Conspiracy


Over the last few years mysterious things started happening in Bangladesh. In the absence of any earthly explanatin of those incidents, there has been serious concerns among informed people of Bangladesh that Bangladesh is at the recieving end of an alien invasion.

The description of the following events will prove, beyond an iota of doubt in anybody’s mind that , a barrage of attack have been unleashed on the people of Bangladesh.

It first started with alien kidnapping. First notable victim of such kidnap is an elected official of Dhaka city local government Mr. Chowdhury Alam. Since he went missing from Dhaka city nearly two years ago, he has never been seen again.

A closer look revealed that during this time period, Mr Alam was not the only one being kidnapped by alien. Many young men, opposition activists, stuents from Sylhet and other areas went missing. All but one of those kidnapped by the aliens never came back. The only lucky one who could come back alive, sans all the memory of the time of confinemnet, was the son of a fiery religious figure Mr. Fazlul Haque Amini. It was not clear why the aliens let Mr Hasnath, son of Maolana Amini let lose. However, this event may make a strong case in support of the theory that aliens worship the same God and they had some soft corner for the pastor Mr Amini.

Very soon, along with Kidnappings, killings started to take place. This time another local government level leader of Dhaka city from the opposite political spectrum got killed very msteriously. The aliens were so intrusive and invasive that they could easily penetrate inside the SUV of a powerful ruling party MP inside the compound of Bangladesh’s national parliament building amd kill one Mr Ibrahim in point blank range.

Not only known faces lik Ibrahim or Chowdhury Alam were being killed/ kidnapped in high profile places, mysterious killing started being noticed in all remote corners of Bangladesh like the Bay near Borguna, Joydevpur, Bhanga region of Faridpur district, Dhaleshwaree River near Munshiganj district, Ashulia/ Kuril, Pabna etc.

However one of the daing action of the alien commando forces were that of Sanaullah babu killing. Sanaullah Babu was another elected local government leader in a northern district called Natore. In this event the aliens showed their T – 1000 the nanomorph like ability to take other peoples’ shapes. During this event, which was widely recorded by multiple cameras, the aliens took the shape and look of many ruling party members of that district. Specifically the lead killer took the shape of a popular local Awami league leader Zakir.

Similarly got killed another local government leader, again this time from the opposite political base, Mr. Lokman Hossain.

The aliens did not stop in killing political activists, local government leaders only. An extremely powerful couple, both are senior TV personalities and TV journalists, were stabbed to death inside their apartment. The government could not give any earthly explanation of their gruesome murder– making it the highest profile case of the series of mindless alien assasinations taking place in Bnagladesh.

Within a very short interval, the aliens, without any reason, abducted a diplomat of Saudi Arabia stationed in Dhaka, Bangladesh and killed him in a highly professional manner. This specific killing heralds a new front of attack unleashed by the aliens. The clever war planners of the alien empire knew it very well that killing of a Saudi diplomat in Bangladesh may seriously weaken the position of Bangladeshi migrant labors in Saudi Arabia and harm Bangladesh economically.

The latest incident involving the invading alien force in Bangladesh resembles robbery of Fort Knox. This time the aliens looted a big chunk of money from within the car heading to the home of a powerful minister of Bangladesh. And this brazen loot took place within the highly fortified compound of a paramilitary force of Bangladesh. This specific operation suggests growing confidence of the aliens in hitting anyone, any place anytime in Bnagladesh.

“The glorious role that the armed forces played in the reconstitution of the caretaker government saved the country from a one-sided Jan 22 election, full of clashes and confrontations. We thank them for this. Now the nation expects arrests of those who plundered people’s wealth in corruption, and recovery of the lost wealth.”

Abdul Jalil, Awami League General Secretary, January 14, 2007

“Everyone suffers when democracy is under attack. We (political parties) may have different points of view. But everyone will have to be united when the issue is democracy.Whoever they are, they will be identified, they will be brought to justice and they will be handed the maximum punishment.”

Syed Ashraful Islam, Awami League General Secretary, January 19, 2012

May be there soon will be a winner in Narayanganj City Corporation election. But question mounts, will she or he really be a winner eventually or will they represent a victory of their backers?

May be NCC citizens are getting an elected rep, they may be the only winner. But without any clout, control, power, money– in Bangladesh context under current system, a mayor is a talpatar shepai — simply a symbolic city father.

But then rest of it is also a lose lose lose lose game.

If Shamim Osman finally pulls through a victory, fair election or not, the demand for CTG will gain momentum. Sheikh Hasina and her ruling part that backed Shamim Osman will lose by winning.

If Osman loses to Ivy, both Awami League and opposition BNP loses big time. Anti CTG rhetoric will gain traction. Tainted civil society ( We all know who they are- new faces Syed Abul Maqsud, Mizanur Rahman Khan, Rubayat Ferdous with Anams and Motiur Rahmans in the background) will again stat jumping with double vigor. Civil society thinks Ivy is their candidate. Selina Hayat Ivy is civil society’s dream candidate. A hardcore Awami League leader, close to Sheikh Hasina currently at odds with another Awami League candidate not in good terms with the civil society leaders. But by no means civil society’s customized candidates are any good for a long-term healthy grassroots based democracy.

If Taimur wins, BNP also loses. Hasina will say, see we lost election to BNP and we can hold fair elections.

This Taimur Alam Khondokar is a pathetic case. If BNP wants to come back, exactly this sort of candidates BNP must shun. This man is running such a lackluster campaign that even Amar Desh is mentioning him in 3rd sequence after Shamim/ Ivy. He cannot talk, cannot make a point. cannot organize get out the vote, cannot gain on anti Awami League incumbency of Shamim, and capitalize on anti Narayanganj incumbency of Ivy. Only thing he is saying very ineffectively is “EVM mani na”, “EC is bad”. Are vhai he is not running against EC. He is running against Ivy and Shamim. And he must have made this a campaign of a referendum to Awami Leagues misrule.
This man is a failure in all way. He was BRTA chairman. That was shame of a record. I don’t know why BNP can’t find a good new fresh face, young blood. There are so many business leader from N Ganj, so many sports stars. Every time I see him walking along Narayanganj roads, he reminds me of the Zombies at the TV series “the Walking Dead”.

BNP must know that if they keep on relying on these Zombies, whatever misrule Awami League exerts on Bangladesh, they have no chance of winning back Bangladesh.

In CCC election an ex Awami Leagues, soft spoken clean image candidate helped BNP regain CCC mayoral seat.

In that context BNP needed Selina Hayat Ivy as their candidate. An honest, smart and bold young woman. In several debates I watched in TV, she was only one who talked some sense and was found to understand what it means to be a city corporation Mayor.

The latest news from Narayanganj tells us that Government decided to ignore Election Commissions request to deploy Armed forces for election eve / day violence prevention.

What will happen in Narayanganj on the election day — no one except the God and Sheikh Hasina can tell. But this blogger can assume that the election day events will be based on which advisor Sheikh Hasina listened to.

It could be a repeat of Bhola, which will be impeccably hidden under the carpet by a submissive friendly media ( In Bhola style). Shamim Osman will just rob the election by forcefully bagging 99% of rural Narayanganj vote.

Or if Mrs. Hasina this time listens to a different advisor, it could be an “apparent” fair election with Sheikh Hasina niece Ivy winning against Shamim Osman. That means civil society is managed for the time being and for next national election, a good example has just been created — ” FOR HOLDING A FREE AND FAIR ELECTION, NEITHER WE NEED A CARE TAKER GOVERNMENT NOR MILITARY DEPLOYMENT”.

Daily Star Report Blaming Hawa Bhaban

About ten months into the current Awami League government’s tenure, Daily Star produced this sensational investigative report. In blaring headlines, it pinned the blame for the August 21 assassination attempt on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Tarique Rahman (referred to as Hawa Bhaban bigwig in report), and some other BNP leaders. The assassination attempt was billed as a joint venture between BNP and an Islamic fundamentalist organization.

The timing of this report was extremely significant. Two years ago, it was quite common to hear predictions about BNP breaking apart or an end to the Zia-brand of politics. Rovian dreams of Awami League’s permanent majority was quite du jour. BNP was scheduled to have its annual party council at the end of 2009. A feasible connection between Tarique Rahman and a murder charge would not only put BNP’s leadership transition into question, it would have given the government a huge bargaining chip against the largest opposition party.

Julfikar Ali Manik claimed that a “highly privileged document” from “a top accused of the grenade carnage” was the source of this information. This document finally went public on April 7 2011, when Mufti Hannan was brought in front of a magistrate to give a confessional statement that mirrored exactly what the 2009 Daily Star report had claimed. Important to note, Hannan had already confessed to his own involvement in this crime back in 2007. This additional information was only to pave the way for Tarique Rahman and other BNP leaders to be also indicted for the same crime.

Fast forward to September 27, less than a week ago. Having involved everyone the government wanted to involve, the case starts. Mufti Hanna submits a document stating that his supposed confessions were extracted by torture. How does Daily Star cover the story?

Daily Star Report on Retraction

It buries the retraction deep into the story. Which is funny, because the news that the government allegedly extracted a confession from a prisoner in its custody, only so that it can frame opposition politicians, ought to be big news. Amar Desh has reproduced the entire petition, including description of the torture. Eyebrows have been raised for less.

Daily Star Report on BNP

The next day, BNP, quiet understandably, held a press conference claiming vindication and pressing for the name of its leaders to be dropped from the charge-sheet. Again, in the headline, Daily Star made no reference to the alleged retraction. A casual reader glancing at the headline, as I did, would have probably thought it referred to some garden-variety claim made in some rally somewhere, and missed this entire back story.

In an incredible counterattack, to make sure the retraction of the confession was downplayed, Daily Star printed a competing news article claiming that Hannan’s legal petition had no standing. The next day, it got eminent jurist State Minister for Law Quamrul Islam to say the same thing.

Daily Star Report on Retraction of Confession

Let us look at the legal claims that a confession given under Section 164 cannot be retracted. Section 164 (3) of Bangladesh’s Criminal Procedure Code states:

(3) A Magistrate shall, before recording any such confession, explain
to the person making it that he is not bound to make confession and that if he does
so it may be used as evidence against him and no magistrate shall record any such
confession unless, upon questioning the person making it, he has reason to believe
that it was made voluntarily; and, when he records any confession, he shall make a
memorandum at the foot of such record to the following effect :-
“I have explained to (name) that he is not bound to make a confession and that, if he
does so any confession he may this confession was voluntarily made. I was taken in
my presence and hearing, an was read over to the person making it and admitted by
him to be correct, and it contains a full and true account of the statement made by
him.
(Signed) A. B.,
Magistrate.”

This makes abundantly clear that voluntariness is at the heart of any confession obtained through Section 164. The fact that confessions extracted through torture are illegal are no surprise; the courts of Bangladesh have been very exact in this regard. Our Supreme Court has explicitly held, in State Vs. Abul Hashem, 3 MLR (HCD) 30, that a magistrate cannot record a confession that is extracted through torture. And then, just to make sure, the magistrate has to affix his own signature at the end, verifying that the statement was not produced through torture.

What factors should a court look at to see whether there were any indication of torture or general police coercion? One very important factor is whether the confession is extracted after being in police custody, or whether there is any possibility that the witness may be taken back to remand right after his interaction with the magistrate. In State Vs. Farid Karim, 8 BLT(AD) 87, the fact that the accused was in police custody for unexplained two days before the police produced him for making confessional statement, was one of the important factors in the confessional statement being found involuntary.

Has Mufti Hanna been taken in custody, also called remand, often? According to a very desultory Google search, he has been remanded for 7 days on September 6, 2009, 5 days on September 12, 2009, 3 days on September 23, 2009, for 7 days on December 3, 2009, for 3 days on July 18, 2010, 2 days on August 22, 2010, and 5 days on December 27, 2010 . After making the statement, he was remanded for 1 day on April 26, 2011. That makes for 32 days of remand, and potential police torture, before and  1 day after making this confession statement. During the remand hearing held on August 22, 2010, Hannan tallied the number of days for which he had been in remand at 369 days over the past five years, and begged the magistrate not to grant any more remand. Remand, though, was granted.

Hanna was in police remand for half of September 2009. Presumably, it was this during this period that the document which became Julfikar Manik’s investigative piece was produced.

Even if this confession was made through torture, should we care if such confession statements cannot be retracted? Yes. There exists a plethora of judicial opinion, specifically State Vs. Lalu Miah and another, 39 DLR(AD) 11, which holds that any allegation of torture which forced the confessional statement, is to be treated the same as a petition for the withdrawal of the statement. Now that Hannan has claimed torture in police custody, the judge must decide whether his earlier confessional statement is credible. So the claim that there is no legal basis for withdrawing his confessional statement is without merit.

So why is this about the Daily Star’s coverage of this whole issue, rather than the much serious issue of torture of a prisoner in government custody, in a conspiracy to subvert the opposition political forces. There are two main reasons. The first is that we hear about these human rights violations through newspapers, and especially the Daily Star. If not for the Daily Star, Limon would be rotting in a jail cell or dead by now. So, when the newspaper itself decided to obfuscate the story and shift the focus to legal technicalities like getting permission from jail authorities instead of the much bigger and more serious allegation of torture in government custody, it renders hollow its supposed commitment to human rights and reinforces the suspicion that the news printed in Daily Star is slanted to serve a particular agenda.

Secondly, torture does not occur in a vacuum. No torture can flourish in a society unless it decides, as a whole, that certain individuals or classes of individuals are exempt from the protection of law. It very much seems like Daily Star has made such a finding for Mufti Hannan, which makes the paper, in general, and the relevant individuals, in particular, accomplices to torture. And the insidious thing is that the class of people who can be tortured tends to grow and metastasize at unbelievable speed. You may think that it only includes people with beards, and then suddenly, it also includes young university students out at night. 

This saga is by no means over. While there is an aspect to it that has a purely partisan aspect, this incident also serves as a reflection of the values that we hold as a society. And those values are fraying fast.

Government today submitted a supplemental chargesheet in August 21st 2004 Grenade attack on the then opposition leader Sheikh Hasina. The attack took 24 lives and injured many including Mrs Hasina herself.

Using the supplemental chargesheet, the mainstream media ( read Prothom Alo and DS) as well as other mainstream yes-media ( Read Amader Shomoy of Naimul Islam Khan etc.) were very glad to remind 21st august events to its readers. Multiple news including gruesome photos of the event on filled todays first pages ( whereas Prothom ALo first page news on the day after 15th amendment was about some irregularities in DMCH) of most print media.

In this supplemental chargesheet, almost the whole state machinery of last government is indicted. However reading the news stories today, one won’t understand the implication and seriousness of the matter.

If it is true, as government submitted in the supplemental chargesheet, that the whole state machinery led by the political leadership, in collusion with Army intelligence chief, the national security chief, the whole police top brass ( three consequetive police chiefs of the country, IG Police/ two other top brass police executives/ police investigating officers in the case), other senior intelligence officer — join hands with an international terrorist outfit like HUJI and try to throw grenade in a public meeting to kill the opposition leader —- then we are in a deep shit. BD has no right to be the 25th most failed state, it should have been at number 1 or two.

And if this is not true, i.e if this is only political persecution/ partisan revenge on the part of the current government— we are still in dire straits, in deeper shit. A citizen of this country has no right to tell that this country is better than 24 most failed dysfunctional states.

And more ominous is when nations’ leading media try to become part of this partisan revenge taking game, become tool of government in pushing forward the heinous design.

Indeed, a very bad precedent you are creating Dear prime Minister Hasina.

It started with the arrest of an elected Dhaka City Ward Commissioner ( Councilor) Mr Chowdhury Alam.

Removal of Chowdhury Alam was very important to ruling Awami League Government’s political strategy. Mr Chowdhury Alam, as elected representative from Dhaka’s city center area, was the key field level organizer of all the city center rallies/ programs of opposition of BNP. Awami League takes opposition activities very seriously. They simply don’t want opposition to exist or act in any form. Departure of Mr. Alam came as a big debacle for opposition BNP as Mr. Alam was their key figure in it’s efforts to organize street agitation in Dhaka.

It has been nearly a year Mr. Alam went missing. Nobody accounted for his whereabouts.

In this list of missing under the current regime, Chowdhury Alam definitely was not the only name. The list became long quickly within first two years of this regime.

Last name in this list is the son of an opposition political figure. A rightwing orthodox islamic political leader and a Madrassa principle, Mr Fazlul Haque Amini had been protesting, peacefully, against the new fuggy inheritance policy of the government. A nationwide strike was organized last week and rallies are taking place on regular interval. Government’s top leadership reflected the whole issue personally on Amini. Statements made by the the prime Minister as well as other senior ministers were clear indication of the level of discomfort this government is experiencing in Handling this Amini trouble.

So not sure how to handle Amini, as any direct crackdown on Amini led madrassa based politics may be perceived as attack on political Islam by rural Bangladeshis, this prime Minister seemed to have taken the Chowdhury Alam route. Like Chowdhury Alam, the news broke as an arrest of Fazlul Haque Amini’s son Abul Hasanat by plain clothed policemen. Multiple news outlets carried this news.

And exactly like Chowdhury Alam case, since his abduction, Mr Abul Hasnath remained unaccounted for. Except for denying that he was arrested, there has not been any statement from any corner of the government regarding this incident. There has not been any visible action by law enforcement agencies to solve the problem by rescuing the abducted person. Mr. Amini, the father of the victim, has been complaining that he is regularly been threatened from the mobile phone belonging to his son. Bangladesh law enforcement agencies has the capabilities to track the phone records and locate from where the calls are made. Using this system, they solve most of the crimes these days. The silence from government quarters about the abduction, Prime Minister Hasina’s continued verbal attack on Amini ( Her last statement about Amini was that Khaleda Zia let Amini loose on the government), absolute absence of any action by law enforcement men to rescue or at least trace the abducted — should be enough evidence to suspect government’s hand behind the abduction of Amini’s son.

The government must understand that denying the abduction does not let them off the hook. It is the responsibility of the government to protect the safety of it’s citizen. A man suddenly can be whisked away in broad daylight from mains street Dhaka and Government will not have any say in it — this cannot happen in a civilized society.

Abducted and missing opposition activists and their families have been the historical hallmark of all the fascist governments in history. We don’t want to believe that our country is heading the fascist way. But the series of events, starting from Dr Yunus saga to the abduction of the son of Fazlul Haque Amini force us to fear about impending fascism.

Published in BDnews24.com opinion Section on November 28th.

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

Rumi Ahmed

It’s not personal

November 28, 2010

khaleda-cry300pxThe manner in which the leader of the opposition and former prime minister Khaleda Zia was evicted from her cantonment residence was outright shocking to most observers of Bangladesh politics. Not only the physical eviction itself, but the way the opposition leader was literally pushed out of her home of 38 years by an overwhelming government force, speaks volumes of its ‘autocratic’ mentality. The whole chain of events surrounding the eviction process was totally unforeseen in the history of democratic Bangladesh.

Notable in the chain of events were the mind-blowing fast tracking of judiciary, manipulation of hazy legal jargons, and ultimately bypassing of the highest judiciary to push forward with the government’s agenda to remove the opposition leader from her home. The media manipulation of the event was also unprecedented for a democratic government. Advancing on what the previous military-controlled regime did, from the day before the incident, the media was fed with concocted stories of Khaleda Zia leaving her home willingly. And on the day of the event and the day after, the naked dishonesty and partisanship of the defence department’s press wing, ISPR, was simultaneously a painful reminder of the demise of the armed forces as neutral public servants and the last nail in the coffin of an institutional balance of power under present government.

(more…)

After the military coup of 1/11/ 2007, the political role that 1/11 military leadership, did irreparable harm to the image of the military in public minds. The latest incident of using ISPR ( MoD’s media wing) to malign the opposition leader acted as the last nail in the coffin of the credibility of the military institution as a nationally respected organization. What the ISPR did regarding the eviction of the opposition leader from her home is reprehensible beyond expression.
In a nutshell what ISPR did is
1. On the day before the eviction, started a campaign of lie that Mrs Zia is vacating her home on her own
2. On the day of eviction, while keeping journalists, family members, political leadership away from her house, kept on lying that Mrs Zia is leaving her house willingly.
3. After Mrs. Zia complained of forceful eviction in a press conference, ISPR kept on their self contradictory lies and gave a tour of the bedroom/ personal items of the opposition leader to the media. Their attempts to hide forceful rentry and breaking of doors did not escape journalists curious eyes. And the most disgraceful thing ISPR did was planting a porn magazine in opposition leader’s bedroom wardrobe,  some alcoholic beverages and inviting journalists to take photos of that. This was so disgusting that even most of Government friendly columnists / news papers bothered not to talk about it.

So when 26 retired army officers belonging to BNP protests the mindless partisan use of ISPR; over 150 retired army officers convenes a press conference and reads a statement supporting the acts of ISPR and repeating all the over-used negative political talking points against the opposition party. In the press conference, the politically divisive and hateful languages of ex Army chief Lt Gen Harun Ur Rashid clearly indicates the partisan agenda of Gen Harun and the sector commander’s forum he now leads. If General Harun sincerely wanted war crimes trials, he could have kept himself out of this dirty petty partisanship and extend his hands to embrace/ motivate BNP supporters to join the war crimes trial campaign of sector commander’s forum.

(more…)

It’s hard to know what the Awami League government was thinking when they decided to evict Khaleda Zia from her home. However, it did not go completely as Sheikh Hasina had planned. Khaleda Zia’s televised press conference affected almost everyone. As Syed Abul Maqsud put it in a column aptly titled “The Government’s Truth:

স্বেচ্ছায় বাড়ি ছাড়ার দৃশ্যটি দেখে অন্তত কিছু মানুষ তাদের জীবনের সর্বোচ্চ সুখ উপভোগ করেছে। কয়েক কোটি মানুষ হয়তো মনে মনে বলছে, বেশ হয়েছে। তবে আট-দশ কোটি মানুষের মনের অবস্থা আমাদের মতো অ-মনোবিজ্ঞানীর পক্ষে জানা সম্ভব নয়। তাদের মনোভাব জানা যাবে ২০১৩-র ডিসেম্বরে। (“The way in which the home was ‘voluntarily left’ has probably given some people the greatest happiness of their lives. Perhaps a few crores of our people thought to themselves: this isn’t too bad. What the rest eight or ten crores thought is unknown to non-psychologists like us. However, we shall find out in December 2013.”)

Syed Abul Maqsud’s political orientation is not unknown. When columnists of his stripe start talking about December 2013, one must realize that this is the most serious message they can deliver to the Awami League Government. They are politely reminding Sheikh Hasina: “এই দিন দিন না আরো দিন আছে

As Maqsud noted, the full extent of the reaction to this event shall not be known until well into the future. But the fact that there was a reaction was evident to everyone. Awami League had not expected this; they thought they what happened inside Jahangir Gate would, so to speak, stay inside Jahangir Gate. They even issued a press statement “thanking” Khaleda Zia forleaving voluntarily. However, once it became apparent that explaining away this action was going to be a bit more complicated than that, Awami League quickly set out to bring this reaction in their favor through a two-prong strategy.

(more…)

Photo, courtesy of the Daily Star.

National leader of Bangladesh, late Presiedent Ziaur rahman lived in this house from 1972 till his death in 1981. This was a house he was allotted as the deputy chief of staff of Bangladesh Army.

After his death, the then elected government’s cabinet decided to give the property to the widow of the slain president in a 99 year lease. That widow is now our leader of opposition.

Coming back to power for the second time, PM Sheikh Hasina seemed hellbent in evicting the opposition leader from that house and then demolishing this residence of late President Ziaur rahman.

A legal battle is underway in the court in this regard. A hearing is scheduled to take place in the Supreme court on Nov 29th.

However government looks like too impatient to wait till final resolution of the legal process.

So far from the sketchy news coming out of Dhaka cantonment where Mrs Zia leaves, the followng incidences have been confirmed.

1. Military PR wing issued a press release that opposition leader is leaving the house on her own. However the opposition leader, through her press secretery has denied any such claim by the military.

2. All the staff of the opposition leader residence have been rounded up and taken to police station.

3. Police and military trucks have taken position in front of opposition leader’s house.

4. Telephone line has been disconnected from the residence of opoosition leader.

5. Cantonment officials went to opposition leader’s house to take over the property.

6. Police and paramilitary Rapid Action Battalion forces has entered opoosition leader’s house and they were seen at the roof.

7. Opposition leader is being debied to meet her lawyers and political collegaue.

8. Opposition chief whip and other colleague of the opposition leader were barred from entering cantonment.

9. Law enforcement agency members were reported to be using hand mikes instructing the opposition leader to evacuate the home and promising stern action otherwise.

10. Opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party’s General Secretary, in a press briefing, informed that the opposition leader is under house arrest at this time.

11. Sporadic clashed with opposition activists and law men are being reported from different parts of the country.

12. An attempted rally from opposition main office was dispersed by the police.

13. Lawyers of Mrs Zia, the opposition leader, went to meet the Chief justice in his residence begging for a legal remedy.

[ UPDATE 12 NOON BDT]

14. Apparently there is a media blackout about the events regarding the residence of the opposition leader.
15. The main opposition party called a down to dusk general strike for tomorrow.

[ UPDATE]

In the evening, after daylong siege, Law enforcement men breaks open Opposition leader Khaleda Zia’s home, breaks open into her bedroom, indiscriminately beats her staff and family members, dragging her out of her bedroom and escorts her out of her home for 40 years.

Later in the evening in a press conference, Mrs Zia talked to the nation of her ordeal.

প্রয়াত পটুয়া কামরুল হাসান একজন শিল্পী ছিলেন আপাদমস্তক. যা ভেবেছেন সত্য সুন্দর ন্যায়, তার জন্য লড়াই করে গিয়েছেন আজীবন . তবে ‘ একজন দূরদৃষ্টি সম্পন্ন রাজনৈতিক ভাষ্যকার’ এভাবে তাকে কখনো ভাবা হয়নি. আমার জানা মতে. এরশাদ বিরোধী গণআন্দোলনের মাঝ পর্যায়ে এসে পটুয়া কামরুল আঁকেন বিশ্ববেহায়ার বিখ্যাত ছবি . 

কামরুল যা বুঝেছিলেন আশির দশকে, আমরা তা আজও সত্য বলে টের পাচ্ছি সিকি শতাব্দী পরে এসেও. পতিত স্বৈরাচারী এরশাদ গতকাল এক অনুষ্ঠানে দশ ই নভেম্বর কে গণতন্ত্র দিবস বলে দাবি করেছেন এবং বাংলাদেশে গণতন্ত্র ফিরিয়ে আনার সব কৃতিত্ব দাবি করেছেন. সবচেয়ে ঘৃণ্য ক্রূর পশুর ও এর চেয়ে বেশী চক্ষুলজ্জা থাকে.

Yesterday was 23rd anniversary of the killing of Shahid Nur Hossain. Shahid Nur Hossain was in a political rally staged at Dhaka’s zero point to demand resignation of the illegal autocrat. Ershad’s police took aim at Nur Hossain, shot and killed him. Nut Hossain was easy target as his chest and back was marked with graffiti demanding fall of the autocrat and  rise of democracy ( গণতন্ত্র মুক্তি পাক, স্বৈরাচার নিপাত যাক).
Here is how celebrated photojournalist Pavel Rahman describes the event.

This was written for Uttorshuri in two installments on Taher Day during  July 2006. I am re-posting this on the eve of November 7. This post is not intended to demonize veteran Freedom fighter and ambitious patriotic leader Colonel Abu Taher. No one argues that Col Taher was a patriot and he wanted to prosper Bangladesh in a way he believed to be right way.

 

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Every year late freedom fighter Colonel Taher’s death anniversary is observed with discussions about his life, his dreams, visions, achievements and his valor. Newspapers publish memoirs, detail articles and columns demanding justice for Taher Killing.

The events of this year included an additional element; speeches and interviews by American journalist Lawrence Lifschultz leading a campaign for Taher’s retrial.

Lawrence Lifschultz, in his speeches, urges the concerned authorities for ensuring a fair re-trial of

1. Jail killing of four national leaders
2. Taher death sentence
3. The freedom fighters killed during coups against Zia rule
4. General Manzur’s Killing
5. Death sentence and execution of freedom fighter officers convicted of murdering Zia.

Some of these demands are quite logical and to set the records straight, all these killings definitely need a neutral and fair reevaluation. However it is also interesting to see some deliberate omission from Lifschultz’s list.

The significant omissions are the killing of two sector commanders of our liberation war. They are major general Khaled Mosharraf and Colonel A T M Haider.

Khaled Mosharraf was arguably the most valiant of the military leaders duringmour war of independence in 1971. He almost died in the war with a bullet hittingmhis forehead. After his injury, then Captain ATM Haider took over the command ofmthe sector. He was also another valiant freedom fighter who representedmBangladesh during Pak surrender on 16th December.

More than thirty years later, our nation still doesn’t know much about their killing. It is not exactly clear how they were killed, exactly who killed these brave souls, who ordered the killing, in what situation they died, whether they were executed or they died in gunfight.

It also another big mystery why these two sector Commanders deaths are not mourned every year as it happens in case of Colonel Taher. And there is rarely a call demanding justice of these killings. Also a curiosity arises, why Lawrence Lifschultz does not mention Khaled Mosharraf and ATM Haider in his list.

Five Army officers have been convicted in Court Martial for attempted murder on Sheikh Fazle Noor Taposh, MP. They are: Major Helal, Captain Rezaul Karim, Captain Rajib, Captain Fuad, and Captain Subayel Ibne Rafique. They have each been setenced to five years of jail, stripped of their army rank, and denied any retirement benefits. They will be serving out their sentences in Dhaka Central Jail.

Bangladesh has an unfortunate tendency of either seeing such attacks go uninvestigated or using them for political gain. The investigation and trial of the attackers on Sheikh Taposh could have been an exception to this trend. Court Martial proceedings are much more restricted in nature than civilian trials, that much is understood. However, to hold the entire trial in secret, and only allow it to appear in the media once the sentence has been delivered seems to be much more restrictive than was necessary.

A Daily Star report by Julikar Ali Manik says that the five officers were charged with “Violation of Good Order and Discipline,” under section 55 of the Manual of Bangladesh Army Law. The relevant section states “Any person subject to this Act who is guilty of any act, conduct, disorder or neglect to the prejudice of good order and of military discipline shall, on conviction by court martial, be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend to five years, or with such less punishment as is in this Act mentioned.”

Five Army officers, on their own, reach a conclusion that a Member of Parliament and a nephew of the Prime Minister is responsible for one of the worst carnages in our nation’s history. They do so by expressly going against the Prime Minister’s words, who is also their boss because she holds the defence portfolio. They disavow the investigation report compiled by the Army itself. They steal explosives and munitions and attempt to murder a Member of Parliament.

 

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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.

Justice Khairul Haque, appointed Chief Justice, after superseding two senior Appellate division judges, took oath of office today. This blog will do some public service posts in introducing the readers who Justice Khairul Haque really is, what was his political philosophy, how he felt about our national political leaders and what he he thinks our nations’ political identity must be. To avoid being unfair to him and to remain within the context, we have decided to base our analysis solely on the verdicts he wrote. This posts will not be influenced by any other writing on Justice Haque.

Most contentious of his verdicts is his verdict on fifth amendment of Bangladesh constitution. Detail discussion about 5th amendment verdict took place in this and this superb posts by tacit.

So lets quote Justice Haque and try to understand him.

“We further enquired under what provision of the Constitution Justice
Sayem and Major General Ziaur Rahman B.U., PSC., amended the Constitution of
Bangladesh, from time to time, which Charls I or even Lord General Oliver Cromwell could not do without the Parliament.”

All along the fifth amendment verdict text and his later verdict on declaration of war, Mr Justice Khairul Haque has been very unfairly harsh on founder of main opposition party ( The party that ruled Bangladesh longest since independence) late President Ziaur Rahman.  tacit discusses Justice Khairul haque’s pathological hatred of Ziaur Rahman in this illuminating post. It is very unsettling to see that nation’s chief justice refuses to accept Ziaur Rahman ( The man who and whose party generally commands support of nearly 40% of the population) as a president or a political leader of Bangladesh. Throughout the verdict, he calls late President Ziaur Rahman as Major General Ziaur rahman B.U. Psc. This was Zia’s rank as of 15th August 1975. Since then President Zia’s rank was promoted to Lt General and when he died, he died as the elected President of Bangladesh.Even in government documents included in 5th Amendment verdict, Ziaur Rahman was addressed as Lt General. But Mr Khairul Haque ignores all these and keeps him referring to as Major general Ziaur Rahman and always mentioned him as an Army commander, never as a politician, let alone national or even political leader.

“…when we specifically asked him to show us any Constitutional or legal provision in justification of the seizure of State – Power of the Republic , he ( The Attorney General) was without any answer although he mumbled from time to time about the Fourth Amendment.”

The harsh, hateful rhetoric Mr Justice Haque resorted to in his verdicts are appalling. Unlike the current day trend, when Attorney General keeps the whole Judiciary under constant suppression, this above treatment of the Attorney General took place in BNP rule. Seeing the culture of these  days, it is difficult to imagine how he could deliver such a scathing series of comments against BNP’s founder and treat the BNP’s AG so rudely under BNP rule.

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Economist, political analyst, columnist and blogger Jyoti Rahman brings to us an illuminating discussion of the consequences of two recent arrests made by Bangladesh’s increasingly intolerant government. In this post he discusses how different personalities are BNP chairperson’s two arrested advisers, Editor Mahmudur Rahman and Ambassador Shamsher Mobin Chowdhury and how these arrests will ultimately benefit BNP’s politics.
Read this post in Mukti…

Mr Shamsher Mobin Chowdhury is an injured freedom fighter, a wounded veteran of our war of independence. He fought our liberation war as an Army Captain and lost his leg. He was awarded second highest gallantry award for living war heroes, Bir Bikram. Mr. Chowdhury retired from active military duty January of 1975 and joined foreign services, where he climbed up the ladder by means of his efficiency as a diplomat. He served as Bangladesh ambassador to different countries including USA, Germany, Vietnam etc. He also served five years as Foreign Secretary of Bangladesh.

Mr. Shamsher M Chowdhury and the likes of him are welcome new face of BNP. This is sharp contrast to the faces of Nizami or Mujahid flanking BNP leader Khaleda.
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On June 25, Friday elected Councillor Dhaka City Corporation and opposition leader, Mr Chowdhury Alam was arrested by the police. Per newspaper report, law enforcement men picked him up on his way home from opposition party office.  Since then he is totally untraceable. Nobody, neither Mr Alam’s family members  nor his lawyer/ colleague at Dhaka City Corporation have any knowledge of his whereabouts.

Mr Alam’s family members were in a press conference today along with the elected mayor of Dhaka City corporation. In the press conference, the family expressed their worry about the worst. Over the last year, law enforcement agency members of this government were alleged to have committed many premeditated murders. Bodies of people taken away by law enforcement men are being found buried underground, dumped into marshes etc.

When an arrest is made by the government, by law, the person being arrested needs to be produced before court within certain time. And law enforcement agencies ought to keep family informed of the whereabouts of the person being arrested. Nothing happened in Mr Alam’s case. His family has no clue where Mr. Alam was taken and why he is being detained.  No agency in the government is accepting the responsibility of this arrest. It is very unclear what happened to Mr Alam. But it is very destabilizing to see such a powerful government with such an overwhelming parliamentary majority resort to undemocratic means of kidnapping opposition elected representatives  and detaining them  in undisclosed locations. We certainly hope Mr. Alam did not have to face the consequences his family is most worried about.

Interestingly, the Mayor of Dhaka city raised the concern in a press conference in the afternoon. And late in the evening around 830 PM, several hours after government office closure, the government controlled Anti Corruption Commission came up with a corruption case against the Mayor.

Unfortunately this is only the 18th month for the current ruling party’s ascension to power.

Last week Police raided vernacular Daily Amar Desh, arrested its editor along with some senior journalists, locked up the office and the press that publishes the newspaper. Police cited some procedural flaws as reason for closing down the newspaper. Any reasonable reader will understand, if there was any procedural flaw it was government’s for not processing the application to change the publisher in reasonable time. Several media personnel and observers have stated that there was no flaw on Amardesh’s side and this was confirmed by summery dismissal of this government decision by the high court.

However although the newspaper is being republished now under high court order, there is fear among its journalists that government is trying to force a change of ownership and turn it into a meek pro government mouthpiece. As a part of the strategy, the editor and owner of the newspaper remains under police custody. District level judicial courts have allowed the government to take Mr Rahman away from Dhaka’s central Jail to undisclosed location for questioning. This kind of arrangement is known as ‘remand’ in Bangladesh. Political leaders belonging to all parties have confirmed in the past that remand means state conducted torture. It is very clear that if police has to ask Mr Rahman any question they can do it as much as they want to do it Dhaka central jail. The massive structure has facilities to conduct such interrogation. But the lower court judges, clearly under pressure, allowed the police to take him to an undisclosed location.

And Mr Rahman has confirmed the tortures on him while he was produced before court before a second phase of his total 12 days remand began. Mr Rahman, told the court under oath that he was taken to a place in Dhaka Military Garrison where he was first undressed. Then few unidentified person started beating him till he became unconscious. He told the court that no relevant question was ever asked to him. The partisan lawyer working on behalf of the government, when asked by media about the torture, replied that as Mr Rahman was able to walk and talk in the court, proving that it meant he was not tortured!

Mr Mahmudur Rahman’s plight confirms what the political observers in Bangladesh was fearing over the last year. Current Bangladesh government has a very intolerant attitude towards media. After several very bold reporting of corruption and double standard by this government was published in Daily Amardesh, most veteran political analysts in Bangladesh knew that this Awami League government will not tolerate this sort of reporting. Mr Shafiq Rehman is a legendary journalists, whose weekly, Jaijaidin, was banned twice by the military dictator Ershad in 80s, and who had to flee the country for fear of persecution by the dictator. He recently wrote, after the Amar Desh event, that he learnt that this government had two priorities; evicting opposition leader Khaleda Zia from her home and arresting editor Mr Mahmudur Rahman for daring to expose high level corruption in the government.

From the acts of shutting down TV channels for showing footage of rigging in bye election, closing down newspaper for publishing government documents accusing Prime Minister’s son of corruption and putting a tight gag on TV talk shows, it is clear that this elected government has decided to run a rule of fear and suppression. This is very worrisome. But more worrisome is the fact that the government started all this within only 18 months of its rule. That means worse days await Bangladesh in the upcoming 3 1/2 years.

Anti Corruption Commission Chief Lt Gen Hassan Mashud Chowdhury claims that he is never afraid of resigning and he carries a letter of resignation in his shirt pocket. Looks like it is about time he takes the letter out of pocket and submit to relevant authorities.

The recent activity of ACC regarding a so called frozen account in Singapore was apparently an attempt to inflict a last moment election manipulating shock. This is called October surprise in US politics. By doing this the ACC has again proved that it has been working as a pawn and political tool in favor of the military chief Moeen controlled caretaker government. In the previous instances people gave them benefit of doubt, but this time it was blatant and brazen violation minimal decency and law of the land.

The problem is not that it worked against Arafat Rahman, it has the right to do so and it should investigate any suspect irrespective of who they are. But the problem is the way they did it. 7 days before election they presented a case against Arafat Rahman. They presented the story of a frozen account by quoting Singapore government. They did not say when the info was obtained and what was the proof that the company belonged to Arafat. The most mind boggling part of the story was that, they called press conference, narrated the crime and then they declared that they were starting an investigation on it soon. If they had not yet started an investigation why they would inform the nation of the crime. What if the investigation concludes that the allegations of money laundering was false?

Will Gen Hasan Mashud Chowdhury be able to revert the effect of his deed on the election? How can he now deny that he used ACC as a tool to harass politicians all along.

It is about the time for him to leave the sacred duties he does not deserve. Please bring that letter out of your pocket and let anti corruption commission work independently.

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