Killing of Bangladeshi Labor Organizer (at Walmart, Tommy Hilfiger plants) Signals an Escalation in Violence

Residents cleaned up after fires were set in 2010 by garment workers in Ashulia, Bangladesh, who were demanding higher wages.

By JULFIKAR ALI MANIK and New York Times,  April 9, 2012

DHAKA, Bangladesh — A labor activist who was arrested two years ago for his role in protests against low wages in Bangladesh’s garment industry was found murdered outside this city last week, labor rights advocates and the police said on Monday.

The killing of the activist, Aminul Islam, marks a morbid turn in the often tense relations between labor groups, on one side, and Bangladesh’s extensive garment industry, which makes clothes for Western companies like Walmart, Tommy Hilfiger and H&M. In 2010, Mr. Islam, a former textile factory worker, was arrested and, he and other labor activists said, was tortured by the police and intelligence services.

Mr. Islam, 40, was last seen alive on Wednesday near Ashulia, a garment-industry hub outside Dhaka. His tortured body was found on Thursday on the side of a road near a police station in Ghatail, 61 miles to the north, according to the police and labor activists. Continue reading