Bangladesh Civil Society for Migrants (BCSM) has expressed deep concern over the arrest of 81 Bangladeshis who had been stranded in Vietnam and demanded their immediate release.
BCSM is a network of 19 organisations working on migrant rights.
In a joint statement sent on Thursday, BCSM said the arrest of these migrants is a clear violation of human rights.
Is it a crime to resort to the embassy after being swindled? Is it an offence to seek punishment of human traffickers?
These migrants went to Vietnam following due procedures and clearance from the Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training (BMET). But they did not get the expected jobs and salaries in Vietnam. After being repeatedly cheated in Vietnam, they filed complaints with the Bangladesh embassy in Vietnam. The migrants were sent home by a chartered flight and kept on a 14-day quarantine. Later, they were sent to jail, the statement reads.
BCSM said they were arrested under section 54 of Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) for ‘tarnishing Bangladesh’s image' and that 'they might be involved with criminal activities again in Bangladesh.’
The statement said that it is ridiculous that the same allegations were brought against 219 migrants who earlier returned from Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain.
BCSM said the complaints filed by police said these migrants were arrested in Vietnam, which is a complete lie.
These migrants themselves went to the Bangladesh embassy to file complaints against unscrupulous recruiting agencies and travel agencies who sent them there, said the statement.
“It’s normal for migrants to go to the embassy of their own country if they face any trouble abroad. But it was said that these migrants wanted to lay siege to the embassy,” the statement said, adding, “Is it a crime to resort to the embassy after being swindled? Is it an offence to seek punishment of human traffickers?”
The 19 organisations urged the expatriates' welfare and overseas employment ministry and foreign ministry to take action in this regard after investigations.
They also urged the government to release 219 migrants who were sent to jail upon their return from different countries of Middle East.
Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit (RMMRU), WARBE Development Foundation, BRAC, Manusher Jonno Foundation, Ain o Salish Kendra, Ovibashi Karmi Unnayan Program (OKUP), Bangladeshi Ovhibashi Mohila Sramik Association (BOMSA), Human Rights Support Society, International Network of Alternative Financial Institution Bangladesh, Bangladesh Construction and Wood Workers Federation, Young Power in Social Action, Bangladesh Ovibasi Odhikar Forum, Center for Development Communications, Films for Peace Foundation and Change Makers, among others, signed the statement.