An exhibition of observations, both witnessed and imagined of the Rana Plaza collapse.
24th April, 2013. 1127 garment workers perished in the collapse of Rana Plaza in Savar. Excluding natural disasters this is the single largest cause of death, post-independence. Hundreds of workers have been injured. Hundreds still missing.
The rescue operation at Rana Plaza continued for 21 days. The loved ones of the victims held their vigil without respite, twenty four hours a day, scrambling from Odhor Chondro Park to Enam Clinic, to the morgue and back. As tiring bodies wore down, they slept in nearby coffins. It is of course a tragedy of enormous proportions, but by calling it a tragedy, we are shielding the guilt. Making it appear as if no one was to blame. That this is the destiny of the poor and the downtrodden. Is that how it was?
The history of the garment industry in Bangladesh is littered with incidents of fire and collapsed buildings. 27 workers were trampled to death in Sharaka Garments in 1990, while trying to flee a fire. There have been many deaths since, some through faulty construction, some due to the absence of fire exits. The fire in Lucas Garments took away 10 lives in 1995. 14 died in Suntex Garments in 1996. 22 in Rahman and Rahman Garments in 1997. Another 27 in Tamanna Garments the same year. We lost 53 in Chowdhury Knitwear Limited in 2000. It is a longer list including the recent fire in Tazreen Fashions, with Rana Plaza being the latest addition.
Drik had invited photographers, activists and other artists to submit work and register their protest. Their observations, recorded and imagined, form the basis of this exhibition. Murder, not tragedy.
The exhibition “Tragedi Noi Hottakando” will be opened at Drik Gallery tomorrow Friday, 31 May 2013 at 5 pm. The exhibition will continue till 5 June 2013. Please get your friends, family and clients to come and voice their support. This cannot, must not, go on.
Honourable prime minister,
I AM an unborn citizen of Bangladesh. I was killed before I was born. My mother was twenty-two weeks and three days pregnant with me when fire broke out at Tazreen Fashions in Nischintapur.
I was killed before I was born.
Honourable prime minister,
My mother, Mimi (pseudonym) worked as an operator in the sewing section of Tazreen Fashions. My father, Rakibul (pseudonym), works as a helper in a local bus company. They had met and fallen in love in Nischintapur?s factory surroundings, they got married at a nearby Kazi office (marriage registrar?s office). These days, say neighbours, they had been very happy, their joy radiated as does that of expectant parents. But it was short-lived.
I was killed before I was born. Continue reading “NISHCHINTAPUR TRAGEDY: Letter from an unborn child”
BGMEA is a giant propaganda machinery which protects killers
Organised by Rokeya Bahini
11:00 am, Wednesday, December 12, 2012
In front of BGMEA Bhaban, Panthopoth Link Road, Karwan Bazar
Dear journalist brothers and sisters,
Many garment workers died on the evening of November 24th when fire broke out in Tazreen Fashions in Ashulia’s Nischintapur. The exact death toll is still unknown. According to the government, 112 workers had died but many family members were unable to identify their beloved ones as the flesh had burnt away leaving behind only charred bones and skeletons. Fifty three unidentified bodies have been buried in Jurain graveyard. But several investigative reports have concluded that the death toll is higher. Some of us have conducted preliminary research in Nischintapur’s Buripara at our own initiative, and, we too, have been forced to reach the same conclusion. The government and the BGMEA should immediately have launched a serious drive to ascertain the exact number of those who have died, but instead they displayed a callous indifference which amounts to nothing short of criminal negligence. Continue reading “Press statement: BGMEA is responsible for the deaths of Tazreen's workers”
People try to put out a fire at Sir Denim Limited garment factory in Mollartek, Dokkinkhan, outside Dhaka, Bangladesh, on Nov. 26, 2012.
At a meeting convened in 2011 to boost safety at Bangladesh garment factories, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT) made a call: paying suppliers more to help them upgrade their manufacturing facilities was too costly.
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.
That was the fire in number 10 she told me.
What’s there to say. The owner took the bodies and dumped them in the drain at night.
How do you know?
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.
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.
(Abir was a student of the first batch of students of Pathshala)
A fire broke out on 03 june 2010 night at about 9pm after the electrical transformer at Nawab Katra in Nimtali in Dhaka City burst into flames that raced through several apartment complexes, feeding on flammable chemicals and plastic goods in a string of small shops lining the street beneath, fire officials said. Dearh toll rose to 119 while many are struggling in the hospitals for life.
Fire is an ever present death threat for the entire community of Dhaka city. From homes and workplaces to shopping malls and public spaces, a lack of building codes and fire protection have created a situation where residents are living in a continual death trap. And due to lack of training and proper rescue equipment for the fire service authority, fire accidents are responsible for the destruction of assets and homes as well as lives. The widespread lack of equipment and protection means fire deaths affect nearly everyone, from working class to middle class, and even the elites.
I have been documenting the important issue of fire risks faced by residents of Dhaka for the last couple of years. Through my work, I have seen civilians risking their lives to save others in rescue operations. Firefighters with lack of training and proper rescue equipment are also part of the rescue operation, bringing injured and panicked victims of fire to safety. I believe my photo essay will raise awareness, and hope that it will act as a catalyst for the authorities to take prompt action to save the life and property of an entire community. I hope it will help the policy makers and administrations to consider how Dhaka city has become the ?second worst? livable city in the world. I want to show how reversing the trend of inefficiency and neglect by the authorities can help bring an end to the needless loss of many lives in the peaceful, beautiful city of Dhaka.
european pressphoto agency b.v. (epa)
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