Your actions are working! BCWS leaders have been released from jail, but the charges against them remain and their NGO's legal status has not been reinstated. Take action now to keep the pressure on the government of Bangladesh to respect worker rights advocates.
Amid mass protests of garment workers demanding a fair wage, the government of Bangladesh has been cracking down on workers and the organizations that support their rights.
On June 3, 2010, the government stripped the Bangladesh Center for Workers Solidarity (BCWS) of their legal status, alleging the organization was inciting unrest in garment factories. Founded and led by former garment workers, BCWS is well respected internationally and trusted by the workers. Even more alarming, BCWS staff member Aminul Islam was detained by Bangladeshi security forces on June 16. He was beaten and forced to sign a statement incriminating himself. Mr. Islam was told he was going to be killed in a staged "cross-fire incident" and dumped in the jungle where no one would find him, his wife would also be murdered, and his children would become orphans if he refused to sign. Mr. Islam was able to escape and is now in hiding unable to stay with his wife and children. Another employee, Kalpona Aker (pictured here), has also been harassed by authorities.
This crackdown on BCWS's important work to organize and support workers will send a clear, chilling message to unions and other organizations that dare to speak out in defense of workers in Bangladesh. We need your support now to fight back and show our solidarity with BCWS and the workers of Bangladesh.
Please send a letter today to the Prime Minister of Bangladesh insisting that BCWS's legal status be reinstated and that all harassment of BCWS cease immediately.
Photo credit: BCWS
Kalpona Akter, Babul Akhter, Aminul Islam, and Montu Ghosh have now all been released on bail. But that is not enough to address widespread labor rights abuses and ensure workers do not need to fear retaliation for speaking up for their rights. Your government must also withdraw the baseless charges against these labor leaders and restore the Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity’s (BCWS) legitimate function as a labor rights defender.
I respectfully call upon your government to:
1. Drop all charges against Kalpona Akter, Babul Akhter, Aminul Islam, Montu Ghosh, and other labor rights advocates who are falsely accused of crimes as retribution for their advocacy for a 5,000 taka minimum wage, union rights, and other labor rights.
2. Unconditionally restore BCWS’s nongovernmental organization registration with the NGO Affairs Bureau.
3. Return computers, paperwork, and other property of BCWS to the organization, and instruct BCWS’s bank to reopen BCWS’s account.
4. Investigate and hold accountable those responsible for the torture and mistreatment of Babul Akhter and Aminul Islam to ensure there is no impunity for such acts.
5. Raise the minimum wage of garment workers to at least 5,000 taka per month.
Labor rights defenders such as BCWS play an indispensable role in helping to create a better life for the millions of poor women in Bangladesh who work in the garment industry. I hope that you will support and celebrate their role in economic development.