RMG workers’ leader Aminul murder case taken as ‘sensational’
The government included three murder cases including the one over the abduction and murder of RMG workers’ leader Aminul Islam in the Home Ministry’s Monitoring Cell on sensational cases on Sunday.
The cases on journalist couple Sagar-Runi murder and Saudi diplomat Khalaf Al Ali murders are the other cases.
The decision came at a meeting of the Monitoring Cell on sensational cases in the ministry. It was chaired by Home Minister Shahara Khatun.
Emerging from the meeting, Shahara told reporters that the murder cases—journalist couple Sagar-Runi, and workers’ leader Aminul Islam–were included in the cell as sensational cases.
শ্রমিকনেতা আমিনুল ইসলাম হত্যাকাণ্ড, এ নিয়ে যুক্তরাষ্ট্র ও ইউরোপে শ্রমিক অধিকার সমর্থকদের আন্দোলন, টিকফা চুক্তি না হওয়া, বাংলাদেশের জিএসপি-সুবিধা বাতিলের জন্য এএফএল-সিআইও আবেদন এবং সে দেশের গণমাধ্যমে বাংলাদেশ নিয়ে নেতিবাচক প্রতিবেদন প্রকাশের কারণে যুক্তরাষ্ট্রের বাজারে বাংলাদেশের তৈরি পোশাক রপ্তানি নিয়ে উদ্বেগ প্রকাশ করেছেন মার্কিন রাষ্ট্রদূত ড্যান ডব্লিউ মজীনা।
She added in the meeting they reviewed the progress of investigations into 11 cases and ordered investigators to submit charge sheets in three of the cases within seven days as the enquiry into those have been accomplished.
The three cases are–killing of six students at mob beating in Savar, Rajshahi University student Faruque Hossain murder and Alif murder in city’s Gulshan.
Asked, she said there will be no timeframe for completing investigation, since no time limit is set for the cases included in the monitoring cell. But the investigation officers of the three cases were directed to complete investigations as early as possible.
Though the three cases were included in the monitoring cell, the investigation officers of the cases will not be changed, she added.
Earlier, Maasranga Television News Editor Sagar and ATN Bangla Senior Reporter Meherun Runi were killed at their city’s Rajabazar flat on Feb 11.
On March 6, unidentified gunman shot dead Khalaf Al Ali, a Saudi diplomat near his city’s Gulshan residence.
On April 5, the body of workers’ leader Aminul Islam was found in front of a college of Ghatail in Tangail after he went missing since the previous evening.
Bangladesh has every chance to be identified as anti-labour state among the US apparel buyers if labour rights are not upheld and murderers of prominent union leader Aminul Islam brought to book, warned US ambassador to Dhaka Dan Mozena said Wednesday.
He said Bangladesh garment sector may face a major setback as the American buyers are worried over the prevailing labour situation here.
US rights groups International Labor Rights Forum and the Worker Rights Consortium have expressed grave concern over recent killing of Aminul Islam, a firebrand trade union leader in the garment sector of Bangladesh.
The US envoy said the emerging developments in the US, the single-largest destination for the country’s RMG, could coalesce into a perfect storm that could threaten Bangladesh and its brand in the US through driving away key American buyers of Bangladeshi garments.
“Let me share my views on some variables that could coalesce to undercut Bangladeshi RMG export to the US. I don’t want that happens,” he said at a meeting at the headquarters of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) on Wednesday.
He said the murder issue has elicited little attention or interest in Bangladesh, that is not the case in the US where labour rights activists have seized on the issue, highlighting it as a major escalation in the erosion of labour rights in Bangladesh.
Aminul Islam, who was a senior organiser at the Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity (BCWS) and associated with the AFL-CIO, was found dead in April last in Tangail district.
About the pending AFL-CIO petition to suspend Bangladesh’s GSP (Generalised System of Preferences) facilities, though he said RMG products don’t benefit from GSP.
“The suspension of these rights would send a negative message across America that Bangladesh is anti-labour, that message would not be lost on RMG buyers nor consumers,” he said.
The US Ambassador said a CEO (chief executive officer) of one of the Bangladesh’s biggest buyers called him at midnight to share his increasing concern that tarnishing the image of Bangladesh brand may be putting his company’s reputation at risk.
He said the CEO was especially worried about a spate of critical reporting on Bangladesh in America’s major media. “I have never had a call like this during my career,” he said, adding that his company’s reputation is worth more than saving few cents per shirt by sourcing from Bangladesh.
He also said six major retailers from the US recently shared with him the same concerns about exposing their companies’ reputation to negative perceptions of developments in Bangladesh.
Mentioning recent RMG protest in Ashulia and Kanchpur areas, he said this frustration could spark wildcat actions and such disturbances could add to buyers unease about the Bangladeshi label.
“All labour related issues should be immediately addressed for the wellbeing of the emerging economy,” the envoy added.
“I believe, the changing perception of Bangladesh among American RMG buyers potentially threatens the economic wellbeing of this country, one about which I care most,” he said.
Replying to a question, Mozena said the issue of duty-free access to the US market is a political decision.
Immediately after the killing, international buyers from the USA, Canada and Europe wrote a letter to the Prime Minister in mid April, expressing their concerns over Islam’s death.
The trade groups include the American Apparel and Footwear Association (AAFA), the National Retail Federation (NRF-US), the Norwegian Fashion Institute, the Retail Council of Canada (RCC), and the United States Association of Importers of Textiles and Apparel (USA-ITA).
They in the letter also urged the government to take quick action and concrete steps to respond to the situation.
The US Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton during her recent visit to Dhaka demanded effective measures to address the labour problems in the garment sector so that big foreign manufacturers did not shy away from investing in the industry here.
Talking to the FE, several BGMEA leaders also said that buyers have started raising concerns over the issue of labour rights. “They even threatened us to cancel export orders,” a BGMEA director said.
The issue has emerged as the major challenge for the industry in recent years, they said, adding that the nation could face serious setback in RMG export in the coming months unless the matter was settled.
“We’re very serious over the matter. We’ve condemned the murder and demanded immediate actions to resolve the crisis,” BGMEA president Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin said.
He said they recently met the Inspector general of Police (IGP) who assured them of arresting the killers.
“The relationship between garment owners and workers is very good for the last two years excepting recent protests in Ashulia and in Kanchpur,” he said, adding that they are giving utmost priority to labour rights situation.
The United States of America accounts for nearly 26 per cent of the country’s US$19 billion apparel industry. The amount was about 80 per cent of the country’s overall export earnings.