My contract with VSO was for a year, and today I will leave Bangladesh and return to England, bringing this time to a close. And almost certainly this blog, bar a possible epilogue from London. How to surmise a year? I haven’t found religion or myself, but I haven’t really looked. What’s so distracting is Bangladesh; it throws up surprises in every corner and I can’t help but be transfixed by it. Continue reading ‘Shesh in the Desh’
Archive for the 'Corruption' Category
[I actually wrote this last week but couldn’t get online for a while.]
At around 2am in Dhaka on Monday 16th June, a thousand members of the security forces began to assemble outside the home of Sheikh Hasina, the former Prime Minister of Bangladesh and leader of one of the two main parties, the Awami League (AL). She was arrested on charges of extortion, taken to court, denied bail under the Emergency Power Rules and sent to a sub-jail by midday. After six months of running Bangladesh under a state of emergency, the military-backed caretaker government is finally beginning to lay its cards on the table, in doing so taking a massive gamble with the future of Bangladesh and its 150 million people. Currently, it’s impossible to predict if this gamble will pay off. Continue reading ‘Sheikh Hasina arrested, and the Army gambles with Bangladesh’
[This has been cross-posted in The Guardian’s ‘Comment Is Free’ section here.]
Monday 11th June marks the fifth month since the military took over and imposed a State of Emergency in Bangladesh. Through the civilian caretaker administration, which the military ‘support’, some level of social stability has been achieved, much-needed reforms set in motion, and with the newly empowered Anti-Corruption Commissioner labelling ‘at least 99%’ of Bangladeshi politicians corrupt, hundreds of senior Bangladeshi political figures have been jailed.
Yet this security has come at the cost of many essential freedoms, including the suspension of all political activities, and the intimidation of the domestic media against meaningful scrutiny. The military is essentially operating with total impunity. The most recent report by the Bangladeshi human rights organisation Odhikar stated that during the first 130 days of the State of Emergency, 96 people were killed by law-enforcement personnel, including 14 deaths through torture, seven of which were committed by the Army or ‘Joint Forces’.
Last month the Bangladeshi government censored the regional affairs Himal Magazine (based in Nepal) for publishing two articles critical of the military.
This month they’ve gone and done a special on Bangladesh, with some really excellent essays. Needless to say it’s completely banned here. But it’s a must-read if you’re interested in this sort of thing. Link.
(Disclosure – they also have published a small piece by me, although unfortunately it’s not very good in comparison to everyone else’s).
[This has been cross-posted on The Guardian’s Comment Is Free blog. There are already comments, so maybe contribute to any debate there?]
Bangladesh is rapidly moving from being the world’s fifth largest democratic state, to the world’s largest state of total uncertainty. Since January 11, when the military stepped in to avert certain chaos and cancelled January’s scheduled but highly contentious general election, imposing a caretaker government under a state of emergency, the caretaker government, whilst initially very popular here, is beginning to look less military-backed and more military-run.
On Sunday in London the former prime minister Sheikh Hasina, the leader of the Awami League (AL) was humiliated when she was turned back from Heathrow trying to board a flight home as the military stated they would refuse to let her re-enter the country. Her bitter rival Khaleda Zia, the leader of the Bangladesh Nationalist party (BNP) and the most recent prime minister, is desperately fighting against exile to Saudi Arabia with her family. The coup began by the military is near completion.
The august New York Times has published an editorial on the crisis in Bangladesh today. The NYT states:
Bangladesh in the Generals’ Grip
Promoting democracy, especially in Islamic countries, is supposed to be a major goal of President Bush’s foreign policy. But his administration has raised little protest as Bangladesh — until January the world’s fifth most populous democracy — has been transformed into its second most populous military dictatorship.
The dam of lies and corruption is beginnning to burst, and everything’s spilling out now.
In the last few days, charges first of extortion/corruption and today murder have been levelled against Sheikh Hasina, the leader of Bangladesh’s Awami League, who was PM from 1996-2001 and leader of the party pretty much since her father was assassinated in 1975.
Sheikh Hasina has been on holiday in America, since all politics is banned in Bangladesh, but she’s announced that she’s coming back as soon as possible to fight the charges, and has completely denied them, obviously.
You can read about the murder charges here, on the BBC. Most Bangla news sites at the moment are still buzzing with bias. They’re based around who was responsible for the riots on October 28th when six people were beaten to death. I was there and it was disgusting. It’s the kind of charge that’s completely politically motivated and may well never even see court, but personally, I would agree with this summation, by Kawsar Jamal who runs the Change Bangladesh website:
“150 million people including the Non-resident Bangladeshi are responsible for October 28th, 06 occurence. The factors that played hard for the occurence to happen are
lack of education,lack of information sharing between people to people,lack of humanity and humanness(n)and lack of proper process and procedures of so called filthy democracy,familycracy and autocracy thats been followed for last 35 years after independence. It doesn’t look to good even now, so I won’t be amazed if I see the same occurence sometime soon too, who knows may be very soon or little later unless things gets strengthen up very soon.”