Bittersweet victory after years of struggle
"Now we can dedicate all of our energies to calling for safe workplaces, a strong worker voice and a decent wage for workers in Bangladesh. No doubt we will need your ongoing support to win this." - Ms Kalpona Akter, Executive Director of the Bangladesh Centre for Workers Solidarity
The Bangladesh Center for Workers Solidarity (BCWS) has faced a long and hard fight against repression from the government of Bangladesh. Their struggle started in 2010, when their mandatory registration was cancelled under accusations of inciting unrest in garment factories. Ever since, representatives of civil organisations (non-governmental organisations) have been facing constant harassment and repression.
In 2010 Aminul Islam, Kalpona Akter and Babul Akhter spent 15 to 30 days in custody and were charged on multiple counts. In 2012, Aminul was tortured and murdered. To date, no suspects have been apprehended.
Throughout this whole process, the international community has been pressuring the Bangladeshi government to end the harassment of the BCWS. The trade union AFL-CIO, the Worker Rights Consortium, the International Labor Rights Forum, United Students Against Sweatshops (all based in the USA), the Maquila Solidarity Network (Canada) and the Clean Clothes Campaign have been leading a public campaign calling for the release of the labour-rights defenders, and for all charges against them to be dropped.
The Clean Clothes Campaign continued to monitor the case throughout 2013, and was relieved to hear that the BCWS had their official NGO registration reinstated in August 2013.