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Human Rights Watch calls for brands to make binding agreements on Freedom of Association as arbitrary arrests of activists continue

Bangladesh: Stop Persecuting Unions, Garment Workers - 15 February 2017

…Garment workers and labor leaders are facing unfair or apparently fabricated criminal cases in Bangladesh after wage strikes in December 2016...Arbitrary arrests…are growing with each passing day...[as the] Bangladesh police stand guard in front of garment factories…when [they] re-opened…The Bangladesh authorities should immediately release those still in detention and drop all politically motivated charges. Global brands and donors attending the…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…Workers say that strikes are often the only means for them to raise their grievances…because the government and local employers retaliate against union organizers…Rights groups have information about 10 criminal complaints filed in December 2016…Union leaders and organizers have also now been questioned or arrested in relation to older cases…The police have not provided a full list of all those arrested and where they are being held…Human Rights Watch found the circumstances of many of the arrests following the Ashulia strikes point to politically motivated abuse of police powers to retaliate against labor organizers rather than credible allegations of crimes…Ashulia factories have also retaliated against an estimated 1,500 workers by indiscriminately firing or suspending them…

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