MSN condemns murder of Bangladeshi union leader Shahidul Islam Shahid

Photo: Clean Clothes Campaign

Photo: IndustriALL

The Maquila Solidarity Network extends our solidarity and deepest condolences to the family, friends and union brothers and sisters of Shahidul Islam Shahid who was murdered for defending workers’ rights. 

Shahidul Islam was the president of the Gazipur unit of the Bangladesh Garments and Industrial Workers Federation (BGIWF). On June 25, he and three other union leaders were attacked and beaten after leaving a meeting at the Prince Jacquard Sweater Limited garment factory where they were providing advise and support to workers demanding payment of outstanding wages and the Eid festival bonus. Shahidul Islam died from the assault, and Mustafa Kamal, Ahmed Sharid and Akkas Ali suffered serious injures.  

We join Bangladeshi workers, the BGIWF, and international trade union and labour rights organizations in condemning this violent attack and calling on the Bangladeshi government to conduct an immediate and impartial investigation of the crime. 

“Shahidul mobilised thousands of workers to join unions, empowering them to become solid factory-level trade union leaders,” said Kalpona Akter, president of the BGIWF. According to Akter, Shahidul’s murder can be attributed to the Bangladeshi industry’s practice of promoting yellow unions and neglecting workers’ voices. “This needs to be stopped; workers must be allowed to organize and join unions.” She concluded, “His contributions to the labour movement were remarkable and will be sorely missed.”

Bangladesh continues to be a dangerous place to defend workers’ rights and safety. Previously, in 2012, Aminul Islam, former garment worker and union organizer with the BGIWF and Bangladesh Center for Workers’ Solidarity, was tortured and murdered for his work supporting workers in the garment industry. This latest violence comes amidst increasing attacks on and intimidation of trade union leaders and ongoing violations of freedom of association, where employers continue to use criminal groups and yellow unions to intimidate and repress independent unions.