Bangladesh: Stop Persecuting Unions, Garment Workers

(New York) – Dozens of garment workers and labor leaders are facing unfair or apparently fabricated criminal cases in Bangladesh after wage strikes in December 2016, Human Rights Watch said today. Arbitrary arrests by the Bangladesh police are growing with each passing day – nine more union organizers were arrested on February 10, taking the number of known arrests to 34.

Bangladesh police stand guard in front of garment factories in Ashulia on December 26, 2016, when factories re-opened after a five-day shut down in response to garment workers’ wage strikes.
EXPAND Bangladesh police stand guard in front of garment factories in Ashulia on December 26, 2016, when factories re-opened after a five-day shut down in response to garment workers’ wage strikes.
© 2016 Getty Images
The Bangladesh authorities should immediately release those still in detention and drop all politically motivated charges.

Global brands and donors attending the February 25, 2017 Dhaka Apparel Summit hosted by the country’s garment export association should call on the government to stop all persecution of union leaders and protect workers’ freedom of association.

“Targeting labor activists and intimidating workers instead of addressing their wage grievances tarnishes Bangladesh’s reputation and makes a mockery of government and industry claims that they are committed to protecting worker’s rights,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Global garment brands sourcing from Bangladesh and aid donors should press the government to stop persecuting workers and labor rights activists.”