Flash protest at five star hotel by Rokeya Bahini

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.

Rokeya Bahini at Sonargaon Hotel

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. 
Rokeya Bahini at Sonargaon Hotel

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

Our demands:

  • 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
Please Retweet #BGMEA #Tazreen #garments #Bangladesh #Rokeyabahini

Author: Shahidul Alam

Time Magazine Person of the Year 2018. A photographer, writer, curator and activist, Shahidul Alam obtained a PhD in chemistry before switching to photography. His seminal work “The Struggle for Democracy” contributed to the removal of General Ershad. Former president of the Bangladesh Photographic Society, Alam set up the Drik agency, Chobi Mela festival and Pathshala, South Asian Media Institute, considered one of the finest schools of photography in the world. Shown in MOMA New York, Centre Georges Pompidou, Royal Albert Hall and Tate Modern, Alam has been guest curator of Whitechapel Gallery, Winterthur Gallery and Musee de Quai Branly. His awards include Mother Jones, Shilpakala Award and Lifetime Achievement Award at the Dali International Festival of Photography. Speaker at Harvard, Stanford, UCLA, Oxford and Cambridge universities, TEDx, POPTech and National Geographic, Alam chaired the international jury of the prestigious World Press Photo contest. Honorary Fellow of Royal Photographic Society, Alam is visiting professor of Sunderland University in UK and advisory board member of National Geographic Society. John Morris, the former picture editor of Life Magazine describes his book “My journey as a witness”, (listed in “Best Photo Books of 2011” by American Photo), as “The most important book ever written by a photographer.”

One thought on “Flash protest at five star hotel by Rokeya Bahini”

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