Foreign Policy Blogs

Savar, Bangladesh as One Photograph

Taslima Akhter's Photo and Rana Plaza

The photograph above of a man and a woman found dead at the collapsed ruins of Rana Plaza, the eight-story building in Savar, Bangladesh was shot by Dhaka-based photographer and workers’ rights activist Taslima Akhter. The photograph stands, by itself, for both the tragedy that took the lives of nearly 400 garments workers and for the heroism that’ll always go under-reported about the many ways many lost their lives trying to protects their friends, brothers and sisters from the concrete crush that overwhelmed them all the morning of April 24th.

I have no doubt the man cradling the woman in the photograph died of suffocation after struggling hard to keep himself and his protected charge alive. He’s a young man, you can see; she’s a young woman. His beard is neatly trimmed; her blouse sports a neatly embroidered white flower.  Her gold bracelet suggests she was married. Perhaps the man and the woman were married to each other, loved each other. Perhaps they were friends. No doubt they were co-workers at one of the several factories that churned out inexpensive clothes for international high street retailers. No doubt they embraced each other in direct opposition to the clouded piles of enveloping detritus that took both their lives.

I have no doubt no news report will shed more light on Savar than the illumination this one photograph delivers.

I have no real need to see more photographs of the initial and unfurled, unconcealing horror in Savar. This photograph, in both its present state and its exploded high-resolution form, will do for the duration. It comes to me, it comes to you courtesy of Ms. Akhter herself. You can find her heart-rending work on the Savar building collapse, here, published only yesterday at the excellent group blog Alal o Dolal and on her website.

Photo: © Taslima Akhter

 

Author

Faheem Haider
Faheem Haider

Faheem Haider is a political analyst, writer and artist. He holds advanced research degrees in political economy, political theory and the political economy of development from the London School of Economics and Political Science and New York University. He also studied political psychology at Columbia University. During long stints away from his beloved Washington Square Park, he studied peace and conflict resolution and French history and European politics at the American University in Washington DC and the University of Paris, respectively.

Faheem has research expertise in democratic theory and the political economy of democracy in South Asia. In whatever time he has to spare, Faheem paints, writes, and edits his own blog on the photographic image and its relationship to the political narrative of fascist, liberal and progressivist art.

That work and associated writing can be found at the following link: http://blackandwhiteandthings.wordpress.com

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