Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam has said that the US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken’s statement regarding the ‘death threat’ of Bangladeshi garment worker leader Kalpana Akhtar will be sought for clarification. Talking to reporters at Segun Bagicha on Tuesday, the State Minister said, “We will ask the United States for this clarification as quoted by the US Secretary of State that Kalpana Akhtar was threatened because of us or by someone else.
US Secretary of State Anthony J. Blinken quoted Kalpana Akhtar’s statement on November 16 at the official announcement of the memorandum signed by President Joe Biden to protect global labor rights. The new labor policy approved by the US president includes measures such as country-by-country sanctions for practices that violate labor rights. Taking the example of Bangladesh labor rights activist Kalpana Akhter in the US labor policy announcement, Blinken said, “We want to stand by people like Bangladeshi garment worker and activist Kalpana Akhter; Kalpana said that he is still alive because the US Embassy played a role on his behalf.
When asked about the government’s position on the US Secretary of State’s statement, the State Minister for Foreign Affairs said, If I remember correctly, Kalpana Akhtar was arrested only once in Bangladesh in 2010. He is not alone, several other labor leaders along with him were arrested while protesting while working. Later their case was withdrawn. Referring to the arrest of Kalpana Akhtar while protesting in the US after the Rana Plaza collapse, Shahriar Alam said that when some buyers in the western countries refused to pay financial compensation to those factories after the Rana Plaza collapse, Kalpana Akhtar and two others were arrested in the US while protesting. became
Claiming that Kalpana Akhtar never informed the government or the law enforcement agencies about the threat to his life in Bangladesh, the state minister said, “We have checked the records of the Bangladesh Police.” The state minister said to the journalists, if you can go and ask him. Did he say that at all? If so, on what basis? I think it is the responsibility of journalist brothers and sisters to find it. But the threat he felt, he never told anyone in Bangladesh in the past.
The state minister said, of course we will try to find the truth of the ‘threat’.
Regarding Kalpana’s activities, the State Minister for Foreign Affairs said that Kalpana Aktar has been leading an NGO to ensure labor rights in Bangladesh with great success. Shahriar Alam commented that there is no reason for Bangladesh to be worried about the United States’ declaration of applying the power of sanctions including trade if the labor rights are taken away.
Anthony Blinken’s statement was at the APEC summit, not only at the garment industry or the textile industry or any bilateral meeting with Bangladesh. It is a global initiative whereby they are assigning additional responsibilities to ambassadors in their embassies. But in the case of Bangladesh, the United States has already appointed a labor attaché subject to negotiation. The state minister said, I think there is no reason for Bangladesh to be worried about this move. Stating that Bangladesh has been applauded for receiving the labor affairs officer at the US Embassy, the State Minister said that the United States does not get so much advantage, or get the opportunity to be involved as much as Bangladesh has done in any of the competing countries in the garment sector of Bangladesh or the countries with which it competes.