Rana Plaza survivors call for rehabilitation
The Bangladesh Garments and Industrial Workers Federation pays tribute to the victims of the Rana Plaza collapse in Savar in 2013 by laying a wreath on Sunday at a memorial adjacent to the site. -AFP photo
Injured survivors of Sunday’s Rana Plaza tragedy have demanded rehabilitation and proper treatment for injuries they sustained nine years ago in 2013.
On April 24, 2013, the Rana Plaza, a multi-storey building in Savar, on the outskirts of the capital, which housed five garment factories, collapsed in the blink of an eye, killing at least 1,138 people, mostly garment workers, and injuring more than 2,400.
Injured worker Mahmudul Hasan Ridoy said that like many other workers he could not return to a normal life due to the injury he sustained when the building collapsed.
“I want an exemplary punishment of the people responsible for my impunity. I want rehabilitation and proper treatment,” said Ridoy, an injured New Wave Style factory worker, after laying a wreath outside the Rana Plaza site marking the ninth anniversary of the incident.
A number of labor organizations and trade unions also remembered the victims of the Rana Plaza tragedy and demanded workplace safety and standard wages for workers.
The leaders of Garment Sramik Odhikar Andolan, a platform of trade unions, demanded the punishment of the perpetrators and the treatment of the injured workers, who are still suffering from their injuries.
Labor leaders Mosharefa Mishu, Shamin Imam, Taslima Akhter and Masud Reza, among others, addressed a rally chaired by Shahidul Islam Sabuj after laying a wreath at the monument erected in memory of the victims of Rana Plaza in front of the unfortunate building.
They said that following the tragedy, people donated a nice amount of money to the Prime Minister’s fund for survivors, but the money was not distributed to the victims.
Rana Plaza Garment Workers Union, Bangladesh Garment Workers’ Solidarity, Garment Workers’ Trade Union Centre, Sramik Karmachari Oikya Parishad and Garment Workers Front among others laid wreaths in Savar.
Many organizations also remembered the victims at Jurain Cemetery, where many victims were buried.
Union leaders have demanded justice for all victims of deadly incidents, including Rana Plaza, Tazreen, Spectrum and Hashem Food, to prevent similar tragedies from happening again.
They also called on authorities to declare a public holiday for the garment industry on April 24 marking the tragedy.
Garment Workers’ Trade Union Center general secretary Joly Talukder said factory tragedies were on the rise because perpetrators of previous incidents had not been punished.
The Sramik Nirapatta Forum demanded a safe workplace for workers in all sectors and called on the government to ensure compensation for victims, in the event of an accident, in accordance with international standards.
The New Age Correspondent at Jahangirnagar University reported that more than 200 injured workers, families of victims and union leaders staged a human chain protest on the Dhaka-Aricha highway, demanding proper rehabilitation of injured workers and a compensation.
They also chanted slogans demanding a speedy trial in the murder case filed over the collapse and bringing to justice others – who allegedly agreed to run the factory despite a crack being detected on the wall.
Addressing the human chain protest, Protibad Protirodh committee facilitator Farhana Haque Shama said, “Not only factory owners but also the state jettison workers when they become non-functional.
The indifference of the authorities concerned towards the rehabilitation of the injured workers after nine years of incident frustrates the semi-dead workers, she added.
A 10-year-old boy, Md. Rihan, who lost his father Mansur Sheikh and Rehana Begum in the Rana Plaza collapse in 2013, joined the protest with his uncle.
Mannujan Begum, whose leg was amputated after the accident, said: “Although several organizations assured me of arranging better treatment, none came to help me after the major operation.
“My husband left me two daughters. Can the authorities find out about my situation? she asked.
Labor leaders and injured workers claimed that the local government was trying to demolish the Rana Plaza memorial in the name of widening the highway.
Calling it a “policy to cover up the pre-planned murder”, Garment Workers’ Federation President Masud Reza said they would form a tougher movement if the memorial was removed from the Rana Plaza grounds.
They also urged the government to acquire the Rana Plaza complex and use it for the rehabilitation of injured workers and families of deceased workers.
Savar Municipality Mayor Hazi Abdul Gani told New Age that road authorities are looking into the matter.