Fundación Avina strongly condemns the assassination of labor rights defenders in the garment industry in Honduras and Bangladesh.
Fundación Avina condemns the recent assassination of five labor rights defenders in the garment industry, four of them in Honduras and one in Bangladesh. We stand in solidarity with the victims, their families, the organizations they represent, and the labor and human rights movement as a whole.
The first incident occurred on the night of June 24th in Choloma, Honduras, where 13 civilians were massacred during a gathering. Among those present were four leaders of the Workers’ Union of Gildan San Miguel (SITRAGSAM): Xiomara Cocas, Delmer García, Lesther Almendarez, and José Rufino Ortiz.
This attack took place days after receiving a notice that the clothing manufacturing company, Gildan Corporation, would be closing its doors. In response to this decision, the union had initiated discussions with the company to defend the rights of the approximately 2,700 workers who would be left unemployed.
Additionally, on June 25th, Shahidul Islam Shahid — leader of the Bangladesh Garment and Industrial Workers Federation (BGIWF) — was killed after meeting to discuss actions that would be taken against Prince Jacquard Sweaters Ltd. due to the non-payment of wages to workers.
These events occur in a context of recurring harassment of human rights defenders, including labor rights defenders. It is also important to recall that the protection and guarantee of the right to defend labor rights are commitments made by the governments of Honduras y Bangladesh through the international agreements that both countries have endorsed.
With the understanding that the full exercise of labor rights is essential to establish justice and human dignity as pillars for the development of economic systems, as well as democratic life, we call for:
- Vigorously rejecting any action that restricts the defense of labor rights.
- Joining the families and fellow union members in urging authorities to promptly and transparently investigate these murders within the context of the labor rights defense that Gildan workers have upheld for years, and thereby provide justice.
- Appealing to all components of the labor system to collaborate in improving the conditions of garment industry workers at a global level.
Likewise, Fundación Avina reaffirms its commitment to continue collaborating with the diverse actors that are part of economic and productive ecosystems (labor movements, unions, organizations, companies, and governments) in pursuit of building consensus and social pacts that shape models of production, value creation, and wealth that prioritize justice and human dignity.”