Bangladesh Arrests Suspected Traffickers After Libyan Masacre

  • According to RAB, Kamal Uddin sent some of the Bangladeshis killed in Libya.
  • On May 26, 26 Bangladeshis seeking refuge in Libya were shot dead by their captors.
  • According to government data, there are currently more than ten million expatriate Bangladeshi workers in different countries of the world.

The Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) has arrested a businessman in Dhaka on suspicion of being involved in human trafficking of 26 Bangladeshis who were shot dead by their captors in Libya. A RAB director, Lt. Col. Rakibul Hasan, said the man, identified as Kamal Uddin, was arrested from Dhaka’s Shahjadpur area on Sunday night.

Since 1974 Libya has been recruiting migrant workers from Bangladesh. On May 2015 Libya banned migrant workers from Bangladesh over concerns that they were illegally migrating to Europe through Libya.

According to RAB, Kamal Uddin sent some of the Bangladeshis killed in Libya. Now he is being interrogated. His passport has been confiscated.

Lt. Col. Hasan said that the arrested person was the mastermind of a gang of brokers, who used to lure poor families and take money abroad in the name of taking them abroad illegally. Besides, they have come to know that the ring is involved in various scams, said a RAB official

“He tells them you can earn Tk 500 to Tk 600 a day here but if you go to Libya or any country from the Middle East you can easily earn Tk 5,000 to Tk 6,000 a day,” the release said. “We got the address of several village touts, who bought people to Dhaka. Haji Kamal, who we managed to arrest, is their man leader. He is involved in collecting money from families and sending the money [to other traffickers] illegally,” it said.

On May 26, 26 Bangladeshis seeking refuge in Libya were shot dead by their captors. Another 11 people were injured and are being treated in several Libyan hospitals. According to the relatives of the victims, they migrated abroad through brokers to go to Italy through Libya.

However, according to the agreement with the broker, the 26 Bangladeshis were shot dead by the kidnappers before reaching their destination in Libya. A Libyan Foreign Ministry statement said killers will be caught.

“Abducted and Demanding Ransom”

The broker asked to be paid 4,000 rupees to reach Libya, and the remaining 3,000 rupees as soon as they will reach Italy. Kamal Hossain alias Haji Kamal, 55, was separately arrested in the capital Dhaka. Hossain himself worked as a construction worker in a Middle Eastern country.

“The brokers kept them in one place for some time on their way to Tripoli from Benghazi in Libya, but the border was closed due to Coronavirus. As a result, they had to hide in a place near Mizdar for about four months. The brokers sold them to another broker.”

Bangladesh–Libya relations refer to the bilateral relations between Bangladesh and Libya. In October 2011 the government of Bangladesh recognized the Libyan National Transitional Council.

Officials at the Bangladeshi embassy in Libya said that a total of 36 Bangladeshis and some Sudanese nationals, including the 26, had been held by the kidnappers for about 15 days.

According to government data, there are currently more than ten million expatriate Bangladeshi workers in different countries of the world. Of these, the number of workers going to work in the Middle East is more or less 2 million. A part of them migrated to Libya for European countries like Italy and Greece.

The vast majority of Bangladeshi migrant workers going to work in the Middle East are unskilled workers, who are often accused of being the victims of torture and persecution. At the same time, there are allegations that many people are often deceived by going abroad through brokers.

Asadul Akan, younger brother of Shahadat Akan, another resident of Rajouri, got an offer to go abroad from a well-known person in the neighborhood while studying. Asadul was one of 26 people killed by kidnappers in Libya on May 26. Mr. Akan said that Asadul went to Libya after raising money by mortgaging his land and settling down.

“We know the broker, which means Asadul’s friend is an uncle, a house in the village next to ours. We don’t have money. The broker said that you have to pay in half. We are mortgaging our house and land. The broker says it will take a few days to earn thousands of rupees if we reach Italy. My brother has also gone mad. Then we also think that if we go, the condition of our family will change.”

But after going to Libya, when they were stuck for a few months, the broker called once and asked them to send 50,000 rupees. With another round of land mortgage, he sent the money to Mr. Akan’s family.

After Asadul’s abduction, the kidnappers demanded a ransom of one million rupees over the phone, during which his brother was beaten and tortured.  On Friday, some people including Shahadat went to the house of the broker, but the man, realizing the situation, fled.

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Joyce Davis

My history goes back to 2002 and I  worked as a reporter, interviewer, news editor, copy editor, managing editor, newsletter founder, almanac profiler, and news radio broadcaster.

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