The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has expressed serious concern over the murder of labour leader Mustansar Randhawa and his brother in Faisalabad and called upon the government to track down and try the culprits and to prevent violence against those raising their voice for labour’s rights.
In a statement issued on Friday, HRCP said: “The murder of Mustansar Randhawa, a leader of textile and power loom workers in Faisalabad, and his brother, Naseer, is a stark reminder of the risks labour leaders and human rights defenders face in Pakistan.
The state is under an obligation to protect the lives of all human beings, but individuals that are exposed to specific threats deserve additional protection measures. Mustansar had been receiving death threats reportedly from power looms and textile mill owners for several days, apparently because of his role in orgainzing workers in the area.
The labour movement in Pakistan has long been protesting in a peaceful manner for the rights of workers who find themselves squeezed by the economic downturn, lack of benefits, poor and unsafe working conditions, and wages that bear no relation with the escalating cost of living and inflation. The government is duty-bound to ensure not only that workers get their rights, but also that they are not prevented from raising their voice for such entitlments.
The government must ensure that the killers of Mustansar and his brother do not enjoy impunity. Failure to apprehnd and punish the killers would convey the message that the barrel of the gun is the most effective means to further one’s interests. It is in the interest of the state to do all it can to prevent that message from taking root.”