January 24, 2014
February 23, 2012
Thirty-seven years ago, the bedroom of another residence in Dhanmondi also became flooded with blood. It congealed, and streamed down the stairs, and seeped into our collective nightmare. Possibly, it affected Sheikh Hasina more than any other person in the world. It is against that background that this comment is utterly inexplicable.
Our public figures say things, and we talk amongst ourselves and debate and argue and fight over them. But sometimes, there arises a comment that is so extreme in its heartlessness, so callow in its apathy, that there is nothing to say. We can only watch, and endure. And hope that some honorable person is shielding little Megh very caringly from the outside world.
September 22, 2011
September 14, 2011
It is always sad when a government with an overwhelming majority like the present Awami League government loses its way. Unfortunately, a host of recent developments all point to that direction. One theme that all these events have in common is that they represent attacks on free speech and political expression, something that should be sacrosanct in all democratic societies.
The most glaring demonstration of this trend has been evinced by the behavior of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who, in her speech in the last session of Parliament, accused the members of parliament of her own parties of “arming her enemies”, by criticizing some members of her cabinet, specifically Communications Minister Syed Abul Hossain. Emboldened by this, Awami League General Secretary and LGRD Minister Syed Ashraful Islam accused the media of “creating the ground for Hasina’s death.” Of course, once the two most important leaders of the ruling party expressed their disdain of dissent in media so openly, other Awami League leaders wasted no time in springing into action. Supporters of Shipping Minister Shahjahan Khan, who has faced a lot of flak for suggesting the unqualified drivers be given long-distance driving permits, have seized bundles of newspapers, and set them to fire. A peaceful human chain organized by BNP to protest the crumbling state of infrastructure was attacked and broken up by Awami League activists. To cap it all, Hasina herself, in a cabinet meeting, instructed intelligence agencies to investigate the organizers of a peaceful rally held in the Shahid Minar on Eid Day.
Unfortunately, the government has made our judicial system an indispensable tool in its all-out war against free speech. Some of the developments are petty: like a sedition case being filed against a cleric for criticizing the government during the weekly sermon. Others are more serious, like Sheershanews editor Ekramul Haq being put in police remand (code for torture) multiple times for writing about corruption charges against certain members of the cabinet, specifically State Minister for Environment Hasan Mahmud. The use of the judiciary to achieve partisan ends only promises to heat up further after the High Court convenes on October 9th after its vacation. BNP acting Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir and Standing Committee member Moudud Ahmed have already been summoned to answer charges of contempt of court. If that goes well, the field is already being prepared to embroil Khaleda Zia in the same contempt charges.
Unfortunately, these tendencies were in full display during the passage of the Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution of Bangladesh, which added Article 7A stating that both to “subvert the confidence, belief or reliance of the citizens to this Constitution or any of its article” or to take any action that “abets or instigates… approves, condones, supports or ratifies” this subversion is sedition, and is to be punishable by death. Just to put this matter into perspective, given that this blogpost is fairly critical of Article 7A of the Constitution, I have just committed sedition. If a reader reads this post and approves, she has also committed sedition. Moreover, if someone then forwards this link (I know, highly unlikely) to a friend by email, that’s sedition too.
We are all going to drown in a sea of sedition.
When finalizing this Amendment, Hasina said in the House that she had acted thus to ensure ““empowerment of people, and their democratic and voting rights.” Perhaps, she had in mind, the provision that said that several parts of the Constitution, including one which titled her father Sheikh Mujibur Rahman as Father of the Nation, could not be altered or amended in the future. Although, it seems like depriving future generations of the power to change the document that will affect their lives in such important ways is the express opposite of empowerment.
However, Hasina is not in good company. In the United States, home of the world’s most famous constitution, there has only been, in the country’s entire two hundred years plus history, only a single proposed amendment that sought to place any topic beyond any further debate or amendment, and it was the infamous Corwin Amendment. In this proposed amendment, in a last-ditch effort to avoid the Civil War, it was proposed that subject of slavery would not be open to any future amendments, effectively meaning that no future government could outlaw slavery. As we know, the Civil War was fought, and an alternative amendment, now known as the Thirteenth Amendment, was incorporated to outlaw slavery.
Hasina and her party love to glorify the role of Awami League in the 1971 War of Liberation. Unfortunately, it has been overwhelmingly documented by Dr. Badiul Alam Majumbad of SUJON (not a big fan of BNP), that the inspiration for this Fifteenth Amendment comes directly from the Pakistani Constitution. Around the world, there are have been two prominent laws passed in the last year that punish people for saying something. One was passed in Saudi Arabia, and it mandates jail sentences for anyone who criticizes the King of Saudi Arabia. The other was in Israel, which criminalized “calling for the boycott of Israel.”
This is not good company for Bangladesh to keep. As the current government finds itself increasingly unpopular, the risk remains that it will use these new laws to further crack down on dissent and opposing political parties. Which will be a sad ending for a government that held out so much promise.
August 26, 2011
Former Deputy Attorney General M U Ahmed died today under police custody in a city hospital. On August 11, 2011, at the order of high court judges Shamsuddin Chowdhury Manik and Gobinda Thakur, he was arrested and tortured by police until he suffered from a massive myocardial Infarction.
It is evident that everybody living in side Bangladesh is afraid of calling a spade a spade. An environment of fear, extreme fear has been created by these two thuggish judges in Bangladesh. Last in their list of atrocities in the murder of ex Deputy Attorney General Advocate M U Ahmed. This is plain simple muder commited at the beheast of two blindly partisan judges by a brutal murderous police force of Awami League government.
August 17, 2011
How is it that Syed Abul Hossain has not resigned, asks the widow of late Mishuk Munier. I think we know the answer.
Source: Daily Star.
PM stymies Abul’s critics
Takes a swipe at media
February 8, 2011
The prime minister yesterday saved the communications minister from censure of ruling alliance lawmakers over the minister’s letter to the premier against Tofail Ahmed for his recent criticism of the ministry’s performance.
During yesterday’s parliamentary session, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina suddenly took the floor and spoke on the issue in an apparent effort to rein in the attack. While doing so, she also criticised a section of newspapers for, what she claimed, publishing “fake” reports to “malign” dignitaries.
She said she had never seen MPs criticising the press for such reporting. “You should also look for the remedy to this practice,” she said.
Deputy Speaker Col (retd) Shawkat Ali, who was presiding over the sitting, contributed to the premier’s effort by preventing lawmakers from speaking on the content of the letter which annoyed many MPs.
Rashed Khan Menon, chief of Workers Party, a component of AL-led ruling alliance, raised the letter issue and launched a blistering criticism against Communications Minister Syed Abul Hossain accusing him of breaching MPs’ constitutional privileges and immunities by sending the complaint to the premier.
The communications ministry had sent the letter to the premier in response to AL lawmaker Tofail Ahmed’s speech in the House last Thursday on the sorry state of roads across the country and delay in some major projects. Lawmakers appreciated Tofail’s speech on that day by thumping desks.
The communications minister later sent the letter to the prime minister highlighting the activities of the ministry and also criticised Tofail for his remarks.
Citing the content of the letter, Menon said it maligned Tofail saying that he (Tofail) made the remarks on the performance of the ministry out of rage and jealously.
Sheikh Hasina, also the leader of the House, then took floor and made a brief statement defending the communications minister.
She said the minister, not the secretary, had sent her the letter. In there the minister gave a synopsis of the ministry’s activities.
“Now the question is how the letter had reached the press before it reached me?” she asked.
After the premier, Tofail Ahmed, Suranjit Sengupta, Abdul Matin Khasru, Hasanul Haq Inu, Mayenuddin Khan Badal, Fazle Rabbi Mia, Abdul Mannan took floor and tried to speak on the issue raised by Menon.
But the deputy speaker did not allow them to do so saying, “The matter has been disposed of after the premier’s speech and I also gave a ruling on it. Please don’t speak further on it.”
July 7, 2011
If you are one of the few people who haven’t seen the pictures, see them here.
First we heard that Faruq was bad-mouthing the police.
Then we heard that he was assaulting the police.
A Member of Parliament is brutalized in front of the Parliament building, and yet the Speaker won’t let opposition MPs speak on this issue.
And today, our honorable Prime Minister told us he was vandalizing vehicles.
Lies, lies, and lies. How can there be normal politics in a country when one side is led by a habitual liar?
We all understand and expect political spin. But not lies.
And, we need to make a law that no members of political parties or student political organizations, whether JCD, BCL, ICS, or others, can join BCS, police, army, or any other government service. They cannot work as government teachers, doctors, or lawyers.
We need to start looking for solutions to the underlying structural problems. Outrage and indignation can only take us so far.