Bangladesh - Garment union leaders face false attempted murder charges

After leaders and members of the Garments Workers’ Trade Union Centre (GWTUC) were attacked by representatives of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) on 31 January during a peaceful protest outside Ashiana Garments Industries Ltd in Dhaka, the GWTUC attempted to file a criminal complaint against the attackers at a local police station, but police refused to take their statements.
Instead, the BGMEA was able to successfully file a criminal complaint against 12 named persons, the majority of whom were GWTUC leaders, and 150 unnamed workers, accusing all of attempted murder and vandalism. The union leaders named in the complaint were GWTUC President Montu Ghosh; General Secretary Joly Talukder; Executive President Kazi Ruhul Ami; Senior Most Leader Sadekur Rahman Shamim; International Affairs Secretary Monzur Moin; General Secretary of the Ashulia Reagion K.M. Minu; General Secretary of the Gazipur District Jalal Hawlader; Executive President of the Ashulia Reagion Lutfar Rahman Akash; and Organising Secretary of the Ashulia Region Mohammad Shahjahan.
The charges were patently false, and of the 12 leaders charged, only three were actually present at the Ashiana protest, while two of them, Joly Talukdar, GWTUC general secretary, and Montu Gosh, its president, were not even in Dhaka at the time of the alleged events.
They were granted eight weeks bail, which expired on 1 April. On that date six GWTUC leaders were arrested on the basis of the false charges, namely Joly Talukdar, KM Mintu, Monjur Moin, Jalal Howladar, Lutfar Rahman and Md Shahjahan, and detained in Dhaka Central Jail. They joined a seventh GWTUC member who had been in detention since the beginning of February.
The union believes that real reason for the arrests was its leading role in the campaign to increase the minimum wage for garment workers.

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