Archive for the 'State of Emergency' Category



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’

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.

Continue reading ‘Uncertain Times’

The world wakes up to the mess in Bangladesh?

The august New York Times has published an editorial on the crisis in Bangladesh today. The NYT states:

April 15, 2007

Editorial

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.

Continue reading ‘The world wakes up to the mess in Bangladesh?’

Big Political Trouble in Little Bangladesh

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.”

Continue reading ‘Big Political Trouble in Little Bangladesh’

The suspension of politics in Bangladesh – the end of freedom?

On Sunday Fakhruddin Ahmed, the Chief Advisor to Bangladesh’s ‘interim’ military-technocratic administration came to Sylhet. He declared that the administration was directly accountable to the people, and was a constitutional government as it had assumed office taking the oath on the Constitution. He went on to say that his government wanted real democracy, adding that a peaceful atmosphere and social stability were the pre-requisites for holding free, fair and credible elections.

This is all utter nonsense, and I’m disappointed that I was in the office and unable to witness his statements myself.

These are the facts about the political situation in Bangladesh at the moment:

Continue reading ‘The suspension of politics in Bangladesh – the end of freedom?’

Our office is being demolished – with us in it

I’m writing this to the metronomic thud of sledgehammer on concrete, which is coming from directly below my desk, and causing my water to resonate ever so slightly with the vibrations. Our office is being demolished.

Since the military coup on January 11th and the declaration of State of Emergency, the interim military-technocrat administration has implemented many changes to Bangladesh, some of which are very popular, such as going after corrupt politicians and putting them in jail, some of which are concerning, such as suspending some fundamental human rights, and allowing the security agencies to operate with impunity – 60,000 officers have made 95,825 arrests since January 11th, for which they need no warrant, and there have been at least 50 deaths in custody – and others which are disruptive and designed to show who’s boss in the streets, where real life takes place.

Continue reading ‘Our office is being demolished – with us in it’

‘The greatest game’: Bangladeshi politics, the story so far

I haven’t been posting about every latest political development here because I never intended that to be the purpose of this blog – and working a six day week and doing other things means I don’t have as much time as I’d like; just keeping up with the news is hard enough.

But I do find the ever-changing situation fascinating, and I think for anyone who’s studied or had an interest in politics, what’s happening here is…in a word, spectacular.

On the Drishtipat blog, an excellent, short but thorough round-up has been published, including some eye-watering examples of gross corruption, and some photos which really do tell a thousand words. Check it out here.