushal v. Naz Foundation, the Supreme Court set aside a Delhi High Court’s order pronounced in 2009.
The Supreme Court judgment has shocked the gay and lesbian community in India, who have termed it as a violation to the fundamental right to equality, as Constitutional Provisions have been used to discriminate, harass, and intimidate the sexual minority in India.
The AHRC broadcasts interview of Rituparna Borah, an activist based in Delhi, on this judgment.
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