Toronto, Canada (CNS) – Clothing companies Nike Inc., Gap Inc., and Knights Apparel have released a joint letter to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to call for the restoration of democracy in Honduras. But while their effort was applauded, a labor rights NGO is asking why the other apparel companies are remaining silent on the issue.
The three companies wrote an open letter to Clinton, expressing their concerns about the recent events in the Central American nation.
They said that while they “do not and will not support or endorse the position of any party in this internal dispute,” they feel that it is necessary to join with President Barack Obama, the governments of countries in Americas, the Organization of American States, the UN General Assembly and the European Union in calling for the reinstatement of democracy in the country.
Their letter states: “We urge for an immediate resolution to the crisis and that civil liberties, including freedom of the press, freedom of speech, freedom of movement, freedom of assembly, and freedom of association be fully respected.”
While their concern is appreciated, Toronto-based labor rights NGO, the Maquila Solidarity Network (MSN) has questioned why the other major international brands and companies with presence in Honduras have remained silent.
Executive director Lynda Yanz said, “Until now, business and business associations – including those in the textile apparel industries, which account for the majority of Honduras’ exports – have publicly supported the coup, lobbied against trade sanctions, or remained silent and carried on business as usual under the military-imposed regime.”
“This letter from major sportswear and apparel brands breaks that silence and calls for unequivocally for the restoration of democracy in Honduras.”
“ Thankfully, the brands that signed this statement are taking seriously their responsibility to Honduran workers and their rights and civil liberties.”
“The question that remains is: Where are the other companies that are doing business in Honduras, including the three largest foreign investors in the country’s apparel sector – Fruit of the Loom/Russell Corporation, Hanesbrands and Gildan?”
MSN is a labor and women’s rights organization that has strong ties to other NGOs in Honduras.