By Liana Foxvog, International Labor Rights Forum
During her recent visit to Bangladesh, on May 6, 2012, U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton, met with students and community members at the International School in Dhaka. Following the torture and murder of Aminul Islam, an executive board member of the Bangladesh Garment and Industrial Workers Federation and an organizer with the Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity, the topic was certain to be raised in the meeting.
Indeed, former garment worker and union organizer, Alia Atta, spoke out: "We face all kinds of obstructions with the police, goons, thugs, and false allegations in court. And, in fact, one of our leaders, Aminul Islam, was very brutally murdered."
Directing her question to Secretary Clinton, Atta asked: "With such conditions, how can we work with the cause of workers’ rights?"
Secretary Clinton responded: "Do not be discouraged or intimidated. But you deserve to have the support of your government and your society. … The labour problems in the garment industries have to be solved because you do not want to earn a reputation as a place where labour leaders and activists are murdered."
Since the murder of Aminul Islam, the International Labor Rights Forum has raised over $3500 to support memorial demonstrations, worker meetings, and printing of posters and leaflets. Much more support is needed. In addition to contributing to ILRF's Bangladesh labor solidarity fund, letters are encouraged to the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, calling for a thorough and impartial investigation into the murder.