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It is likely that thirty-five million Bangladeshis would become climate refugees. Professors Iain Stewart & Kathy Sykes, Future Earth
I believe that possibly the greatest famine in recorded history has now begun here, with tens of thousands of people already dead and dying and suffering. I also believe that Bangladesh could become the world’s most ignored tragedy, because Mr Kissinger and Mr Brezhnev have now agreed on a doctrine in which a country like Bangladesh is expendable. John Pilger, An Unfashionable Tragedy, ITV 1975
I happen to be standing in the middle of a field piled high with human skeletons, bones and skulls and pieces of human hair as far as I can see, now picked over by crows. ibid.
You see, it’s no longer a question of pity and charity – to hell with that. Their struggle to survive is our struggle. Beat it in Bangladesh and you beat it in Britain. It’s really a simple choice that has little to do with the brotherhood of man. The alternative is that we are all expendable. ibid.
On a moonless night in 1971 Moudud Ahmed led me clandestinely into what was then East Pakistan – and is now Bangladesh – past villages that the Pakistani army had raped and razed. The war of liberation was under way; Moudud was a young lawyer who had defended the Bengali independence leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. When Bangladesh was declared that year, Moudud brought a rally to its feet when he held up the front page of the Daily Mirror, which carried my report beneath the headline: BIRTH OF A NATION. ‘We are alive, but we are not yet free,’ he said, prophetically.
Once in power, Sheikh Mujib turned on his own democrats and held show trials at which Moudud was their indefatigable defender until he himself was arrested. Assassination, coup and counter-coup have since seen Moudud revolve between prison and parliament. He once won a parliamentary seat from prison. In the 1980s he was prime minister. It is fair to say that Bangladesh’s short life has been blighted by almost perpetual conflict between feudalalists and democrats and, more recently, fundamentalists.
National elections have been called for 5 January. The prime minister since 2009, Sheik Hasina – daughter of Sheik Mujib – has been accused of manipulating the electoral process to establish a one-party state. The announcement of elections coincided with the arrest of six leaders of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist party, including Moudud. Under investigation for tax evasion and inciting attacks on police, they have been refused bail, which means they cannot stand in the elections. Framing political opponents in order to silence them is a familiar game.
Moudud is suffering from a pituitary tumour. His wife, the poet Hasna Jasimuddin Moudud, once told me: ‘The country is a prison, and the world must know.’
Sheikh Hasina recently appointed herself law minister and home minister. This means that the final decision on whether the leadership of the parliamentary opposition stands against her Awami League or languishes in prison is hers. The opposition leaders have already missed the registration date, which was shortly after they were arrested. At the very least Moudud, who is ill, ought to be released now.
Bangladesh deserves better. John Pilger, article December 2013, ‘The Prison that is Bangladesh’
Bangladesh.... In 1971 ... Kissinger overrode all advice in order to support the Pakistani generals in both their civilian massacre policy in East Bengal and their armed attack on India from West Pakistan ... This led to a moral and political catastrophe the effects of which are still sorely felt. Kissinger’s undisclosed reason for the ‘tilt’ was the supposed but never materialised ‘brokerage’ offered by the dictator Yahya Khan in the course of secret diplomacy between Nixon and China ... Of the new state of Bangladesh, Kissinger remarked coldly that it was ‘a basket case’ before turning his unsolicited expertise elsewhere. Christopher Hitchens
‘A lot of men come to see us. It’s a very bad world. Isn’t it a sin? Is this a life? I wish I was not alive.’ Sex, Slavery & Drugs in Bangladesh, prostitute, Vice 2015
Bangladesh is one of the few Muslim countries where prostitution is legal but completely unregulated. ibid.
Many of whom are victims of sexual slavery ibid.
Yaba, a mixture of methamphetamine and caffeine is a powerful and highly addictive stimulant. Popular in Bangladesh it is one of many drugs that are cheap and easy to get in the brothel. ibid.
A nationwide industry of exploitation. ibid.
Sex workers have no official rights. ibid.
Some of the hardest places to get to in the republic of Bangladesh are the shipbreaking yards of Chittagong. Ships from all over the world are sent here to die. But not just ships. Local workers die too of suffer severe injuries. Scrapped: The Deadly Business of Dismantling Ships in Bangladesh, RT 2015
Chittagong is the second largest city in Bangladesh. ibid.
The average wage is $3 a day. ibid.
No medical facilities. No compensation. ibid.
Up to 200 ships sail into the bay each year. ibid.
My dad and thousands like him came here from his homeland for jobs in factories. When their families joined them later in the 70s many faced hardship and they faced hostility on their doorstep. A Very British History s2e3: Bangladeshis, BBC 2020
Our culture, our curries and our community are now a unique part of British life. ibid.
By the early 60s there were around 5,000 people from present day Bangladesh in the UK. ibid.
In 1971 present day Bangladesh was the eastern part of Pakistan; the other half of the country – western Pakistan – was a thousand miles away. ibid.
In the 1970s Brick Lane was the hub for Bengalis in London. ibid.
This untold hidden industry that was happening in many homes across East London. ibid.
But it was the united community itself that now had the momentum to keep challenging the far right. ibid.
Pakistan launched a series of air strikes against Indian airbases in Kashmir. India responded with force. Its army [December 1971] captured some 90,000 Pakistani troops in Eastern Pakistan … On 16th December 1971 Eastern Pakistan became the new sovereign state of Bangladesh. Secret Wars Uncovered s1e5: Kashmir Powder Keg, History 2020
On April 24 2013 a factory building in Bangladesh collapsed, killing more than a thousand people. Many of those who died in the Rana Plaza were making clothes for western companies. This is the story of the worst industrial disaster of the 21st century. This World: Clothes to Die For ***** BBC 2014
This is a story about clothing. It’s about the clothes we wear, the people who make these clothes, and the impact that it’s having on our world. It’s a story about greed and fear, power and poverty. The True Cost, 2015
Today we only make about 3% and the other 97% is outsourced. ibid.
Cutting corners and disregarding safety measures have become an accepted part of doing business in this new model. ibid.
‘An eight-storey building has collapsed near the capital of Dhaka killing more than seventy people.’ ibid. news
Rana Plaza: ‘Two weeks after the catastrophe and the death toll now stands at a staggering of 931 making it the worst garment industry disaster in history.’ ibid.
‘Bangladesh is now the second largest apparel exporter after China … Unions have limited power.’ ibid.
‘I have formed a union at work … We had an altercation with the managers. After the altercation, managers closed the door, 30-40 attacked us and beat us up.’ ibid. garment union president
The most labour-dependent industry on earth. ibid.
Over 80 billion pieces of new clothing each year. ibid.
Fashion today is the number two most polluting industry on Earth, second only to the oil industry. ibid.
A perfectly engineered nightmare for the workers trapped inside. ibid.