Labour rights organisations are calling for a full investigation after an activist and former apparel worker was found tortured and killed outside Dhaka.

Aminul Islam, who worked for labour rights organisation The Bangladeshi Center for Worker Solidarity (BCWS), had been arrested on at least two occasions in the past two years on suspicion of fomenting worker unrest in Bangladesh’s textile and apparel manufacturing sector.

Labour rights groups in Bangladesh and the US, including the International Labor Rights Forum and the Worker Rights Consortium, are calling for those responsible to be brought to justice, claiming that Islam’s torture and death were linked to his labour rights work.

Islam vanished last week when he went to meet a worker who had called asking for help, and his “brutally tortured” body was found dumped by a roadside outside Dhaka on Thursday.

Police initially buried his body, but it was exhumed and reburied in his home village after family members recognised it from newspaper photographs.

Labour rights groups in the US said the BCWS had been harassed by the Bangladeshi government and apparel factory owners for the past two years, including the arrest of Islam and two of his colleagues, and the revoking of the organisation’s licence to operate.

They quoted Levi Strauss & Co as calling BCWS “a globally respected labour rights organisation that has played a vital role in documenting and working to remedy labour violations in the apparel industry in Bangladesh”.