Protest Against the Humiliation of Labor Rights’ Activists and International Community of 76,000 Philanthropist in the meeting of Provincial Committee for Abolition of Forced Labor (PCAFL), Punjab Dated 06.10.2016.

 Protest Against the Humiliation of Labor Rights’ Activists and International Community of 76,000 Philanthropist in the meeting of Provincial Committee for Abolition of Forced Labor (PCAFL), Punjab Dated 06.10.2016.   

Mr. Raja Ashfaq Sarwar, Minister Labour Punjab

Bonded Labor Liberation Front (BLLF) Pakistan is a renowned Civil Society Organization of international repute, working to promote core labor conventions in the country, particularly to eliminate forced labor in the Brick Kiln industry. To acknowledge the struggle against forced labor, national and international organizations have awarded BLLF’s General Secretary with different awards including: Chairman senate Mr. Raza Rabbani awarded her with Atraf- e-Azmat Award, 2015, Islamabad; Clinton Global Citizen Award 2015, New York is also her honor; in 2016 Secretary of US State Department has honored her with ‘Hero Acting to End Modern Slavery Award’. She also has the honor of one of four finalists for Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity, Armenia in 2016.

 BLLF believes in democracy and promotes social dialogue on labor issues and appreciates Punjab Government to establish Provincial Committee for Abolition of Forced Labor(PCAFL). In this regard we also respects the efforts of Punjab Government  to protect worker’s rights in Punjab. However, we regret to draw Labor Minister and Chief Minister's attention towards following immoral, undemocratic and threatening situation created by president brick kiln owners’ association in the meeting of   PCAFL on 06.10.2016.

PCAFL is highest forum at provincial level which comprised of Secretaries of six provincial departments but unfortunately president brick kiln employers’ association has used this respectable forum to pass sarcastic and humiliating remarks against national and international labor rights activists. In that meeting he said, “Pakistani NGOs are traitors and the allies of anti-Pakistan organizations at international level who declares them ‘heroes’. Human rights’ activists of   Pakistan are awarded with international awards for their anti-Pakistan activities. They give them beads to harm country”. It is necessary to explain here that 18 million people around the world has recognized the work of BLLF against forced labor. The contribution by “HONNY” is an iron clad evidence that BLLF is not supported by anti-Pakistan organizations but 7600 philanthropists[1] around the world has contributed “To help Fatima to End Slavery” from brick kiln industry of Pakistan.

Dear Labour Minister Punjab, we believe in democracy and respect the right of speech and expression of everybody. president brick kiln owners’ association has right of opinion but the choice of words must be formal and appropriate worth to this forum. President brick kilns’ owner association has right to sue against such NGO under relevant law. In addition to this, in presence and chairmanship of Labor Minister Punjab the president of brick kiln owners’ association has used extremely vulgar and abusive language against the NGO persons, who are working to promote human and labor rights in the country. He has used the type of language which is not used in any formal meeting of people with civilized culture and noble family backround. To remind you it is worthwhile to mention here that one committee member, the secretary general of APWC had also condemned the use of vulgar language in the meeting saying, “we should not use cheap language in presence of a daughter”.

Moreover, PCAFL is a democratic body. So all members should have equal right to speak in the meeting. It is really sad that undemocratically the brick kiln owner’s representative was provided with the opportunity for personal attack on  personality our leader Syeda Ghulam Fatima. It is our respectful submission  that we should had also been provided with the opportunity to clarify the objections raised by employer’s association.

Respected Minister Labour above mentioned situation has questioned the mandate of PCAFL.To my knowledge, mandate of said committee is to address issue of forced labor but the said meeting has proved that it is a window dressing or mere a lip service to save your skin from international community in the context of EU GSP+. This committee is formed to abolish forced labor. So this committee should encourage those who struggle to end bonded labour rather than violators. The purpose to establish   this committee is to stop crime of bonded labor not to support and protect violator of labor and human rights’ laws. These violators are actual traitors who create such obstacles for internalization of international human and labour rights’ conventions and earn bad name for country, consequently poor economy.

Honorable Minister Labour Punjab, in addition to above all, an undemocratic meeting with a vulgar language in your presence and under your chair has made us sick and astonished too. We have always found your honor with a rational and positive approach to address labor issues. We had never expected this type of meeting under your chair. Since that day we are under stress that your department has changed its policy and is protecting the ones who promotes forced labor in the country and not the victims of forced labor.

In view of above mentioned facts, we protest before your honor for the undemocratic situation created by president of brick kiln association in the meeting of PCAFL on 06.10.2016. What is the justification of this committee? To address the issue of forced labor or to provide violators a plate form to humiliate and shut up labor rights’ activists who vocal for slaves. I also protest against the use of vulgar language in the meeting. I further request to investigation the objections raised by president brick kiln owners’ association. If any NGO is involved in anti-Pakistan activity or using immoral activity to address labor issues it must be probed. I also request before your honor to take necessary measure to address the labor issues democratically in meetings of PCAFL in future.

[1] https://www.generosity.com/community-fundraising/let-s-help-fatima-end-bonded-labor

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