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2001-10-24

After the Attacks of September 11th, Conditions Worsen in Factories and Thousands of Garment workers Are Thrown Out of Bangladesh Sweatshops

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Bangladeshi Muslims continue to hold anti-U.S. protests in Dhaka, Bangladesh, urging the United Nations to halt U.S.attacks on Afghanistan. At a demonstration on Monday police prevented protesters from marching to the U.N. mission in Dhaka, but allowed them to hand over a letter addressed to Secretary-General Kofi Annan, urging him to initiate immediate moves to try to halt U.S.-led air and ground attacks on Afghanistan.

Bangladesh’s new government —-an alliance between the Bangladesh Nationalist Party and the Islamic fundamentalistJamaat-e-Islam party -— is under some pressure to pull out of the so-called coalition against terrorism. PrimeMinister Begum Khaleda Zia of the predominantly Muslim Bangladesh has offered the United States the use of itsairspace, ports and other facilities. Meanwhile, Bangladeshi newspapers say the attacks on minority communitieslaunched by armed gangs of the BNP and its allies —- the fundamentalist Jamaat-E— Islami and Islami Oikya Jote-sincethe October 1 elections have been "extensive and brutal." The leading Bangladesh daily, Prothom Alo, claims that manyminority members have already fled to India and fear returning to their homes. Activists yesterday staged ademonstration in front of Bangladesh High Commission in New Delhi to protest atrocities on minority Hindus inBangladesh, holding signs reading "don’t Talibanise Bangladesh" and "stop atrocities on Hindus."

Anti-sweatshop watchdog groups say that in the aftermath of the events of the September 11th attacks and the growingUS recession, conditions in the Bangladesh garment industry have worsened. They say that in Bangladesh, one of themajor Islamic export nations, between 700 and 1,000 garment factories have been shut down, throwing hundreds ofthousands of young women workers into the streets without severance pay or savings.

Bangladeshi garment workers have traveled to the US to call on universities-many of whose caps, t-shirts, andsweatshirts are made in Bangladesh-to assure that pay and working conditions conform to Bangladeshi labor laws.

Guests:

  • Charles Kernaghan, National Labor Committee for Human Rights.
  • Nasrin Akther, sewing operator at Shah Makhdum factory in Bangladesh.
  • Rafiqul Alam, Coordinator, National Labor Committee Bangladesh program.
  • Janu Akther, has worked for 10 years in the garment sector in eight factories in Bangladesh.
  • Sk. Nazma, founder, Bangladesh Center for Workers Solidarity.

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