Archive for the 'Dhaka' Category

A new proposal to alleviate poverty in Bangladesh

[This has been cross-posted at Drishtipat here]

Please download the Rickshaw-Development-proposal.pdf

The challenge was to propose an idea which would have the greatest impact on poverty alleviation in Bangladesh. After nine months of living and working in the country as volunteers, my colleague Thomas Wipperman and I realised that the answer was all around us. There are many marginalised groups in Bangladesh; indigenous people, farmers afflicted by the Monga famines, HIV sufferers – but they compromise a tiny minority in a country of over 145 million. When the purpose of intervention is to reach as many people as possible at the lowest end of the social scale, the stand-out constituency is the rickshaw pullers. Rickshaw pullers are the essential cogs in Bangladesh’s machine. And they deserve better.

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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

Bangladesh – Five months of Emergency, and our responsibility to speak out.

[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’.

Continue reading ‘Bangladesh – Five months of Emergency, and our responsibility to speak out.’

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).

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.

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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.

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Uncertain Times

[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.

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