October 2006


Sheikh Hasina along with her top leaders meets President and CTG chief Professor Iazuddin Ahmed.

Sheikh Hasina uses elaborate SSF security, Presidential Guard Regiment protocol with multiple flag cars, motorcycle guards on her way to Bangavaban.

14 Part postpones all the hartal and blockade until Nov 3rd.

Peaceful rally by AL at Purana paltan, Muktangon, and by BNP at Naya Paltan. RAB, BDR , police is in full control of the area. No logi, boitha visible in Dhaka streets anymore.

Ershad somersaults again. Now he says he is going with 4 party alliance. Just 3 days ago he mentioned he was not going with 4 party.

People head home, normal life slowly resumes in Dhaka.

Election nomination mad rush begins; slowly.

LDP press conference held. Again B Chowdhury’s mild mannered gentle speech is cut short by Col Oli’s crude trash-talk.

Dhaka, Oct 29 (bdnews24.com) – The Awami League Sunday night lent quiet support to President Iajuddin Ahmed taking over as head of the caretaker administration and said it was up to him to prove if he was “acceptable”.

“It’s not about accepting him or not. At least not for now … He did not go by the constitution … now that he has taken over we’ll wait and see. It’s now up to him to prove if he is acceptable,”

“We wanted him to appoint a caretaker government by Sunday. He’s done that. But if he hadn’t made himself the head of caretakers, it would have been better.

“He’s violated the constitution which he’s pledge-bound to uphold. There were options in the constitution.”

Hasina criticised the way the President handled the swearing-in ceremony. She said she had received the invitation card “only five minutes before the ceremony”.

“We could have welcomed him if he had done that following the principles of the constitution.”

(more…)

BNP betrayed with democracy and started the process to kill what remaining of it we had.

Awami League is a pathetic failure, failing to deliver any hope for the country.

Now President took over the CTG.

A Supreme Court petition is coming. For sure. ( Or very less likely, AL will accept Iazuddin, demand removal of CEC and other EC etc)

What our Supreme Court can do?

By constitution, is it true no one can sue the president? I know at least he can not be held in contempt of court. So does that that mean he does not have to listen to Supreme Court directive?

Can Supreme Court then give a guideline, which will save all the faces ( Those needed a salvage) and at the same time ensure a free and a fair election involving all the parties?

Now It’s Official.

Iajuddin Takes oath.

And No advisors has been declared. No word of any cabinet.

Then who runs the government now? Iajuddin alone can’t.

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President sworn in as chief of caretaker govt

Opposition absent at ceremony, Khaleda happy; Iajuddin seeks blessings, prepares to name 10 advisers

(more…)

The two major warring parties were at a reasonable distance. BNP was stationed in front of their office at Naya (New) Paltan and AL was at Purana (Old) Paltan. And ironically the word Paltan loosely means a military garrison.

While the BNP rally, at New Paltan, absolutely peaceful, was having musical soiree performed by the JSS artists, Awami League gathering was first busy using their energy fighting pitched battle with the police for the control of Purana (Old) Paltan.

And while a disciplined New Paltan Rally, filled with corrupt ministers and MPs, was showcasing a calm, confident, reassuring and stable presence of BNP leadership, Awami League then started an unforeseen violent street battle with Jamaat /Shibir. .

While BNP kept their composure in New Paltan, they sent their smaller B team buddy Jamaat to tackle 14 party.
And 14 party took the bait like a hungry fish. They were seen beating to death two jamaat activists while they themselves lost at least two of their workers to jamaat firearms.
Police as expected kept quite. Babar is still playing his game.

And at the end 14 party was seen fighting a lost battle with political minnows Jamaat.

Jamaat gained back all the ground they lost during the five years in rural Bangladesh, where, religion and Muslim communalism still play a big role in election politics.

The first play of the election Drama has just unfolded.

And while 14 party activsts rests for the night, tired, injured, battle fatigued, Khaleda Zia gives the war call, “respond to them in their own language!”

And another drama unfolds in Bangabhavan. 14 party scores first with K M Hassan declining to take the job. However it gets equalized quickly as BNP reportedly refuses to accept Justice Mahmudul Amin and Justice Hamidul Haq citing constitutional clauses.

In two days a total of 17 souls loss their lives.

The New generation leaders of BNP and Old generation leaders of AL/14 party go back to drawing board for tomorrows plan.

And millions of Dhakaites, sick old men, children, pregnant women, while trying to return home after Eid vacation, remain stranded at roads, ports, rivers, trains.

An election looms nearer, the election between a corrup Naya BNP and a disconnected Purana AL while these few days images will be very fresh in memory.

The 31 point Demand:

There was 31 point election reform demand of 14 party alliance. Let me throw a challenge in this board. Do any of you know what those are? After quite a bit of digging, I could unearth 13 of them.

However, we may not know what the 31 points are, but we know who Justice Hassan is. And we all know that he can not perform his constitutional duty because a major political party has to score a victory.

Justice Hassan:

The closer we get to the moment of truth, the more it gets clear that Justice K M Hassan is not accepting the job which has been mandated to him constitutionally.
He is under immense pressure from, well, everyone but ruling 4 party coalition. So who are these “everyone’? They are all the opposition parties, their B teams, including “Shommilito Shangskritik jote, Shommilito nagorik front, Supreme court bar association, plus, otherwise independent voices like all the major dailies including Daily Star, prothom Alo, Ittefaq etc.

Justice Hassan’s fault? He joined BNP at the time it was formed.
(more…)

While we wait for the events to unfold within the next few days, let me explain my take on a 3rd political force.

1. Liberal democratic party has been formed and Bangladesh citizens are embracing this new entity in the hope that it will be the much coveted 3rd party. I knew LDP was coming, but was not as elated.

Why not?

B and Mahi Chowdhury with Major Mannan formed a quite organized political party called Bikalpa Dhara within a short time. Mahi has been forced to learn politics from the basic grassroots level. I was hoping Oli and others will join this force under B Chowdhury’s leadership.

Col Oli was in Michigan this summer. No doubt he is relatively honest, headstrong, and outspoken. But I also saw in him was grandiosity, impractical ambition and a lot of rhetoric.

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There are forty five dead bodies.

While we savor our ever intensifying patriotism over our keyboards in the heated (or chilled) environment of our bedroom,those forty-five dead bodies,already began to decompose, await post mortem.

We discuss humanism over the net.On this cyberworld, we confront Hindutva; we discover neo-Indian imperialism over Bangladesh.Those forty-five bodies, with vivid evidence of disease all over,each a text book of malnutrition,keep on rotting at the hot and humid mortuary floor of Gaibandha District Hospital.

We, on the pages of the web,resent US foreign policy,wage war against Islamism, fundamentalism.We discuss faulty global economic policies,we write up lengthy sophisticated articles on the current autocratic and religio-fundamentalist state of Bangladesh.Those 45 bodies; children; men—young and old;women—mothers, grandmothers and to be moms;lie naked on the floor of the dark and haunted GaibandhaDistrict Hospital morgue.Now more rotten, infested with maggot, insects. Waiting for Post mortem.

We struggle die hard for the causes of rationalism,we are hell-bent to fight any infringement in freedomof speech,we spend hundreds of web hours to ensure press freedom. And the children of those fathers among the forty-five dead, cry day and night, now in hunger, not in grief anymore.

On this net we are ever vigilant against any blasphemy against our sacred independence and we rally to uphold the spirit of our war of independence.The typical North-Bengal village where those forty five came from, gets poor and poorer.
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Whoever knows US politics, must know of Karl Rove, the shadowy political advisor of President Bush and the architect of victory in last three elections.

I see a replica of Karl Rove in Haris Chowdhury, the political secretary of Khaleda Zia. Haris Chowdhury does not probably only end up being Khaleda Zia’s political secretary; he is apparently the political guru/coach/philosopher/trainer of Tareque Zia. And at the same time he also plays the role of the con-man of PMO and Hawa Bhavan, e.g. he is responsible for asking money for ‘party fund’ to nomination seekers.

I do not believe Haris Chowdhury wants a solution at the end of Oct 23rd dialogue.

I have been trying to see what’s going on in the head of this guy regarding caretaker government, Justice Hassan and opposition demands.

Khaleda Zia has been quite hawk about the whole reform idea. I feel this is Haris doctrine.
Haris Chy and Jamaat’s Mujahid shares a hawkish stand about opposition demands. As per my assumption, these may all be well calculated moves and traps. And opposition has so far stepped into all the traps set by Haris.
The last trap was the opposition leader Tofayel Ahmed’s declaration that the moment CTG takes oath, there will be lagatar Hartal.

BNP is dying for that. They want AL to do exactly what they are threatening to do, i.e. impose a reign of terror and anarchy over a weak CTG. They want AL to make people suffer with lagatar hartals before Hassan steps down for a compromise candidate. Haris may believe that if Hassan has to go, why should it look like BNPs failure? His thought is, then, let him go at the cost of AL. Haris thinks that’s the only hope of erasing the memory of exorbitant market price, load shedding from peoples mind. This will give BNP time and issue for regrouping before the election campaign. AL called hartals will be fresh in people’s memory and load shedding etc will fall behind those hartal memories.

While trying to fathom th eplans of Haris, I feel hopeless about the prospect of this dialogue. I also hope that my assumptions are wrong. One possible way that will stop Haris plan from working is if Justice Hassan declines to take the job or he does not find enough advisor to run the government.

What do you think about the outcome of Mannan Jalil dialogue?

We had a pre-planned meeting with Mrs Nurjahan Begum of Grameen Shikhkha, the scholarship management program of Grameen Bank for the benefit of underprivileged students .

She offered us to a day long field trip at one of the Grameen locations to see the activities of Grameen. Due to time restraint, we decided to do it the following day. A car was rented, a Grameen Bank officer, MR. Shahabuddin would accompany us to Madhabpur of Singair Thana at Manikganj.

Here is a pictorial essay of the day,
We went deep inside Bangladesh, we drove beside the paddy fields,

We walked through paddy fields

These farmer’s family members get loans for seeds, tractor rent, fertilizer etc.

GS Scholarship recipients, walked miles to meet us

They walked miles to greet us at the Bank office. We found them waiting for us.
As grameen scholarship recipients, their high school and college education expenses are partly met by Grameen education scholarship.

Please view the full post with 32 more pictures in next page.

(more…)

A leading news in a local newspaper in Queensland, Australia’s gold coast.

A RELIGIOUS feud between a Muslim father and his teenage daughter may have sparked a bloody domestic dispute on the Gold Coast which left the man’s wife dead and him fighting for life in hospital.

Police are investigating suggestions the violence erupted after the 17-year-old girl told her father she wanted to opt out of the Islamic faith and convert to Christianity. The girl’s mother is believed to have stepped in to protect her daughter, only to be fatally stabbed with a kitchen knife.

Neighbours reported hearing “blood-curdling” screams before the hysterical girl ran half-naked from their Southport home unit covered in scratches.

Police later found the body of the girl’s mother, 41, inside the blood-smeared unit. Her husband was taken to the Gold Coast Hospital with a stab wound to the chest. He was last night in a critical condition under police guard.

Neighbour Caitlin Dalton was taking out the rubbish about 7pm on Monday when she heard “loud, huge, terrifying screams” coming from the unit complex.

“She (the teenager) was yelling, ‘Help me, help me, they’re trying to kill me’,” Ms Dalton said. “Everybody heard the screams but we couldn’t work out which unit they were coming from. Then this girl emerged in the stairwell hysterical and crying.

“Her clothes had been ripped off, she was just in her underwear and she had quite severe scratches down her arm and across her back.”

Ms Dalton said that as residents tried to comfort the sobbing girl, she told how she had wanted to “convert from the Islam religion . . . and obviously her father didn’t handle it very well”.

“She said her parents were really strict,” Ms Dalton said

And within hours the news has been picked up by numerous blogs like this, this , this , this and numerous others, all taking it as another opportunity to raise their point against religion Islam.

Thankfully, what was not mentioned in the story was that the family involved was a Bangladeshi immigrant family living in Australia for some years and the father is a physician.

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NEWS UPDATE: The following day, almost all of Australian newsmedia grabbed this news. The father Dr Muhammad Hossain, a chittagong Medical College graduate, a senior GP and Fellow of Royal Australian College has been named in the media.

The media took the event as an honor killing although the clear sequence of events sorrounding fatal stab of Mrs Yasmeen Hossain and critical wound of Dr Hossain remains unclear.

The local mosque Imam made a statement that there is no ritual of honor killing in Islam and rather it may be a cultural practice in some third world countries, with apparent reference to Bangladesh.

This is worth mention that ritual honor killing is absolutely unheared of in Bangladesh. Changing religion is a big commitment in Bangladesh culture and parents can never accept their children changing religion. But I never heared of any killing on this issue. What commonly happens is that he/she who changes religion is disowned by the family and the community. This practice is very commonplace in all the religions in Bangladesh.

Immense irrational hope, followed by utter hopelessness—Thy name is Bangladesh Cricket.
After extravagant investment of hope, time, sleep and money for being a fan of Bangladesh cricket, I am now broken hearted, clueless and hopeless. After the humiliating 10 wicket loss to West Indies, I finally give up on Bangladesh cricket team, only to get rejuvenated with a new hope before the next tournament.

1. Sheikh Hasina
2. Rejection of 2001 election result as fabricated.
3. Street movement from first day to topple the government and frequent swearing in, that the government is going to fall within the next
few weeks.
4. Failure to protest post election minority persecution in different districts.
5. Parliament boycott.
6. Hartal, after promising the nation in the previous year, when AL will be in the opposition there would be no hartal.
7. Abdul Jalil.
8. Bright upcoming new leadership like Saber, Noor.
9. Predictable old schoolers like Amu, Tofayel, Maya etc.
10. Sheikh Hasina verbose: BNP is doing all the bombing.
11. Failure to utilize the post 21st August national sentiment.
12. April 30th deadline.
13. Failure to lodge a strong protest of Kibria, Ahsanullah Master murder.
14. Sheikh Hasina: Restrained and carefully positive about Bangladesh while meeting foreign dignitaries, (I still remember a smiling
Hasina meeting Kuwaiti Emir and pleading funds for her country.)
15. Failed courtship with H M Ershad
16. Welcome step to impose an age limit on Chhatra league leadership.
17. Wild dancing about JMB, Bangla Bhai issue. Inconsistent and often conflicting stand on this issue.
18. Sheikh Hasina verbose: Take revenge on the sisters and wives of the bad policemen.
19. Return to parliament after absence of four years and bringing life back to parliamentary democracy.
20. Failing to budge BNP on any issues, taking a constitutionally weak caretaker government hostage for pressing forward its demands.

1. Gigantic 60 strong ministry.
2. Tareque Zia.
3. Failure to protect the minority during post election violence in different districts.
4. Killing of Ekushey TV.
5. Tareque Zia.
6. Removal and humiliation of Dr Badruddoza Chowdhury.
7. Syndicate.
8. Ruthless barbaric oppression on Bikalpa Dhara programs.
9. Tareque Zia.
10. Systemic BNPization of the government machinery.
11. Major Syed Iskander.
12. Rise of reckless Hawa Bhavan. Cricket and Tehari fun during oposition Gherao of Hawa Bhavan keeping all of Dhaka locked out.
13. Barkatullah Bhulu.
14. Ignoring warnings of Islamic militant threat and term them as creations of Media.
15. Violent, corrupt, uncontrollable unaccounted for police brutality on opposition.
16. Tareque Zia.
17. Laudable efforts by education state minister is eradicating cheating in public exams.
18. Shameless corruption in all public sectors.
19. Ruhul Kuddus Talukdar Dulu.
20. Blatant, unbelievable partisan mismanagement and abuse of national health sector.
21. Popular RAB, relative feeling of safety.
22. Tareque Zia.
23. Unforeseen failure in power sector under direct supervision of PMO.
24. Giasuddin -Al Mamun.
25. Failure in the basic job of a democratic Bangladesh government, keeping the essential prices under control.
26. Nasiruddin Pintu.
27. Successful extermination of JMB and Bangla Bhai.
28. Tareque Zia.
29. Chief Whip Delwar Hossain and his son and cafeteria rice.
30. Tareque Zia.
31. Destruction of national carrier Biman.
32. Captain Shameem Iskander.
33. A forgotten Zia.
34. Failed Tata deal.
35. Successful Rupali Bank deal.
36. Tareque Zia.
37. Major Syed Iskander.
38. “Allar Mal Allah Nichhe”: Air vice Marshall Altaf.
39. Corruption.
40. Load Shedding.

Today’s commentary by editor Mahfuz Anam of the Daily Star and editor Motiur Rahman of Daily Prothom-Alo are clear reflections of our politicians’ discomfort of journalistic freedom.
Awami League and its current leadership in fact should have been appreciative of the media personnel in Bangladesh for kindly forgetting a black past. On June 16 1975, all the newspapers except four state owned newspapers were closed by a government order. Thousands of journalists and newspaper workers became jobless overnight. 9 leading editors and 400 journalists were forced to join the ruling party. Journalist organizations used to commemorate that event every 16th June since 1975, but lately a new generation of journalists has rightly decided to forget and forgive that past and look forward. So we no longer hear about 16th June black day in our mainstream newspapers.
Taking lesson from that mistake it was expected that AL will be more respectful to news media and journalists. But some recent events really throw doubt in that assumption.

Sheikh Hasina’s false statement and accusations against Daily star and Prothom-Alo editors reminds us how irresponsible and intolerant these leadership can be. She should not make statements out of mere hearsay from the cohorts who surround her. (Now it makes me to suspect, of what she tells about her political opponents, how much is really the fact).

Another event that testifies the same attitude of Awami League as a party. Recently AL working committee has unanimously decided not to allow 4 TV channels owned by BNP leadership in AL/Sheikh Hasina programs. What does it mean? Any journalist covering event must be supporting AL. If not, they will not be allowed to work. If there were false tainted news, there is a better way of protesting, like rejoinder, protest etc. How many times AL did that with NTV etc? This is not democratic. One may wonder, if AL acts this way while in opposition, what they will do when in power?

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On the other hand, BNP did not fare well with journalists as well. Worst of all was the crime they did in killing Ekushey TV. And the way BNP is trying to stop the rebirth of Ekushey TV is unacceptable, totally against any civil democratic norm. If one makes a list of the bad things this government has done, killing of Ekushey will be near the top.

Let’s start with USA, the icon of democracy. The president of this country was initially elected by a Supreme Court decision, not by publics vote. And although it was face to face election, the person bagging more votes did not get the power. And over the last six years, on the plea of war against terrorism, basic principles of democracy and liberty are trampled one after one.

Then Go to UK, the birth place of this industrialized democratic civilization. The elected prime minister is more influenced by a leader of a different country on the other side of the Atlantic than his own constituency, his own colleagues in the parliament.

In the rest of the democratic Europe, conservative, more authoritative hawkish parties are winning the election one after another.
A man is ruling a continent called Australia and he is also apparently more inclined to appease the king of world than his own people.

Democracy in the rest of the world, Africa, Asia is nothing but a joke. Most cases there are monarchy running in the name of democracy, notable among these dynasty are the Nehru Dynasty of India, Lee dynasty of Singapore, the Chakri dynasty of Thailand, Sukorno dynasty of Indonesia, with here and there some half hearted experiments of democracy ( Japan, Korea, New Zealand, south Africa etc.)

And now zoom in to Bangladesh.
The options people have are either, Hasina and Joy- the daughter and the grandson: Khaleda and Tareque-widow and the son or an ambitious army general.

In the middle ages, ruler used to be decided by palace politics and usually at the cost of some royal blood. Now a days, rulers and ruling family are decided by street politics and at the cost of some subjects’ life.

And at the end of the day, be it Tareque, Joy or Ershad, there is basically no different in the life of people except a handful.

Malaysia and Mahathir is probably the most frequently quoted words in our political tea cup storm. Mahathir himself was never an icon of democracy, he was an authoritarian leader.

In fact there is no moral high ground in supporting a corrupt son or a disconnected grandson than a general or an authoritative ruler.

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But there is definitely a moral high ground in supporting democracy. This democracy is not about selecting the family who will occupy the palace and exploit the subjects. This democracy is about social justice, the freedom of speech. Because we have democracy, I can write this blog without fear, because there is democracy, I can watch what I watch in TV news, because there is democracy, there is finally an agreement about the garments workers minimum wages, because there is democracy 4th largest national Bank, Rupali goes to the real highest bidder, because there is democracy poeple like Anu Muhamamd can speak out loud against Fulbari oppression, becasue there is democracy Golam Rabbani finally comes out victorious in Kansat, because there is democracy, people in Bangladesh have a hope, the hope for better days. People under communist regime in East Europe didn’t even have any hope.

There are many reasons to be hopeful of my friends.

Failure of leadership does not make the system a failure. Islam is in the wrong hands now a days, it does not mean that Islam is all bad. Similarly, there is no reason to denounce democracy because the custodians have failed to perform.

Let’s try to separate democracy from the people who abuse it.

Every time Ramadan or Eid comes, my mail box fills up with happy Ramadan or Eid Mubarak Messages. Happy Ramadan and Eid Mubarak extravaganza goes on for several days in those class or community yahoogroups I subscribe to. My Hindu, Chakma, Buddhist, Christian friends all generously spray us with greetings.

As this time Ramadan beginning and Durga Puja fall at the same time, I had a rude awakening. While all of us were showered with Happy Ramadan blessings, I hardly saw any reciprocation by shuvo Bijoya greetings. No a single group I subscribe to had a greeting coming out of a Muslim or a Christian member for the Hindu friends on the occasion of Durga Puja.

When the goal is a Bangladesh with a perfect religious harmony, our indidual mindset is the playground and here we have to start our work. When each unit, an individual Bangladeshi, gets illuminated with tolerance, we will have hardly any work left undone to ensure a complete religious freedom.

Shuvo Bijoya And Happy Ramadan My Dear Friends