September 2007


We’ve heard so many mishaps regarding voter list all these years. However, a death from a voter list fiasco has been unheard of so far. And that just happened in Bangladesh.
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BDnews24.com reports, and ‘surprisingly’ no other newspaper reports, of the death of Tamal Kumar Das of Sitakund, Chittagong at the hand of security forces who were reportedly trying to quell a brawl (?) near a voter registration center.

This incidence again sheds light on the questions raised about using the armed forces in strictly civilian jobs like voter registration. This incident probably is an early reminder of a major problem we have invited in by bringing army out of the barracks for serving some political purpose. Tacit has a brilliant piece with a bigger picture of misplaced use of the armed forces in Bangladesh for political gain of vested quarters.

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Details on the event and more on Burma in mash’s blog.

1972
As a consequence of the Jamaat e Islami’s active support of Pakistan army during the 1971 liberation war, and in forming death squads (al badr and al shams), all Islamic parties are banned. The first Bangladesh constitution lists “secularism” as one of four founding principles.

1973
Daud Haider publishes poem in ‘Sangbad’ literary section where he allegedly insults Prophet Mohammed, Jesus Christ and Gautama Buddha. A college teacher files a case in Dhaka court. Protests ignite, and Dhaka sees first Islamist procession since 1971 liberation war. Haider is taken into protective custody and moves to India in 1975. He later migrates to Germany.

1974
Social worker Engineer Enamul Haq publishes a leaflet which contains reference to the Prophet’s wives, although Haq says it was not meant in a negative way. Death threats and processions are brought out, but the protests diminish as the government of Awami League dismisses the protests as “politics of anti-liberation forces”. Haq spends time in protective custody but is later released.

1978
After a military coup, General Zia ur Rahman removes secularism from constitution. Article 25(2) also provides that “the state shall endeavor to consolidate, preserve and strengthen fraternal relations among Muslim countries based on Islamic solidarity.”

1988
After a military coup, General Ershad passes a constitutional amendment declaring Islam as state religion. National protests are quickly suppressed by the military regime.

Based on the new constitutional amendment, legislation is drafted to declare Ahmadiyas as non-Muslims.

1989
In Md. Jamir Sheikh v Fakir Md. A. Wahab, Magistrate’s Court issues arrest warrants under sections 295A, 298 and 109.
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Professor Aftab Ahmed was an exceedingly talented political scientist and a scholar. Anybody who heard him talk extempore for hours together on any issue with his very dramatic style, can’t have any doubt about his depth.

A leading freeodm fighter, he is credited with first articulating many famous slogans like ‘Tomar Amar thikan, padma meghna Jomuna’ or even possibly ‘Joy Bangla’. After independence he became a leading intellectual dissident of Awami League government and was one of the designers of Ziaur Rahman perceived Bangladeshi nationalism. He is the author of numerous authoritative text book on Political Science and Bangladesh.

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Latest update from New York. Dr. Fakhruddin Ahmed’s talk tonight @ Asia Society is sold out.

Security  blanket has been announced.  Part of the audience will be moved to a different room and watch the event via satellite fed. This is in anticipation of trouble– either in form of questions or protest. Attendees have been told they cannot take  photos.

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Thanks to 1/11 style honestocracy for 38 years, Burma is now at the bottom of Transparency Internationals CPI list. In Bangladesh we thought a poor CPI was because of those two ladies and their thug followers.

And Burma is raging tonight.

With politics systematically destroyed, only political leder ( Another dynastic despot !) under house arrest for almost a decade, Burma has none but the safron robed monks and nuns left to protest on behalf of the suffering 50 million people. And who are guarding the monks by forming human chain along the streets in Rangoon? The poor marginalized street people. The educated, well fed happy middleclass however remain gleeful and contendedat the continued good governance by the junta.
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It’s been more than two months since former PM and Awami League leader Sheikh Hasina was arrested and sent to jail. Looks like, in this 2 and half months, people have already forgotten her. They have forgotten the fact that this leader could not talk to any of her children during the last 75 days. The elder sister of the family, this leader, who lost both her parents, all her three younger brothers, uncles, aunts, cousines in one night: depends very much on he children and the only surviving sister for needed emotional support. She has been deprived of all these. And people have already forgotten that only five months ago she was being prevented from returning to Bangladesh from US and UK. She had the option of staying either in US or UK as a fee person with her sister and children. But she decided to return and face the justice in Bangladesh. Bangladesh is too strong a stake for her.
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These are very frustrating times. Everytime I build up hope on the remaining untainted mechinery of the CTG, I get disappointed, I cringe in disbelief.

Just see todays events,

1. Election Commission Rebuffs BNP delegation:

I have been hoping that the election commission will remain what it is supposed to be. I expected a neutral, fair, pragmatic EC ( Isn’t this the prime reason this government is here for?) and after listening to the chief EC, I saw reasons to be hopeful of. But latest activities by the commission suggest ominous developements.
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I see a mass of humanity, surging forward on Elephant Road. It is ten
minutes to iftaar, and musollis are distributing small snack packages.

This close to the city capital, the rush of poverty overtakes any
semblance of traffic police-created order. Hundreds lunge forward,
moving from their sitting position to get to the front of the line.
The mothers rush with their children in arms, it gets them to the
front of the begging line. Those with older children, leave them in a
safe space. One mother pushes her son, she is hobbling, she wants him
to take her place. “Ja na” she pleads.
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There were protest rally of the bigots in the streets after Jumma prayer today. The rally, mostly composed of madrassa students, was allowed to march from Baitul Mukarram to Shahbag circle, where the rally was stopped using minimum force ( light clubbing).

It is worth mention that this rally was tolerated when the nation is under a state of emergency. Previous such hostile attempts were crushed with the use of horrific force. Exactly one month ago, when Dhaka University students as well as street hawkers took the streets in protest against military and police atrocities, after intial conciliatory efforts, the protests were crushed heavy handedly. Curfew was imposed, convoys of military units cordoned of students residences and they beat the hell out of them before picking up dozens for undisclosed locations. Senior teachers and student leaders were arrested and questioned for weeks, many teachers have been sacked.
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[Photo Banglar Chokh]
The all powerful editor of the most circulated daily in Bangladesh, Mr Motiur Rahman, is begging apology, knees bent, to the boss of the bigots and the head Islamist of Bangladesh,  Khatib Obaidul Haque. Supervising the apology ceremony is none other than the information advisor (Minister) of Bangladesh, Mr Moinul Hossain.

For 30 years we had only BTV where we had to listen only old style Government sermons. Over the last six years, revolutionary developements took place in electronic journalism in Bangladesh. As a free nation we suddenly grew by 100 years.

And someone is trying to put us back by 50 years again.

Don’t eat. Don’t Talk ( Bangalir kotha chhara ar ki achhe?). Only praise the Lord.

Govt issues guidelines for TV talk shows

Dhaka, Sept 20 (bdnews24.com) – The government Tuesday asked private television channels to follow a set of nine guidelines in airing talk shows.

“We did not issue any notice for talk shows. We just gave some unofficial guidelines so that nobody gets in trouble,” information adviser Mainul Hosein told bdnews24.com Thursday.

“We did not impose any prohibitions. We just said the talk shows should be constructive and pre-recorded,” he said.

The guidelines advised television stations not to air more than three to four talk shows a week and edit them before put them on the air.

The government discouraged live talk shows, sms or phone-ins.

The new guidelines asked producers to consider only businessmen, educationists and intellectuals as potential guests.

The government also asked the channels to focus on cultural, economic, social and educational issues.

The information ministry summoned top executives of the television stations Tuesday where Hosein briefed TV bosses on the new guidelines.

Written guidelines were distributed among them after the meeting.

A television channel official, seeking anonymity, told bdnews24.com: “Information ministry officials asked me to attend the meeting in 30 minutes’ notice. Later I was handed a guideline.”

“Our audience may lose interest in talk shows because of these guidelines. Advertisers might pull off as well. Talk shows may get into trouble over this,” he said.

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The government has banned the Eid issue of Bangla-language weekly magazine Shaptahik 2000, a top official said Thursday. Home secretary Abdul Karim told bdnews24.com that the Eid edition of the magazine had carried an article “offensive to religious sensibilities”. The autobiographical article written by Daud Haider, self-exiled in Germany, is at the heart of the controversy. The acting editor of the magazine, Golam Mortoza, told bdnews24.com: “I heard about it. But we didn’t get any official order.” He said the magazine authorities had decided to take the Eid issue off the newsstands, taking into account the “confusion it might have created”. [BDNews24.com]

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The Dhaka district magistrate has suspended the Prothom Alo’s satire magazine Aalpin, three days after it ran a controversial cartoon strip “hurting religious sensibilities”.

In an order, the magistrate informed its publisher that the publication of the cartoon story violated the Printing Press and Publications (Declaration and Registration) Act 1973, the Press Information Department said in a statement Thursday.

“The publisher has been asked to explain in two weeks from notification why the Prothom Alo’s Aalpin magazine will not be banned,” said the order, quoted by PID.

The order asked the publisher to suspend the publication of Aalpin until the issue is resolved.

The order described the satire magazine as unapproved. [ BDNews24.com]

Mr Mustakim, the chief of inter-ministerial committee on control of price hike has delivered a very important startegic plan to control skyrocketing price of essentials. According to his plan, as I heard him talk in TV,

1. People need to starve to reduce food prices. Following the advise of our prophet ” Muhammad”, the nation need to keep 1/3rd of their stomach empty. According to the strategic plan, this step will reduce food price by 1/3 rd.
2. To control high price of Begun ( eggplant), he advised to make Beguni with pepe. So in fact that will be pepeni. He however did not elaborate what will be pepe price when the whole nation, listening to his advise, will race towrads pepe.

……………. Air Vice Marshall ( Now jailed) Altaf does not sound as stupid anymore.

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Our Chief Advisor Fakhruddin Ahmed stole Khaleda Zia’s show. During last five years, Khaleda used to invite some orphans from orphanage to have iftar with her. Mr Fakhruddin has repeated the same heart wrenching gesture of overflowing sympathy for the orphan children. Dr fakhruddin Ahmed, however, had a more colorful guestlist than Khaleda. In the party of Etims ( Orphans), he also included the all powerful Baitul Mukarram Khatib, Moulana Obaidul haque.

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Visiting US foreign office under secretary, Mr “Guest Right”, has paid  a visits to Dr Fakhr U Ahmed and Gen Moeen U ahmed and certified that this government is doing all the right things.

Om Shanti.

We may have longed for years for an independent and free judiciary, an autonommous election commission and a proactive and free anti-corruption commission. Althought current ‘short cut to success’ government is promising all of the above, a parctically independenht judiciary, election commission and anti corruption commission is still a a far cry.

Why do I say that?

Recent moves by EC to patronize breakaway splinte groups of major parties ( cordial long meeting with Mannan Bhuiyan’s delegation and refusal to meet BNP mainstream delegation) has forced people to start thinking twice about EC activities. Similarly recent remarks by Anti corruption commission chairman about the impossibility of his asking for wealth report of government advisors or ACC activities to selectively spare pro government politicians from anti-corruption investigation have already tainted the ACC as a partisan body, serving the rulers. And it was in the news just today on how this CTG has superseeded one judge to promote Justice Matin ( possibly their man of choice) as a judge in Supreme court appeallate division.

Then what government office we are left with? This is the office of the khatib of baitul Mukarram national Mosque. The Khatib, Moulana Obaidul haq is a very powerful character and he enjoys quite an powerful and independent status despite the fact that he is a government employee. In 2001, AL government, after watching his 5 years of activities, sent Khatib Obaidul into retirement. But Khatib promptly returned after winning a legal battle with the government that dragged upto Supreme Court. Even during the last 4 party alliance government, this Khatib has worked totaly at his own will and ferociously independently. Going totally against the governments foreign policy, as early as in 2003, this Khatib Obaidul Haq openly urged the protesters in an antiwar rally to start a war against US. Then he led a protest rally to condemn a reported derogatory remarks on Prophet Hazrat Muhammad (SM) that was made by visiting German scholar Prof Hans G Kippenberg at a seminar organised by the Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies (BIISS). This Khatib denounced the government’s “meddling” when govt wanted to review and reform the madrassa curriculum on the face of International pressure after 9/11.

After nationwide bomblast on August 2005, in an interview, this Khatib stubbornly refused to agree that the bombing could be done by Islamic zealots. He also reiterated his demand for establishiong Islamic rule (Sharia) in Bnagladesh.

ET: Every Islamic leader wants to establish the rule of Islam. Why is there a need for establishing such a rule?
MOH: We are Muslims living in a country where the Muslims are the majority. Why wouldn’t there be a need to establish the rule of Islam? Definitely there is such a need

However very soon this same Khatib changed his stand about the bombing and led a national rally of ‘half Million Mosque’ to protest terrorist bombing in Bangladesh.

And finally as the country president of International Majlis-e-Tahaffuz-e-Khatme Nabuwat Bangladesh (IMTKNB), an international outfit of anti-Ahmadiyya diehards, this Khatib Obaidul Haq has been a leading figure of Anti ahamadiya movement in Bangladesh.

And this same Khatib is now leading the  campaign against daily Prothom Alo, utilizing the cartoon issue.

So much for freedom of the religion (of the majority) in Bangladesh! And so much for independent institutions in Bangladesh!

Marhaba our Dear khatib!

[Cross posted at Unheard Voices] 

Are we seeing a Bangladesh version of Dutch cartoon fiasco? Recently a cartoon at weekly Alpin magazine of Daily Prothom-Alo raised protests among the bigots and Muslim fundamentalists of Bangladesh.

Daily prothom Alo swiftly withdrew the issue and apologized for the cartoon. I am not sure whether that was needed, but this should have been enough for those who may have been offended.

However an alarming news just came . Bangladesh Government has arrested the cartoonist Mr Arifur Rahman.

This arrest raises serious concern about continued patronization of the religious zealots, fundamentalists and bigots by the successive governments in Bangladesh.

A cartoonist should be sensitive about sensitive religious issues and should try not to hurt peoples’ feelings. However, if a mistake is made, a promt withdrawl and apology should suffice.

The arrest of the cartoonist tantamounts to very easy giving in to the demands of bigots. And if the bigots can lodge such an easy victory, why they would not  be more aggressive tomorrow in their demands. e.g. What if the same group start demanding closing of all the restaurant during ramadan daytime and then asking all women to wear hizab in public? Isn’t the government opening a floodgate, a very dangerous floodgate?

We have seen this government as very heavy handed in dealing with centrist politicians. Very powerful personalities have been jailed for months without charge. Senior politicians getting 30 something years jail term with silly allegations.

Where is this uncompromising, headstrong attitude towards Islamic bigots?

We are seeing a systematic destruction of center right. Can’t we see that anihilation of center right will push all towards far right?

And with the arrest of cartoonist Arifur rahman, meet our Mr. Far Right.  

How would you answer the following questions?

1. Did this government ever use/abuse administrative power to promote its political agenda?
2. Did this CTG resort to nepotism?
3. Did this government treated corruption charges against its’ political opponents and political supporters in the same eye?
4. Did this government control the price hike?
5. Did this government solve load shedding or at least adopted effective measures for long term solution?
6. Did this government resort to abuse of minority or human rights violation?
7. Did this government use the media to promote its own causes?
8. Did this government curtail feedom of press? Did previous governments do this?
9. Did the head of the government meet the local press regularly?
10. Did the government influence the judiciary?

Now, do you still believe that the CTG is superior to the previous governments? On what ground?
We can discuss.

Mr Mukul Bose changed his mind and has just declared that there would be no council and election participation without Sheikh Hasina. However only a couple of weeks ago, Mr Bose told exactly the opposite. Critiques may attribute his sudden change in mind to an unwanted incident that took place in front of Awami League office last week.

On a separate occassion, the first political iftar party of this season took place in Dhaka yesterday. Observers waited for this event and the media hype was quite a thing about Mr Mannan Bhuiyan’s Iftar party cum political showdown. It, now looks like that the mountains have delivered a mouse and despite some newspapers attempts to present it as the political moment of the century, we failed to see one single new face or single new direction. There were the same corrupt, limelight craving talkative turncoats chanting slogan for mannan Bhai.
Good luck Bangladesh.

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[Photo: Cricinfo] 

After many days, again there was an explosion of Ashraful and Aftab dream combination of nuclear power in batting. Ashraful’s 27 ball 61 and Aftab’s 49 ball 62 helped Bangladesh win a decisive victory against West Indies. Congratulations Bangladesh.

Awami League’s pro-government Pro-reform leaders were chased (And in certain cases, kicked) today after Awami league working committee meeting. This barbaric act was a job of grassroots party workers evil forces.

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And also for the 3rd consecutive day, BNP activists and supporters thugs and goons from all over the country spontaneously gathered in front of party office and were resisted by the Mannan Bahini Police force.

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