Photo by Taslima Akhter

“I have been asked many questions about the photograph of the couple embracing in the aftermath of the [Rana Plaza building] collapse [in Bangladesh]. I have tried desperately, but have yet to find any clues about them…Every time I look back to this photo, I feel uncomfortable—it haunts me. It’s as if they are saying to me, we are not a number—not only cheap labor and cheap lives. We are human beings like you. Our life is precious like yours, and our dreams are precious, too.

They are witnesses in this cruel history of workers being killed. The death toll is now more than [1,127]. What a harsh situation we are in, where human beings are treated only as numbers.

This photo is haunting me all the time. If the people responsible don’t receive the highest level of punishment, we will see this type of tragedy again. There will be no relief from these horrific feelings. I’ve felt a tremendous pressure and pain over the past two weeks surrounded by dead bodies. As a witness to this cruelty, I feel the urge to share this pain with everyone. That’s why I want this photo to be seen.”

Taslima Akhter, a Bangladeshi photographer and activist, writing in the May 8, 2013 edition of Time.