Emotional protest in Bangladesh two months after disaster

Updated 24 June 2013

Emotional protest in Bangladesh two months after disaster

DHAKA: Hundreds of Bangladeshi garment workers and survivors of the Rana Plaza building collapse staged an emotional protest yesterday, on the two-month anniversary of the country’s worst industrial disaster.
Relatives called on the government to account for those still missing and other workers demanded proper payment and compensation at the site of the disaster outside the capital Dhaka, where the building collapsed on April 24, killing 1,129 people.
Many of the relatives burst into tears as they told of their attempts to find their loved ones, while others called for the death penalty for the owner of the building, which housed factories making clothes for Western retailers.
“I’ve not found my elder sister Laboni Begum’s body,” said Shimu Akter, 18, a garment worker who was rescued from the rubble two hours after the building caved in. “We have seen everybody the authorities recovered. But she was not among them.”
A local government official said 316 workers were still missing, but the authorities said they could be among hundreds who were buried in a state graveyard after their bodies could not be identified.
The government has collected DNA samples of those buried who were not identified at the time, and said they would match those samples with relatives to ensure they were compensated.
But some family members said they wanted their loved ones’ bodies, not the money, so they could be buried properly.
“I want my brother’s body. We want to take him to our village and bury him at our family graveyard,” said Sujan, who uses just one name.
The collapse of the nine-story complex focused global attention on appalling safety standards at plants in Bangladesh, the world’s second-biggest garment exporter after China.
Twelve people have so far been arrested over the disaster, including the building owner, his father, and four factory owners.
Many survivors joined the protest, demanding unpaid salaries and severance benefits. Thousands of workers were laid off after the five garment factories operating in the complex were shut down following the collapse.
“The authorities gave me only 8,500 taka ($ 110) as compensation and nothing,” said Maleka Begum, who left the building only moments before the collapse to buy medicine.
“I want all my severance benefits and my unpaid overtime,” she said, joining scores of others at the protest.
Authorities say at least 2,438 people — mostly female garment workers — were rescued from the site, including 968 people who were seriously injured.
After the disaster, the government launched inspections of all garment factories to try to reassure Western retailers including Walmart, H&M, Tesco and Inditex of improved safety conditions.
But unions and experts said hundreds of factories were still operating in shoddy buildings, raising fears that another tragedy could occur at any time.


Protests in New Delhi against India’s citizenship law ahead of Trump visit

Updated 28 min 5 sec ago

Protests in New Delhi against India’s citizenship law ahead of Trump visit

  • Hundreds of people supporting the new law clashed with those opposing it
  • The protest comes just a day before US President Donald Trump begins a two-day visit to India

NEW DELHI: Police used tear gas to disperse large crowds in India’s capital of New Delhi on Sunday in the latest eruption of violence at protests over a new citizenship law, police officials said.
Hundreds of people supporting the new law clashed with those opposing it, with the two groups pelting each other with stones in the Maujpur area in the northeastern part of the city, according to television footage.
“There must be some miscreants who want to spoil the peace in the area. We will identify them and take action against them,” Alok Kumar, a senior Delhi police official, told reporters about the protest.
“The situation is under control now,” he added.
The protest comes just a day before US President Donald Trump begins a two-day visit to India, where he is expected to raise the issue of religious freedom in the country with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
India’s Citizenship Amendment Act, which eases the path for non-Muslims from neighboring Muslim-majority nations to gain citizenship, has triggered weeks of sometimes violent protests against Modi’s government.
The Indian law is seen by opponents as discriminating against Muslims and has deepened concerns that Modi’s administration is undermining India’s secular traditions.
Modi’s ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party denies any bias against the country’s 180 million Muslims.
On Sunday, a separate protest also erupted in the northern Indian city of Aligarh, where protesters threw stones at the police, state administration official Chandra Bhushan Singh said.
The Internet in the area had been suspended until midnight, he added.