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Cablegate: Cda Raises Concerns About Alleged Nsi Harassment

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS DHAKA 003176

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ELAB ETRD CASC PGOV PHUM BG
SUBJECT: CDA RAISES CONCERNS ABOUT ALLEGED NSI HARASSMENT
OF USG LABOR PROGRAM PARTNERS


1. (SBU) Summary. CDA expressed concern to BDG officials
over reports of escalating harassment by a BDG intelligence
officer of USG labor program partners and personnel,
including an American citizen. END SUMMARY.

2. (SBU) Since summer 2004, the USAID-funded American Center
for International Labor Solidarity (ACILS), along with its
Bangladesh partner, Bangladesh Independent Garment Worker's
Federation (BIGUF), has worked to resolve long-standing
unpaid wages and forced unpaid overtime violations at a
factory in Gazipur, located 30 kilometers north of Dhaka.
According to ACILS, Taj Knitting, the workers, BIGUF and the
Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers Association (BGMEA) worked
to resolve the matter but have been unsuccessful.

3. (SBU) Since February 2005, workers at Taj Knitting, with
BIGUF's assistance, have attempted to form a union but have
been reportedly subject to threats, acts of intimidation,
public newspaper attacks, overt violence, sexual harassment
and police surveillance. On February 10, when two officers
from National Security Intelligence (NSI), Deputy Assistant
Directors Mazmul Ahsan and Mohammad Istiaque Ahmed, visited
ACILS offices when the AMCIT Country Director was absent and
successfully asked for the Amcit's home address and other
personal information. On June 19, the Amcit notified poloff
that in the past month he had been surveilled, his actions
recorded, and members of a garment makers trade association
had called for his removal from Bangladesh.

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4. (SBU) On June 21, ACILS told poloff that another NSI
officer named Mamunur Rashid visited BIGUF offices in Dhaka
to interview BIGUF's Secretary General, Nazma Ahkter, during
which they asked her about BIGUF's membership, programs,
budget, sources of funding, and BIGUF's relationship with
ACILS.

5. (SBU) Since then, Nazma told poloff, the NSI officer has
returned at least five times asking for additional documents
such as bio data with photos of all of BIGUF staff, BIGUF's
constitution, its bank, her passport, and a copy of the
BIGUF-ACILS agreement. He also told Nazma to advise him when
she travels and whom she meets, including her visits to the
US Embassy. She told poloff that he said if Taj Knitting
loses business because of her, "they will take some action."

6. (SBU) On July 6, CDA asked in separate meetings Foreign
Minister Morshed Khan and Principal Secretary to the Prime
Minister Kamal Siddiqui to clarify NSI's actions and explain
any concerns it might have about BIGUF's or the Solidarity
Center's lawful activities. Khan agreed that threats would
be a serious matter and, along with Siddiqui, undertook to
make inquiries. We are also raising the matter directly with
NSI.
CHAMMAS

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