US Representative Grace Meng (D-Queens), a member of House of Foreign Affairs Committee hosted a candlelight vigil to commemorate the one–year anniversary of the massive factory collapse in Bangladesh that killed 1,129 people. The candlelight Vigil was held on April 24, 2014 at Taj Mahal Restaurant in Jamaica, Queens and the event was well attended by participants from different walks of lives.
The event, which featured speakers from several prominent labor unions, elected officials and the loved ones of those killed in the tragedy, was held to commemorate all who lost their lives in the collapse, and to highlight the need to improve the rights of workers.
The Rana Plaza factory collapse occurred near the capital city of Dhaka on April 24, 2013 due to deplorable working safety conditions that exist at the garment plants in Bangladesh, many of which produce goods for major American retailers. The factory crumbled after the cracks discovered in the eight-story building were not repaired. Garment workers were ordered into the building to work despite the safety concerns. Approximately 2515 people were injured.
A year after the deadly factory collapse, Bangladesh- American community continue to reel from the horrible tragedy,” Said Meng. “A year after the disaster, we remember all who perished in this awful tragedy, and we renew our call for American retailers to better protect the workers that make their products.”
Elected Government officials and Labor union leaders who participated in the vigil include:
Assemblyman David Weprin (D-Queens)
Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan (D-Queens)
Md. Shameem Ahsan, Consul General of Bangladesh
New York City Public Advocate Letitia James
New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer
Councilman Rory Lancman (D-Queens)
New York State AFL-CIO President Mario Cilento
Alliance of South Asian American Labor (ASAAL) National Women’s Coordinator Mazeda Uddin
New York City Central Labor Council President Vincent Alvarez
Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) President Stuart Appelbaum
United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 1500 Political Organizer Adam Obernauer
The message conveyed at the Candle Light Vigil was so strong. Here you can read some of the powerful messages we received for reflection and to put into practice.
“Another factory tragedy will happen unless we work to prevent it.”
“ We must demand that all workers, who are here in New York City or in Bangladesh should be treated with dignity and respect.”
“ To honor the victims and the families of the Rana Plaza Tragedy and or similar tragedies, we must ensure that the safety is treated as a human right and as the legal responsibility of employers in Bangladesh and everywhere.”
“All employers, especially the powerful retailers and the factories they use should view it as a duty to maintain work places free of hazardous conditions that can cause death and fatal injuries.
“ We all should understand that part of our mission is that to make sure workers safety and rights of the workers transcends all countries”.
Here I want to quote a portion from Rabindranath Tagore’s ‘Gitangali’.
“Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high;
Where knowledge is free;
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls;
Where words come out from the depth of truth;
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit;
Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever-widening thought and action—
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.”
And at this context I want to use the same prayer for a peaceful and wonderful world. So instead of ‘My Father, let My Country awake’, I would love to use ‘Our Father, let Our World awake’.
Kindly watch this video also.
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