Archive for the 'Democracy' Category


Free Burma!

Shesh in the Desh

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’

Human Rights Watch letter to Bangladesh

Put better than anyone else can:

Bangladesh: Protecting Rights as Vital as Ending Corruption

(New York, August 1, 2007) – The Bangladeshi government should take the protection of human rights as seriously as the fight against corruption, Human Rights Watch said today in a letter to the chief advisor of the Caretaker Government of Bangladesh (http://hrw.org/english/docs/2007/08/01/bangla16556.htm). The letter addresses problems of extrajudicial killings, torture, and arbitrary arrests.

For additional Human Rights Watch reporting on Bangladesh, please visit:

· Bangladesh country page: http://www.hrw.org/doc?t=asia&c=bangla

· “Judge, Jury, and Executioner: Torture and Extrajudicial Killings by Bangladesh’s Elite Security Force,” December 2006: http://www.hrw.org/reports/2006/bangladesh1206/

· Bangladesh chapter of Human Rights Watch’s World Report 2007: http://hrw.org/englishwr2k7/docs/2007/01/11/bangla14864.htm

For more information, please contact:

In London, Brad Adams: +44-790-872-8333 (mobile), or adamsb@hrw.org

In India, Meenakshi Ganguly: +91-9820036032 (mobile), or gangulm@hrw.org

Sheikh Hasina arrested, and the Army gambles with Bangladesh

[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’

Himal Magazine special on Bangladesh

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).

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’