Military


I was visiting Bangladesh when pilkhana massacre happened. As the events were unfolding on the morning of February 25 2009, I was returning to Dhaka from Chittagong. As I returned to Dhaka that afternoon the general narrative dominating our media and civil society discourse puzzled me. I wrote the following post during late afternoon of February 25 2009. I lost the post as the blog website hosting the post went offline-
Today, after the trial verdict of the massacre came out, a friend discovered the post for me from a web archive-
The narrative of public mind, our media and educated class as I described that afternoon is a fascinating reminder of the fickleness of our collective thinking process –
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“How do we characterize or categorize the people of Shahbag? Who are the people of Shahbag? … What is the class character of this group, what excites or drives this group? Who they were during different periods of our history- how they were represented during different historical milestone of Bangladesh.”

© Arif Hafiz

© Arif Hafiz

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Exactly one year ago today, a group of violent soldiers belonging to Bangladesh border security force called BDR revolted, started murdering their officers, occupied a part of capital Dhaka and held hundreds of militray officers, general soldiers and civilians hostage. During this time of occupation of nearly two days, the marauding soldiers committed one of the worst massacres in the history of Bangladesh. During these two days, they searched and killed 57 senior officers of Bangladesh Armed forces trapped inside the compound.

During this occupation, rather than a bold decisive response against the soldiers involved in the killing spree, the one-month old government of Awami League opted to negotiate with the mutineers, thus indirectly giving those soldiers enough time to hunt and kill all the military officers trapped inside occupied Pilkhana campus and commit an array of other crimes including loot, arson, rape etc.

Immediately after the incident, considering the sensitivity of the issue or out of political indecisiveness, while the main opposition party refrained from being overtly critical of governments stand, the media gave the government a free ride by not critically discussing government handling of the mutiny.

The media spin that was most widely used during the immediate aftermath was that by sacrificing 57 senior army officers, government prevented an even bigger civilian casualty in the heart of Dhaka. This logic is based on a hypothetical scenario that a group of paramilitary soldiers without heavy weapons will fight a fierce artillery gunfight and war with a combined force of the army, Navy and the air force and thus would endanger the safety of residents living in nearby areas.

Although government’s decision got a free ride at the time of the incidence, it is imperative that we discuss the decision in a critical point of view. This kind of discussion is very important in formulating a national strategy for any such problem in the future.

First basic flaw in the civilian casualty spin is the hypothetical nature of the consequences. It is very difficult to believe that a group of BDR soldiers will be able to fight such a fierce war with armed forces. This sort of situation is not unprecedented in Bangladesh. Since independence there are instances where similar occupation/ hostage situation in the heart of Dhaka or other parts of the country were dealt with decisive military counter offensives. Examples can be cited are 1977 occupation of Dhaka Airport at Tejgaon, 1994 occupation of Ansar HQ in Khilgaon, 1977 revolt in Bogra cantonment.

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The memory of two years of under disguise martial law is still fresh in our minds. Among many things, that was the time for the center right politics in Bangladesh to get a much deserved thrashing. The military regime did not only go overboard in thrashing the emerging icon of center right politics, Tarique Rahman — the Army Chief and disguised CMLA Moeen U Ahmed received Horses from his Indian counterpart fulfilling all its symbolic value and pardoned a convicted murderer because he was a freedom fighter! And when the martial law steamroller was at its peak, rather surprisingly, woke up a portion of Dhaka University. During that short lived rebellion and the months following, while neo-Awami Leaguer and master revisionist of History Dr Anwar Hossain became face of intellectual and academic resistance, pro-BNP teachers suddenly all became pro -milirary crusaders. After enjoying all the perks of BNP rule of ten years, these “BNP minded” teachers who claim to belong to “Shada Panel”, suddenly became silent academic scintists who don’t understand anything about politics. However as Moeen U’s adventurism failed, it looks like suddenly these ‘Shada panel” academics got their voice back. Here are some excerpts of their recent chattering taken from Ali-Mahmed’s blog

ঢাকা বিশ্ববিদ্যালয়ের জীববিজ্ঞান অনুষদের ডিন আবুল বাশার বলেন, “দেশের আকাশ-বাতাসসহ প্রতিটি কণা ‘আমি তারেক জিয়া বলছি’ ডাকটি শুনতে চায়।” (প্রথম আলো/ ০৪.০৯.১০)
কলা অনুষদের ডিন সদরুল আমিন বলেন, “আমরা চাই তারেক জিয়া আমাদের মাঝে ফিরে আসুন…।”
বিজ্ঞান অনুষদের ডিন তাজমেরী এস এ ইসলাম বলেন, “…তারেক রহমান দেশের বাইরে বসে আত্মসমালোচনা ও আত্মবিশ্লেষণ করছেন।”
ঢাকা বিশ্ববিদ্যালয়ের শিক্ষক সমিতির সাধারণ সম্পাদক এ বি এম ওবায়দুল ইসলাম বলেন, “তারেক রহমান তারুণ্যের অহংকার। তাঁর দেহে দেশপ্রেম ও স্বাধীনচেতার রক্ত বইছে।…।”(প্রথম আলো/ ০৪.০৯.১০)

Anyway all their Tarique Rahman love fest did not help them win votes of Dhaka University teachers. In both Dhaka University and Chittagong University; the ” BNP-Jamaat ভাবধারার সাদা প্যনেল” got their thrashing of life by being soundly defeated.
One can rest assured that these dumb scoundrels will not take lesson from this. They will keep on their তারিক বন্দনা forgetting their real role in Bangladesh politics.

First of all, while they have their right to get involved in national level politics, they should have known that they should not bring the national politics in University Teachers union election.

Second, when university teachers get involved in national politics, they are expected to play the role of ideologues and pressure groups of caution within their political platform. Arranging Tarique love fest is exactly the thing that is not the job of University teachers. But being the ideologues and pressure group of caution within the party, their role should have been to speak out that Tarique is at the core of everything that went wrong with BNP since 2001. Thanks to Tarique Rahman, BNP got 20% less vote than Awami league during last election. These university teachers were supposed to tell that to Mrs. Khaleda Zia. Who will tell otherwise? They are the ones who would rather arrange seminar, round tables and talk about the outrageous nature of the verdicts of current Chief Justice Khairul Haque, or the gross misinformation and frank lies in the Fifth Amendment verdict. These teachers should have been the ones who should have explained Zia’s politics to the new generations. or discuss about the শুভঙ্করের ফাকি in the name of transit or they would have been nations conscience regarding Tipaimukh issue. And shame on these morons, only thing they thought they could do is this, “দেশের আকাশ-বাতাসসহ প্রতিটি কণা ‘আমি তারেক জিয়া বলছি’ ডাকটি শুনতে চায়।”

And thirdly, what do these BNP supporting teachers mean by “BNP-Jamaat ভাবধারার সাদা প্যনেল”? Do they know or understand what is Jamaat’s vabdhara? Jamaat’s main political goal is establishment of আল্লার আইন . How does that match with BNP’s ভাবধারা ? Do that Dean of Arts faculty, those Professors of History know that BNP founder Ziaur Rahman did not allow jamaat to do politics in Bangladesh? Or I am expecting too much from these foolhardy opportunists known as Shada panel member teachers?

If this is the intellectual quality of the academic leaders of our top academic centers, what is the future of the country?

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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“True, the Pentagon does have perhaps the single largest public relations apparatus on earth – spending $4.7 billion on P.R. in 2009 alone and employing 27,000 people, a staff nearly as large as the 30,000-person State Department – but is that really enough to ensure positive coverage in a society with armed with a constitutionally-guaranteed free press?

And true, most of the major TV outlets are completely in the bag for the Pentagon, with two of them (NBC/GE and Logan’s own CBS, until recently owned by Westinghouse, one of the world’s largest nuclear weapons manufacturers) having operated for years as leaders in both the broadcast media and weapons-making businesses.

But is that enough to guarantee a level playing field? Can a general really feel safe that Americans will get the right message when the only tools he has at his disposal are a $5 billion P.R. budget and the near-total acquiescence of all the major media companies, some of whom happen to be the Pentagon’s biggest contractors?”

– Matt Tabibi, in Rolling Stone

On reading the special editorialwritten by Matiur Rahman, Prothom Alo editor, the day his masterMoeen U. Ahmed retired as Army Chief, a number of questions came up. Actually, what came up first was disgust at the incredible level of smugness that was on display as Matiur Rahman pretended that the change of government that took place on January 11, 2007 did not happen with his direct knowledge and collusion. But eventually, on a second and third reading, some questions did come up.

The intial point that struck me was the sheer disregard of journalistic ethos that Mr. Rahman puts on display here. If any of us bloggers had written this piece, our inboxes would be flooded by now with demands that we either back up what we wrote as facts or admit that they are baseless innuendo. I do not see why the standard should be any different for the editor of Bangladesh’s most widely-circulated Bangla newspaper. In his article, Matiur Rahman states:

  • After last year’s election, a powerful portion of the Army wanted Moeen’s tenure as Army Chief extended by another year.
  • Presumably the same part of the Army wanted Moeen to become either Defense Minister or the “Joint Chief of Staff.”
  • After the Pilkhana massacre, Army officers openly criticized Moeen, inside and outside the Army, for not being able to save the lives of his men.
  • The Government would still like to reward Moeen.
  • Diplomatic sources say that Moeen may be made the Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York.

Let us take these points one by one. After Moeen toppled the caretaker government in 2007 and promoted himself to General, he spent a great deal of time and energy putting his men in as many key army positions as he could, and sending army officers who refused to countenance his authority into forced retirement. Thus, it is probably not a surprise that Moeen still has a constituency left in the Army, even though, ideally, the entire Army should be his constituency.

That there were ever any suggestions of Moeen being made Defense Minister or Joint Chief of Staff is quiet sensational news. If Motiur Rahman knew about this previously but did not inform us, his readers, he has done us a great disservice. As far as I know, Bangladesh has never had a Defense Minister, with the Prime Minister not being able to trust anyone else (unwisely, in my opinion) with this portfolio. For a very brief period of time, Khandoqar Mushtaq’s government did set up a Combined Chief of Staff, but that was more to keep Maj. Gen. Ziaur Rahman, as Army Chief, from having any real power, than anything else. Moeen has already permanently distorted our defense establishment by promoting himself to General rank, giving nations around the world one more reason to titter at us behind our back. Appointing the same man to one of the posts described above would have been a momentous step; one we deserved to hear about ahead of time.

The Pilkhana massacre laid bare the full extent of the damage that Moeen had done to the very institution he was supposed to protect and safeguard: the Bangladesh Army. Barely two years after he had stormed into Bongobhaban, the Presidential Palace, and forced President Iajuddin Ahmed to retire as Chief Advisor, a democratic government barely two months old could scarcely trust him to again lead an operation in the heart of Dhaka. And so it was they fifty-plus of our officers were tortured and killed, while the government sat and dithered before, first allowing enough armour units to enter Dhaka, and then letting them approach Pilkhana. Moeen has undone the work of thousands of honest and dedicated officers who obeyed the constitutional dictate that our armed forces stay subservient to the civilian government, through his coup in 2007 and the torture he inflicted on a broad swathe of politicians from all across the political spectrum the next two years. Going forward, it will take years to mend the damage he has wrought.

Therefore, we do not see how Matiur Rahman can now claim that Army officers have criticized and blamed Moeen for the loss of lives in Pilkhana. Why was Matiur Rahman silent when the government instituted an Army-probe into this massacre under the same person who was blamed for letting it happen? How could such a probe have any credibility with members of our armed forces, let alone the general public?

Even after making these incredible allegations, Matiur Rahman then turns around and claims that even after the Pilkhana massacre, the government would like to still reward Moeen. The question begs to be asked, what is the government rewarding Moeen for? Providing the incompetent leadership that allowed so many of his men to be killed? Indirectly causing the mutiny – by green-lighting the BDR into Operation DalBhaat? Or, as Matiur Rahman hints near the end, because of the election held in 29 December, 2008? Do we really want to become a nation that remains in thrall to its Army Chief for allowing elections to go through?

And do we really want our United Nations representative to be a wannabe military strongman? Asif Ali Zardari and Pervez Musharraf made a far more explicit pact after the Pakistani election. But even Musharraf did not have the gumption of trying to claim diplomatic immunity and representing our country in the world stage.

Of course, if Moeen ever leaves Bangladesh, we can rest assured he will never return again. His underling Brig. Fazlul Bari had the right idea when he decided he liked America too much. One can confidently expect Moeen to follow suit; he has already made his liking for the balmy climate of Florida well-known. Perhaps, once they are united there, advance accommodations could be arranged for Gen. Masud as well.

Fighting the rearguard battle to justify his own support for the overthrow of the CTG in 2007, Matiur Rahman claims that the new regime had “massive support” from the people. Yet, in the very next sentence, he is forced to acknowledge that Awami League only supported this move initially, until the true nature of the regime that followed became clear and Sheikh Hasina was herself thrown into jail after she spoke out against military intervention, through DGFI, in politics. BNP, of course, never supported the regime. Then how does Matiur Rahman find broad support for a regime which is not supported by BNP and AL, which together represent about 260 of the 300 seats in both the current as well as the former parliament?

The job of a newspaper editor is different from that of a gossip columnist. It is really different from that of a sycophant. Unfortunately, Mr. Matiur Rahman seems unclear about both these distinctions. The activities of our last regime left behind enough tar to cover most of its proponents and supporters. With this piece, Matiur Rahman just slapped some more tar firmly on his face.

— smell a rat : to have a suspicion of something wrong [ Merriam-Webster Dictionary]

There is an extremely foul stench of rat I smell in the activities of the RATS (Razzak, Amu, Tofael and Suranjit) faction of Bangladesh Awami League. If we look back in recent history, this group joined hands with the military regime which illegally occupied the governance in Bangladesh. They have been the major accomplices in ‘now notorious minus two’ plan of this regime. Their intention was clear. Go to power by an unfair means, through the back door of conspiracy. Their two other plan was to get rid of Sheikh Hasina in from Awami league leadership, thus exerting control over the party. And their third goal was to eliminate politics of Ziaur Rahman from the planet.

All their plans failed miserably. Unlike BNP’s turncoats, they however have been shrewd enough not to get ousted like Mannan Bhuiyan gong.

Now as there appears to be a U-turn in Bangladesh politics, this quartet started their second phase of conspiracy. Any politically savvy person will know that unity between political parties is vital for restoration of democracy. Anyone really wanting to get rid of the hidden martial law would do everything to prevent going back to the confrontational politics we’ve seen last 15 years.

There is absolutely no reason to believe that the RATS do not know/understand it. But their activities of last few days raise serious concern about their real intention. The comments of all four of them, esp. those of Razzak and Amu from yesterday were exceedingly offensive, unsuitable for a senior politician, divisive and unhealthy.

It is a shame that how these, once respected politician, sold their souls and became petty and cheap foot soldiers of a military general. Awami League leadership esp. Sheikh Hasina must be very cautious of this ‘gang of four’. For the sake of democracy these four scoundrels must be confronted and stopped.

Two news item in yesterdays newspapers say it all.

Daily Prothom Alo broke the news to the nation day before yesterday. The news was that BNP leader, Khaleda Zia’s heir apparent Mr. Tarique Rahman resigned from his party post and has retired from politics. This news surprised many political observers and to them something did not sound right. Khaleda Zia herself mentioned that her son would not be able to be involved in ground political activities in Bangladesh while he undergoes treatment abroad and this treatment be as long as two-three years. But a formal resignation and faxing it to newspaper offices after midnight was rather unusual.

Anyway the uneasy political analysts did not have to wait too long. This news item published in the New Age mentions how an ailing and hurting Tarique Rahman was virtually held hostage at ZIA airport by members of military intelligence, DGFI. Here is how New Age described it,

…Tarique was made to sign a paper, which he was very unwilling to do, by members of the intelligence agencies at the Zia International Airport, according to sources in the airport. ‘They threatened Tarique Rahman that he would not be allowed to fly unless he signed the undertaking,’ said an airport source. ‘The word “undertaking” was, however, replaced with “statement” as he was unwilling to sign the paper,’ he added. According to the text of the paper written in incorrect Bangla and carrying Tarique’s ‘signature’, which was faxed from ‘SIG CEN DGFI’ through the number 8752921 at 12.34am on September 12 to New Age and some other newspapers too, he ‘relieved himself’ of the charge of senior joint secretary-general of BNP and retired from active politics…

This is a copy of the Undertaking statement (Undated and in plain paper) published in Daily Amader Shomoy. Amader Shomoy also published the news item without mentioning the name of DGFI.

From the above incidence, one should rest assured that General Moeen and his con men in DGFI are still very much active behind the scene. They are still breathing at the neck of Bangladesh.

And one also should wonder that while this government came with all the indignation of righteousness and despite the fact that they claim themselves bunch of honest, educated “do-gooders”; all they did in last two years are nothing but dirty politics.

People in Bangladesh won’t need to be reminded how ex-prime minister and leader of the most organized and one of the largest political parties in Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina was arrested hours after she dared criticize DGFI for it’s illegitimate activities.

Generally the question will arise that on what ground DGFI has to poke its nose in partisan politics of the country. Who they are to take undertaking from politicians whether he/she will do politics or not?

Those days are coming when the DGFI and those few generals also have to sign another undertaking. This undertaking will be given to the nation that they would refrain from illegally poking their nose into jurisdictions which is not their mandate.

Since 1/11/2007; the activities of the army chief and the leadership of DGFI have seriously undermined the integrity of these two institutions. Never in the past, had an army chief (without holding any administrative leadership role like CMLA etc.) abused his post so much for petty personal political gains. Same thing is true of DGFI, which has ventured way deep into a territory which is definitely not their jurisdiction. DGFI was a fine institution and this organization was built by hardworking members of Bangladesh armed forces. And the truth is that an overwhelming majority of the members of these forces do not support the current activities of DGFI. One army chief and some of his con men generals have used this organization for their personal gain and vendetta. If a democratic government is allowed to take over after a meaningful election, there is no doubt this fine institution will come under the wrath and may even be stripped off essential fund and authority. This will be a loss. Weakening of armed force definitely does not serve the national interest of Bangladesh.

 It has been almost one and half year. The pressure started soon after the military coup of January 11, 2007 and it continues today. The pressure over the months has gotten astronomically uglier.

I am talking about a political leader and chairperson of Bangladesh Nationalist Party and Two time elected PM Mrs. Khaleda Zia. I am talking about this person who ruled the country for over ten years, who lead anti dictatorship movement for nine years, who was the first-lady of the country for nearly five years and who was in Pakistan army custody during the nine months of our liberation war.

 
Now , thanks to a military coup, Mrs. Khaleda Zia is in jail. Even Pakistan army did not jail her. They kept her under house arrest. So did Ersahd. He did not dare that either.

 
The current government not only jailed her, they tortured her. They have arrested both her sons and tortured them inhumanly. And the military intelligence people ( Who affectively are the government these days) made sure that Khaleda Zia is informed of all the graphic detail of the tortures on her sons.

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The military coup of 11 January 2007 is unique in modern history. This is probably the first of a kind where a military coup took place under an impeccable disguise of diplomat supported media sponsored military enforced civil society takeover. Martial law usually follows Military coups and this special constitutional provision of martial law usually provides the very important legal and political protection of the coup leaders.

The problem with 1/11 was that although the coup, thanks to co-conspirator media, was very easy; in the after math, the legal-political protection of martial law was not there. This was, IMO, was the most challenging side of the disguised military coup of 1/11.

There is no martial law; it means that the authority has to use the prevailing laws and processes to achieve the effect of martial law.

Initially a subservient chief justice served the purpose quite effectively. The state of affairs is a bit muddy these days with the ascension of a new chief justice. It will be a matter of time before we will know whether the new CJ will continue to follow the order of the General. (After all, you only can offer presidency to only one person, not two).

In the meantime, in addition to the hiring the chief justice to work as the military government’s button man, the ruling military authority has also engaged a multiple layer of safety network. The layers include, among others,

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Central Vice President of BNP’s student wing JCD, and ex VP of Barisal BM College student’s union, Mr Moshiul Alam Sentu was arrested from Dhaka yesterday. It was reported in Newspapers yesterday. This second page small report in a vernacular daily described how he was picked up and taken to undisclosed location yesterday.

If Bangladesh media still retain the slightest trace of sensitivity, I feel Mr Sentu will get a better coverage in tomorrows newspapers from Bangladesh. He was killed today by RAB.

 

Just like that. That easy!

Members of the defence forces pick up an opposition political leader without any arrest warrant and take him away blindfolded. Then within several hours, without any court proceedings, any charges, any chance of defense, that man is shot and killed. And this is executed by members of government law enforcement agencies and defence forces. And that is not the end of the story. The tortured and mutilated body of the victim is then thrown in a public place in his own locality for public viewing.

Welcome to political season 2008-2009. Welcome to post 1/11 Bangladesh.

Then the Goverment backtracks, Frees Nizami…

Photo BDNews24

This is clearly an attempt to weaken and isolate Khaleda Zia and put pressure on her into submission. And look at this garlanded national hero, Nizami. Thank you General Moeen U Ahmed.

And thank you General Moeen also to bring back the rule of law again. As a result of this new rule of law, fallen dictator, the corrupt of the century, most ill natured ruler Bangladesh ever had, HM Ershad gets his cases dismissed one after another. Just today he got cleared off the ENG corruption case. All thanks to a submissive judiciary, a friendly attorney general office and an order from Moeen U Ahmed.

So now we have an Ershad. A friendly Hasina after a done deal and now apparently Nizami joins the league of extraordinary people.
Whether this is the fact or not, the current developments lead us to believe that General Moeen, Sheikh Hasina, Motiur Rahman Nizami and HM Ershad are now on one side. A battle line is being drawn. On the other side is a lowly illiterate ignorant widow Khaleda Zia, matric pass, jailed in a solitary confinement. Both her sons are in captivity and brutally tortured.

I do not want to see Sheikh Hasina in the same eye with the other three in her league. And I still have the hope that someday she will wake up and understand what company she is aligning herself with.
Let’s keep hoping.

 The current election commission in Bangladesh is, in my view, the worst and most politically biased election commissions in the history of Bangladesh. Today, they hosted a grand voter roll completion ceremony. Guest of honor was the army chief Moeen, his personal Secretary AKA Chief Advisor Fakhruddin Ahmed and a corps of diplomats. There was no politician, not a single one ( except Moeen U Ahmed). Politicians were not invited.

EC should be thanked for at least exposing who their real clients are and where is their allegiance. In an ideal world, EC is there for dealing with political parties and politicians. But this SH ( Shamsul Huda, Shakhawat Hossain, Suhul Hossain) election commission  does not believe in that. Their decisions are made in the military intelligence office and definitely their allegiance lies there and it is also getting clear that they don’t want the politicians to participate in the elections they plan to conduct. Who cares what the politicians say. It is more important what the diplomats say. Hence diplomats instead of politicians were invited in todays voter roll completion ceremony.

The government, the election commission and their trumpeteering media has been boasting, for months, that how many less number of voters are their in this new voter list. Inferring an easy conclusion, the message our government/EC/ media cronies want to spread is that in this 2008 voter list there are 12 million lesser voter. This means this government has prevented registration of 12 million fake voters.

Last week one political leader of southers town of Barisal, young and very popular in his community, Mr Moshiul Alam Sentu was picked up by the members of government law enforcement agencies and defence forces. Within several hours, he was shot and killed and his body was thrown streetside in his locality for public viewing. It has been reported that sincce the undeclared martial law of 11 January 2007, Mr Sentu was hiding out in capital Dhaka out of fear of arrest. He was not able to go home. Like Mr sentu, there are hundreds of thousands of grassroots political leadership and activists who are living out of their locality as they are in constant fear of arrest by local law enfocement men if they go back to their locality.

 

Mr sentu was one of  the 12 million less voter our ED is boasting of.  Sentu could not go back to be registered as voter. Going to military camp meant risking life for him. The fact is that Sentu was not the only one citizen missing from the new voter roll. Those hundreds of thousands activists who are afraid to go back home are also missing from the new voter roll.

Additionally, there has not been any report on what percentage of rural- socially underprevileged citizens did go to the military camp set up for voter registration. And then also remained unreported is what proportion of the indigenous hill people, who are alreday in an uneasy relationship with the members of the armed forces, did go to the military camps to get enroled as voters.

Before the attempted 2007 election a strong and concerted effort was made to convince the nation that government was not ready for an election. Almost on daily basis, newspapers published stories about in which remote corner of the country, how many voters were not registered. TV cameras used to go to peoples’ homes and the members of the family used narrate dramatic stories on how no one ever came to their home for voter registration. As the election got nearer, a great hue and cry was started for printed voter list. Just research the print media of Bangladesh available online; you will see all these stuff. AL lead 14 party leadership, that murderer Ershad, civil society org Shujon/ CPD, some media all started the chorus, how dare you call for election schedule without ‘x’ number of printed voter list available for all the agents. And definitely we all heard, again and again and again that without participation all the major political parties, an election will never be acceptable.
Now let’s look at what happens at the present. Pro government media (These days in Bangladesh, there are hardly any anti government media) are giving daily headlines on how festive the nation is over the election. Military controlled TV outlets are starting their nightly news with elaborate and inflated images of the festive electioneering. Interestingly however, these time nobody talks about a printed voter list. We now have an election, but we do not have a printed voter list yet. 

We also forgot the very premises this government is here. The premise was to ensure a fair, free and all party participated election. Isn’t this the reason 1/11 happened? And what we are having now, is it a fair, free and all participated poll? Where are our bloggers, where is the media? Something has seriously gone wrong with this nations’ conscience.

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