Police takes 81 arrested workers returning from Vietnam in prison van from Diabari, Uttara, Dhaka on 1 September 2020
Police takes 81 arrested workers returning from Vietnam in prison van from Diabari, Uttara, Dhaka on 1 September 2020Collected

Expatriate migrant workers, who faced deception in Vietnam, took position in front of the Bangladesh embassy there in mid-July with a demand to return home.

From the very outset, the government alleged that those labourers went there to occupy the embassy and tarnish the image of the country.

Later, when 106 labourers returned home in a special jet on 18 August after losing everything, having been entrapped by the brokers, they were placed on quarantine in Diabari, Uttara in the capital for two weeks.

Upon completion of the quarantine, police on Tuesday sent 81 of them to jail. The other 25 were released.

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Sources said the arrested staged demonstration in front of the Bangladesh embassy in Vietnam. Those who were released were not with the group.

Speaking to Prothom Alo, Turag police station sub-inspector Asmaul Husna said the workers were involved with various types of crimes in Vietnam and there were directives from there to take further action against them. Police followed the directives.

They came on Facebook live and had demanded retribution of the injustice they faced. In this context, the Vietnam government took decision to investigate against the human traffickers. But the Bangladesh foreign minister, at that time, told the newsmen that those expatriate workers were trying to occupy the Bangladesh mission.

Police have brought the allegation to the court against 81 returnees from Vietnam and two from Qatar that they planned for various sabotage and ‘observed group-wise anti-government and anti-state programmes.’

Turag police station sub-inspector Md Anwarul Islam plead to the court that the detainees need to be kept at lock-up for ‘fair investigation’.

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Police told the court that the 83 served in jails in Vietnam and Qatar for various crimes and they tarnished the image of Bangladesh globally. If they are released after their quarantine period, they would get involved with robbery, murder, family violence, sabotage and terrorism across the country.

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Prothom Alo talked to Md. Alamgir, one of the workers. He said police on 30 August told them that they would be produced before the court but did not clarify the reasons.

The workers have been talking to NGOs, human rights activists and print and electronic media. This has been tarnishing the image of Bangladesh globally
BMET director general Shamsul Alam

Alamgir further said each of the workers spent Tk 400,000 to 500,000 to go to Vietnam on the promise of factory jobs by middlemen, but they did not get such jobs. All of them had certificates issued by the Bureau of Manpower Employment and Training (BMET).

On their arrival in Vietnam, they were provided with some temporary odd jobs. At one point, Alamgir along with others became completely unemployed. They expected that action would be taken against the fraudulent recruiting agencies.

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Family members said the detained were neither involved with any crimes nor were arrested in Vietnam.

Md Sumon, brother of labourer Muskur Ali, said his brother went there two years ago. He was never arrested by the police in that country.

Delwar Hossain, brother of another worker, said his brother went to Vietnam around 7-8 months back. He was told that he would be given a job with a monthly salary of Tk 40,000. Upon reaching there his brother realised that he fell victim to fraudulence. He was also not involved with any crime in that country.

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The workers travelled to Hanoi, around 1,677 km away from Vung Tao, and took position in front of the Bangladesh embassy there demanding repatriation.

They came on Facebook live and had demanded retribution of the injustice they faced. In this context, the Vietnam government took decision to investigate against the human traffickers.

But the Bangladesh foreign minister, at that time, told the newsmen that those expatriate workers were trying to occupy the Bangladesh mission.

Even, the Bureau of Manpower Employment and Training sent letter to the recruiting agencies when the Bangladesh embassy sent letters from there.

BMET director general Md. Shamsul Alam said, “The workers have been talking to NGOs, human rights activists and print and electronic media. This has been tarnishing the image of Bangladesh globally.”

Human rights body Ain O Salish Kendra (ASK) said it would provide legal assistance to the Vietnam returnee labourers.

ASK senior coordinator Abu Ahmed Faijul Kabir told Prothom Alo that they would fight for the release of those labourers.

Earlier, a total of 219 people, including 141 from Kuwait, 39 from Qatar and 39 from Bahrain, were arrested and sent to jail upon their return home. The Middle East countries sent them home after commuting their jail terms. The police plead the same against them at the court.