Pakistán - Two airline workers killed and eight injured in anti-privatisation protest

The paramilitary Pakistan Rangers shot at protesting Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) workers on 2 February 2016, killing two and injuring at least eight.

The PIA Joint Action Committee, an alliance of trade unions, had been protesting against privatisation plans for over a week, fearing it would result in widespread job losses. Instead of entering into negotiations, however, the government extended the Essential Services Act on 1 February, the day before the planned strike, to cover PIA employees for six months. In doing so, it barred them from taking any trade union action and meant that anyone taking part in the strike risked being sacked, fined and even imprisoned.

The workers were determined to go ahead regardless, but when they arrived for their peaceful demonstration, they found law enforcement officers fully equipped to repress their action with force. Television footage showed police and Rangers personnel using batons, water cannon and tear gas against protesters. Eyewitnesses and reporters heard gunshots being fired at the unarmed protestors as they clashed with the Rangers. The two shot and killed in those clashes were named as PIA employees Enayat Raza and Saleem Akbar.
In the early hours of 3 February, Pakistan Rangers took into custody Mr Hidayat Ullah, president, Peoples Unity of PIA Employees, Mr Zameer Chandio, vice president, and two union leaders, Mr Mansoor Dhillo and Mr Saifullah Larak, from the PIA Township. Residents reported that late in the night Ranger personnel arrived in trucks, and stayed outside the compound. Persons dressed in plain clothes raided the houses, took the union leaders and put them into the trucks. The authorities denied the arrests, and the four captives were released by unidentified men six days later.
The JAC ended the strike on 9 February, after the government agreed to negotiate.

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