Rana Plaza survivor arrested for seeking justice

On Thursday 12 March, I joined a demonstration in front of The Children’s Place’s headquarters in Secaucus, New Jersey, to call on the retail company to pay the compensation it owes to the survivors and families of the 1,138 workers killed in the Rana Plaza building collapse, in April 2013 ˗ the deadliest disaster in the history of the garment industry.

The Children’s Place was one of the major brands employing workers in the building at the time it crumbled to ruins, but so far it has only contributed a mere US$ 450,000 to the Rana Plaza Donors’ Trust Fund.

According to the International Labor Rights Forum, this is seven to fifteen times less than what other large companies have contributed to the fund ˗ and half of what The Children’s Place CEO Jane Elfers earned in 2012 alone.

In a letter to Elfers, 18-year-old Rana Plaza survivor Mahinur Begum writes:

“It has been nearly two years that I cannot work in another factory. The reason is that I am still sick and going through trauma. I tried to get another job but when I got the job, every single moment of the disaster kept coming back to me as a series of pictures. At this moment, without a job or money, I am spending my days in a miserable condition. Myself and the rest of the Rana Plaza survivors are still waiting to receive our full compensation. At this moment there is a US$9 million gap and we believe that The Children’s Place can pay this money.”

But instead of listening to this brave young woman who travelled all the way from Bangladesh to hand over the letter, she and 26 more of us were arrested, handcuffed, and charged with trespassing.

By doing so, The Children’s Place showed their true colours, as well as their cruel and irresponsible corporate behaviour.

For Mahinur Begum, who still suffers from posttraumatic stress disorder after being trapped for 24 hours in the rubble of Rana Plaza, the arrest was a particularly horrible experience.

“I came here to just let them know that we’re poor people who need these jobs and need compensation. But rather than pay us, they arrested us. When they were arresting me it felt like I was trapped in that building all over again. I had nightmares all night. Why is The Children’s Place treating me like a criminal when it’s their negligence that nearly killed me?” she says.

The Children’s Place refuses to drop the charges and we’re now accruing legal fees.

But that won’t stop our campaign. We are going to fight harder than ever for Rana Plaza victims to get their compensation. And we are going to fight these phony charges. We will campaign against the unjustified repression of demonstrators exercising their first amendment right.

To do so, we need support to raise US$ 10,000 by the end of March, with a goal of $50,000 this spring, to win the legal battle against the cruel and unjust arrests.

We also call on customers to take action at their nearest The Children’s Place store or to call the retail company directly to urge them to drop the charges and to pay full compensation for which the Rana Plaza victims have been waiting for nearly two years.


To show your support and make a donation to the legal fund, please click here.