Forty-four years ago on 16 and 17 December 1971, Dacca fell and the Pakistani army surrendered East Pakistan in a humiliating defeat. Lieutenant-General A. A. K Niazi, Martial Law Administrator of East Pakistan, surrendered to Lieutenant General Jagjit Singh Aurora, Joint Commander of the Bangladesh-India Allied Forces.

Since 21st September 2013 up to 200,000 Bangladeshi garment workers have been demonstrating and taking strike action to demand an increase in the minimum wage from $38 to $100. As the protests entered their fourth day the militant mood of the workers was apparent and the weakness of the politicians, the bosses and the trade union leaders in the face of a mass workers’ movement is being revealed.

Following the collapse of the nine-storey Rana Plaza at Savar near Dhaka last week, the death toll of workers killed in the disaster had reached 501 by the morning of Friday 3rd May. Many people fear that the death toll will rise above 1000. While a large number of workers are still missing and feared dead, their relatives have taken to the streets to protest against the brutality of the Capitalist economic system that caused this tragedy. This latest incident took place just five months after the Ashulia tragedy near Dhaka in which more than 110 garment workers were burnt to death in a Tazreen Fashions factory after a fire broke out. No-one has yet been held responsible, let alone punished, for that incident.

Ever since a recently established war crimes tribunal came to the verdict of a life sentence against the Jamaat-a-Islami chief, Abdul Qadir Mullah, on 5th of February for crimes against humanity during the civil war in 1971, Bangladesh has been embroiled in clashes and unrest in which several people have been killed and wounded.

With two-thirds of its work force in the rural sector, Bangladesh’s agriculture contributes just 19 percent to its GDP. Sixty-six percent of exports are from the garment industry that makes it the third largest clothes exporting country in the world. It is perhaps the cheapest and most profitable place for garment manufacturers. However, the conditions of the workers, mainly women, are atrocious.

Forty years ago last month [16 December 1971] Dhaka fell. The laying down of arms by the Pakistan Army to the Indian Lieutenant-General Jagjit Singh Aurora was the biggest military surrender in post-Second World War history. It was in the period when a revolutionary storm swept across the planet in the years 1967-74.

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