Archive for May, 2007

End the media intimidation in Bangladesh

[This has been cross-posted in The Guardian’s Comment Is Free section. You can access it, and see comments here.]

General Moeen U Ahmed, who led Bangladesh’s military coup in January and is widely seen to be pulling the strings of the interim government, stated on May 22nd that he had no wish to enter politics formally, and did not intend to implement martial law. He also admitted to journalists that there had been cases of media intimidation, but called them an ‘aberration’, adding that “the government can learn from its mistakes, if there is any, from media criticism.” The paradox is that there isn’t strong media criticism because the military have blocked or banned it, so it would appear that they’re not making any mistakes. And so the State of Emergency continues, and we all remain none-the-wiser.

Continue reading ‘End the media intimidation in Bangladesh’


The cricket, the crowd, the ecstasy.

You can see pictures from this day here.

In 1999 at the peak of my cricket obsession I went with a friend down to Hove to watch India play South Africa in the World Cup. I remember travelling from Waterloo in a train full of Indians, Hove being full of Indians, who even offered us 500 quid per ticket, and the ground being awash with Indian flags and happy faces (until they lost). I thought I’d had a real taste of the South Asian passion for the game. But I realised on May 12th that Hove was just a pale imitation compared to the full-on feast of euphoria that greeted us when we went to the Mirpur stadium in Dhaka.

Continue reading ‘The cricket, the crowd, the ecstasy.’

Kolkata and Dhaka – a tale of two cities

You can see some photos from Kolkata here 

Bangladesh in the heat almost clings to you, is impossible to wash off or escape from. So I can barely believe that it was a month ago now that Tom, Georgia and I made a little getaway to Kolkata for the weekend. It’s only about 150 miles away from Dhaka, was part of the same Empire until 60 years ago, and predominantly is made up of Bengali people – but it was like being in a different world.

Continue reading ‘Kolkata and Dhaka – a tale of two cities’

Cricket Photos

I went on Sunday to watch Bangladesh take on India in a one-day international. It was without doubt the best day I’ve had in Bangladesh. I’ll write about it properly very soon, but here are the photos.

Berbatov – pornography in football boots.

Last Thursday I stayed up till 3am for the final time. On Sunday, I watched ‘Final Score’, for the final time. And I woke up this morning feeling empty and without purpose. The calender no longer has any important events on it. Just three long months with nothing.

The end of the football season always hits me hard, because it’s the end of a relationship, ten long months of constant stress and worry and arguments and moments of ecstasy and (especially for a Spurs fan) long periods of woeful depression. But it’s always there. You know that however terrible you feel, it all starts again from 3pm on Saturday. And you know that however fantastic you feel, make the most of it, because it ends at 2.59 on Saturday.

Continue reading ‘Berbatov – pornography in football boots.’

Bye bye to Yunus, and brave leadership in Bangladesh

[Cross-posted at The Guardian’s Comment Is Free]

As Britain bids goodbye to Blair, and the sense of new political hope that he once symbolised, Bangladesh is also rapidly facing the reality that it has lost its chance of an alternative, fresh and progressive political leadership.

The awarding of 2006 Nobel Peace Prize to Dr Muhammed Yunus, confirmed his demi-god status in Bangladesh, and granted him incontestable moral authority. After the military coup on January 11th a vacuum was created and the stage seemed set for him to save the nation by entering its political spotlight. By February 22nd in an open letter, he announced his intention to form a party, ‘Nagorik Shakti’ (Citizen’s Power) in an open letter to the nation, and Bangladesh largely celebrated.

Yunus promised a politics that would “materialise the dream of the liberation war” and would offer a much-needed electoral alternative and clear path away from the democratic nightmare being fostered by the rule of the BNP and Awami League.

Continue reading ‘Bye bye to Yunus, and brave leadership in Bangladesh’

Tasneem Khalil arrested – UPDATED

UPDATE – Sunday 13th May 2007

Tasneem was released on Friday, 24hrs after being picked up in the night by the army.

At the moment, no-one seems to know why he was detained. Apparently it was not to do with his journalistic activities. His editor at The Daily Star, Mahfuz Anam has kept very quiet about the whole thing, and his paper has scarcely mentioned it, which totally goes against their Liberal credentials, ‘The People’s Right to Know’ etc…

This looks like it’s much more than just a ‘freedom of the press’ issue. When the dust settles and the facts are available over the speculation, I’ll write a bit more.

The army have really made a mistake this time. Just when their puppet leader Fakhruddin Ahmed has been making assurances not to limit the freedom of the press, last night a prominent investigative reporter, Tasneem Khalil was arrested and taken from his home. Already there is uproar

They picked on the wrong journalist, as Tasneem is also a consultant for Human Rights Watch and a news representative for CNN.

Here is the press release HRW have just issued:

Bangladesh: Release Journalist and Rights Activist

Army Arrests Tasneem Khalil of Human Rights Watch

(London, May 11, 2007) Bangladeshs military-backed care-taker government should immediately release Tasneem Khalil, an investigative journalist and part-time Human Rights Watch consultant, who was detained by security forces late last night, Human Rights Watch said today.

Khalil, 26, is a journalist for the Dhaka-based Daily Star newspaper who conducts research for Human Rights Watch. According to his wife, four men in plainclothes who identified themselves as from the “joint task force”came to the door after midnight on May 11 in Dhaka, demanding to take Khalil away. They said they were placing Khalil “under arrest” and taking him to the Sangsad Bhavan army camp, outside the parliament building in Dhaka. Continue reading ‘Tasneem Khalil arrested – UPDATED’