Security Guards Fire at Bangladeshi Shipbreaking Workers

Private security personnel of Kabir Steel shipbreaking yard, located north of Bangladesh’s major port city, Chittagong are reported to have fired shots and injured seven people protesting outside the yard.

The group of shipyard workers and a deceased worker’s family members gathered outside the yard as they claimed the company was withholding the body of a shipyard worker killed on March 28th inside the yard facility. According to local sources cited by the NGO Shipbreaking Platform, the worker Sumon was run over by a truck transporting steel plates from the yard.

“When a local government representative reached the yard to claim the legal compensation owed to the victim’s family, the yard management refused to take responsibility for the accident with the argument that the truck was owned and operated by another company,” the NGO adds.

This course of action represents unnecessary use of violence against unarmed protestors,” says Patrizia Heidegger, Executive Director of the NGO Shipbreaking Platform, “and it shows the climate of violence surrounding the shipbreaking yards. Locals and workers protesting the conditions in the yards obviously put their lives in danger in an atmosphere in which shipbreaking yards feel entitled to shoot at people.”

Tariqul Islam of the local police station said that the accused security guards were detained.

The incident shows how non-transparent this industry is. The NGO Shipbreaking Platform and its local members now expect that the police investigates this case properly. We demand rightful punishment of those responsible for the blood shed”, says Rizwana Hasan, Chief Executive of the Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association.

Muhammed Ali Shahin, the Platform’s Bangladesh coordinator, said the organization expects that the family of the dead worker receives its due compensation, however so far, the compensation claim has not been settled.

The incident adds to the Kabir Steel’s shipbreaking yard’s track record of safety breaches and fatal accidents. According to the Platform’s data, in 2014 alone, when the yard had the highest recorded number of accidents among all Bangladeshi shipbreakers, at least 2 workers were killed and six more severely injured the yard.

Kabir Steel has been hired to dismantle the Greek-owned and Greek-flagged bulk carrier Alpha Friendship.

“The Athens-based owner Alpha Tankers obviously does not take care of responsible ship recycling. The Platform will take up this case to illustrate the necessity for the EU and its Member States to better regulate ship owners’ sub-standard shipbreaking practices,” the NGO went on to say.

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