Letter of solidarity and concern to Bangladesh
17 May 2013
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
I write this letter to express our grave concern and sympathies because of recent tragedies in your country. Since late February and onwards your country has faced political and religious violence and atrocities as well as major disasters, such as the collapse of a garment factory building in Savar, Dhaka, which has taken the lives of more than 1000 people.
On behalf of the World Council of Churches (WCC), I express deep sadness over the deaths and injuries of so many people who continue to suffer because of politics, religious persecution and lack of basic human rights and security in the workplace.
The ecumenical solidarity team that visited you on behalf of the WCC and the CCA in April reported on the frightening situation of attacks and persecution against religious minorities in the country. It is very disheartening to hear about this development of communal hatred in Bangladesh, once known for its tolerance and now grappling with religious intolerance and politicization of religion. The systematic violation of human rights is most unfortunate and needs to end. As you know, the WCC is committed to supporting all persecuted minorities, irrespective of their religions, as the human rights and dignity of every person should be upheld.
The WCC believes that it is critical to find sustainable solutions to any conflicts. It calls on all parties involved to adhere to the rule of law and to use of legal and constitutional measures to resolve the differences in their societies. We hope and pray that all peace-loving people of Bangladesh will denounce this new wave of violence and stand together to offer protection to those living in dangerous situations.
The Savar garment factory tragedy shows that Bangladesh needs to introduce immediate steps to improve working conditions of garment factory workers, especially women who are forced to work in unfavourable conditions. Despite having drastically increased their presence in the labour force, Bangladeshi women still face disadvantages and discrimination in the workplace. Labour conditions and safety provisions in factories across the country are not adequate to meet normal labour-law standards and must be improved upon. Bangladeshi authorities need to act immediately to ensure that factories across the country comply with international labour standards stipulated by International Labour Organization (ILO) Conventions.
We, as the WCC and members of the global ecumenical movement, stand in solidarity with you and the people of Bangladesh, particularly those who are suffering today. We pray for God’s manifold blessings upon all people of Bangladesh.
Yours in His Service,
Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit
WCC general secretary