Babul Akhter, worker rights advocate, Beaten in Detention

Babul Akhter, a leader of the Bangladesh Center for Workers Solidarity (BCWS) NGO, and General Secretary of the BGIWF trade union, who has been detained by the Bangladeshi government since August 13 on fabricated\ criminal charges for “incitement” of workers in relation to recent unrest in Bangladesh’s export apparel sector, has been physically assaulted and beaten in police custody. Akhter also was threatened during this incident with being made a victim of a staged police shooting.

On the night of August 28, 2010, Akhter, who had been remanded for interrogation to a police station in the Ashulia industrial area, a center of export garment production, was physically assaulted by several non-uniformed persons who entered his holding cell, blindfolded him, and beat him with a thick wooden stick, inflicting injuries on his leg, hip and groin. His assailants reportedly also made threats that Akhter would be taken from the police station and shot by police during a staged incident.

In light of this alarming development, which is only the latest incident in the ongoing persecution by Bangladeshi authorities of Akhter and another detained BCWS and BGIWF leader, Kalpona Akter (no relation), it is more urgent than ever that the Government of Bangladesh, the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association and apparel brands sourcing from Bangladesh to secure their immediate release, the withdrawal of all criminal charges, and an end to all other interference with their lawful activities as labor rights advocates for Bangladeshi garment workers.

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