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বাংলা
Dhaka Tribune

The fight for freedom today

Update : 15 Dec 2014, 06:57 PM

A 32-year-old Bangladeshi man – Mohammed Rafiq Tajul Islam – was shot dead by a Saudi national for a very minor mistake a couple of days back.

Although the killer has been arrested by the Saudi police, the police said the killer was a psychiatric patient, which suggests he will probably not be eventually punished for this murder.

The news was published by most of the major Bangladeshi media, but there has not been any hype or hoopla about the news from Bangladeshis or anyone in general.

There never was. This was the death of yet another poor working class Bangladeshi in the Middle East – not something to be bothered about apparently!

Earlier, on February this year, one of the major dailies of the country published a report stating that, on average, corpses of eight to 10 expatriate Bangladeshi workers arrive in the country every day.

From 2008 to 2013, in a period of only six years, 13,872 corpses of Bangladeshis have come to the country from 56 countries.

According to government sources, this is “not an alarming rate,” given that about 10 million Bangladeshis now work abroad. Reports by human rights organisations and international media have shown poor working and living conditions, overwork, torture, exploitation and many other factors contributing to the sad demise of many of these workers.

The fact that our governments, present and past, do close to nothing about ensuring basic human rights of these workers, makes it even easier for the foreign owners to exploit the workers. The fact that workers from other countries like India, Pakistan, Nepal, and Sri Lanka suffer similar fates does not remove the blood from our hands.

Similarly, the plight of readymade garment (RMG) workers in the country is well-known to almost everyone. The Rana Plaza and Tazreen Garments and other similar incidents are examples of how badly these workers are exploited in our country, by our own countrymen, every single day.

Interestingly enough, these people, expatriate workers outside the country and the RMG workers in the country, according to my personal opinion, have contributed most to the development of the country since our independence some 43 years back.

These two sectors, foreign remittance and RMG, earn the highest amount of foreign currency for the country, which lets us buy all the things we need and want from other countries of the world.

But have we done anything in return for them? It is easy to put the blame solely on the government or the factory owners, but are we not responsible too? Have we tried to put pressure on the government to ensure workers’ rights, both at home and abroad?

No, we have not – at least not to an extent that makes the government hear us and take effective steps about the issue.

We are too busy running after money and fighting amongst ourselves on trivial issues. We claim that we are very patriotic, but have done little, if anything, for the freedom-fighters of today’s Bangladesh – the workers at both home and abroad. 

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