Across the Asia-Pacific region, IUF members expressed their great sadness at the passing away of Brother Abdul Mazid on October 16, 2023. Brother Mazid was a founding member and President of the Bangladesh Agricultural Farm Labour Federation (BAFLF), a national federation of trade unions in state-owned farms in Bangladesh. It is one of the longest standing IUF affiliates in the Asia-Pacific region.
Brother Mazid formed BAFLF in 1978, with the aim to protect and promote the rights and interest of small and marginal farmers, farm workers and waged agricultural workers. He was the Finance Secretary of BAFLF from 1978 to 2011, then was elected as General Secretary. After serving as General Secretary for 11 years until 2022, Brother Mazid was elected as the President of BAFLF. He held this post until he passed away on October 16, 2023.
Brother Mazid strongly advocated for recognition of trade unions and to ensure that everyone engaged in agriculture could exercise their right to freedom of association and collective bargaining. He also led the fight to defend food sovereignty in the face of growing corporate control. In particular, Brother Mazid prioritized small and marginal farmers’ control of seeds as essential to protecting their livelihoods and the food security of local communities.
Under the leadership of Brother Mazid, BAFLF’s fight against the corporate control of agriculture included opposition to the commercial release of genetically engineered (GMO) seeds. BAFLF members in state farms and research centres played a vital role in this effort to stop the biological pollution of Bangladesh by GMO crops, and to defend food sovereignty in face of aggressive corporate control over food and agriculture.
BAFLF was of the first IUF affiliates in the Asia-Pacific region to raise awareness of climate change, mobilizing farmers, agricultural workers and their communities in the fight for climate justice. This became an integral part of the policies and programs of the IUF Asia/Pacific Regional Organization. Today BAFLF continues to advance workers’ rights in the face of the climate crisis. This includes the struggle for fair wages and incomes, secure jobs, safety and health and access to social protection.
IUF affiliates in the Asia-Pacific region extend their condolences and solidarity to BAFLF members, and all IUF members in Bangladesh.