‘We have not built this industry in a planned way’

In light of a devastating fire at Tazreen Fashions claiming more than hundred lives, Shafiul Islam, president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers & Exporters Association (BGMEA), explains the industry’s efforts and flaws in an exclusive interview with Saad Hammadi

Three fire incidents in garment factories occurred within a space of three days. There is a saying, two is a coincidence but three is a trend. What do you make out of the situation?
Before any inquiry result comes we cannot say specifically what was behind it. Few people are saying it is a conspiracy, because Sumi, the worker of Debonair, was paid to set a fire. This is one angle of the inquiry. We, as BGMEA, have been doing training, monitoring, and ensuring fire safety. We have collaborated with brands, launched two films and made posters to create awareness, held three crash programmes in 2001, 2006 and 2010. After all these we have seen a very productive result in 2007, 2008 and 2009. We found no casualty even in 2011. So those have been going all good. In 2010 we have seen one incident and now the latest incident at Tazreen Fashions is shocking. We are trying to support the families who have lost their loved ones, as much as possible. We are taking utmost priority to take care of the injured patients at the hospital. We have seen them in a miserable condition at the Dhaka Medical College. Immediately we have taken initiative to shift them for better treatment, because they deserve it. If necessary we will send them

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‘The most terrific instrument of repression’

Enforced disappearance is a technique to conceal crimes committed by state agencies. While human rights organisations continue raising concerns, very little has changed. Political leaders and activists of the opposition including youths and a garment labour leader were abducted this year, some of whose bodies were later recovered. None of the cases have had any conclusive investigation. Rainer Huhle, member of the United Nations Committee on Enforced Disappearance spoke to Saad Hammadi during his recent visit to Bangladesh on the phenomenon
The definition of enforced disappearance according to international human rights laws suggests secret abduction or detention of a person by a state or political organisation without acknowledging the act. While this is an infringement of human rights, how does the UN as the apex body of international organisations, view the redress for the victims of enforced disappearance?
Reparation is a very important point in the convention.  It is one of the state obligations to repair or redress victims. In material terms it can be compensation but in moral terms, the state has to reinstitute the victims in the social setting.

What about trials?
There are clear obligations for states to prosecute and bring to justice the perpetrators. It is also a relief for the victims to see that the state makes clear that this is a crime.

Is there an example you could give, where justice has been served to victims of enforced disappearance anywhere in the world or where state agencies or the perpetrators were tried for the offence?
During the military dictatorship in Argentina between late ’70s and early ’80s many women were abducted and their children were given away to families who wanted to adopt them, mostly military families.
After change in the regime in 1983, during a democratic period, little by little the judiciary became independent and started investigating

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Cherishing the stripes

Saad Hammadi and Ananta Yusuf weigh the success of Bangladesh at the Asia Cup 2012Image

The sea of green jerseys in the crowd had put up everything at stake to support their favourite team on field. Every blow of a wicket of the opponent called for a thunderous shout to cheer and inspire the Bangladesh team. As of filing this report, the minnows have performed their best to reach the finals of the Asia Cup 2012, where it plays Pakistan, after a fierce fight they put up against India and Sri Lanka, chasing hefty totals on both the occasions.

This past week has been a momentum for thousands of Bangladeshi cricket-loving enthusiasts, as Bangladesh made to the finals of the Asia Cup 2012. With joyrides across the country and outside, Bangladeshi supporters have kept their hopes and spirits high just as much as the national cricket team lived it up on the field.

The tournament marks some historic moments for Bangladesh’s cricket. This is the second time Bangladesh has made it to the finals of any international tournaments. The victories were a collective effort of the entire team, comprising of the bowling attack as well as the batting partnerships. Interestingly, Tamim Iqbal, who secured a place in the national squad in the last minute after a dramatic turn of events, put up a fight in every match by scoring three consecutive half-centuries in the tournament.

Apparently history was to be made during the match between Bangladesh and India at the Asia Cup 2012, where team India could ‘score 444 runs’, according to Indian media speculation. ‘Bombs were to shower in over Bangladesh’ as it played India, according to a clip of Indian sports news speculation uploaded on Youtube. ‘Sachin Tendulker could well break Virender Sehwag’s 219-run record and Virat Kohli’s blasts will put Bangladesh in tatters’.

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Social Media: An academic perspective

The purpose of each of these elements of communication appears to be larger than life.

Social media has come a long way as far as making socialisation a virtual reality. What Imageused to be shared and discussed at addas has now become replaced in the form of wall posts and group chat. It has only taken six to seven years or even less to change people’s lifestyle. The power of globalisation and its progress through technology is immense as is reflected in the social construction of our reality.

Blogs, facebook and twitter identities are modes of communication, which many professionals nowadays include in their visiting cards, hence, showing a change in the pattern of communication and their significance. What amaze me are the vastness and the fastness of the modes of communication.

Once, the postal address and a land phone number were all that used to be mentioned

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The men who rule DMCH

Saad Hammadi spends three nights at the Dhaka Medical College Hospital and reveals how packs of corrupt doctors, ward boys, and nurses are now running the hospital

After a 24-hour struggle for life, Dipali Karmakar (62) finally lost the battle. Dipali, a mother of three sons and a daughter had suffered a brain haemorrhage when she was hit by a motorbike on the Dhaka-Khulna highway in front of her house on November 02. The nearbyFaridpurSadarHospitaldid not have any expertise for brain injuries and the doctors referred her to theDhakaMedicalCollegeHospital, urging her family that time was of the essence.

‘We came all this way frantic every moment of the way, only for my mother to die like this? The doctors ruined all the possibilities of her survival despite our efforts,’ says Shwapan Karmakar, a son of the deceased. Dipali’s family members complained that none of the doctors at the DMCH looked at her since her admission at the hospital. Even the 24 hours Dipali spent at the DMCH, she was breathing but unconscious, and there was a possibility of her survival if the doctors took care of her, her son believes. Moreover, she was not even given a bed to rest and was lying unconscious on the floor of a room which was a doorway to the upper floors. Dipali was among 20-30 other patients who were also lying on the floor of the hospital waiting for care, as is the common scene at the DMCH.

‘At one point my mother stopped breathing in her sleep and the doctors

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Private hospitals fear no one

Last year (2005) Saad Hammadi exposed that Dhaka’s Golden Hospital was running without a license. One year later he returns to the hospital and it has expanded its operations, still without a license, and riddled with rampant irregularities as is the case with most private clinics

On August 14 last year Zamadiul Hoque’s elder brother fell off his bike and broke his leg. At first admitted to the Narsingdi Sadar Hospital he was later transferred to the National Institute for Traumatology and Orthopaedic Rehabilitation, better known as the Pangu Hospitalat Agargaon.

‘Some people, claiming to be hospital staff at the Pangu, advised me to transfer my brother to a private hospital saying that I would not receive any emergency treatment over here,’ says Zamadiul.

‘On their advice

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