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Bangladesh offers reward to catch labor leader's killer

Critics dismiss offer as a government ploy

Bangladesh offers reward to catch labor leader's killer

Workers demand justice for the murder of Aminul Islam  (photo by Raphael Palma) reporter, Dhaka

June 11, 2013

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The government has responded to allegations it was behind the murder of a prominent labor leader last year by offering a reward for the capture of what it says is the chief suspect in the killing.

The Home Ministry yesterday offered a 100,000 taka (US$ 1,250) reward for information leading to the arrest of Mostafizur Rahman in connection with the death of Aminul Islam, organizer of the Bangladesh Centre for Workers Solidarity.

The labor rights group is affiliated with the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations.

Islam disappeared on April 4 2012. Police found his body two days later next to a road in Tangail, about 64 kilometers north of Dhaka. His body showed signs of torture.

Rahman was a police informer and the last person to be seen with Islam before he disappeared, according to police.

The motive behind the murder is still unclear, but Islam’s family and co-workers allege that the state's National Securities Intelligence (NSI) agency was involved and that the government is not doing enough to investigate the case.

“Aminul was killed because he stood for labor rights and garment industry owners considered him a threat,” said Nazma Akter, a labor leader in Dhaka.

Islam’s phone was tapped and he was threatened by NSI agents, Akter added.

She dismissed the government’s reward offer as a face-saving ploy after it failed to fully investigate Islam’s murder, despite public demand.

The killing sparked outrage among labor rights groups at home and abroad, while Western diplomats lodged strong protests.

During a visit to Dhaka last year, former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned that Bangladesh's failure to probe the murder would send "the wrong signals" about workers’ rights.

The government says it is doing its best to ensure justice is done in the case.

 “Police are investigating the case with sincerity, but little progress has been made because Rahman has not been traced and arrested yet,” said Mahfuzul Haque, a Home Ministry official.

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