Employer in Bangladeshi burial dispute was “shying from responsibility”: High Commissioner

A Bangladeshi construction worker who died suddenly on January 26 has become the center of a legal battle over the burial of expatriates in the Maldives.

The man, identified as ‘Muneer’, died on January 26 and was buried on February 22, almost a month later. Islamic custom requires that a body be buried as soon as possible after death.

A police spokesperson told Minivan News that police procedure was to wait for permission from the relevant embassy or the Maldivian Foreign Ministry before burying an expatriate.

Police would not comment on how Muneer had died, or whether it was a natural death, stating only that the Health Ministry was preparing a report.

Permission was eventually given by the Foreign Ministry.

The construction company that employed Muneer, Maala High Rising Construction, originally took the matter to the Civil Court claiming that it had paid Rf 31,200 (US$3642) in mortuary costs for Muneer while authorities dithered.

The company’s lawyer, Shaheem Ahmed, said in court that the Bangladeshi High Commission had requested US$1500, then US$3000, and later US$4000, telling the company that a relative of Muneer’s was going to marry.

High Commissioner Rear Admiral Abu Saeed Mohamed Abdul Awal explained to Minivan News that there had been a delay while Muneer’s family was contacted to determine if they wished the employer to repatriate his body, or for him to be buried locally.

“They are a poor family and requested US$3000 in exchange for permission from the next of kin [for authorities ]to perform a local burial [of Muneer],” Rear Admiral Awal said, explaining that this request was relayed to the Maldives Foreign Ministry.

As Muneer was legally employed by the construction company, they had a legal and a moral responsibility for him, he said.

“We have had two cases where people who have [left their] employer, who are illegal immigrants, and when they have died the original employers still provided support and money, not because they had any legal obligation to do so, but because they were good employers and good Muslims.”

“This is an example of an employer shying away from their responsibility.”

Haveeru contacted coworkers of Muneer on the site of the new State Trading Organisation (STO) building on Eydhafushi in Baa Atoll.

Muneer had been in dispute with members of his family for failing to send money to Bangladesh, they told the local newspaper, adding that Muneer’s brother had called him the day he died and “said they had been living with no food.”

“Most probably he died because of a sudden shock that was caused because of the worry he had about his family,” suggested one.

Muneer had been seeking money to return to his home country, the coworkers told Haveeru.

The Planning Department of the Maldives has meanwhile announced that it will surveying expatriate workers in the Maldives to assess their income, expenditure and standard of living.

The Department will be visiting workers’ residences to collect information following the launch of the survey of February 18.


18 thoughts on “Employer in Bangladeshi burial dispute was “shying from responsibility”: High Commissioner”

  1. may his soul rest in peace. Neither the embassy nor the maldivian authorities really care about the appalling conditions of the poor bangladeshi workers. they have to pay huge sums to the so called "agents" who make grand promises and workers find themselves caught up in a horrible cycle of blackmail, crappy pay and ill treatment. maldivian contractors are notorious in their inhumane treatment of the labourers whom they continue to exploit sometimes without pay, proper health care, abuse and substandard living conditions

  2. The construction company definitely is not 'shying away from responsibility', why else would they keep on paying for mortuary!

  3. I wouldn't trust a word coming out of the Bangladeshi High Commission! I'm sure the Commission is taking advantage of their "poor" fellow countryman in every possible way.

  4. The Planning Department just announced survey. Do they realise that there is an ethnic time bomb ticking away in the Maldives.

    Nearly 25% - 30% of the population is made up of foreign labourers and that number is growing week by week. This totally unsustainable, and the country will soon be literally over-run by foreign labourers.

    Just any day from now, you'll have masses of foreigners demonstrating up and down the country demanding "rights" and holding the country to ransom.

    That day is not far. The warning signs are all over the place. When are people going to wake up? When it's too late, obviously!

  5. The only time you'd see Muslim brotherhood is between, for example, Hosni Mubarak and Maumoon Abdul Gayyoom.. Or any other two "brothers" who have something to gain by treating each other like "brothers".. not when someone's in need, cos who cares about anyone who's of no gain for them?

  6. Admittedly, there are a clear cases of ill-treatment of expatriate labour force in the Maldives, involving agents (both local and foreign), employers and authorities. Most often workers take the brunt, with deferred pay for months, appalling living conditions (high percentage of dengue fatalities) and inhumane treatment, making them fugitives and commit suicide! However in this case, the Employer is right in taking the case to the courts and sorting it out “legally” and cannot be seen as “shying away from responsibility”. In fact, he is being responsible and reasonable in not giving that money to the high commission(er), who in most likelihood will pocket it (the demand money kept increasing!), which is not a good practice for anybody, (let alone good Muslims)! There have been similar incidents with the concerned Diplomatic Mission in the past. In one incident, when the Employer contacted the family directly for the details to make the payment, they did not have a clue! Most of the time, these workers have their relatives already working in the Maldives! Check with them first. As for @Ahmed's concern, the problems of expatriate labourers will be solved as soon the Maldivian youth and young adults of the current generation own up to their responsibilities and seriously start “working”, like their forebears had done for centuries.

  7. god forbid the labourers demand "rights". that would mean the end of our slave labour force. we would actually have to treat them as equals, like human beings, even though they are foreign and have little wealth.

  8. "Just any day from now, you’ll have masses of foreigners demonstrating up and down the country demanding “rights” and holding the country to ransom."

    Suvadheeb, why do you make the presumption that foreign laborers are beneath you or Maldivians, and that they should be denied rights?

    All foreigners - whether they're tourists bringing in dollar revenue, or teachers or laborers who build our infrastructure - are entitled to their full Human Rights.

    An unacceptably large percentage of these migrant workers are exploited and living in absolutely abhorrent conditions - and these are open secrets.

    People only march for 'rights' when they do not have any.

  9. I'm ashamed of our government for even letting this happen. This is exploitation of human life.

    Why are there very few Maldivians in the construction industry?

    It's because the pay is horrible and workers rights are non-existent.

    Who's fault is that? The industry or the poor foreign workers they trick into immigrating with promises of wealth?

    Don't blame the victims.

    They probably built the house you're living in.

    The workers if anything SHOULD revolt. The conditions they face are disgusting.

    We can't keep pretending we're modern day pharaohs.

  10. This wouldn’t happen if Maldivians man’d up and started doing some hard work on their own.

    But noooooooooooo they’re scared of a li’l manual labour.

    I wish to see an age without slavery. And by my irradiated left foot, what I want, I get.

  11. When will the government start clearing all these illegal immigrants this country? They should all be sent back to their countries. And the Maldivians who exploit them should all be put into jail or fined heavily.Our economy is affected by trying to subsidize all these illegal workers. Plus they possess an entity for occupying an already diminished space and security of the country.

  12. "Suvadheeb, why do you make the presumption that foreign laborers are beneath you or Maldivians, and that they should be denied rights?"

    You got me wrong totally. ALL humans are equal regards of colour, creed, religion, nationality, caste etc. That wasn't the point I was making.

    Which is why I put the workd "rights" in quotes. I wasn't referring to their Human Rights or fair treatment. I'm fully aware of the abhorrent conditions to which foreign workers are subjected to in this country.

    My concern is the day when > 25% of the population realise they have to political rights! I certainly don't want to see expatriate workers given political rights equal to Maldivian citizens. We are heading towards that unfortunately. No one knows what percentage of the population is currently made up of legal or illegal foreign workers.

    The tipping scale is getting closer and closer and the point I was making was that, very soon, Maldivians won't be a majority ethnic group in their own country. That's a very dangerous situation which we are undoubtedly walking into.

    Don't make the mistake of equating this to people's access to Human Rights or fair treatment. We are talking about something completely different.

  13. The local employers dont really care about the rights of workers. This is worse if they are expatriate workers. The goverment urgently need to protect the rights of expatriate workers. Its simple the country cannot be developed without them, so we need to take care of them.

  14. Suvadheeb,

    I apologize if I misunderstood your comment, then.

    Nevertheless, I still do not think that it's very likely that foreign expats would seek civil/political rights (right to vote, for instance)

    These are not settled migrants looking for a new life in a free country (which the Maldives unfortunately is not), but people with barely enough food on their plates to get ambitious for political power.

    To answer you question, yes. Government statistics show upwards of 70,000 migrant workers - and that is not including the illegal, undocumented workers.

    So yes, it is quite definitely over the 25% mark.

    I'm not if I even have a stand on political rights for immigrants, but I'd really like a Maldivian candidate who would work to improve the plight of 70,000 mostly neglected humans living in our country.

  15. Ministries, please stop wasting funds..if u cant solve this bangladeshi issues, the emerging number of nepali couples working here and others worker issues just put the business closed boards on your doors.

    They are taking our dollers
    This highly uneducated bunch is marrying into our society
    they are bringing in more desease (even stuff we have eradicated)
    They are the ones who benifit most from our subsidised flour, rice and sugar.
    We can even sit in our parks

    When Maldivinas are employed no one gives them food and lodging and medical in addition to their salery. these forigners also get to work part time.
    we need to make maldivians keep all these

  16. If bangladeshis can vote in our elections no maldivians would stand a chance. our adult population is no match for theirs

  17. nobody wants to come here to eat tunna or work in in humane conditions many maldivians are working abroad in resorts owned by foreigners nobody wants to be citizen the basic thing is the rights which no goverment organisation knows the day is not far when others also do the same thing to us


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