Dhaka In Despair

It was just a few weeks ago, that I shared with you the story of the True Cost movie heroine Shima, a young and feisty garment factory employee fighting for better working conditions in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh.

The city has been a cosmopolitan commercial centre and the cradle of the worldwide muslin and silk trade since the 17th century. It still remains a hub for business and culture, and the home of many international corporations. The textile industry is one of the major forces of the city, although it spun major controversy on worker’s rights since the Rana Plaza building collapse in 2013. The death toll of that tragic spring day couldn’t go unnoticed, and Bangladesh is now under the pressure of worldwide labor unions and NGOs supporting local unions and labor activists to improve life in the country’s sweatshops.

But disaster struck again on the tortured soil of Dhaka on July 2nd 2016. This time, it was not by fault of a negligent business owner, but a ruthless terrorist attack. The 20 victims, were all enjoying a good meal at the Holey Restaurant Bakery, a well known meeting point for foreigners living in Dhaka or visiting the city for work.

I wonder if those hands wielding daggers, would have reconsider slaughter if they only knew more about their unlucky hostages’ lives. Caring, giving human beings. But they choose to murder them just cause they couldn’t recite the Koran (and I don’t mean any disrespect, our cultural differences should enrich us instead of dividing us).

THE VICTIMS

The 7 Japanese victims were all involved in the development of Bangladesh, employed by a private consulting firm engaged in construction projects.

Tarishi Jain was only 19 years old. She was a sophomore at the University of California in Berkeley and just started an internship at the Dhaka’s Easter Bank Limited, working on e-commerce growth. Jain worked in the sales department of EthiCal, a student-run apparel company.

Abinta Kabir, of Miami, Florida, was a sophomore at the Atlanta-based university’s campus in Oxford, Georgia. She was in Dhaka to visit friends and family.

Ishrat Akhond, from Bangladesh, worked in Human Resources. She was also a painter and curator who had helped design art galleries, a kind artist.

Farad Hossain, was the only local victim, but graduated at Oxford College near Atlanta and was a student at Emory’s Goizueta Business School.

The Italian victims, all worked in the textile industry. Most of them were spending  their last night in town, and knowing my countrymen well, I am sure they all wanted to gather together in one last noisy celebration before parting from one another.

Claudia D’Antona, was the managing director of Fedo Trading, operating in Bangladesh for over 14 years. She and her husband were long time Dhaka residents. Claudia’s husband was also in the restaurant, but took a worker’s phone call outdoors just seconds before the attack. He was one of the first to alert police.

Simona Monti, was a two months pregnant and was working in Dhaka as a textile quality control manager. The plane to take her back to Italy was just a few hours away…

Maria Riboli was a regular in Dhaka,  visiting often to source new textiles for the Northern Italian company she worked for.

Claudio Cappelli was also visiting Dhaka regularly representing an Italian textile company. I read on Italian news he was extremely cautious and avoided outings when visiting on business, but on the night of the attack, his last night as well on Dhaka soil, he decided to take a chance to meet his Italian friends.

Marco Tondat had moved to Dhaka about a year ago where he found a job as a supervisor in a textile company. His native town it’s just a few miles away from my italian home.

Nadia Benedetti has lived in Bangladesh for over 20 years. She was the managing director for StudioTex offices in Dhaka.

Cristian Rossi worked for many years in Bangladesh employed by an Italian giant textile company. He was now working on his own as a broker in the textile industry and was bound to leave Dhaka on the night of the attacks, but at the last minute he decided to postpone his departure to the following day.

Vincenzo D’Allestro visited Dhaka once a year, employed by an Italian textile company.

Adele Puglisi, quality control manager for Artsana, was longing for her annual trip to Sicily to see her family. Friends told the italian news she was a bit worried about her upcoming stopover in Istanbul…

 

THE AFTERMATH

Too many mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, sons and daughters are mourning these good willing, industrious, passionate souls. How many more victims will fall under terrorism attacks?  Citizens of the world, traveling and embracing cultures. Why should they be to blame…

It’s obvious that terrorists can’t feel empathy for the human kind. Their sick ideology is stronger then any sentiment. There is no reasoning with them. If past wars have seen round tables of negotiations, it’s clear that this is not gonna be an option with this group of fanatics.

Perhaps it’s not my place to enter in a political debate, but I really felt the need to honor these victims, and pay my respects to all that have perished under the hands of Isis.

And one last troubling thought it’s for what this attack means for the future of Dhaka. Some experts fear that this latest attack will undermine Labour Rights Campaigns as the Bangladeshi government will need to focus on ensuring more security in the country.

Sarah Labowitz, co-director of the Center for Business and Human Rights at the New York University School of Business said: “It’s a tipping point for the country and the garment industry. The risk is that buyers will cut their reliance on the country, that they don’t focus so much on worker standards, there, which would be a setback for the industry.”

Gopinath Parakuni, general-secretary of Cividep told the Thomson Reuters Foundation: “It took a tragedy like Rana Plaza to prompt the government to take action, and while that effort won’t stop, it may be stalled as the government has other priorities now. Buyers too, may be weighing the risks of putting all their eggs in one basket.”

“An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind” – Mahatma Gandhi

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