In memory of Tazreen Fashion’s workers
Monday, December 24, 2012
Rokeya Bahini organised a flash protest at Sonargaon Hotel at midday today. Members of the Bahini flashed open a banner, “Justice for Tazreen’s Workers” in the lobby of the five star hotel. The hotel authority illegally detained members of the Bahini, subjected them to questioning and took away their banner.
The protest was in rememberance of the workers who were burnt to death at Tazreen Fashions in Nischintapur a month ago, on November 24th. The government and the BGMEA put the death toll at 112 but family members of missing workers, left labour organisations and independent activists insist the figure is much higher. Both the government and the BGMEA are colluding in suppressing the exact number of workers who died and we are furious at the fact that the factory owner has not yet been arrested.
As intelligent and conscientious women of this generation we have taken part in many human chains and candle light vigils in the capital city, in many rallies at Shahid Minar. But our protests have not reached the ears of members of the BGMEA who have tremendous financial and political clout and rush to protect killer factory-owners even though the fires are always, unvaryingly, the fault of the factory owner.
We want the BGMEA and other members of the ruling elite to listen to us, hence, we have devised a new language of protest, one that intrudes into the private spaces of the ruling elite, into their fortress-like office buildings, their palatial homes, their exclusive clubs and luxury hotels.
Our first flash protest took place on December 12th when we entered the BGMEA headquarters, put on shrouds, played the audio recording of a dead Tazreen worker’s sister, distributed handbills, and held a press conference outside the building.
We are committed to workers rights and dignity. We are committed to fighting against class injustice. Muktijuddho was a people’s war and the hundreds of thousands of people who fought for independence, did not sacrifice their own lives and those of their nearest and dearest, and everything else of value, so that a minority could enrich themselves at the cost of the vast majority. Over the last two decades, this has come to include something as gruesome as garment factory workers being repeatedly burnt to death because factory owners can’t be bothered to ensure fire safety measures.
We will continue our flash protests until the BGMEA and garment owners come to their senses.
Tazreen Fashion workers did not die accidentally, they were killed:
- There was no fire exit
- Even though the Fire Safety Certificate had expired,the factory was kept running
- The factory gates were locked after the fire began
- The factory owner has not yet been arrested, whenever factory fires occur, BGMEA, with its enormous wealth and power, rushes to protect killer factory-owners
- We demand that the actual death toll be revealed
- Compensation of 40 lakh taka, in accordance with the laws of the land, be awarded for each dead worker
- Immediate arrest and trial of the factory-owner
- Fundamental changes in the philosophy and agenda of the BGMEA
Justice for Tazreen’s workers
— Rokeya Bahini
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