New York: Human Rights Watch, an organization that works to defend human rights worldwide, has said that the global apparel brands linked to the Tazreen fire tragedy must not dodge from their duty to help those who have suffered due to the tragedy that took place in Bangladesh two years back.
On November 24, 2012, at least 112 workers had died in the fire at the Tazreen Fashions factory near Bangladeshi capital Dhaka. Workers were badly injured as they jumped out of the upper floors of the burning factory. Hundreds continue to suffer from their injuries and cannot afford their medical treatment.
"The victims of Tazreen, like those of the Rana Plaza tragedy, need a huge amount of support. Many of the survivors might have escaped the flames, but their lives are ruined. These global brands should no longer dodge their duty to help these people," said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch.
Only two out of 16 firms linked to the factory are believed to have paid any meaningful amount of compensation to the victims. Five companies have paid nothing, claiming the factory was making or storing their products without their knowledge or authorization. Other companies have offered undisclosed charitable donations.
"Companies should not claim that just because they did not know their products were in Tazreen they have no responsibility to the victims. The UN Guiding Principles clearly state that all firms have a responsibility to conduct due diligence throughout their supply chain, and provide a remedy to anyone affected by human rights violations," Adams said.
In November 2013, Human Rights Watch wrote to five companies whose products were in some way associated with the Tazreen factory, but who have refused to provide any financial support to the victims because they publicly said either their clothes were not being produced at Tazreen at the time of the fire, or their products had been manufactured or stored in Tazreen without their knowledge or authorization.
To date, Dickies (USA),Sears (USA), Disney (USA), Teddy Smith (France), and Walmart (USA), have not replied.
Bangladeshi activists who entered Tazreen Fashions after the fire also found labels, clothing, and documentation connected to CandA (Belgium), Edinburgh Woollen Mill (UK), El Corte Ingles (Spain), Sean Combs/Enyce (US), Karl Rieker (Germany), KiK (Germany), Li and Fung (Hong Kong), and Piazza Italia (Italy).
Human Rights Watch wrote to each of these companies in November 2013, but one year later, none have replied.
Of these firms, Karl Rieiker, Piazza Italia, Edinburgh Woolen Mills, KiK, El Corte Ingles, and Enyce said they had or would make charitable donations to the victims, according to the Amsterdam-based Clean Clothes Campaign. However they have not publicized how much they have given or how it was spent, if indeed they had made any donations.