US Textile Trade Associations Press Bangladeshi Government on Murder of Labor Leader
April 20th, 2012
A number of textile trade associations and unions sent a letter to the Bangladeshi Prime Minister in response to the recent murder of labor activist, Aminul Islam. Mr. Islam was a senior organizer at the Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity (BCWS) and a local leader for the Bangladesh Garment and Industrial Workers Federation (BGIWF). Both organizations have been working to help workers combat low wages, deadly factory fires, and repression of their right to organize. This letter went to the Prime Minister through the initiative of ICCR shareholders with Wal-Mart and PVH Corp. (Phillips Van Heusen). The Missionary Oblates is an active member of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR).
The International Labor Rights Forum sent out this information on Aminul Islam on April 12th:
Last Wednesday, Aminul Islam left his office for evening prayers. He noticed a police van parked outside and called his colleagues, worried about possible harassment. Then he went to meet with a worker. He never returned home.
His body was found a day later. According to police reports his legs had severe torture marks including a hole made by a sharp object. All his toes were broken.
Aminul was a senior organizer at the Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity (BCWS) and a local leader for the Bangladesh Garment and Industrial Workers Federation (BGIWF). ILRF has worked with BCWS and BGIWF for many years. They have been a critical force in the effort to defend workers’ rights in a country known for sub-poverty wages, deadly factory fires, and repression of the right to organize.
Over the past two years, the government of Bangladesh has carried out a campaign of intimidation and harassment against BCWS. On June 16, 2010, Aminul was detained by security forces, beaten repeatedly and threatened with death, in an attempt to coerce him into making incriminating statements against the organization. Not long after, he and his colleagues Kalpona Akter and Babul Akhter were arrested and kept in jail for nearly a month, where they were subjected to psychological and physical abuse. Since 2010, Aminul, Kalpona and Babul have faced criminal charges for which no substantiating evidence has been presented.
Given this history, there is strong reason to suspect that Aminul’s murder was in retaliation for his efforts as a labor rights organizer and to fear this could represent a violent escalation in the repression of worker rights advocates in Bangladesh.
Join with us in calling for a thorough and impartial investigation into Aminul’s murder. BCWS and BGIWF have asked for an outpouring of letters to the Prime Minister of Bangladesh. Please take a moment to add your voice!