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Libya killings: Distraught mother was ready to sell home to save son

  • Published at 02:34 pm May 30th, 2020
Rakibul libya
Mahirun Nesa, mother of Rakibul Islam Rakibul, one of the 26 Bangladeshi nationals killed by human traffickers in Libya Dhaka Tribune

How a young Bangladeshi man with dreams of a better life in a foreign country became victim to human trafficking

“When we received the ransom call, I was prepared to sell off my home and live on the streets, if it meant I could save my son. But they didn’t let my son live.”

These words came from a grieving mother Mahirun Nesa, who had just lost her youngest son Rakibul Islam Rocky, one of the 26 Bangladeshi nationals killed by human traffickers in Libya.

The abductors demanded Tk10 lakh in ransom from Rakibul’s family back in Bangladesh, to which his parents had agreed. But, alas, things did not end the way they had hoped it would.

A veil of great sorrow has come over Rakibul’s home in Khatbaria village under Jhikargacha upazila of Jessore, reports this correspondent.

His father Israil Hossain just sat in front of the family’s tin-shed home, frozen, unable to cry and unable to cope with the unbearable loss of his youngest son.

Rakibul’s older brother Sohel Rana said that of four siblings, Rakibul was the youngest. He was a first-year student of economics at Jessore Government City College.

Rakibul, at the age of only 20, made his way across the Mediterranean Sea to North Africa and reached the shores of Libya, his goal being to improve his family’s financial solvency.

In order to do so, his family had to sell off a portion of their ancestral land and take out a loan from an NGO.

The family then paid a labour broker Tk4.5 lakh and Rakibul was thus able to set out on his journey to Libya on February 15. He initially arrived in Benghazi but he still had to get to Tripoli, to his cousin’s place.

But the broker couldn’t get him to Tripoli due to the unrest caused by the ongoing civil war and so the plane had to land in Benghazi. It was in Benghazi that Rakibul got a job at an oil company, working there for two months before meeting another labour broker, who made a deal with him to get him to his cousin in Tripoli for Tk70,000. 

Accordingly, on May 15, Rakibul set out for Tripoli with the broker but, two days into their journey, he was abducted near Mizda, 100km away from Tripoli.

In the afternoon of May 18, Sohel Rana received a call from an unidentified Bangali man who demanded $12,000 or Tk10 lakh for Rakibul’s release. During the phone call Rakibul was allowed to speak to his family.

Rakibul told Sohel that he along with other abductees were being severely tortured. He told Sohel that he would be killed if his family did not pay the ransom.

In the following days, Rakibul’s family repeatedly received calls demanding that the money be deposited in a bank account in Dubai. At one point the family agreed to pay the ransom and June 1 was set as the date of payment. 

However, on Thursday night Sohel received a call from Rakibul, telling him to call the police to their location, which he provided by a Google map snapshot.

The next day, Sohel learned of Rakibul’s death from Tariqul of Magura, one of the abductees who had been injured in the same attack. 

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