Not all lives are equal

The pain of loss for Hassan and Hossain on Ashura, is replicated as we mourn the 124 workers burned to death in the tragic fire at Tazreen Fashions.

Bodies of children who died in a fire in a garment factory as the exits were locked. 1990. Azizur Rahim Peu

That was the fire in number 10 she told me.
What happened?
What’s there to say. The owner took the bodies and dumped them in the drain at night.
How do you know?
Everyone knows.
What happened to the owner?
Nothing ever happens to owners. If I had a camera, I’d take his picture and put that guy in jail.
She was ten and believed with a camera, she could right a wrong. This was 1991.
Twenty years later, there are few child workers in garment factories, but garment workers remain dispensable.
Firefighters battle the blaze at the Tazreen Fashions plant in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Hasan Raza/AP

Charred worker at Tazreen Fashion garment factory. Savar. Dhaka. Bangladesh. 25th November 2012. Abir Abdullah

I didn’t know her name or didn’t have time to wait for the relatives to identity her so that I could get her name. But she may be a mother , may be a wife or daughter and to me a human being. Her body was laid down on the floor of a under-constructed mosque. Some army soldiers cordoned her body along with some others. It was difficult for me to take the photograph, disfigured still beautiful, with a small ornament visible on her destroyed nose. I felt sad to take the photo at the same time I felt grief and anger inside me to show the gruesome portrait to understand and make the world realize, how much importance they get when dead but nothing when alive.
Earlier incidents:
Feet of worker killed at Garib & Garib Sweater Factory in Bhogra, Gazipur. Dhaka, Bangladesh. February 26, 2010. ??Taslima Akhter

Police beating up a young garment worker. Police fired teargas and used water cannon to disperse workers. Dhaka, Bangladesh. June 30, 2010

Najma Akhter, 23, a garment worker , is sleeping with entire family – her children, her parents and her siblings. Altogether, 11 family members share this one room. Mirpur, Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Related link: Fire in Tazreen Fashions Ltd.
Please Retweet: #garments #bangladesh

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.” His recent book “The Tide Will Turn” published by Steidl in 2020, is listed in New York Time’s ‘Best Art Books of 2020’. Alam received the “International Press Freedom Award” for 2020 from ‘The Committee to Protect Journalists’.

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