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Bangladeshi labour activist who exposed dangerous working conditions tortured, killed

April 10, 2012 - Washington

A Bangladeshi labour activist, who helped in exposing dangerous working conditions at garment factories in the country, has been tortured and killed last week, according to a report.

Aminul Islam, 40, was found murdered with his body bearing 'severe' torture marks, according to local police and to a statement issued jointly by two American groups, the Worker Rights Consortium and the International Labor Rights Forum.

"All indications are that Aminul Islam was murdered because of his labor rights work," ABC News quoted Scott Nova, executive director of the Worker Rights Consortium, as saying.

"This depraved act signals the deterioration of an already grim labor rights situation in Bangladesh, which is now the fourth largest exporter of apparel to the U.S," Nova added.

Islam was serving as a senior organizer for the Bangladeshi Center for Worker Solidarity (BCWS), and had most recently been involved in efforts to organize workers at garment factories owned by a company called the Shanta Group.

According to the report, labor rights organizations in Bangladesh and the US believe the killing is associated with Islam's work on behalf of apparel workers who sew garments for suppliers to major US retailers and brands.

One reason for their suspicions is that Islam had been previously detained and tortured in connection with his efforts on behalf of workers, according to Nova.

Two years ago, Islam reportedly told his colleagues that he had been detained and beaten by Bangladeshi intelligence officials.

He said the officials demanded that he write a letter implicating his colleagues at BCWS in instigating unruly labor protests that damaged some factory buildings. Islam refused, but told colleagues he had managed to escape his captors.


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