By Ashraf Abdul-Wahab and Michel Cousins.
Tripoli, 30 August:
Shahjahan Mia was an extremly poor Bangladeshi whose only aim was to find work . . .[restrict]somewhere — anywhere. That aim brought him from Comilla, a town some 50 kilometres east of the capital, Dhaka where he lived with his parents and his wife, to Libya — illegally as it happened. But not for long. Within a week of arriving earlier this month, he was dead — stabbed when he and his two friends were attacked.
The circumstances of his death are difficult to reconstruct. The Libya Herald was contacted by his brother-in-law in Bangladesh, Saief Ul-Haque, who asked us to help get Shajahan’s body repatriated.
According to Ul-Haque, a recruitment company in Bangladesh had told 43-year old Shajahan and his friends that there were jobs for them in Egypt, sewing clothes. They went. The cost of the trip was $1,500 for all three.
But the real object was to get to Libya and work there. Indeed, as far as the Libya Herald can ascertain, Egypt was never intended to be anything more than a staging post. Libya was always the real destination — although it is possible it too was a staging post en route to Europe,
However, getting into Libya was not easy, and it was to cost more.
According to Saief Ul-Haque, a Bangladeshi agent was paid $1,000 to organise travel to Libya and jobs for the three. They arrived in Libya on August 11 and headed for Benghazi. It was there, on 18 August, that he was stabbed in the back after returning from work, and died.
All three entered the country without any visas; the Bangladeshi agent had clearly fixed it. A Libyan official, who asked not to be named, began investigating the case after being contacted by the Libya Herald and said that Shahjahan went to Egypt on a work visa and then from Egypt entered Libya. The dead man could not have had a visa, the official said, because the Libyan embassy in Cairo issues visas only to Egyptians or foreigners officially resident in Egypt. Bangladeshis have to obtain work visas at the Libyan Embassy in Bangladesh unless they are officially resident elsewhere.
The Libya Herald then contacted the Bangladeshi embassy in Tripoli where the ambassador, A.B.M. Nur Uz-Zaman, ordered immediate action on hearing about the case. Using the number provided by ourselves, Labour Affairs attaché Mohamed Ahsan Kibria Siddiqui straightway phoned Saief Ul-Haque in Bangladesh to obtain all the details and assure him that the embassy would do all it could to help.
Siddiqui afterwards told the Libya Herald that the embassy would complete all necessary proceedings to ensure the dead man’s body was returned to his family. He expected it to happen by the end of this week or early next week. He promised to keep the Libya Herald informed of all developments and send a copy of the police and prosecution investigation reports.
He also added that the embassy would try to obtain compensation for Shajahan’s family including the cost of sending the body home from the killer whom, he had been told, had been arrested.
Getting compensation is important. Shahjahan was the only son in the family and, according to the brother-in-law, his elderly parents cannot afford to pay the costs of repatriating the body themselves.