TAKE ACTION // Labour rights activist Aminul Islam found dead: Bangladesh

Aminul Islam



Dear friends and colleagues,

It is difficult to express thoughts and feelings on the reported murder and alleged preceding torture of Aminul Islam, a union organizer working with the Bangladesh Center for Workers Solidarity (BCWS).

Please click through to read a letter written by Human Rights Watch, accounting events leading up to Islam’s disappearance.

In 2010, Islam was arrested alongside BCWS labour rights activists Babul Akhter and Kalpona Akhter, as well as others, for helping Bangladeshi garment workers organize themselves to stand up for the right to decent work and a living wage.

Past torture of Islam by the security agencies for his labor activism puts the onus on the government to show it can impartially investigate his killing and bring all those responsible to justice.” (Phil Robertson, Deputy Asia Director at Human Rights Watch)

Islam’s final words in a statement recounting his 2010 detainment are haunting:

Now I’m living in extreme anxiety […] Nightmares of torture won’t let me sleep.”

It is important to take time to reflect on Islam’s life and death, and it is imperative to not allow his story to overwhelm to the point of inaction.

It has been reported Babul Akhter and Kalpona Akhter are continuously faced with threats against their lives.

Our actions must be clear: it’s not about boycott; it’s about engagement and support.

International Labor Rights Forum has organized an online petition that can be found here.

According to the Asian Human Rights Commission, “[b]oth disappearance and torture are the by-products of the ‘rule of coerciveness’ in absence of the ‘rule of law’ inBangladesh. It is a matter of grave concern that the incidents of disappearance are increasing, alarmingly and unabatedly.”

Islam was a dedicated labour rights’ activist who clearly understood the risks and dangers associated with his work. That he would continue to work under these circumstances tells us he was hopeful for change.

To Islam’s family, friends and colleagues, our thoughts are with you now, yes, but they will remain with you as you continue to fight for change.

Mary has a PhD in Sociology from University of Edinburgh, researching responsible fashion and transnational labour rights activism in the wake of the Rana Plaza building collapse in Bangladesh.

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