Foreign Policy Blogs

Seven Pictures of Savar, Bangladesh and Its Rescue


Two days ago an 8-story building collapsed in Savar, a suburb of Dhaka, Bangladesh. That building housed garment factories; at least 300 people were crushed to death, many must have suffocated after surviving the initial burial under concrete. More victims are sure to be dragged out dead as the minutes and hours tick by and the calendar page turns to tomorrow and tomorrow.

The people of Dhaka have mounted an admirable rescue operation with the help of the military and even though its standing as a model of cooperation, its urgency is nothing short of astonishing there’s only so much air trapped in dusty pockets between stacks of nearly pulverized concrete.

And those of us who know nothing about that life, that kind of work, can only wonder, argue and look at images. Those images won’t let out any more than a tiny charge of the story. Those of us who understand Bengali will forget soon enough the shrieks, cries and howls of what sounds like many survivors who wish they were dead already. They plead that the concrete slabs on their chest hurts too much. And they know there’s not much time left for a rescue operation to work out well. For us, far away from Savar, there’s time yet to read and comment on things far away.

Most garment industry workers work and churn without even modestly decent compensation; capitalism devised thus, there, serves a starvation diet for its workers. No wonder then that thousands of workers turned out into the streets and set ablaze at least two garments factories.

Conditions are so dire that workers’ rights are in fact human rights in Bangladesh. And, though I suppose, technically, a country could do without both-worker rights as, and, human rights–that’s no way to be a growing nation in the 21st century. That’s no way to attract investment, if investment means–and it seems to mean so in Bangladesh–that something gets put up without much care and little inspection and investigation on the matter of structural and public integrity.

And so, we’ll likely have more buildings collapse soon. This, if the government and its opposition doesn’t figure out a way to work together in the service of the citizens of the country they dare to claim they serve.

But–this “but” requires that I move beyond this moment’s head-shaking skepticism– reports tell of two babies born to women buried in the rubble. One child died. The other is still alive. Let’s hope that child grows up in a better Bangladesh than the country that served as the context of his birth.

Update: The boy born underneath the rubble in Bangladesh is alive and safe. So is his 27-year-old mother. Here’s their story.



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:

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