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Need For A William

July 31, 2017

Very few countries in the world allow its citizens to die in foreign soils in destitution. Very few disown them. Bangladesh is one of those countries.

A country that is not ravaged by war, strife, and likes to boast its economic indicators to the world encourages risky, and in some instances illegal, migration of its citizens.

Situation is so grave foreign countries urge Bangladesh to rein in this illegal trade.

According to Italian Interior Ministry, 8436 Bangladeshis entered the country clandestinely in the first six months of this year, crossing the Mediterranean sea. In 2016 , a similar number of Bangladeshis  followed the illegal route and reached Italy in a bid to scatter all over Europe. According to European Union, 93435 Bangladeshis are staying illegally in European countries. Bangladesh strongly contested the figure.

A survey by IOM reveals that on average illegal Bangladeshis paid more than $5,000 to human traffickers to reach Italy taking a perilous boat ride. Dubai-Istanbul-Tripoli turned out to be their preferred route to reach Libya.
Traffickers locked them in Libya  for one year and forced them to work in homes and restaurants.

Another report of Saudi Gazette says the Kingdom will send back around 50,000 illegal Bangladeshis under a general amnesty. They do not have valid documents.

In its drive against undocumented foreign workers, Malaysia arrested 1520 Bangladeshis. In 2015, thousands  of Bangladeshis and Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar perished in the jungles and in the sea while they tried to cross the sea illegally huddling into boats to reach the prosperous South Asian country. Their tragic death shocked the world and prompted a regional crackdown against human traffickers. Hundreds of human traffickers were detained and in Thailand a General was sentenced to prison.

None however were tried in Bangladesh. Chairman of National Human Rights Commission Kazi Reazul Haque expressed his discontent with this and stressed that Bangladesh might make a list of  at least 30 high profile human traffickers and try them.

As long as the world does not heed the severity of the problem,  Bangladesh does not feel the urge to stall such activities.

Nothing has been more detrimental to our country’s image than the utterly false notion that our economy is  sound and there is stability in politics.

So first rule to solve this human trafficking is to acknowledge that there is something wrong with our economy that miserably fails to mop up the excess labor force. Then, let democratic practices pit against the whims of few mighty ones.

Illegal migration has taken such a virulent form because Bangladesh sees no wrong in it. And the popular perception is that migration is a natural phenomenon. A popular novelist once told, ” Bangladesh is just like a seedbed. From here we will move to every corner of the world.” Many people share the same view.

Sending people abroad is a lucrative trade and government recognizes the industry as “man power business”. There is even a ministry to look after the well beings of the expatriates .

Since it is an industry, all sorts of practices, fair and unfair, are going on here no holds barred. People are so desperate to go to their dream destinations , they are even ready to pay more than the required cost. They are poised to work under harsh conditions and to embrace any situation to make their fortune abroad.

A parasitic class was born out of  their desire and desperation. This class exploits the vulnerabilities of would-be foreign workers and share the rents with the corrupt politicians and officials.

Inhumane sufferings of the migrant workers are often ignored as long as remittances are kept coming. Unlike the workers from other countries, the Bangladeshi workers do not find their govt on  their sides when they are in trouble in foreign soils.

When a govt evades its responsibility about its own citizens, other countries are less interested to take their responsibility, particularly when the country is not paralyzed by problems.

Govt of Bangladesh is guilty of two counts: first, it allows a modern day slave trade in its soil ; second, it disowns its own citizens when they are in distress.

It was William Wilberforce who took it upon himself to rise against the slave trade. His relentless campaign against slave trade witnessed a success when in 1807 the British Parliament passed the Slave Trade Act that formally banned slave trade in British empire.

In Bangladesh we need a William among us. We need him to revamp our migration system and policies. We cannot let our nationals rot in foreign jungles, streets and shores. Calling all the Williams out there. Act.

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From → Analysis

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