October 2010


In the year 2000, according to Corruption Perception Index ( CPI) repoted by Berlin based Transparency International (TI), Nigeria was ” the most corrupt Country” in the World. Nigeria’s score was 1.2 and it ranked 90th among 90 countries surveyed.

How did Bangladesh do in 2000? Bangladesh was not even in the list of corrupt countries in 2000 ( Bangladeshi media will report this way). Fact is that Transparency International did not even start collecting and reporting data from Bangladesh.

Then came 2001. Data from Bangladesh started being reported in annual TI report. While 12 surveys were assayed in case India ( whose score was 2.7); one 3 indicators were assessed in case of newly included Bangladesh. Bangladesh’s score was a meager 0.4 and naturally Bangladesh earned the coveted 91st or last position. Interestingly, Nigeria improved by ranking, lowest to second lowest but it’s CPI score worsened from 1.2 to 1.

In 2001 report, Bangladesh scoring was so weak that TI had to add this caution at the end of it’s report,

“Data for this country in 2000 was available from only three independent survey sources, and each of these yielded very different results. While the composite score is 0.4, the range of individual survey results is from -1.7 to +3.8. This is a greater range than for any other country. TI stresses, therefore, that this result needs to be viewed with caution.”

In 2002 ten new countries were added to make it 102 and Bangladesh was again last (102nd) by scoring 1.2. 1.2 is a big improvement from 0.4 in 2001 but still only 5 survey sources were used with great number of variability between sources.

In 2003 Bangladesh’s score improved to 1.3 but Bangladesh still was at the bottom. Nigeria remained second while it’s scores dropping again.

In 2004 although Bangladesh continue to improve it’s score, now 1.5, Bangladesh shared the last ( 145th spot) with Haiti. Haiti’s score dropped from previous year.

In 2005, Bangladesh improved score further to 1.7 but still was at the bottom ( 158th) with Chad.

(more…)

Advertisements

Opposition leader Khaleda Zia had a rally in Sirajganj, Pabna. As local BNP leader and organizer of the event, Mr Iqbal Mahmud Chowdhury states, first he intended to hold the rally in a field of a local college. However, as local unit of ruling Awami League student wing called another meeting at the same time and same venue, opposition leader’s meeting was moved to a field next to a railway track. Day night public announcement were going on  3 days.

As people were gathering for the meeting and big crowd was sitting on the railway track while listening local leaders speak, a train, coming in full seed, rammed into the crowd. Seven people lost their lives. Five instantly, two later.  Like anywhere in the country, the angry mob burnt several train compartments for killing of their comrades. This is a commonplace event in 21st century Bangladesh. Every time a bus / truck kills some pedestrian/ student– local mob runs amok and resort to a orgy of destruction. In Sirajganj it was already a protest rally and public was already gathered. Naturally violence erupted very easily.   Several train compartments were vandalized and burnt.

Since this happened, government, totally ignoring seven deaths and the deadly failure in railway communication warning safety net, only focused on the post accident vandalism. Fof the government, five train compartments were much more important that seven BNP supporters lives. Very shockingly, the mainstream media had a similar attitude.

 

No investigation was even initiated to find the fault in railway communication network. After few hue and cry by opposition secretary general, one fine morning railway announced that it was “SIMPLY” an accident. None bothered to care why the accident happened. Seven lives lost. No one cared.

But hell broke lose on the activists and supporters of BNP. Cases of destruction of government property were filed against few thousand unnamed. And unprecedented crackdown on the opposition was launched. Score of people were hunted down and put behind bar everyday.

16 more held over Sirajganj train attack

32 more held over Sirajganj vandalism

4 more held over Sirajganj train attack

16 more held in Sirajganj

5,000 sued, 20 held, 1 more body identified

6 BNP leaders sued, 32 more held

20 held over Sirajganj violence

Nearly hundred were arrested by the end of the week.  Few hundred more are still hiding, being relentlessly pursued by police.  Every single day reports are being published about arrests made in Sirajganj train vandalism case.

There was clear failure in Railway communication system is pre-warning the running train that a public meeting was going, people are sitting on the track and the train must slow down. For God’s sake this could have been a public meeting of Awami League or a non political gathering or a passenger bus stuck over the railway tracks or it might have been a gorur haat on railway track. . There must be a safety net in Bangladesh railway system where trains are warned in advance about trouble in tracks ahead. As a train passenger, I have seen many times trains wait in remote places awaiting clearance from next station to be able to proceed. That day this warning system failed. Sirajganj station must know that a public meeting was going on.  How could they give a green signal for the train to proceed?

 

It seems, as long as the people killed were all BNP activists, Government as well as the media are not interested in finding any crime/ flaw in it. And it seems, if they could, government would have rewarded the persons responsible for ramming a speedy train on a public meeting of opposition party BNP.

Yes, this is our Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s Bangladesh.  And this is the video footage …

I did not want to post this gruesome video in this blog. This video shows how an elected representative of people, a local government leader, Upazilla Chairman ( representing the people of one of total 460 Upazilla in Bangladesh), Mr Sanaullah Noor ( Nickname Babu), was chopped to death.

The event developed in this way. A mid-level opposition leader was supposed to visit the specific upazilla and this Upazilla Chairman, belonging to the opposition party, brought out a welcome procession with 15-20 of his supporters in the main thoroughfare of the Upazilla. Suddenly, in broad daylight, in front of thousands of onlookers and dozens of jurnalists, few dozens of activists of ruling party, armed with hatchets, axes, sticks, knives attacked the  procession led by Mr Noor. As the procession dispersed under attack the attackers converged on the leader, Mr. Noor. As shown in this video, the attackers kept on beating Mr Noor, even when he was down in the street, bleeding profusely and begging for life. Some of teh attackers took knives to cut the arteries at both arms and the tendons of both legs.

The group was led by Mr Zakir Hossain ( fade jeans, light shirt with a stick at hand), a leader of Awami League local chapter. At some point he is seen chasing a journalist attempting to take photos of the killing. nearly a dozen of journalists were brutally beaten during this event and some are still in hospital with grievous injuries.

 

(more…)

We read newspaper daily. Sometimes some news makes us sad, some news makes us angry, some ews make us optimistic, some news makes us skeptical and some news makes us curious.

Here are some news from today and how my mind reacted to those news.

***********************************************************************

 

বিপুল ভট্টাচার্যের পাশে সতীর্থরা

It is a news of mixed emotion. The lively presence and powerful voice of young Bipul Bhattacharya as shown in our war documentary ” Muktir Gaan” is unforgettable. His illness is sad. But efforts by his fellow artists to stand beside him is a positive news. It gives us hope.

At the same time this news raises a question in my mind. What happened to Azam Khan. A legend in our pop culture. Father of band music in Bangladesh. An active freedom fighter. He is also sick with cancer. He also needs more money to continue his treatment. News report suggests artists donated personally. But what about a concert for Azam Khan. Where is BAMBA? A concert was orgnized in New York by BAMBA’s US counterpart. But Azam Khan denied his knowledge about that event. What is the problem? Is it Azam Khan who does not want a concert for him?

*************************************************************************

 

সুজনের গোলটেবিল বৈঠকে বক্তারা

দিনবদলের সূচনাই হয়নি

Why Shujan always calls the pro 1/11 reformists as political party representatives in it’s meetings?  AL was represented by Manna while BNP was represented by Lt Gen Mahbub and Inam Ahmed Chowdhury. Does not it benefit Shujan ( and the country) if mainstream piolicy makers of each of The two party are called rather than those sidelined?

 

**************************************************************************

Why Anwar Hossain Manju’s Ittefaq headlines yesterdays Sirajganj incidence this way? Should a newspaper headline be wrong or such one sided or provocative?

*****************************************************************************

মন্ত্রিসভা বৈঠকে প্রধানমন্ত্রীখালেদার বক্তব্য ও বিএনপির গতিবিধি নজরে রাখুন

 

Our Prime Minister has to be more charitable in her public remarks to maintain the halo around her. We know all the media men, ( Special attention to Golajm Murtaza and Sohrab Hossain of Prothom Alo in today’s Channel I tritio Matra) are trying their best to make the halo around the PM  as white and shinning as possible. But this sort of uncharitable remark by PM does not help Messers Bulbul, Khalidi, Mortaza, Anam, Motiur Rahman et el in their relentless effort to promote the PM. .

Sanaullah Babu's Murder

 

This did not end here. Tonight, PM went further. She specifically mentioned that Mr. Sanaullah was killed out of BNP’s own internal conflict. There is clear footage and photo of Nator murder  that shows Awami League activists chopping Mr Sanaullah. Mr Zakir, local Awami League leader was clearly seen walking around with a menacing looking stick ( In fade blue jeans and full sleev shirt at the center of the photo). And yet PM Hasina was trying to justify Zakir as innocent. What message she is giving to her activists?

***************************************************************************

 

This news should remind BNP that from media’s and Police’s perspective, small misstep by BNP will be much high profile compared to big missteps by AL. The same day, a few other things happened.Ruling Party student wing supporters fought, injured each other in Rajshahi university, Jahangir Nagar University.  But this was a headline news in Prothom ALo followed by an editorial by no other than Motiur Rahman. Mr Rahman apparently is trying his best to please Mrs Hasina.

Although 15 people have been arrested and all those masked men were identified in this case, nothing happened so far in Natore case. The killers did not bother wearing any mask and yet no arrest was made except one eye wash arrest. PM is singing song for the main accused.

One thing I can say, PM Hasina is quickly reverting to her  original undiluted ‘kill ten for one”  self.

The value of Bangladesh Supreme Court apparently took a big plunge under it’s new leader Justice Khairul Haque.


Few months ago, the market rate of the honor of Bangladesh Supreme Court was 100,000 taka and six months jail sentence. That was under the leadership of former Chief Justice Fazlul Karim.The full bench of the court decided that rate when they sentenced newspaper editor Mahmudur Rahman for a report what they thought was truthful yet contemptuous of court.

So it was a matter of huge public curiosity when the same editor Mahmudur Rahman was brought back to the highest court for a second contempt of court case against him. And again the three men ( two men short this time, as two seniormost judges are not working out of ‘oviman’ as they were superseded by JusticeKhairul haque to be Chief Justice) found editor Mahmudur Rahman guilty of contempt of court.

However there was a difference in sentencing. Justice Khairul Haque led court  only sentenced editor Mahmudur Rahman a fine of 100 taka and no jail term. A major plunge from 100,000 taka and six months jail fixed by previous court.

Well, this is only the first month of Justice Khairul Haque’s Supreme Court. Let’s see what comes next. From 100,000 to 100 taka in a month. Then what?

Always there are only a few people who would dare go against an overwhelming wave of psyche dominating public mindset and speak out the truth.

After the political upheaval of 1975, few people were there who would dare caution against national anti Mujib paranoia  and make a point that a gruesome massacre is never the right way to bring a good change.

Very recently we saw how our national psych was totally hypnotized and supported the wrongdoings of the masked military regime that forced a constitutional caretaker government out of power. The whole educated class seemed to be in an orgy to politician trashing.

And against that wave, some people, still a few, were there to ask the nation to think again, think deep.

Major General ( Retd.) Mainul Hossain Chowdhury was one such soul. He would not be the one who will fill the airwaves repeating the same hollow rhetoric that fill our stratosphere these days. Major General Chowdhury was an honest, truthful, conscientious man who would go deep into the issue to expose the inconvenient truth. And he would do so with utmost modesty. A rare gem in current standards.

 

A decorated freedom fighter, a brilliant army general, a very successful administrator and diplomat, General Chowdhury served out nation till the last days of his life.

 

Rest in peace General Chowdhury. Good Luck in heaven.

 

 

 

Bangladesh must have a constitution. The question, what is it?

As Chief justice Khairul Haque suggests, after 5th amendment verdict, the constitution has been automatically amended. In that case, per Chief Justice’s instructions, the the preamble and four basic principles will be like this,

We, the people of Bangladesh, having proclaimed our Independence on the 26th day of March, 1971 and through a historic struggle for national liberation, established the independent, sovereign People’s Republic of Bangladesh;

Pledging that the high ideals of nationalism, secularity, democracy and socialism, which inspired our heroic people to dedicate themselves to, and our brave martyrs to sacrifice their lives in the struggle for national liberation, shall be fundamental principles of the Constitution;

Further pledging that it shall be a fundamental aim of the State to realise through the democratic process, a socialist society free from exploitation, a society in which the rule of law, fundamental human rights and freedoms, equality and justice, political, economic and social, will be secured for all citizens;

However the constitution our CJ took oath to protect ( when he was sworn in a High Court Judge, Appellate division judge and Chief Justice), which was developed in 1972, Amended 13 times by 1st, second, 3rd and 4th parliament was not the same constitution.  Ruling party leadership as well as opposition leadership suggests this to be our constitution unless a new amendment passes parliament.  This specific constitution has a preamble with different four basic principles which are read in the following way,

We, the people of Bangladesh, having proclaimed our Independence on the 26th day of March, 1971 and through a historic war for national independence, established the independent, sovereign People’s Republic of Bangladesh;

Pledging that the high ideals of absolute trust and faith in the Almighty Allah, nationalism, democracy and socialism meaning economic and social justice, which inspired our heroic people to dedicate themselves to, and our brave martyrs to sacrifice their lives in the war for national independence, shall be fundamental principles of the Constitution;

Further pledging that it shall be a fundamental aim of the State to realise through the democratic process to socialist society, free from exploitation-a society in which the rule of law, fundamental human rights and freedom, equality and justice, political, economic and social, will be secured for all citizens;

Question may arise can a justice, taking oath to protect a constitution, change it? If he had a problem with that constitution, why he would take oath to protect it?

And most importantly, what is the constitution of Bangladesh today? If a case that requires interpretation of constitution, goes in front of appellate division tomorrow– which four basic principle our justices will uphold?