Document - Amnesty International News, May 1994. Vol.24, No.5.
Amnesty International Newsletter - MAY 1994
World-wide Appeals and News
Jacinto Nculu Abaga, a 44-year old army sergeant, was among dozens of suspected political opponents, including soldiers and civilians, arrested in August 1993 in Malabo, the capital, on Bioko island. He was convicted in October of conspiring to overthrow the government and incitement to rebellion and sentenced to 24 years' imprisonment (subsequently reduced to eight in an amnesty ). The trial was grossly unfair: AI considers him to be a prisoner of conscience.
Jacinto Nculu Abaga was severely tortured at the military barracks where he was held before his trial. Most of those arrested with him were also tortured and later released. The military court that tried him and five other soldiers used summary procedures which severely curtailed the rights of the defence and denied defendants the right to appeal against their conviction and sentence. The prosecution failed to prove that the alleged plot had existed. The other five defendants were given three-year prison terms (which were later cut to 18 months).
Arbitrary arrests and torture of political activists increased sharply after opposition parties announced in July 1993 that they would boycott the elections - which had been set for September 1993 - on the grounds that the electoral law restricted their freedom of expression and association. The elections were postponed to November 1993. The ruling Equatorial Guinean Democratic Party [translators: Partido Democrático de Guinea Ecuatorial (PDGE)] won, despite large-scale abstentions and allegations of vote-rigging. Arrests and torture of political activists continued in 1994.
Please send appeals urging his immediate and unconditional release, in Spanish if possible, to: Su Excelencia, General de Brigada Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, Presidente de la República, Gabinete del Presidente, Malabo, Equatorial Guinea
The bodies of Severiano Santiz Gómez, 65, Sebastian Santiz López, 65, and Hermelindo Satiz Gómez, 40, were found near the Tzeltal indigenous community of Morelia, state of Chiapas, on 11 February, 1994. The three had been arbitrarily arrested by members of the army on 7 January, and were tortured in the local church before being driven away in a military ambulance.
Their deaths are part of a catalogue of human rights abuses which have taken place in Chiapas in the wake of heavy fighting between the armed opposition group Ejército Zapatista de Liberación (EZLN) Zapatista National Liberation Army and Mexican government troops.
The Ministry of Defence denied that the men had been detained by the armed forces, but AI delegates who visited Chiapas between 18 and 22 January 1994, interviewed dozens of people from the village of Morelia who witnessed the three men being driven away. The delegates were also told that 31 others detained in Morelia suffered beatings, kicking and burns. Some have been released but others remain in Cerro Hueco prison, in Tuxtla Gutierrez.
The killing of the three men heightens AI's fears for the lives of other people who have "disappeared" in Mexico since the beginning of January 1994. AI is also concerned about reports that members of the armed forces have been harassing grassroots activists and human rights monitors in the region.
Please send appeals calling for an immediate investigation into the killings and urging that those found responsible be brought to justice, and also requesting an investigation into the whereabouts of all reported "disappeared" persons, to: President of the Republic, Lic.Carlos Salinas de Gortari, Presidente de la República, Palacio Nacional, 06067 México D.F.,
Abdallah Housby, a 35-year-old secondary school teacher of mathematics and a member of the Moroccan National Union of Teachers, has already spent over a quarter of his life in prison for his beliefs. He was arrested in November 1985, reportedly after the distribution of leaflets by an illegal left-wing group, and was tortured during prolonged incommunicado detention in a secret detention centre where he was forced to sign a confession. He was tried with 26 others in February 1986; the confessions extracted from them under torture were used as the basis for their conviction. He was sentenced to 10 years' imprisonment on charges of conspiracy against state security, membership of an illegal organization and distribution of unauthorized leaflets. Since his imprisonment he has been studying law. He and the other prisoners from his group have undertaken many hunger strikes, some very lengthy ones which have affected their health, to protest against their imprisonment and conditions of detention. Of this group, some were released upon expiry of their sentences and 11 were freed in a royal amnesty in August 1991. Abdallah Housby and 11 others continue to serve sentences of up to 20 years' imprisonment in the prison of Oukacha in Casablanca.
Amnesty International considers Abdallah Housby a prisoner of conscience, imprisoned solely for the expression of his conscientiously-held beliefs, and calls for his immediate and unconditional release.
Please send appeals to Omar Azziman, Ministre delegue aupres du Premier Ministre charge des droits de l'homme, Bureau du Premier Ministre, Palais Royal, Rabat, Maroc, Morocco.
In the wake of February's massacre - when more than 200 unarmed civilians were reportedly slaughtered by the army - AI has called on the Burundi authorities to set up an inquiry into the killings and to bring the perpetrators to justice. The organization is also urging the country's military commanders to publicly condemn the killings and to ensure that their forces only use methods strictly necessary for the execution of their duties.
The massacre took place at night in the Kamenge zone of the capital, Bujumbura. The dead were mainly members of the Hutu ethnic group and included women and children. Military commanders deny that the security forces were involved, but the use of bayonets and the swiftness of the killings suggests otherwise. Many bodies were transported in military trucks and dumped in the Ntahanga and Rusizi rivers by soldiers.
The killings appeared to be intended as a show of strength, orchestrated by the army, following the refusal of some Hutu civilians in Kamenge to be disarmed by gendarmes, and a reprisal for the killing, some days earlier, of several gendarmes in a shoot-out with armed Hutu.
These deaths are a continuation of the violence which has racked Burundi since the army murdered President, Melchior Ndadaye, a Hutu, and other government officials, in a coup on 21 October 1993. AI is concerned that further killings will occur as they did during March, unless immediate
steps are taken to prevent them.
Political instability is contributing to an upsurge of killings in Rwanda and has delayed implementation of important human rights safeguards there. The transitional government, which was to have been installed shortly after the peace accord between the opposition Rwandese Patriotic Front (RFP) and government forces in August 1993, was still not in place six months later, and extrajudicial executions continue to be carried out with impunity.
Since the armed conflict broke out in October 1990, more than 2,000 unarmed civilians, mostly from the Tutsi ethnic group, have been killed, reportedly by government forces and Hutu gangs.
At least 37 people were killed and dozens more injured on 22 and 23 February 1994 during political violence in the capital, Kigali, and in the southern prefecture of Butare. None of the perpetrators of the killings have yet been identified or brought to justice. Human rights safeguards set out in the peace accord provide for the setting up of a commission of inquiry into past violations.
AI is urging political leaders to publicly condemn the killings and urge their supporters to end the violence. The government should require the security forces only to use methods strictly necessary for the execution of their duties. AI believes the United Nations' peacekeeping force in Rwanda should help to ensure that effective measures prevent further human rights
AI has welcomed Denmark's ratification of the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, on 24 February, aimed at abolition of the death penalty.
The organization expressed its hope that the Danish government would join it in urging other states to sign and ratify the protocol.
At least 30 Protestant preachers and Catholic leaders are reported to have been detained or placed under restriction in China over the past few months. AI believes many of them are prisoners of conscience held for peacefully exercizing their right to freedom of religion. Several foreign Christians were also detained for several days in mid-February, under new national regulations on religion which came into force on 31 January. These confirm the restrictions on freedom of religion already laid down in a number of local regulations in recent years.
Under the new regulations religious activities may only be carried out in officially registered places or under the control of official religious organizations. In addition religious activities considered to "undermine national unity and stability" and religious material "whose contents are harmful to public interest in Chinese society" are banned. These new national regulations will particularly affect religious groups which organize meetings in private homes.
Protestant house-church leader Pan Yiyuan was arrested on 2 February 1994 and is reportedly detained in Zhangzhou Detention Centre. Police officers forcibly entered his house, in Zhangzhou city in Fujian province, and confiscated personal letters, diaries, religious books, video and cassette tapes and bibles. The home of his 83-year-old mother, Xu Birui, was also searched. She is under house arrest and has been told to report daily to the local public security bureau for questioning about her religious activities.
AI continues to campaign for the release of others arrested earlier. They include six protestant preachers from Anhui province who have been detained since July and August 1993. They are Dai Guiliang, Ge Xinliang, Dai Lanmei, Guo Mengshan, Liu Wenjie and Zheng Lanyun, all farmers from Mengcheng county in Anhui province. At least four of them have received administrative terms of re-education-through-labour, which involves detention without charge or trial in a labour camp for up to three years.
Dozens of Ahmadis have been attacked by an armed Islamist group in Lahore in recent months. In 13 incidents between October 1993 and February 1994, two Ahmadis were killed and over a dozen were seriously injured. The Ahmadiyya is a religious community - with four million members in Pakistan - which considers itself one of several dozens sects of Islam. However, it is regarded as heretical by orthodox Muslims and under the Pakistan law Ahmadis are prohibited from calling themselves Muslim or practising their faith.
Eyewitnesses described the attackers as "bearded young men in their early to mid-20s" recognizing some of them as "students of Allama Iqbal Medical College in Lahore".
Lahore police reportedly refused to investigate the incidents even when the victim's families gave the names of the attackers or their car registration number. In one case, the attackers dragged two victims whom they had severely beaten, to a nearby police station; the police reportedly registered a case against the victims, but took no action against the attackers.
Amnesty International called upon the government of Pakistan to bring to justice any police personnel found to have been deliberately conniving with the attackers. It said it is the government's responsibility to ensure that all complaints regarding these incidents are registered and thoroughly investigated by the police, that the attackers are brought to justice, and that effective measures are taken to prevent further attacks.
Amnesty International also called upon all religious authorities and political leaders in Pakistan to condemn such attacks.
Despite a recent upsurge in human rights violations in Haiti, the United States of America is continuing its policy of interdicting -- intercepting at sea -- those attempting to flee the country, and is forcibly returning them to Haiti without allowing any possibility for an assessment of their asylum claim.
Upon return, some have then been subjected to abuses, including arbitrary arrest, ill-treatment and torture. In one incident in March, nine of 141 people forcibly returned were arrested by the armed forces. Neither US nor United Nations officials have been permitted to see the six who remain in detention.
Human rights violations have increased in Haiti since the virtual collapse, in October, of the Governor's Island agreement -- intended to return democracy to Haiti -- and the temporary withdrawal and now much reduced presence of United Nations/Organisation of American States human rights monitors. AI has appealed again to the US Government, arguing that it is more imperative than ever that the policy of returning Haitian asylum seekers be suspended and urgently reviewed.
Forensic experts are analyzing the remains of nearly 200 bodies exhumed from mass graves near the now deserted hamlet of Río Negro, in Guatemala's Baja Vera Paz Department.
Witnesses and survivors say soldiers entered Río Negro on 13 March 1982 at the height of the military's counter-insurgency campaign, stripped, raped and murdered the women there, and killed their children. The village men had reportedly fled earlier, to avoid forcible conscription into the civil patrols, obligatory civilian militias operating under army command. The army claims both that the villagers were armed oppositionists, and that opposition forces carried out the killings. The Public Ministry has promised an investigation.
The Río Negro exhumation differs from the few others carried out in Guatemala in recent years because of the large number of victims involved, and because they were allegedly killed not by civil patrollers, but by the Guatemalan army. The Río Negro exhumations also come as peace talks between the Guatemala military and the armed opposition have re-started. They have repeatedly broken down largely because of the Guatemalan military's refusal to accept a Truth Commission to look into alleged army abuses.
Meanwhile, forensic teams report yet another mass grave, believed to contain as many as 300 remains, near the Río Negro exhumation site.
AI has renewed calls for the Guatemalan authorities to bring to justice those responsible for the policy of gross extrajudicial executions, implemented by the Guatemalan army in the late 1970s and early 1980s. AI has also urged the authorities to establish a Truth Commission to investigate past abuses such as the Río Negro massacre, as an integral part of the current peace talks between the Guatemala military and the armed opposition.
Twelve years after being "disappeared" by the Salvadorian army, five children have been located and reunited with their relatives.
Nelson Ramos, María Elsi Romero, Andrea Mejía, Angélica and Marta Abrego were among 50 children carried off in helicopters during a military attack on civilians in Chalatenango in May 1982.
Exactly two years after the country's armed conflict ended, in mid-January 1994, surviving relatives found the children - now teenagers - in an orphanage in La Libertad.
However, the relatives of some 7,000 people who "disappeared" during the war still wait to hear what happened to them. The Government has blocked their search for justice: the 1993 amnesty law prevents judicial investigations into killings and "disappearances" before 1992. In June, a new government will be faced with their demands.
"Now we have five names less on the list of the disappeared" said a relative, "but where are the others?
"Soldiers deployed to restore order in the far north of Cameroon have massacred more than 55 Shua Arab villagers - mostly women and children - apparently in revenge for the death of one of their colleages.
The massacre occurred on 17 February at Karena, on the shores of Lake Chad. The day before, the village chief and a soldier had been killed in an incident involving armed bandits. During a funeral ceremony for the village chief, soldiers are reported to have surrounded the village, fired indiscriminately at the villagers and then set fire to their homes.
Those killed included nine women and 35 children; the youngest victim was a baby of six weeks. Many of the victims were burnt to death. More than 90 others were wounded.
Although the army has been deployed to curb violence between Shua Arabs and the Kotoko ethnic group and to control attacks by armed bandits, it appears to have arbitrarily targeted Shua Arabs. The atrocity at Karena followed reports of the arrest, torture and killing of Shua Arabs, some of them apparently denounced by the Kotoko, during January 1994 in other areas of the far north.
AI condemned the massacre at Karena, called for an end to extrajudicial executions by the security forces and for those responsible for the Karena massacre to be brought to justice.
Notes for French translator: Shua Arabs = les Arabes Choa
AI has called on the Israeli Government to conduct a comprehensive review of the way its forces police the Occupied Territories, particularly in the light of the massacre at the Haram al-Ibrahimi Mosque in al-Khalil (Hebron) in February.
In the attack, at least 29 Palestinians were killed by an Israeli settler and up to 31 others and one Israeli civilian were shot dead by Israeli forces in the following two weeks. The massacre in al-Khalil happened after months of repeated acts of violence by settlers against Palestinians, often presented as reprisals for attacks by Palestinian armed groups. The killings by Israeli forces were consistent with a pattern of unjustifiable use of lethal force witnessed for over six years in the Occupied Territories.
A judicial inquiry into the massacre has been established by the Israeli Government. While welcoming this step, AI believes that the Israeli army and paramilitary border police should be either adequately trained and equipped for crowd-control or withdrawn and replaced with properly trained ordinary police.
AI also called for the introduction of effective on-site international human rights monitors throughout the Occupied Territories, empowered to take up incidents with Israeli and Palestinian authorities.
Following a number of arbitrary killings of Israeli civilians in recent months and threats of further such attacks by Palestinian armed groups, AI appealed to such groups to refrain from committing these and other abuses.
The proposed revision of Romania's Penal Code would contravene international human rights treaties ratified or signed by Romania. AI has urged members of the Chamber of Deputies to reject the proposed changes, which were adopted by the Senate on 2 February 1994.
The Draft Law amends a number of provisions of the Penal Code including Article 200 (Sexual relations between persons of the same sex), Article 239 (Outrage), Article 236 (Defamation of the state or nation) and Article 168 (Communication of false news). AI is concerned that these provisions would impose arbitrary and excessive restrictions on the rights to freedom of expression, assembly and association with others.
On several occasions during 1993, AI expressed its concern to the Romanian authorities about Article 200, paragraph 1, which allows for the arrest, prosecution and imprisonment of consenting adults engaging in homosexual acts in private. AI also called for the release of prisoners who were charged or convicted under this law.
Proposed revision of Article 200, paragraph 1, would punish "sexual relations between persons of the same sex, if they cause public scandal" with one to five years' imprisonment. Incorporating "public scandal" into the law could lead to varying and contradictory judicial interpretation and to the prosecution of adults solely because of consensual acts in private, which are not criminal if carried out in similar circumstances by heterosexuals.
Amnesty International Newsletter - May 1994
Focus: Trade Unions
First Section: Introduction
In South Korea (above), riot police wrestle with workers protesting against "evil" labour laws. In Chad, the president of a leading trade union is murdered on his way to work by men in military uniform. In Indonesia, at least 19 people, all of them trade unionists, are arrested on the eve of a general strike.
In many countries, labour activists have paid a heavy price for their involvement -- they have been threatened, arrested without charge, tortured and killed, often in circumstances in which the security forces are implicated; in some countries, such as China, simply attempting to set up an independent trade union can be cause enough for arrest and imprisonment.
Every year, AI documents such cases. Overleaf are the names and stories -- some of them horrific -- of just a few of those who have been targeted by the authorities because of their political beliefs or peaceful activities in support of their fellow workers. AI is urging its members to take action on behalf of these victims (see page six for details of how you can help).
This is a critical time for the Indonesian Government in terms of its treatment of workers. Labour rights in Indonesia are so restrictive that the United States of America is currently considering suspending trade privileges.
In response to strong domestic and international criticism, the Indonesian government has taken some initiatives in recent months to improve its image, including the repeal of a decree which allowed military interference in the settlement of labour disputes. However, this has not ended intervention in labour affairs by the security forces.
On the eve of a general strike called for 11 February, at least 19 trade unionists were detained solely for their peaceful activities. Most were reportedly later released, though three were charged under Article 155 of the Criminal Code, one of the so-called "hate-sowing" articles. Short term detention and threats of legal action are weapons used by the Indonesian Government against trade unionists and others engaged in peaceful political opposition.
Despite severe restrictions on the right to strike and to organize, strikes have become increasingly common in Indonesia in the past three years. February's general strike was aimed at obtaining a doubling of the daily minimum wage to (US)$3.30, improved working conditions, permission for workers to organize and government recognition for the union calling the strike, the Indonesian Prosperous Labour Union. There is only one officially- recognized trade union in the country and it is government-sponsored.
During the tense run up to South Africa's first universal franchise elections planned for late April, trade unionists were targeted by members of rightwing parties who were opposed to participating in the electoral process. They acted in collaboration with, or with the acquiesence of, members of the security forces.
In the Natal North Coast area, members of trade unions affiliated to the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), which is linked to the African National Congress (ANC), were particularly vulnerable to attack, as they have been attempting to organize in an area dominated politically by the Inkatha Freedom Party and the KwaZulu "homeland" authorities.
Enoch Nzuza, regional organiser for the National Union of Metalworkers (UMSA) and an ANC member, has suffered constant harassment from members of the South African Police and has survived several assassination attempts against him by a "hit squad" linked to the KwaZulu Police.
On 12 February 1994 he survived a further attempt against his life when armed men in a passing vehicle forced his car off the road and opened fire on him and two companions. Eight days later his younger brother was shot and seriously wounded by two men who entered the family home near Empangeni.
No one has been brought to justice for these attacks. There are fears that the perpetrators are members of a "hit squad" which includes members of the Kwazulu Police force and which, in August 1993, killed a NUMSA shop steward in the same area.
Being a rural trade unionist in Brazil means living in fear for your life. In the last three years alone, 23 rural trade union leaders have been assassinated. Only three per cent of the 1,857 cases of peasants, Indians and their advisers who have been killed in the course of land and labour disputes since 1964 have ever reached the courts. The assassins are often members of the security forces themselves, hired by landowners to murder and dispose of peasants or their representatives involved in land or labour disputes.
In June last year, the president of another rural workers' union, Amancio Francisco Dias, was killed when he was shot in the face at his home in Beléem de Maria in the state of Pernambuco. His wife had just opened the door to two men who said they needed advice after being dismissed from a sugar cane plantation. Amancio had recently been pressing refinery owners to pay outstanding debts to workers in the sugar cane industry: he had received several death threats. No one has yet been brought to justice for his killing (see also appeal case overleaf).
South Korea (photograph)
An estimated 25,000 workers marched through the South Korean capital, Seoul, last October to protest against the country's highly repressive labour laws, described by union leaders as "evil".
For many years, AI has urged the South Korean Government to ensure that the rights to freedom of expression and association are protected, but trade union leaders continue to live with the constant threat of arrest under legislation which makes many of their ordinary trade union activities illegal.
In particular, Article 13(2) of the Labour Dispute Mediation act prohibits a "third party" from intervening in a dispute. The authorities regard as "third party intervention" advice given to trade union members about their labour rights and the conduct of wage negotiations.
This law is most frequently used against leaders of umbrella trade unions and smaller trade union advisory bodies. It has been used recently to threaten the arrest of key trade union leaders. In March this year, the ILO Committee on Freedom of Association (see below) said: "As the Committee is of the opinion that the ban on third party intervention in the settlement of disputes constitutes a serious restriction on the free function of trade unions, it calls on the government to repeal this ban." As far as AI is aware, the ban is still in force.
AI has in the past worked on cases of trade unionists jailed as prisoners of conscience for breaching the ban on "third party intervention".
Second Section: Trade Union Appeal Cases (eight)
Last May, in the state of Pará, just as the local May Day celebrations had ended, the President of the Rural Workers Trade Union of Eldorado do Carajás, Arnaldo Delcidio Ferreira, was shot and killed while he was sleeping. His 17-year-old son witnessed his father's murder. No one has been arrested for the crime, although there are strong suspicions that a particular land owner commissioned the killing.
Arnaldo had been campaigning for land reform, against the eviction of peasants involved in land disputes with local landowners, and against deforestation in the region as a consequence of an internationally funded development project. He had also worked closely with the international environmental organization, Greenpeace.
In 1985, in one of three previous attempts on his life, a nun -- Sister Adelaide Molinari, who was talking with him at the time -- was killed. A bullet intended for Arnaldo passed through his neck and struck the sister. The gunman accused of her killing was released from police custody and went into hiding.
Members of Arnaldo's family -- many of whom remain active in the trade union -- have received death threats and had shots fired at their house.
On 26 June 1993, M'Bailao Mianbe was driving to work in N'Djamena as usual. Except on this day, he was being followed by four soldiers travelling in a military jeep. M'Bailao Mianbe and two bystanders were gunned down.
M'Bailao Mianbe was a leading trade unionist in Chad. In 1992 he had helped organize a series of nationwide strikes in protest at government austerity measures and in support of civil servants who had not been paid. The government responded with the arrests of trade union leaders and the banning of one union. Some union leaders and members were sacked from their jobs.
At this time, M'Bailao Mianbe was president of the General Administration Union [Syndicat des Agents de L'Administration Générale] and the leader of one of Chad's opposition parties. He was also director of a state committee responsible for reducing the size of the army in Chad and the reintegration of demobilized soldiers into civilian life. This project was being financed by the French government.
On 24 June, 1993, M'Bailao Mianbe discovered that funds worth over (US)$40,000 had gone missing from the reintegration project. He anounced on national radio his intention to find and name those responsible.
Two days later he was shot and killed. The authorities claim to have arrested those responsible but, as far as AI knows, no charges have been brought. M'Bailao Mianbe is not the only trade unionist to be killed in Chad by suspected members of the security forces.
The wife and 10-year-old daughter of veteran pro-democracy campaigner, Liu Jingsheng, have not seen him now for nearly two years. Not since he was taken away by the Beijing police on 1 June, 1992, accused of "counter-revolutionary" activities. This included promoting the formation of free trade unions. Along with 15 others arrested on similar charges, Liu Jingsheng continues to be held in detention awaiting trial. None of those held has been allowed access to their families.
A 39-year-old chemical plant worker, he is accused of involvement with a preliminary committee of the Free Labour Union of China -- which called on workers to create independent trade unions -- and of distributing pro-democracy leaflets.
All those charged after their arrest in June 1992 were due to go on trial in October 1993, but the trial was postponed and the indictment withdrawn -- apparently due to lack of evidence. However, they are still detained. AI believes that Liu Jingsheng and the others are prisoners of conscience, detained for the peaceful exercise of their right to freedom of expression and association.
Wilson Monsalvo Navarro, Vice-President of the Peasant and Farmers' Union of Guaimaro in Colombia, received a telephone call on 30 December warning him that he would suffer the same fate as other union members involved in land ownership disputes.
Two months earliler, in October, Jaime Rodriguez Fontalvo, a union member and prominent human rights worker, had been murdered by four armed men. In 1991 union adviser Eudaldo Sierra Caballero was tortured and murdered.
No-one responsible for these crimes has been brought to justice.
Death threats against Wilson Monsalvo Navarro have continued into 1994 and Amnesty International has expressed fears for his safety.
These fears are heightened by the history of murder and harassment against members of the Peasant and Farmers' Union. The union is made up of around 50 families who in 1990 occupied and area of land claimed by a local landowner.
For five years now, it's members have reportedly received death threats from Colombian security force personnel and from the State Security Department.
Although the Colombian Government has pledged its committment to human rights, members of the Colombian security forces continue to act with impunity, often targetting trade unionists and peasant farmers campaigning on land rights issues.
Cajuste Lexius was so badly beaten while in military custody that he suffered kidney failure. His buttocks were covered in open sores as a result of the beatings he received. He was unconscious for two days.
His "crime" was to issue a press release in support of a general strike called for 26 April, 1993. The aim of the strike was to demand the return to power of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Along with two other activists from the Central General Workers' Union [Centrale Générale des Travailleurs] -- one of the largest independent trade unions in the country -- Cajuste Lexius was arrested in the capital, Port-au Prince, a few days before the strike. They were first held at a police station and subsequently transferred to the Anti-Gang Investigation Service [Service d'investigation et de recherches anti-gang]. All three men were beaten up in custody and needed medical attention.
Troops in Haiti violently overthrew the democratically elected government of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in September 1991. Since then, the security forces have been repsonsible for political killings, torture and and ill-treatment and mass arrests without warrant.
Twenty-five year old Indonesian factory worker, Marsinah, paid a horrific price for her activism in the labour movement.
Along with her colleagues, Marsinah had been involved in a strike at a watch factory in East Java where they worked. The military had intervened in the dispute, and on 5 May 1993 an army captain summoned 13 workers to the local military headquarters. The workers involved were told to resign or they would be charged with holding illegal meetings and inciting others to strike.
Concerned for her colleagues, that evening Marsinah went to the military headquarters to look for them. A few hours later, an eye-witness saw her being forced into a white van.
Marsinah's body was found three days later in a small shack at the edge of a field. Her body was bloodied and covered in bruises, and her neck bore the marks of strangulation. An autopsy showed that she had been raped. Her attackers had also thrust a blunt instrument into her vagina causing severe bleeding.
Outrage from labour activists and human rights groups forced the police to open an investigation, though this was soon taken over by military intelligence. The authorities denied any connection between Marsinah's death and the labour dispute, or that that the military was involved. However, in November 1993 it was anounced that one of the ten people arrested in connection with her murder was the local military commander who had worked closely with company executives to bring the strike to an end. He had apparently been seen in the white van when Marsinah was abducted.
But he was not charged with murder. Instead, he was charged with a disciplinary offence for failing to report a crime to his superiors and is to be tried in a military court. AI is calling for his trial to take place in a civilian court which is open to the public.
In early 1994, several of the civilian witnesses and suspects in the trial stated in court they their confessions and testimonies had been extracted under duress and some said they had been tortured.
Abdelhaq Rouissi, a bank employee, "disappeared" from his home in Cassablanca nearly 30 years ago. Traces of blood were found in his bedroom. Abdelhaq was an activist in the Moroccan Labour Union [Union marocaine de travail]. Since the early 1960s, the Moroccan Government has used "disappearances" to silence political opponents. Hundreds have been held in secret detention centres, often in inhuman conditions. Many have died there and were buried in secret.
Others who had "disappeared" but were released years later said they had seen Abdelhaq in a succession of secret detention centres. Recent reports suggest he is still alive but in extremely poor health.
Encouraged by these reports his family continue to fight for his release. In October last year, his sister held a press conference in Cassablanca with the families of two other Moroccans who have "disappeared" and called for their release. But this, and AI's repeated requests to the government for information about Abdelhaq's whereabouts, have been met with a wall of silence.
The city of Batman in southeastern Turkey is the nerve-centre of the Turkish petrol industry. It is also in the middle of the continuing conflict between Turkish government forces and the guerrillas of the armed opposition Kurdish Workers' Party, the PKK.
In the last three years alone, there have been more than 350 political killings in Batman province. The security forces have been implicated in many of these killings. Victims have included members of the petroleum workers' union, Petrol-is, which has 62,000 members. The union's President, Munir Ceylan, decided it was time to speak out. In an article for Yeni Ülke (New Land) newspaper, he called on workers to do whatever they could to halt the violence.
Munir Ceylan, was arrested and convicted of incitement to "enmity and hatred". The article itself did not advocate violence nor preach hatred. He was sentenced to 20 months, which he is due to serve from June.
The numbers of writers, artists, journalists, human rights activists and politicians imprisoned in Turkey for expressing their non-violent opinions, particularly on the questions of the country's large Kurdish minority. Since the conflict in the southeastern provinces began some nine years ago, more than 10,000 people, including civilians, have been killed. Most have been killed by the security forces, but the PKK has also been responsible for grave human rights abuses, including hostage-taking and deliberate and arbitrary killings.
Third Section: ILO
The International Labour Organisation (ILO) is an agency of the United Nations which attempts to ensure the observance of minimum working standards throughout the world and defends basic trade union rights, such as the right of freedom of association.
Trade unions, and their activists, strive for these rights. But attempts to maintain or improve conditions for workers may clash with business and government interests.
There are two ILO conventions which, if ratified and implemented, can help protect trade unionists and workers from human rights violations: one (No 87) on Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize, and the other (No 98) on the Right to Organize and Collective Bargaining.
Under these conventions, the ILO is able to take action on the cases of workers and trade unionists who have been the targets of political imprisonment, unfair trials, torture, extrajudicial execution or "disappearances".
Trades unions or other workers' organizations can submit complaints to the ILO's Committee on Freedom of Association, made up of three government, three employer and three worker representatives. In recent years, the committee has investigated human rights violations against workers and trade unionists in China, Colombia, El Salvador, Peru and South Korea.
AI supports these conventions, and is calling on all member states of the ILO to ratify them if they have not already done so, and to take immediate steps to implement them if they have.
As Michel Hansenne, Director-General of the ILO,explains: "The ILO now has 169 member States and covers some 98 per cent of the population of the world. From that standpoint at least, it has never been as universal as it is today. At the same time, the organization has always proclaimed loud and clear that the values it defends are themselves universal. It has always refused to accept the idea that some standards might be 'more equal than others' -- in other words that there can be second-class standards for second-class citizens. It is a position that cannot be overemphasized in this increasingly integrated and interdependent world where the rules have to be accepted and respected by everyone.
"One of our major responsibilities, therefore, is to ensure that, once adopted, standards are widely ratified by States which solemnly pledge to apply them. We would be falling far short of our claim to universality if we were to insist on the universality of standards as a matter of principle without taking the same trouble to make sure that they were universally implemented."
As with all such conventions, the safeguards they provide cannot be effective unless governments provide the necessary mechanisms (new laws, complaints procedures etc) to permit their observance in practice. While most of the countries featured overleaf have in fact ratified the conventions, they have failed to implement them and their workers and trade unionists continue to be victims of often appalling human rights violations.
The ILO was founded in 1919 under the Treaty of Versailles and was part of the League of Nations. In 1945 it became the first specialized agency of the United Nations. It is unique among intergovernmental organizations for its tripartite structure whereby workers' and employers' representatives participate on an equal footing with governments.
Fourth Section: Taking Action
AI is taking action on the cases featured overleaf: AI sections will have details. If you do not have a section in your country you can join the campaign by following the advice below.
Write to the Attourney General for Pará State: Sra Edite Marilla Crespo Procuradoria De Justica do Estado do Para, 66.000 Belem, PA, Brazil, or to the Brazilian Embassy in your country, urging a full investigation into the killing of Aranldo Delcidio Ferreira at his home in Eldorado Para on 2 May, 1993. Call on the authorities to ratify ILO Convention 87 which guarantees workers the right to join and run organizations such as trade unons without undue outside interference.
Write, preferably in French or Arabic, to Général Idriss Deby, Président de la République, N'Djamena, Republic of Chad, or to the Chad Embassy in your country, calling for a full judicial inquiry into the killing of M'Bailao Mianbe, and for its findings to be made public. Point out that Chad has ratified ILO Conventions 87 and 98 and ask what the authorities are doing to implement them.
Write to Premier Li Peng, Guowuyuan (State Council), 9 Xihuangchenggenbeijie, Beijingshi 100032, People's Republic of China, or to the Chinese Embassy in your country, expressing concern that Liu Jingsheng and others have been arbitrarily detained in Beijing since 1992 for the peaceful exercise of their right to freedom of expression and association, calling on the authorities to release them immediately, and to ratify ILO conventions 87 and 98.
Write to the President of Colombia, Señor Presidente César Gaviria Trujillo, Presidente de la República, Palacio de Nariño, Santa Fé de Bogotá, Colombia, or to the Colombian Embassy in your country, expressing concern for the safety of Wilson Monsalvo Navarro and other members of the Peasant and Farmers' Union of Guaimaro-Salamina- Magdalena who have been receiving deaththreats, noting that Colombia has ratified ILO Conventions 87 and 98 and asking what the authorities are doing to implement them.
Write to Monsieur le Général Raoul Cedras, Commandant-en-Chef des Forces armées d'Haiti, Rue Geffrard, Port-au-Prince, Haiti, or to the Haitian Embassy in your country, calling for an investigation into the alleged ill-treatment of Cajuste Lexius and the two other trade unionists arrested in Port-au Prince on 23 April, 1993, calling for those found responsible be brought to justice. Note that Haiti has ratified ILO Conventions 87 and 98 and ask what they authorities are doing to implement them.
Write to Lt. Gen. Ali Said, Chairman of the National Commission on Human Rights, National Commission on Human Rights, Departemen Kehakimman RI, Directorat Jenderal Pemasyarakatan, J1. Veteran No.11, Jakarta Pusat, Indonesia, or to the Indonesian Embassy in your country, urging a thorough and impartial investigation by the Commission into the killing of Marsinah. Call on the authorities to ratify ILO Convention 87 as an indication of their commitment to the human rights of all Indonesians, including trade unionists.
Write to the Minister for Human Rights, M. Omar Azziman, Bureau du Premier Ministre, Palais Royal, Rabat, Morocco, or to the Moroccan Ambassador in your country, expressing your horror that Abdelhaq Rouissi, a prisoner of conscience, has been held in secret detention since 1964, and demand his immediate release. Call upon Morocco to ratify ILO Convention 87 as an indication of their comittment to the human rights of all Moroccans, including trade unionists.
Write to the Prime Minister, Mrs Tansu Çiller, Office of the Prime Minister, Basbakanlik, 06573 Ankara, Turkey, or to the Turkish Ambassador in your country, urging that the case of Münir Ceylan, imprisoned for the peaceful exercise of the right to free expression, be reconsidered. Note that Turkey has ratified ILO Convention 87 and 98 and ask what the authorities are doing to ensure trade unionists are permitted freely to organize and associate.