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Bangladesh Sweatshop Fire

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IGLHR published eyewitness Tazreen testimonies . A senior worker said:

On November 24, fire started around 6:30PM. It broke out on the ground floor. "It quickly spread to upper floors. About 1,800 workers were trapped."

"Our production manager, Mr. Monju, pulled down the collapsible gate on the third floor, forcing us to continue working." 

"We pleaded with him to let us out, but Mr. Monju assured us that nothing was wrong and we should keep working. He told us not to listen to any rumors. He said again, "Nothing has happened, just keep working.' "

"We smelled the fumes and saw the flames coming from the ground floor of the factory. There is no emergency exit in the factory. Some of the finishing section workers managed to escape, but the sewing section workers were trapped inside."

"Some workers broke the windows and jumped from the building."

"I saw some workers were jumping from the broken windows. Some workers jumped from the roof and died. Most of the women workers were trapped inside the factory and burned alive."

The official death toll is 112. Workers interviewed said they believe over 200 were killed. Another 300 or more were injured. Tazreen and complicit government officials want the disaster downplayed. Many bodies were so badly burned they can't be identified.

Neighboring buildings were destroyed or damaged. Human tragedies can't be reversed. 

Criminal negligence continues unaccountably. Dozens of deaths change nothing. Government officials and the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) never implemented legal factory ordinances. 

Worker rights and safety don't matter. Made in Bangladesh has special meaning.

A Final Comment

On August 23, The New York Times headlined "Export Powerhouse Feels Pangs of Labor Strife," saying:

Police and "paramilitary officers" attacked Ishwardi Export Processing Zone protesting garment workers. 

They were "protecting two ingredients of a manufacturing formula that has quietly made Bangladesh a leading apparel exporter to the United States and Europe: cheap labor and foreign investment."

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I was born in 1934, am a retired, progressive small businessman concerned about all the major national and world issues, committed to speak out and write about them.

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