Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam said that an explanation will be sought from the United States on the issue of garment workers leader Kalpana Akhtar.
He said this at a press briefing after a meeting with Commonwealth representatives at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Tuesday afternoon.
US President Joe Biden has signed a new memorandum on workers’ rights and their advancement around the world. Blinken spoke about this after the publication of the memorandum. In his speech, the issue of Bangladesh labor leader Kalpana Akhtar came up, who is said to be feeling threatened in Bangladesh.
When asked about this, the state minister said, we will ask the United States about this in the next discussion. If my memory serves me correctly, Kalpana Akter was arrested once in Bangladesh, in 2010. But he is not alone, several labor leaders were arrested for protesting while working.
Shahriar Alam said that the case against the arrested was withdrawn later. As you know, the anarchy in the garment sector is very temporary in nature. Suddenly it ends, stops again. But after the collapse of Rana Plaza, when some buyers from western countries refused to pay financial compensation to the factories, Kalpana Akhtar and one or two others were arrested in the United States for protesting.
He said, “So we will ask the US to explain what Kalpana Akhtar has said that she was threatened by us or someone else.” Kalpana Akhtar has been leading an NGO to ensure labor rights in Bangladesh with great success. It is the responsibility of the journalists to ask the records of the police or law enforcement forces of Bangladesh or if you go and ask him whether he said this or not, if so, on what basis he said it.
The state minister said, but the threat that Kalpana Akhtar spoke about, he did not tell anyone in Bangladesh in the past. Of course, we would like to know how true it is. I also tried to clarify one thing, the meeting where Anthony Blinken said this is the Asia-Pacific Economic Conference. Where Chinese President Xi Jinping attended.
Shahriar Alam said, therefore, Blinken’s statement is not aimed at Bangladesh.
He said, Kalpana Akter is a garment worker in Bangladesh. He mentioned two other countries. But he did not mention any issue of Bangladesh. There was no garment or textile in it. It was about establishing, strengthening, and reestablishing labor rights within the United States.