Flash protest at BGMEA for justice for Tazreen workers
Rights activists yesterday staged a demonstration at the premises of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) demanding arrest of the owner of Tazreen Fashions.
Wearing shrouds and carrying the banner of 'Justice for Tazreen Workers', the rights activists from Rokeya Bahini stormed into the BGMEA office and played the recorded wailings of the victims and their relatives.
The demonstrators also held a rally in front of the BGMEA building, where one of the organisers, Nasrin Shiraj Annie, put forth a set of demands, including immediate arrest and trial of the factory's owner, Delowar Hossain.
Their rationale being that the negligence on the owner's part in putting adequate fire safety measures in his factory in Ashulia led to the death of 112 workers from the November 24 blaze.
â€œThe workers had not accidentally died, rather they were killed as the factory had no fire exit,â€ said Annie, adding that the factory's fire safety certification had expired on June 30.
The demonstrators also demanded compensation of Tk 48 lakh for each person killed in the fire -- in accordance with the Fatal Accident Act, 1855.
The organisers were particularly critical of the role of the BGMEA and the government in what has been the worst industrial fire tragedy in the history of the nation.
They have created smokescreens, the activists claim, to let the owner of Tazreen Fashions off the hook and reduce the likelihood of compensation.
â€œBGMEA has complicity in the deaths of Tazreen's workers,â€ said Annie, branding the association as a â€œpropaganda machineâ€ and asking for â€œfundamental changes in its philosophy and agendaâ€.
Of the 112 workers who died, 53 were buried at the Jurain graveyard without identification, and BGMEA said they have preserved their DNA samples to conduct further tests. BGMEA would compensate the bereaved families upon successful identification via DNA tests.
On hearing this, distraught relatives have come to Dhaka from distance corners of the country -- but many returned without getting any DNA tests done.
â€œThey [BGMEA] led many to think that getting a DNA test is easy, but they did not even set up adequate facilities to conduct the tests,â€ said the protesters.
The activists are also in disagreement with the official count of casualty from the fire, and demanded the â€œactual death tollâ€ be revealed.
â€œThe government and the BGMEA should have right away launched a serious drive to ascertain the exact number of those who have died. Instead, they displayed a callous indifference, which amounts to nothing short of criminal negligence.â€
The demonstrators said their language of protest would be non-violent, and that they would continue with their flash protests until the BGMEA and apparel factory owners return to their â€œsensesâ€.
When asked what they meant by the â€œsensesâ€, a protester said: â€œIt means owners' seriousness in ensuring workplace safety for the workers.â€