10 April 2012: In an unfortunate sequence of events Aminul Islam, Worker Organizer and a Bangladeshi Labour Rights’ activist at Bangladesh Centre for Worker Solidarity (BCWS) went missing on Wednesday, 4th April and was later found dead on Saturday 07th April. His dead body bore signs of brutal torture. Earlier in July 2010, he was unjustly detained by Bangladesh - National Security Intelligence (NSI), while protesting for securing registration for BCWS as an NGO through the NGO Affairs Bureau (NAB). In the past, Aminul has also been accused of inciting worker unrest in Bangladesh.
BCWS is an internationally-known and well-respected advocate for workers’ rights with a strong record of credible research and professionalism. BCWS is a vital voice for labour rights in Bangladesh. For a long time now its local efforts to improve conditions for workers have met with unreasonable intimidation and repression by the government. A press release by ILRF1 states that “Labor rights organizations in Bangladesh and the United States believe the killing is associated with Aminul's work on behalf of apparel workers who sew garments for suppliers to major U.S. retailers and brands”.
BCWS and its staff have been the target of a campaign of harassment by the Bangladeshi government and apparel factory owners for two years. The organization's license to operate was revoked and Aminul and two of his colleagues were jailed in 2010. Their release was secured only after international pressure.
Aminul had been detained by officials of the National Intelligence Service (NSI) in June 2010. According to Aminul, he was subjected to severe and repeated beatings, which his captors said would stop only if he agreed to give false testimony against his colleagues at BCWS. The NSI officials demanded that he write a letter stating that his colleagues were the instigators of recent worker protests, which had resulted in damage to some factory buildings. Aminul refused. While being transported to another location, he managed to escape his captors and went into hiding.
Later that year, Aminul and two colleagues, Kalpona Akhter and Babul Akter, were arrested and jailed on charges of fomenting riots and related acts – charges regarded as baseless by international labor and human rights organizations. They were released only after substantial international pressure on the Bangladesh government and they still face trials.
Expressing shock and dismay at the barbaric killing of Aminul Islam, Global March joins the International Civil Society in appealing to the Government of Bangladesh for ordering an unprejudiced investigation in this case to bring the assailants of Aminul Islam to justice and ensuring that workers’ rights are not vanquished any further, so that labour rights’ organizations could freely work towards upholding the fundamental rights of workers, without any fear. Global March extends solidarity to Aminul Islam's family for the irrecoverable loss it has suffered.