The government should bring back Bangladeshi victims of human trafficking safely from Malaysia and prosecute the traffickers, rights activists told street rallies in Dhaka, Narayanganj, and Narsingdi yesterday.
Without knowing the risks, fortune-seekers embark on sea voyages to Malaysia and suffer immensely as traffickers blackmail their families for ransom and sometimes kill them, they said.
Besides creating mass awareness about the dangers of illegal immigration, the government must facilitate the legal means of migration, they added.
The street rallies were part of a “road march” organised by Ovibashi Karmi Unnayan Programme, and Bhalobashi Bangladesh to create awareness on human trafficking to Malaysia by boat.
Addressing the first rally at the capital's Shanir Akhra, Ain o Salish Kendra Acting Executive Director Noor Khan said Bangladesh was about to ink a deal with Malaysia about immigrants.
“The country's people are yet to know what will be in the agreement... As long as people are kept in the dark about the deal, they will continue falling prey to traffickers,” he said.
Rights activist Dr Hameeda Hossain urged the government to bring back all Bangladeshis stranded in refugee shelters and detention centres in Malaysia and other countries.
She also pointed out that the trafficked people who already came back home need to be rehabilitated as many of them had sold their properties to pay traffickers.
Assistant Executive Director of Bangladesh Institute of Labour Studies Syed Sultan Uddin Ahmmed said a national commission involving affected people, civil society members, and government representatives was needed to stop human trafficking.
“There should be resistance from the local to national levels,” he said.
Coordinator of CARAM Asia Harun-ur-Rashid said had there been enough jobs in the country people would not have risked their lives to go abroad.
The rallies held at Narayanganj's Kanchpur and Araihazar and three places in Narsingdi saw the presence of affected families and local government representatives.