jiselle's blog

Iraqi workers use May Day to press for their rights

For the last 20 years, life for workers in Iraq has been very tough, having to contend with economic blockades, wars, foreign invasion, occupation and a series of civil wars and uprisings. This year, workers used the occasion of May Day to rally and demand the right to organise, to have safe workplaces and living wages. The Workers Coordination Committee has been organising workers employed in the state owned manufacturing sector as many workers have not been paid their wages for months.

Burmese workers continue to face low wages and repression

On May Day, thousands of Burmese garment workers staged a demonstration through central Yangon demanding greater freedoms and at least a doubling of the minimum wage. Because of the continued poverty and exploitation in Burma, hundreds of thousands of workers have had to find work outside of the country. For those that remain in Burma, union leaders are often jailed for long periods on trumped up charges while journalists are routinely arrested on national security grounds. Nevertheless, workers continue to organise and press for their rights.

Scores of migrant workers left to die in the southern forests of Thailand

In a terrifying discovery on May Day, the international workers day, a Bangladeshi migrant worker was found alive in a mass grave that contained the bodies of at least another 30 workers. This mass grave was situated in the southern Thailand jungle area of the Sadao district, Songkhla province, which is at the border with Malaysia. The surviving worker was buried with all the others and left to die. This mass murder is a graphic and shocking example of the realities of the capitalist system that forces workers to undertake dangerous journeys in order to find some work and survive. 

Building collapse kills at least 11 migrant workers in Saudi Arabia

The exploitation of migrant workers in the Gulf countries in West Asia has been well documented with workers enduring long days for terrible wages. The toll in terms of deaths and injuries is hidden as much as possible until a major disaster reveals the truth. This week, a convention centre under construction in the city of Buraydah, Saudi Arabia, collapsed trapping over 50 workers and killing at least 11 of them. The majority of these workers were from Pakistan. Unfortunately these deaths are not an isolated case and reflect the savage exploitation that migrant workers face in these countries.

Workers around the world celebrate May Day with rallies and events

This year was the 129th anniversary of May Day, the international workers day. Amid continuing attacks on workers ability to organise and confront the ongoing global economic crisis, millions of workers took to the streets all around the world. In the Asia Pacific region, rallies were held in Australia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Cambodia, Bangladesh, and Pakistan, to mention a few. Unfortunately workers in Kuala Lumpur - Malaysia, Seoul - South Korea and Istanbul - Turkey were faced with police repression with many workers injured and arrested. 

Sabeen Mahmud shot dead after human rights seminar in Pakistan

Human rights activist and Director of ‘The Second Floor’, a progressive social space, Sabeen Mahmud became the latest victim of assassination by unknown assailants in Pakistan. Sabeen was well known for speaking out on the continued disappearances of people in the south west province of Balochistan. Her assassination sparked protests by a range of human and labour rights groups who called for an investigation of her murder and against Pakistan’s increasing climate of intimidation and repression.

Teachers in Iran continue protests amid escalating repression

As reported previously, Iranian teachers have been at the forefront of industrial disputes this year as they battle against low wages and insecure work. In the middle of April, there was another mass mobilisation with tens of thousands of teachers going out on strike in around 70 cities in Iran. The response of the government was to step up the repression with the arrest of Ali-Reza Hashemi, the General Secretary of the Iranian Teachers’ Organisation. Ali-Reza now joins a number of other high profile labour activists jailed by the Iranian government.

Palestinians mark Prisoners Day amid repression, defiance and hope

The 17th of April was Palestinian Prisoners Day. This day marks the first liberation of a Palestinian political prisoner from an Israeli jail. There are currently around 6,500 Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli jails, many held without charge, including many children. The arrests of Palestinians is a daily reality in occupied Palestine. Nevertheless, Palestinians continue to protest against the incarceration of so many of them and against the daily intimidations. New strategies and groups are forming in an attempt to break out of the present political isolation.

Australian Government commits piracy and kidnapping on the high seas

The Australian government’s repressive measures against asylum seekers continue to increase with news that earlier this month, an Australian Navy ship intercepted and kidnapped a group of Vietnamese asylum seekers. The refugees were then held inside the navy ship until they were let out in the Vietnamese port city of Vung Tau. At the same time, the Australian Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, was in Iran to try and get that government, a well-known abuser of human and labour rights, to accept Iranian asylum seekers in Australia. These acts are a continuation of a global war against poor workers fleeing from wars, exploitation and injustice.

International appeal to save life of Mumia Abu Jamal in the USA

Mumia Abu Jamal is one of the most famous political prisoners in jail in the USA. Mumia has been in jail, most of it in ‘Death Row’, for over 30 years. He is known as the voice of the voiceless. Mumia has just turned 59 and needs urgent medical care. Prison authorities are denying him adequate care. Mumia is in danger of dying and only international pressure will be able to force prison authorities to allow Mumia to receive proper medical care.

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