3 Years Later, No Justice for Slain Garment Worker Leader

Three years after the torture and murder of garment worker union leader Aminul Islam, his killers have not been brought to justice.

Bangladesh_Aminul Islam.no credit

No one has been prosecuted for the torture and murder of garment worker union leader Aminul Islam.

The AFL-CIO and eight other global global labor rights organizations have written to Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on the anniversary of his murder to demand his killers be located and prosecuted.

Aminul, 39, disappeared on April 4, 2012, and his body was found a few days later with signs of torture. He was a plant-level union leader at an export processing zone in Bangladesh, an organizer for the Bangladesh Center for Workers’ Solidarity (BCWS), and president of the Bangladesh Garment and Industrial Workers Federation’s (BGIWF) local committee in the Savar and Ashulia areas of Dhaka.

Despite international outcry, including a U.S. congressional hearing and then U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s call for justice in the case, Aminul’s murder has gone unsolved. He had sought to improve the working conditions of some 8,000 garment workers employed by Shanta Group, a garment manufacturer based in Dhaka.

After the United States revoked preferential trade benefits for Bangladesh in 2013, citing human and labor rights abuses, the Bangladesh government dropped criminal charges against two garment worker leaders who worked with him, and announced it would step up the search for the people responsible for his torture and murder. Instead, the government dropped an investigation against a suspect and has taken no further steps to resolve the case.

“A sewing machine and a dozen colorful threads still give hope and strength to labor leader Aminul Islam’s family” but his widowed wife, Husne Ara, works around the clock to pay for food and school tuition for her children, writes the Bangladesh Daily Star.

Husne Ara said that Aminul could not speak over the phone because “he feared it was tapped.

“Even in the middle of the night, he received arbitrary phone calls from the intelligence,” she says.

Since Aminul’s murder, more than 1,200 garment workers were killed in the 2012 Tazreen factory fire and the 2013 collapse of Rana Plaza. After Rana Plaza, at least 44 workers have died in garment factory fire incidents in Bangladesh, and more than 900 people have been injured.