Festival 2019

Obhibashon o Shonar Manush Shommilon 2019
Bangabandhu International Conference Centre (BICC), Agargaon
Date: 28 April 2019
Organised by RMMRU
Supported by PROKAS, British Council
Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit (RMMRU) organised Obhibashon o Shonar Manush Shommilon 2019 at the Bangabandhu International Conference Centre (BICC) on 28 April 2019 with the support of PROKAS Programme of British Council.
The inaugural session of the Shommilon commenced with the welcome address of Dr. Tasneem Siddiqui, Founding Chair, RMMRU. She shared the objectives and rationale of holding such an event. A major goal of the Shommilon was to recognise the contribution of migrants, members of their families, especially left behind husband and children, and migration service providers. A gala dance performance was held by Nrityam Dance Teaching Centre reflecting Bangladesh’s rich cultural heritage. This cultural session was graced by Dr. Ashraf Siddiqui, poet, and folklorist and Dr. Atiq Rahman, Executive Director, BCAS.

A Symposium on Migration and 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals was held in which RMMRU underscored the role of migration in implementing the SDGs. Among the 17 goals, the importance of migrant workers is implicit. The Goal 1, 5, 8, 10 and 16 of the SDGs reflect on poverty reduction, the safety of migrant workers and access to justice. Lastly, Goal 17 is on the partnership for achieving these goals. Furthermore, the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration comprises 23 objectives for better management of migration at local, national, regional and global levels. Efforts on reducing poverty through migration, on ensuring a safe environment for migrant workers, particularly the woman migrant workers as well as access to justice through mediation featured prominently in this year’s Shommilon.

Dr. Hossain Zillur Rahman, Former Advisor, Caretaker Government, Bangladesh, graced the event as the Chief Guest and Mr. Gerry Fox, Team Leader; PROKAS was present as Special Guest. Panel discussants were Dr. Mustafizur Rahman, Distinguished Fellow, CPD, Dr. Saleemul Huq, Director, ICCCAD, Dr. Iftekharuzzaman, Executive Director, TIB and Ms. Shirin Lira, IBP Manager and Gender and Social Inclusion Advisor, PROKAS.

All the speakers of the Symposium and RMMRU IBP partners IID, WARBE, and YPSA leaders expressed solidarity with RMMRU’s demand for Calling 2020-2029 as the Decade for Migration in Bangladesh. After the solidarity statement Mr. Selim Reza, DG, BMET stated “I have started arbitration system at the district level recently through DEMO office after learning from RMMRU’s research findings on mediation at the grassroots level. Now victims can register complaints to DEMO offices directly and DEMO officers will solve their complaints through arbitration”. Appreciating the activities of RMMRU, the Director General of BMET said that migrants are real golden sons of Bangladesh, so we need to secure their rights collectively. He encouraged civil society and said: “we are ready to work together and receive all recommendations provided by the panelists of this programme”.

The Shommilon also featured a photo exhibition on the theme of migration. Besides, stalls were set up at the venue where different organisations including the government agencies such as the BMET, WEWB, PKB, BOESL, a2i and BAIRA and IBP partners showcased their activities to the guests and visitors. This was an initiative of bridging the government service providing institutions with the grassroots migrant community.

The Chief Guest of the inaugural session Dr. Hossain Zillur Rahman congratulated RMMRU for bringing migration to the center of national attention and for consistently keeping it as the center of attention. He stated that “it is a bold step to declare the year 2020 to 2029 as migration decade as migration is being negatively politicized globally”. He hoped that the government will give due importance to this call. He also observed “we are encouraged by remittances sent by migrants but we have not been able to improve the mindset or behavior of the migration service providers from the airports to the embassies”. He urged to change the views towards migrants. He also advised to frame a national plan to transform the skill of returnee migrants into resources and hoped that the government will look for new markets for migrants. At the end, he encouraged skilled migration and stated “we need agencies that will simultaneously increase skills and send people abroad. If BAIRA is able to do this then a new dimension will be unveiled”.

The second session started with a parliamentary debate on migration. It was part of an inter-university debate competition which had taken place earlier among 16 teams of public and private universities of Dhaka and Chattagram Divisions. At the Shommilon the two top teams the Dhaka University and the Chittagong University took part in the competition. The thme of the debate was “Women Migration and the Social Cost of Left behind Children”. The members of the jury board in the debate were Mr. Md. Israfil Alam, MP, Member of Parliament, Ms. Shaheen Anam, Executive Director of MJF as Special Guest and Mr. Shameem Ahmed Chowdhury Noman, Secretary-General, BAIRA.

As the chief guest of debate session, Mr. Md. Israfil Alam MP and Chair, Parliamentary Caucus on Migration said “Bangladesh is developing day by day with the outstanding contribution of migrant workers. Both male and female migrants are contributing in this sector keeping aside their social cost of migration. They are working for the families as well as for the country. So we need to work to ensure safe and regular migration. Apart from gaining remittance, we have to think about their security.”

RMMRU also launched two books. Making Dalals Visible: Towards Transparency in Recruitment by Tasneem Siddiqui and C R Abrar argues for regularizing the role of dalals. Obhibashir Okothito Golpo: Shopno O Bastobota is the Bangla version of “Untold Stories of Migrants: Dreams and Realities". It captures migrants' voice and stories of migrants collected for over the 20 years. It not only expresses the challenges that migrants face but also their achievements. These two books were inaugurated in presence of Dr. Anisuzzaman, National Professor and Mr. Gerry Fox, Team Leader PROKAS.

The Chief Guest of the award ceremony, Mr. M A Mannan, MP Minister of Planning said “migrants are playing a vital role to develop Bangladesh. Their remittance contributes almost in every aspect of our economy. We have many more things to do for them to ensure a harassment-free working environment. We want to change the situation of our female and male workers abroad”. He also added “the government is trying to ensure the safety and security of our female migrant workers.” To encourage the initiative of RMMRU he said that “it is an excellent example of recognising the contribution of migrants, their families, DEMO and TTCs and RMMRU deserves special thanks for recognising the children of migrants”. To promote skilled migration he said that “I think training should be increased for migrants and they will have more benefits if they are given trainings for 7 to 15 days”. About the declaration of Migration Decade he said “Bring to the notice of the government by providing me in writing. If need be I will forward it to the Honourable Prime Minister with my comments along with the comments” he assured.

The Shommilon awarded the migrants and their family members and migration service providers. Md. Zafar Iqbal, and Mr. Surat Alam were awarded the Shonar Manush Award. Md. Abdur Rashid was awarded the Shonar Manush Poribar award as left behind husband and Othoy Azad Mim, Md. Hasib Hossain, Sadia Akhter, Nafiur Rahman Adib, and Nadiur Rahman Prithib were awarded as left behind children. While four officials of District Employment and Manpower Offices (DEMO) Mr. Debobroto Ghosh, Assistant Director from Cumilla and Mr. Kartick Chandra Debnath, Assistant Director from Tangail, Mr. Mir Kamrul Hossain, Assistant Director from Sylhet and Mr. Sasthi Pada Ray Assistant Director from Faridpur were awarded. Officials of 5 Technical Training Centres, Mr. Eng. Kamruzzaman, Principal of Tangail TTC, Mr. Md. Atiqur Rahman, Principal of Gaibandha TTC, Md. Lutfar Rahman, Principal of Rangpur TTC, Mohammad Sazzad Hossain Bhuiyan, Principal of Barisal BMTTC and Eng. S. M Imdadul Haque, principal of Pabna TTC were awarded for rendering effective services to migrants.

Through festivity of the Shommilon, RMMRU wanted to connect the policymakers, both aspirant and departing as well as returnee migrant workers, their family members and organisations as well that work for migrants’ rights and provide services. A total 19 print media and 10 electric media covered the news of this programme.

Media Coverage

2 cover
Shonar Manush Souvenir 2019