Monday, May 20, 2024


Dhaka Tribune

Rana Plaza tragedy: Victim families reminisce beloved through photos

  • Photography exhibition held in Savar 
  • Family members recount memories 
  • Organizers urge workers to be united to protect their legal rights 
Update : 24 Apr 2024, 10:00 AM

Maybe Akhi had a dream to see the sea. As she could not have an opportunity to see directly, she took pictures in a studio keeping the sea as a background scene. 

On the other hand, maybe Shahidul had a dream to fly in an airplane! So he took pictures with his wife and children in a studio with such a background! These pictures, taken almost 12 years ago, are now just memories. 

In 2013, both of them were buried under debris along with thousands of unfortunate workers. 

Now the relatives look for their memories in their pictures. Their eyes become while narrating the stories of their loved ones. 

It has been 11 years since the tragic Rana Plaza incident, but the family members, relatives and survivor workers have yet to heal the wounds and trauma of the horrific incident.

Family members of the victim workers of the fateful day of April 24, 2013, still are preserving memories of their loved ones through their photographs. 

Photo exhibition held 

Bangladesh Garment Workers' Solidarity held a photo exhibition and discussion meeting in memory of the workers, who became victims in the Rana Plaza collapse in Savar 11 years ago. 

A photo exhibition and discussion session titled “11 Years of Rana Plaza killings: Stories of Thousands of Lives and Dreams” was organized in front of Savar Rana Plaza from 9am on Tuesday.

The organization announced a two-day long program demanding punishment of the accused people and appreciated compensation.

The program was inaugurated by Jasmin, an injured worker who was rescued from the rubble of the collapsed Rana Plaza building after two days of the incident.

Injured Jasmin, Nasima Akhter, mother of deceased worker Akhi Akhtar, Rahela Akhter, mother of deceased worker Fazle Rabbi, Taslima Akhtar, mother of deceased Shahida and head of organization and general secretary Babul Akhter among others discussed as the main speakers in the meeting.

The exhibition features photographs taken by four photographers and drawings by seven children of garment workers, as well as photographs of 20 victim workers taken in the studio while they were still alive.

Victim Akhi Akhter, 18, and her friends used to work at the New Web Style Limited factory on the seventh floor of Rana Plaza. She took a photo with her friends in the Pohela Boishakh of 1420. Akhi has been missing since the Rana Plaza collapse on Apri 24,l 2013, exactly 10 days after capturing the photo. 

Only one person is alive in this photograph, everyone including Ankhi is dead or missing in the incident, said her mother.

The organizers said that on April 24, 2013, the lives and dreams of these workers were buried when the Rana Plaza collapsed.

By exhibition in front of Rana Plaza, they have tried to bring that memory once again to the fore of that past. 

This exhibition is to keep this event alive in history and inspire the youth to fight. They want to send that message through this exhibition so that no one else has to become a victim of an untimely death like the workers of the Rana Plaza, said the organizers.

Speakers urge workers to be united to protect their rights 

In the discussion after the opening of the exhibition, the injured worker Jasmin recounted her memory saying: “I was trapped like this for two days and there was no hope of survival. A stranger saved me. At that time, there was no opportunity to think who was a man, a woman, a Hindu or a Muslim. Nothing came to mind except the desperate desire to live.”

She said that she has been carrying the wounds of that painful memory in her mind and body for 11 years. But the culprits have not been punished yet. 

“If the culprits were punished, we would have some peace in our lives,” she added further. 

Speakers in the meeting said that the process of killing 1,175 people has not been expedited even in 11 years. Apart from Sohel Rana, the owner of the factory building, other owners, government officials are out of jail on bail. 

Sohel Rana was granted bail in the last year. His bail was later stayed by the High Court, they mentioned.

This slow pace of justice is similar to an attempt by the government and the state to patronize the accused parties and save them, said the organizers with agony.

They further continued: “In a state where there is no opportunity for democratic practice, there is no opportunity for people to express their opinions, there is no other way for the affected workers of Rana Plaza to suffer more.”

They also said that there is no other way except for the union of the workers to ensure the maximum punishment for the guilty.

There is no other way except to unite the workers to ensure the maximum punishment for the accused people, they added.

Expressing resentment over the compensation, the speakers said the legal compensation or grant given to the families of the dead and injured 11 years ago was never honourable or dignified. The changes in the law of compensation in the labour law are very trivial. 

The increase from Tk1,00,000 to Tk1,50,000 and Tk2,00,000 to Tk2,50,000 is an example of not considering any worker as a human being, they said.

The speakers said, on the one hand, a respectable and dignified compensation equal to a lifetime is not being provided, on the other hand, brands, NGOs and even the governments are wasting time in the name of financial support in installments and various training for the workers.

Organizers said that as part of the two-day long program, a program will be held on Wednesday where tributes will be paid and a protest rally will be held.

Around 2,000 injured workers survivor the Rana Plaza building collapse on April 24, 2013.

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