Representational picture
Representational pictureFile photo

Faridul from Mymensigh in Bangladesh went to Vietnam on the promise of a six-digit monthly income. He spent about 500,000 taka to land the job in the country in January. After he arrived in Vietnam, agents sold the 34-year-old to a Chinese businessman.

This is one among many stories of deception in the name of migration to Vietnam. The victims allege they went to the country with certificates from Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training (BMET). After arriving Vietnam, instead of being appointed in the company they were promised, a Bangladesh group of middlemen took them to supply agents.

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The job seekers were kept at various agent camps, a thousand kilometres away from the capital, where they were tortured. At one point, they fled the camps and returned to the middlemen, but these middlemen abused them too and sold them again. Later, these Bangladeshi migrants managed to flee once again and took shelter in front of the Bangladesh embassy in Vietnam.

A number of immigrants have filed a case against the middlemen or brokers under the anti-trafficking law. Among them, Faridul and Moksedul said police detained middlemen Mosharraf and Kazi Saleh Ahmed.

Raihan Uddin from Cumilla, said he filed a case against Mozammel, who is yet to be arrested.

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According to Bangladeshi migrants in Vietnam and migration related sources in Bangladesh, so far 97 migrant workers have alleged they were deceived in the name of employment in Vietnam. Among them, 14 have already returned to country. Some 22 took position in front of the Bangladesh embassy in Vietnam demanding repatriation.

After four days into the demonstration, they were sent to a hotel. Another 39 have already been staying in hotels while the rest of the victims are staying at camps in different places including Guntao.

A ring of 10 Bangladeshis

A ring of 10 Bangladeshis involved in the trafficking to Vietnam have been identified, according to migrant workers. The workers fell victim to the brokers after arriving in Vietnam. The brokers forced the workers to carry out inhuman tasks at remote areas on a low wage. Mostofa is the chief perpetrator of the ring while collaborators include Atikur Rahman, Saiful Islam, Jabbar, Milon, Akram, Nasir, Masud, Ifekhar, and Raihan. Among them, Mostofa, Saiful and Atik have been granted permanent residency in Vietnam following their marriage to local women there.

Attempts were made to reach Mostofa and Saiful over phone, but they did not receive calls.

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Allegations against nine recruiting agencies

So far, nine recruiting agencies have been identified over certificate procurement from BMET. These are Jharna Trade International, Sandhani Overseas Ltd, Mum and Mum Overseas, Moon Air International, Istema International Recruiting Agency, Alif International, SK Global overseas, Rezwan Overseas and Holy Overseas Ltd.

“Others used my license to traffic the people. I didn’t receive any money, but I’ve been trapped. BMET issued a letter regarding 11 workers. I’ve submitted an affidavit to compensate,” said Shanta Deb Saha, managing director of Jharna Trade International.

BAIRA (Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agencies) secretary general, Shamim Ahmed Chowdhury, told Prothom Alo, whenever anything goes wrong, the blame fall on the recruiting agency. This is not right. Workers were sent to Vietnam following all the government rules. Some may have faced difficulties to manage jobs, but this cannot account to human trafficking.

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Who to take responsibilities of victims

The agencies blame each other whenever any worker faces any danger abroad. BAIRA said all the workers were sent following the migration act, but the embassy verifies records of the employers. And BMET issues certificates upon screening all the papers and information of a worker.

BMET director general Md. Shamsul Alam, however, said when one does not get the job, the responsibilities lie with the recruiting agency as it promises the jobs and collects certificates from the job aspirants. promising jobs.

Already, licenses of six agencies have been revoked, he said adding the law enforcement will take measures regarding irregularities.

Tasneem Siddiqui, chairperson of RMMRU (Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit), said the foreign affairs ministry as well expatriate welfare and overseas employment ministry along with recruiting agencies all have responsibility over this. Employees are being sent in under vague procedures, she said.

All should be held accountable. The workers should be repatriated and punitive action must be taken against the culprits at the same time, she added.

*This report, originally published in Prothom Alo print edition, has been rewritten here in English by Nusrat Nowrin.