Help a trade unionist jailed on his way through Serbia
Hasan Abazi, 65-year old President of the Kosovan SPMK industrial union was seized by the Serbian authorities on 28 March as he travelled to an international union meeting in Croatia. Held for 50 hours in solitary confinement, without access to a lawyer, he has now been returned to jail for a further 30 days. It is believed by Amnesty International that his arrest – on charges dating back to 1995 – was in retaliation for the arrest of four Serbian officials in Kosovo.
LabourStart has initiated an e-action you can take to convey your concerns, as requested by the International Metalworkers Federation to which SPMK is affiliated, and the TUC has protested to the Serbian Embassy in London.
There are several worrying features of this case – the retaliatory nature of the arrest, the worrying solitary confinement and denial of access – as well as the simple abuse of freedom of association involved. But there may be a way we can influence the Serbian authorities, who are keen to join the European Union: we can make this case a test of the EU’s commitment to free trade unionism, by raising it with MEPs and the European Commission. The TUC has, accordingly, raised it with Labour MEP Richard Howitt and with British Commissioner Baroness Ashton (who just happens to be responsible for the EU’s external relations), as well as with the ETUC.