Archive for the 'State of Emergency' Category

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’

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).

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’

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’