Part of the ancient Teotihuacán site, pictured right, is now underneath a Walmart, after Walmart [...]
Part of the ancient Teotihuacán site, pictured right, is now underneath a Walmart, after Walmart bribed local officials. Walmart destroys Mexico’s cultural heritage for profit.
Walmart is the biggest private sector employer in the world. Whether they’re undermining wages or building stores on ancient archaeological sites, let’s keep an eye on them.
Bangladeshi garment workers’ union leader Aminul Islam was tortured and murdered in April this year. Support the campaign to bring his killers to justice.
More than 1,000 workers died – and the lives of their families ripped apart - when a factory making clothes for Primark, Matalan and Mango collapsed. Demand that these UK high street retailers take responsibility for their supply chains.
There are four things you can do right now:
The Tazreen Fashion fire in Bangladesh killed 112 workers in November last year. Some brands have compensated family members for their loss, but Walmart and Disney refuse.
Tafadzwa Choto, one of the Zimbabwe 6, recently visited the UK on a trade union solidarity visit. She is campaigning for support for herself and the other five socialists and activists who were recently tried and convicted by Mugabe’s regime of ‘conspiracy to commit public violence’.
The STUC Conference in April this year unanimously backed an emergency motion supporting the Zimbabwe 6.
Tafadzwa works at the Zimbabwe Labour Centre providing advice and advocacy to students, workers and trade unionists on their legal rights and on improving working conditions.
While demonstrations had been called around the world to show support for the Arab Spring, it was decided that a demonstration in Zimbabwe might lead to arrests and so a meeting was called instead. A discussion and the screening of video clips from the recent events in Tunisia and Egypt by the BBC, CNN and Al Jazeera were combined with a commemoration of an AIDS campaigner who had recently died.
Police burst in and arrested all who attended the meeting. It quickly became clear that this was being seen as a political case. At the police station, people were taken to the notorious torture cells where they were very badly beaten and tortured, then left without food or blankets. When they got to court they discovered that they were now being charged with treason, a capital offence in Zimbabwe. Pressure on the government forced them to release all but the Chair and the five speakers – two socialists, a lecturer, a Food Federation trade unionist, a Drop the Debt campaigner and a student. However the brutal treatment took its toll on everybody and one man, who had been in poor health, died after being released.
Eventually the six were bailed for US $2,000 each, an enormous sum in Zimbabwe. The treason charge caused outrage across much of Africa and the rest of the world. The resulting campaign forced a reduction in the charges but the prosecution was still pressing for many years imprisonment.
On the day of sentencing, events were delayed because huge crowds filled the court with many more outside. The riot police were sent for before the magistrate felt it safe to continue and after a harsh two hour statement, he finally sentenced each of them to a $500 fine, 420 hours of community service and 2 years imprisonment, suspended for 5 years. The suspended sentence effectively prevents all the activists from any participation in the referendum on the constitution and the forthcoming elections as well as acting as a threat to other campaigners who oppose Mugabe and Zanu PF. Sources from within the system indicated their fear that if the six had been jailed there would have been ‘another Egypt in Zimbabwe’. This clearly shows the enormous importance of solidarity and campaigning.
At the moment the Zimbabwe 6 are appealing the verdict, having succeeded in postponing the community service. The prosecution, however, furious at what they consider to be a light sentence is demanding eight years in jail. In the meantime, tension is mounting as the state unleashes increasing violence in the run up to the referendum.
The Free Them Now – Zim 6 Campaign in Zimbabwe is a trust co-ordinated by a committee made up of socialists, campaigning activists and a sympathetic lawyer. The committee has set up two bank accounts, one to receive donations from local people for the welfare of those injured and traumatised by the beatings and the other to receive international donations towards campaigning, and the heavy costs of fines and bail.
You can listen to Tafadzwa’s testimony here:
What Trade Union Branches can do to help.
- Financial donations are vital in order to keep the campaign going.
(Bank account details will follow shortly)
- Publicise the case as widely as possible in union mailings and magazines.
- Send messages of support in the run up to and in the course of the appeal hearing to:
Free Them Now – Zim 6,
C/O Community Info Source
355 Byres Road