June 14, 2012—Solidarity Center staff joined family and colleagues of Aminul Islam at a press conference last week to call for justice in Aminul’s murder. Aminul, a union organizer and president of the Bangladesh Garment and Industrial Workers’ Federation (BGIWF)’s local committee in the Savar and Ashulia areas of Dhaka, was found dead on April 5, 2012. He had been severely tortured and beaten.
||Nazma Akter, president of the Sommilito Garment Workers Federation, speaks at the CJAI press conference. Above her is a portrait of slain union leader Aminul Islam. Photo by Solidarity Center
Aminul, a longtime friend of the Solidarity Center, was a well-respected labor leader among workers at Savar- and Ashulia-area garment factories and export processing zones. Although he was not a national figure in Bangladesh’s labor movement, his death has shocked human and worker rights champions all over the world. During a town meeting in Dhaka, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called for an independent investigation into his murder. U.S. Ambassador Dan Mozena warned garment manufacturers that Bangladesh’s economic well-being hinges on ensuring worker rights.
The group of friends and colleagues, including the Solidarity Center and BGIWF, has formed the Committee for Justice for Aminul Islam (CJAI). At the press conference, held June 7 in Dhaka, CJAI called on the government of Bangladesh to conduct a comprehensive and impartial investigation into Aminul’s death and to prosecute those responsible regardless of their position and status. As long as Aminul’s case is not resolved, said CJAI, other union leaders risk facing the same fate, and Bangladesh’s garment export industry is in jeopardy.
Although the government of Bangladesh has pledged its full cooperation and law enforcement agencies are investigating the murder “with utmost sincerity,” there has been “no visible or measurable progress” in the nearly two months since Aminul was found dead, CJAI reported. CJAI added that it would continue to focus on the ongoing investigation and would provide regular updates.
Participants at the press conference expressed their solidarity by signing a petition, to be sent to the government of Bangladesh. CJAI urged participants to attend update events and asked for donations to support both the work of CJAI in the pursuit of justice and the welfare of Aminul’s family.