নারী তুমি রুখে দাঁড়াও যৌন নির্যাতনের বিরুদ্ধে

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রাস্তাঘাটে নারীরা যৌন হয়রানির শিকার করলে কি করা উচিত – এ ভেবে অনেকেই কূল পাননা। বেশিরভাগ ক্ষেত্রেই হয়তো দেখা যায় নির্যাতিতরা মাথা নিচু করে ঘটনাস্থল ত্যাগ করে। এক্ষেত্রে বড় একটা নিয়ামক হলো নির্যাতনকারী অপরিচিত ও ঘটনা অপরিচিত কোন এলাকায় ঘটলে নারী ও মেয়েশিশুরা সাধারণত প্রতিবাদ করতে ভয় পান। আবার অন্যদিকে অনেক সময় কেউ কেউ প্রতিবাদ করেন কিন্তু সাথে সাথে নির্যাতনকারী ও তাদের সহযোগীদের দ্বারা আরো বেশি নির্যাতিত হন, কখনো কখনো এসিড ছুঁড়ে বা ধর্ষন করে জান্তব আনন্দ পায় অমানুষরা।

নির্যাতনের ঘটনা পরিচিত এলাকায় বা রাস্তায় ঘটলে নারীদের জন্য প্রতিবাদ ও প্রতিরোধ গড়া অনেক সহজ। কয়েকজন নারী এক হয়ে বা নিজেদের আত্মীয় ও শুকাংখীদের একত্র করে চিহ্নিত নির্যাতনকারীদের বিরুদ্ধে সফলভাবে ব্যবস্থা নেয়া যায় যেন তারা বা সেই এলাকার অন্য কেউ আর কখনো কোন নারী বা মেয়েশিশুকে যৌন নির্যাতন করার সাহস না পায় এবং দৃষ্টিভঙ্গির পরিবর্তনের মাধ্যমে তাদের সাথে সহাবস্থানমূলক ও বন্ধুত্বপূর্ণ সম্পর্ক তৈরি করে।

দীর্ঘস্থায়ী নিরাময় ব্যবস্থা হিসেবে নির্যাতনকারীদের চিহ্নিত করে তাদের নাম-পারিবারিক পরিচয় ও ছবি কর্মকান্ডের বিবরণসহ প্রকাশ করে ছড়িয়ে দিতে হবে। জনসমক্ষে প্রতিবাদ করে অপমানিত করতে হবে এবং সম্ভব হলে জুতাপেটা করে, মুখে চুনকালি মেখে পুলিশে দিতে হবে। পাশাপাশি পুলিশ যেন মামলা নেয় ও আসামীকে গ্রেপ্তার করে যথাযথ তদন্তের মাধ্যমে আইনী প্রক্রিয়া সম্পন্ন করে সে বিষয় নিয়মিত খেয়াল রাখতে হবে।

নির্যাতিতা, তার পরিবার বা শুকাংখীরা যদি যথাযথ ব্যবস্থা নিতে না পারে তবে সাংবাদিক ও সরকারি-বেসরকারী আইন সহায়তাদানকারী প্রতিষ্ঠানের সাথে যোগাযোগ করতে হবে। যেসব পুরুষ যৌন কামনা-বাসনা নিয়ন্ত্রন করতে পারেনা এবং যৌন নির্যাতনের মত ঘৃণ্য কাজ করে তাদের জন্য কোন সহমর্মিতা নয় কোন যুক্তিতেই।

কয়েকটি ঘটনার বর্ণনা দিচ্ছিঃ

সূত্রঃ পটিয়ানিউজ২৪

সূত্রঃ পটিয়ানিউজ২৪

১. “পটিয়া পৌর সদরের ছবুর রোড এলাকায় স্কুলগামী ছাত্রীদের কটুক্তি করার দায়ে গুরু সম্পদ দাশ (৩৫) নামের এক যুবককে ছাত্রীরা দলবদ্ধ হয়ে জুতা পেটা করে থানায় সোপর্দ করে। গত রবিবার সকাল ১০ টায় এ ঘটনা ঘটে। পরে পুলিশ তাকে ভ্রাম্যমান আদালত পরিচালনা করতে পটিয়া সহকারী কমিশনারের (ভুমি) কাছে নিয়ে গেলে তিনি যুবককে এক মাসের জেল দেন। অভিযোগমতে, পটিয়া খলিলুর রহমান ও আবদুর রহমান সরকারী বালিকা উচ্চ বিদ্যালয়ের ১০-১২ জন ছাত্রী কোচিং করে স্কুলে যাওয়ার পথে পৌর সদরের ছবুর রোড এলাকায় আসলে গুরু সম্পদ নামের যুবকটি তাদের কটুক্তি করে। এসময় ছাত্রীরা দলবদ্ধ হয়ে তাকে ধরে জুতা পেটা করে তাকে থানায় সোপর্দ করে।”

খবরটি চোখে পড়ে সোমবার। আমার এক বন্ধু ফেসবুকে একটি ছবিসহ খবরটি শেয়ার দেন। দেখে আমার কাছে এতই ভালো লেগেছে যে আমি সাথে সাথেই শেয়ার দেই এবং আমার “WeMen for WoMen” পেইজেও শেয়ার দেই। ছবিতে দেখা যায় ঘটনার সময় আশেপাশে উৎসুক পুরুষদের ভিড় জমে যায়। ঘটোনাটি ঢাকার রাস্তায় হলেও হয়তো তাই হতো। বেশিরভাগ ক্ষেত্রেই নারী বা শিশুরা রাস্তাঘাটে যৌন হয়রানির শিকার হলে অপিরিচিত পুর‍্যষ বা নারীরা গা করেন না, সাহায্যের হাত বাড়ান না। আমার মতে এই ছাত্রীরা সবচাইতে কার্যকর ব্যবস্থা নিয়েছেন। তবে দুঃখজনক হলো এই অনেকের জন্য উদাহরণস্বরূপ ঘটনা জাতীয় দৈনিকে স্থান পায়নি!

২. ফটিকছড়িতে জাফতনগর ইউনিয়নের হাফেজুল উলুম মাদ্রাসার ৯ বছরের ছাত্রীকে যৌন নির্যাতনের অভিযোগে  মাওলানা একরাম উল্লাহর (২৪) বিরুদ্ধে মামলা হয়েছে। ওই ছাত্রীর বাবা বাদী হয়ে নারী শিশু নির্যাতন আইনে ফটিকছড়ি থানায় মামলাটি দায়ের করেন এ বছরের ২৯শে মার্চ। হাতে গোনা দুয়েকটি পত্রিকায় খবরটি ছাপা হয়। ছাত্রীটিকে প্রতিদিন যৌন নির্যাতন করতো একরাম। এজন্য তার অভিভাবকের কাছে এ বিষয়ে কয়েকবার অভিযোগ করা হয়েছে। ঘটনার দিনও ছাত্রীটি মাওলানার বিরুদ্ধে এমন অভিযোগ করলে ছাত্রীর অভিভাবক ও স্থানীয় জনতা মাদ্রাসায় গিয়ে ওই মাওলানাকে গণধোলাই দেয়। এক পর্যায়ে জাফতনগর ইউপি চেয়ারম্যান আবদুল হালিম ও ফটিকছড়ি থানার উপ-পরিদর্শক শফিকুর রহমান ঘটনাস্থলে উপস্থিত হয়ে জনতার গণধোলাই থেকে তাকে উদ্ধার করে।

উল্লেখ্য মাওলানা একরাম উগ্রপন্থী ইসলামী সংগঠন হেফাজতে ইসলামের নেতা। এই রাজনৈতিক ও ধর্মব্যবসায়ি দল মনে করে নারীদের পর্দা করা উচিত নইলে তারা রাস্তাঘাটে বা অন্যান্য স্থানে যৌন হয়রানির শিকার হতে পারে, কারন পুরুষরা নারীদের দ্বারা আকৃষ্ট হয়। আমি দেড় বছরের শিশুর ধর্ষিত হবার খবরও অনেক দেখেছি। ঐসব শিশুরা কিভাবে পুরুষদের যৌনতার উদ্রেগ করে তা আমার জানতে খুব মন চায়।

৩. এই ঘটনাটি আমার খুব কাছের এক বন্ধু বলেছিল, খুব গর্ব করে বলেছিল। আমার মনটা খুশিতে ভরে গিয়েছিল। আমি এই গল্পটি অনেককেই বলেছি, সাহস দিতে।

লোকাল বাসে করে অফিসে যাবার সময় পেছনের সিটের কেউ আমার বন্ধুর গায়ে হাত দিচ্ছিলো, সিটের পাশের অল্প ফাঁক জায়গা দিয়ে! দুই-তিনবারের মাথায় ওৎ পেতে থাকা আমার বন্ধুটা সেই অমানুষটার হাত খামচে ধরে ফেলে, সাথে সাথেই চিৎকার করে উঠে। টেনে হিঁচড়ে লোকটাকে বাসের মাঝখানে টেনে আনে সে, তারপর চড়, ঘুষি, লাত্থি চালাতে থাকে। রাগে মাথায় রক্ত উঠে গিয়েছিল আমার বন্ধুটার, চিৎকার করে গালিগালাজ করছিল সে। শেষমেষ লাত্থি দিয়ে বাসের দরজা দিয়ে ইসলামিক টুপি পড়া লোকটাকে ফেলে দিলো আমার বন্ধুটা।

রাগে গজগজ করে আমাকে যখন বলছিলো ঘটনাটা আমি ওকে বারবার বাহবা দিচ্ছিলাম, এখনো দিচ্ছি।

এরকম নারী-মেয়েশিশু চাই এইদেশে। খুব বেশি না হলেও এখনো অনেক মানুষ আছে তোমাদের পাশে দাঁড়াতে।

Sundarbans Oil Spill: Is Bangladesh capable of facing disasters?

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Dhaka Tribune

Dhaka Tribune

Now Dolphins‬ started dying after the Sundarbans‬ oil spill. Fishes, birds, crabs are already dying. Next are the deer and tigers, and what not!

However, it’s no big deal for this ‪‎government and the administration of 2014‪ Bangladesh! Its minister says the oil spill will not harm the forest much!

They are building two 1320MW coal-run power plants – despite knowing about the possible threats – near the world’s largest mangroves forest in the next few years while allowing new shipbreaking yards, cement factories and other hazardous industries too.

It’s been reluctant since ‪#Rana Plaza‬ ‪#collapse‬ that killed over 1,140 poor‪ garment‬ workers‬!!! Still we find bones and skull of humans at the site where the Army conducted a rescue and salvage operations for two weeks!

Last Eid, the government failed to rescue Pinak 6 launch carrying over 200 poor passengers beyond its capacity – a common risky trend during Muslim festivals. Only around 45 bodies were found while more than 150 remain missing. Despite making pledges, the government is yet to make the probe report public!

Every year we see unfit vessels are given face-lift and these are even reported in media. But…

This year like every year, the government has failed to take precautionary measures before floods in monsoon that devastate houses and crop lands while displacing millions of people. But the government is never ready!

Yet the United Nations appreciates Bangladesh for its efficiency in disaster management. Hilarious!!!

Hang all 1971 war criminals

I’m not a patriot, not a nationalist, not even an Awami League supporter. But I want justice for the 1971 war crimes committed by the Pakistani Army with the help of local traitors led by Ghulam Azam.
I’m aware of most of the historic events and politics since independence in favour of and against this trial.

I’m also somewhat informed about the persons for and against the trial and those who have been trying to delay the process deliberately.

I’m also informed about the persons who have recruited unskilled prosecutors and investigators to conduct this historic trial.

Despite knowing this, I’m in favour of “no trial” at all to hang the identified war criminals.

1971 controversies: Whose concern?

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Waiting eagerly to see ruling of the Bangladesh War Crimes Tribunal on 1971 death count against a contempt petition regarding British-born Bangladeshi journalist David Bergman — also son-in-law of Dr Kamal, who, however, did not question the number of rape victims! How amazing developments!!!

He did not raise the question while working with Gita Sahgal on popular Channel 4 documentary War Crimes Files released two decades back, or later; not even during the previous BNP-Jamaat government!

He has been following the trial proceedings since the beginning and with the help of four/five hands he’s been updating day to day events on a website in English. He also writes opinion on crucial decisions of the tribunals.

While doing these good works he’s been blamed for only criticising the events — certainly having grounds — thanks to the inefficient prosecutors, investigators and naked interferrence of the government.

May be it’s my fault that I don’t find him praising any good step by the tribunals. He might be taking revenge for some unknown reasons. Or he finds nothing positive in trying the top identified war criminals after 40 years of independence.

Bangladesh is a fertile breeding ground of blame game. There’re lot of things to criticise and condemn the ruling Awami League-led government. On the other hand, the 1971 collaborators who had been released by military ruler Gen Ziaur Rahman and subsequently established in civil service, army and religion-based politics have now become tycoons.

Many still believe that the 1971 Liberation War was a conflict between the supporters of Awami League and Jamaat; hence, the ongoing trial is a vengeance of the Sheikh Mujib’s party.

People having no political inclination are the ultimate sufferers.

Phulbari will resist Asia Energy, Awami League

In just another aggressive effort of the Awami League government and the GCM Plc (Asia Energy), its CEO Gary Lye visited Phulbari in Dinajpur Wednesday noon. He was for the second time in two years obstructed by the conscious locals who have been opposing an open-pit coal mining project of the US and UK-based firm for the last one decade.

The ruling government seems adamant to approve Asia Energy’s controversial proposal even though its chief Sheikh Hasina in 2006 supported the six point demands of the locals that included no open-pit mining in Phulbari and cancelling deals with Asia Energy.

Then in opposition, Hasina during her election campaign in the north joined a rally in Phulbari to bring those people into confidence. She has warned then Khaleda-Nizami government with dire consequences if the demands were not met.

However, after coming to power her energy adviser Tawfiq-e-Elahi in response to then US ambassador Moriarty’s request (or bribes) assured him of clearing the project through parliament by bringing the people into confidence.

Later a parliamentary committee was formed which has advocated for open-pit mining disregarding a 2008 experts’ committee stance against it.

Hasina herself at a meeting with energy ministry officials asked them to assess possible scopes to extract coal from Phulbari through the controversial method that would displace over 2 lakh people over the mining period of 30 years.

It doesn’t matter to the government or the elite class civil servants whether the poor people are affected for any investment because it’s a pro-business government.

Same attitude is seen in the case of 1,320MW Rampal power plant near the Sundarbans. The govt has been successful to begin the project only when it deployed army there since it failed to stop mass movement and criticisms.

Politicians and businessmen are shameless, no doubt.

They’re assisted by some media and influential PR firms like The Daily Star, Prothom Alo and the Asiatic. Many university teachers and scientists have also been supporting Asia Energy’s coal project and the Bangladesh-India joint venture coal power project.

May be soon army or paramilitary BGB would be deployed in Phulbari too!

Supreme cleric needed in Islamic Bangladesh

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Bangladesh‬, having Islam‬ as the state religion‬, badly needs a supreme leader or council to stop the extremists from giving different versions of the religion and issuing fatwas!

These morons are becoming more powerful day by day and spreading misleading impression about Islam.

Their acts are creating panic among the non-Muslims of this Muslim-majority country and also some liberal Muslims.

The state religion provision was incorporated in the constitution of Bangladesh through the Eighth Amendment passed on June 7, 1988 under the military rule of dictator HM Ershad, now a special envoy to the prime minister.

The move was made to assist the Islamist parties including Jamaat-e-Islami and influential clerics and pirs grow bigger.

Ershad is also the chairman of Jatiya Party, which acts as a government ally as well as opposition in parliament.

It should be noted that those talking about establishing Islam in Bangladesh came mainly from Jamaat before and after the Liberation War. The party was banned after the independence as religion-based politics had been prohibited by law and over 11,000 war-time collaborators – mostly from Jamaat – were facing trial when Sheikh Mujib was alive.

But after the assassination of the Father of the Nation, another military ruler General Ziaur Rahman freed them while passing indemnity law barring trial of Mujib killers – also to help the Islamists since he resumed politics of religion-based parties.

A case challenging the legality of declaring Islam as the state religion is yet to be resolved in the apex court.

The High Court on October 4, 2010 ruled that Bangladesh is now a secular state in line with the original constitution of 1972 which it said had been restored automatically following the Supreme Court judgment on the Fifth Amendment.

The court said: “…no one can be forced to wear any religious attires in the secular state. Everyone has the right to guided by one’s own religion. For the same reason, no one can also be barred from wearing religious attires. Everyone has the right to wear the attire of one’s choice maintaining decency.”

Former law minister Shafique Ahmed on April 4, 2009 said Ershad introduced state religion in violation of the nation’s core principles. “The amendment to make Islam the state religion was contrary to the fundamentals, such as secularism, of the country’s 1972 constitution.”

The result is obvious: rise of extremists, militants and wrong-headed Muslims in this so-called secular country!

US embassy in Dhaka’s Chhatra Shibir agenda

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wikileas logoThe influence of the leaders of Islami Chhatra Shibir, the student body of Jamaat-e-Islami, at Rajshahi University was so big in 2008 that a US embassy team considered them important points of contact.

Published on the Dhaka Tribune Sunday!

The team that visited the university on a government vulnerability assessment trip in mid-February that year said Chhatra Shibir had the ability to ensure that like-minded people were hired onto the faculty.

Then charge d’affaires Geeta Pasi wrote to Washington on March 5 the same year about the tour, reveals a cable leaked by whistle blower website WikiLeaks.

“Although Jamaat-e-Islami is the country’s largest Islamic political party and Shibir its main feeder organisation, Embassy Dhaka’s contact with Shibir is limited since they are not overtly active in Dhaka.

“Although they were far less forthcoming than one would hope, the Rajshahi Shibir members appeared to enjoy their engagement with the Embassy team. Post recognises a need to better reach out to this group, many of whom will be in positions to influence Bangladesh’s more Islamic-minded people, and will work on strategies to do so.”

The cable also stated that Chhatra Shibir was scorned by student groups aligned with secular-oriented parties, which had prevented it from organising openly at Dhaka University.

Delawer Hossain, then president of the university chapter of Shibir, was one of the four leaders who the US embassy team had met during the visit.

They described the group as highly organised and intently focused on spreading and deepening the influence of Islam. Their main tasks, they said, were teaching fellow students the Qur’an and the words and deeds of Prophet Muhammad known as “hadith.”

Other Shibir activities at the university include running a library with a selection of Islamic literature; collecting donations; providing assistance to select impoverished and “meritorious” students; and offering English seminars.

Quoting a Rajshahi reporter, the cable said local Chhatra Shibir members at times resorted to violence as well. The reporter also said: “Shibir is so influential on campus it can ensure that a strong legion of like-minded people are hired onto the faculty.”

Jamaat leaders in Rajshahi confirmed that their supporters had dominated the governing board of the university. After insisting that Shibir held no influence in the university, Delawer conceded that he had personally spoken with its top official about “personnel matters.”

The Chhatra Shibir leaders told the US embassy team that the national education system did not provide students a sufficient grounding in morality, ethics and good citizenship, the cable reads.

Mohammad Mijanur Rahman, then education secretary of Chhatra Shibir in Rajshahi, claimed: “We also don’t support the destructive programs of al-Qaeda and the Taliban.”

However, Delawer and his colleagues were consistently vague when they were asked to explain their vision of a more Islamic society – at one point they mentioned the abolition of interest charges “but refused to venture much further, careful again, it seemed, to not say anything they believed might offend Americans.”

Most Chhatra Shibir members go on to join Jamaat; indeed, they said supporting an Islamic-based party or otherwise promoting the spread of Islam were foremost among their life goals after graduation.

Faruk killing

Though Delawer claimed that Chhatra Shibir seeks a larger role for Islam in national life via “democratic and non-violent means,” the group is largely responsible for gruesome murders and carrying out violent attacks on the opponent student body supporters at RU and other universities, especially Chittagong University – known as another stronghold of Shibir.

A cable sent on February 10, 2010 by then ambassador to Dhaka James F Moriarty mentioned Jamaat Assistant Secretary General Abdur Razzaq acknowledging the killing of RU master’s final year student Faruk Hossain on February 8 by Chhatra Shibir men.

Faruk, a student of mathematics, was killed in an attack at Shah Mukdum Hall and the corpse shoved down a manhole while many others were injured on the campus following a confrontation between the two student groups of Awami League and Jamaat.

Police said Faruk had been hacked in the television room of the dormitory around 2am and dumped into a manhole. His body was recovered the next morning.

Equipped with Chinese axes, hammers, rods, machetes and daggers, the Shibir members entered the hall led by Ahad, hall unit general secretary, and Anis, former hall president, police said.

Terming the murder “inhumane, regrettable, and indefensible,” Razzaq said Jamaat would cooperate fully in any investigation on the incident.

According to Razzaq, the clash had started as a small incident in the early evening at a dorm between four male students, two from Chhatra League and two from Chhatra Shibir.

The confrontation had led over 1,500 Shibir to gather later in the evening. “The Shibir students had reportedly gone on a rampage, killing one Chhatra League member and shoving his corpse down a manhole. Chhatra Shibir activists also allegedly slit the tendons of a number of Chhatra League members.”

Asked whether the government should ban student political groups, Razzaq replied that Jamaat had been prepared to work with the government on a ban, provided the government used proper legal procedures and applied the ban impartially.

Another Jamaat leader Kamaruzzaman in a meeting with Moriarty on December 22, 2005 dismissed arguments that Jamaat’s loose ties to “radical Islamic student group” Shibir “proved” that Jamaat supports violence.

“JIB [Jamaat] does not actively support or control Shibir,” he said, “but merely offers guidance. Moreover, people join groups for many reasons when they are young, reasons they later abandon or renounce.”

He added: “Most of the individuals who have been involved in Shibir did not join Jamaat, but pursued careers as civil servants. The leadership of Jamaat was based on Chhatra Shibir involvement.”

Former Jamaat leader Abdul Quader Molla, who was executed last year for committing war crimes in 1971, was quoted in another cable sent to Washington on January 24, 2006.

He said some members of the banned Islamist outfit Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) had associations with Jamaat, “particularly its student wing Chhatra Shibir.”

The JMB members left by their own admission as they had disagreed with Jamaat’s stance on “adhering to the democratic process,” Molla claimed.

On December 14, 2005 then US charge d’affairs in Dhaka Judith Chammas met with former PMO principal secretary Kamal Siddiqui.

“JMB is filled with former Jamaat-e-Islami members who broke away when the latter aligned with the BNP [in 2001]. Some Jamaat members maintain supportive links to the JMB,” Siddiqui said declining to give names or more specific information.

BNP leadership perpetrated August 21 attack

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Sheikh Hasina at a press conference on June 13, 2005 claimed that at least 50 criminals in cahoots with police launched the August 21 grenade attack which was organised by Khaleda Zia, Tarique, Babar, Nasiruddin and SQ Chowdhury. The criminals were given training at Dewanganj of Jamalpur.

According to an Awami League probe, she said: “After the attack, the criminals went to Singair in Natore where a petrol pump owner gave them shelter. Prior to the attack they held a series of meetinhs at Thonthonia Bazar in Bogra.”

Hasina said: “On the night of August 20, four persons wearing veils offloaded a consignment of arms from a tinted jeep in Tarique’s in law’s residence in Dhanmondi. These arms were used in the attack.”

The Awami League chief who lost hearing partially in one ear also said after the attack police fired tear gas to provide cover for the fleeing assailants.

According to a US embassy cable released by WikiLeaks, then the government failed to protect the crime scene from severe contamination while the US ATF consultants denied access to key witnesses.

Scotland Yard also had negative experience with the investigation of the attack.

Two cases — for murders and explosives — filed over the incident that killed at least 23 people are under trial now.

#Bangladesh: November 7, 1975 events, through #WikiLeaks

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* Troops loyal to ousted chief of army staff Maj Gen Ziaur Rahman moved against his successor Maj Gen Khalid Mosharraf around 1am. There was considerable gunfire, punctuated by mortar blasts, at the Dhaka cantonment as the night passed. Shortly before 4am Radio Bangladesh announced that Zia had been named chief martial law administrator, thus taking over control of Bangladesh.

* It now seems quite certain that Khalid Mosharraf is dead.

* Acting foreign secretary Nazrul Islam called in US embassy official said he was instructed to request US government’s support which will be meaningful in check-mating any Indian move against government. This needed to be given the highest priority as everyone was worried and time was urgent.

* He was also instructed to request that the US convey the feelings of the government regarding the situation to the governments of China and Pakistan, and in particular, to request the Government of Pakistan to “mobilise support from the Muslin countries also.”

* He said the demonstrations of people from all walks of life and by all elements of te armed forces in support of both Gen Zia and Khondaker Moshtaque were spontaneous enthusiasm that began to be heard after Zia’s taking over power as the chief martial law administrator.

* The processions chanted slogans against India.

* After the 1971 war public mood was explicitly anti-Pakistani and secular. But “now it’s pro-Pakistan, pro-Islamic, pro-US and pro-west.”

* The Bangladesh government is now trying to “mobilise the military, political and administrative elements into a unity that will restore peace and calm to the domestic scene.”

* Mahbubul Alam Chashi, principal secretary of president, said things were settling down and that they had a very strong expectation that there would be continuity in government with the present president, chief justice AM Sayem remaining in office.

**************before this*************

* Three army officials, who led the coup against Sheikh Mujibur Rahman on August 15, left the country on November 3-4 for Thailand upon order of president Moshtaque following a counter-coup by disgruntled colonels.

The three are Lt Col Sayed Farook Rahman, Lt Col KA Rashid and Lt Col Shariful Huque Dalim.

The went to Bangkok with 12 other officers, two non-commissioned officers including the president’s personal bodyguard, seven women and five children. They were given 15-day visas.

Col Farook said they had informed the US and Pakistan embassies of their presence and intended applying to them for asylum.

The counter-coup started around 2pm on November 3 and was led by Brig Khalid Mosharraf, the chief of army general staff. Bangladesh Radio said November 5 that he was promoted to major general and appointed army chief of staff. He replaced Maj Gen Zia, arrested on November 3 along with Air Vice-Marshal GM Tawab.

Col Farook said Moshtaque refused to allow them and other loyal officer to counter attack, and told them to leave the county.

WikiLeaks: Jamaat’s link with militant JMB exposed

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wikileas logoAfter the series bomb blasts of August 17, 2005, the media as well as the Awami League leaders and political observers alleged that then the BNP-led government ally Jamaat-e-Islami had connection with banned radical Islamist group JMB – both having the common aim to establish Islamic law in Bangladesh.

However, an aide of then prime minister Khaleda Zia acknowledged that many Jamaat men had joined the JMB.

Even though Jamaat then denied having any organisational link with the JMB (Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh) and like-minded Jagrata Muslim Janata Bangladesh (JMJB), two of its senior leaders admitted that there were some former Jamaat members in the JMB, according to US embassy cables leaked by whistleblowing website WikiLeaks.

This report was published on the Dhaka Tribune.

On December 14, 2005, then US charge d affairs in Dhaka Judith Chammas met with former PMO principal secretary Kamal Siddiqui.

“JMB is filled with former Jamaat-e-Islami members who broke away when the latter aligned with the BNP [in 2001]. Some Jamaat members maintain supportive links to the JMB,” the cable sent to Washington on December 15 quoted Siddiqui as saying.

When asked, he declined to give names or more specific information.

He also acknowledged the government’s missteps, in particular its failure to recognise JMB’s terrorist potential and the protection of senior JMB figures by influential BNP leaders including Khaleda’s elder son Tarique Rahman and former state minister Ruhul Kuddus Talukder Dulu.

“There is no doubt that there are some foreigners helping JMB. There is a nagging suspicion that this is the work of ‘the big brother,’” Siddiqui told Chammas.

BNP’s Senior Vice-Chairman Tarique in 2005 had phoned then home state minister Lutfozzaman Babar for the release of JMB’s second-in-command Mahtab Khamaru.

As allegations piled against Jamaat after the blast incidents, its Assistant Secretary General Muhammed Kamaruzzaman called on Chammas on December 21 the same year to convince the US that Jamaat had not been involved with the JMB.

He earlier visited the French, the UK, the Norwegian, and the Chinese embassies to defend the party.

“There were no current JIB [Jamaat] members that are members of the JMB. A member of the JMB can be a former JIB member, but will never return to the JIB party,” Kamaruzzaman said when asked by Chammas.

Another cable sent on January 24, 2006 quoted senior Jamaat leader Abdul Quader Molla, who was executed last year for his involvement in 1971 war crimes, saying that some JMB members had associations with Jamaat, particularly the student wing – Islami Chhatra Shibir.

Molla said the JMB members left by their own admission as they disagreed with Jamaat’s stance on “adhering to the democratic process.” His party had not been weakened by the association with the JMB, he told the US official.

A US embassy official met Molla at the Jamaat office on January 19. He said the JMB men were isolated from the people, and therefore, would not “survive in the current sea.”

Blaming India and the Awami League for supporting the group, Molla dismissed notions that the BNP government was protecting the JMB militants. “It is a political campaign saying that [Shayakh] Abdur Rahman is being protected.”

Asked who might be supporting the JMB, the Jamaat leader said the JMB’s explosives had come from India, and “it has been long known that India desires to control the markets of Bangladesh.”

He thinks India blames Bangladesh for threatening the stability of all neighbouring states to justify its hostility to Bangladesh.

Even after it was banned in early 2005, Molla said, the JMB had not gone but certainly their activities decreased. He anticipated that splinter groups might arise and make future attacks.

According to Kamaruzzaman, the bombings were meant to destabilise the government and the Awami League was benefited from that. “Islamists certainly are not benefited. Islamic parties are being blamed for the bombings, which gives them a bad name,” he told Chammas.

Kamaruzzaman said newspapers were offering three arguments as proof of the Jamaat-JMB link. The first argument was that Jamaat wants Islamic law, as does the JMB. “Anyone can push for Islamic law, but the method in which they pursue the cause is different,” he said.

He, however, did not deny the second argument that relatives of Jamaat men were members of the JMB. “The country is densely populated and it is easy to find people that have relations with members of the government. There are relatives of the opposition Awami League that are also members of JMB,” the cable reads.

The Jamaat leader was sentenced to death for committing crimes against humanity during the 1971 Liberation War and is awaiting verdict in the appeals case at the Supreme Court.

According to Babar, who Chammas met on December 19, 2005, JMB was aware that their string of violent attacks is not sanctioned by Islam, and therefore, their prime motivation must be to unseat the ruling party by splintering their four-party coalition.

Babar insisted that JMB’s agenda was political and not religious. “The randomness of their targets indicates they are primarily interested in creating instability.”

Therefore, he concluded, the JMB was politically motivated, and it was all about “winning the next election [in late 2006]” and splitting Jamaat from the BNP-led ruling coalition.

WikiLeaks: Khaleda’s son Tarique ordered release of JMB militant Khamaru

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tarique-babarMahtab Khamaru, the second-in-command of hanged JMB chief Bangla Bhai, was arrested in 2005 but subsequently released since then prime minister Khaleda Zia’s elder son Tarique Rahman had asked the home state minister to do so, says a US embassy cable leaked by WikiLeaks.

He was one of several hundred JMB members to face arrest after the unprecedented series bomb blasts of August 17, 2005 that rocked the country. The attacks were perpetrated by the members of JMB and Jagrata Muslim Janata Bangladesh (JMJB).

These groups aimed at establishing Islamic rule were banned on February 23 the same year.

“The Rapid Action Battalion [on November 27, 2005] arrested Kamarul [Khamaru]…But that an agitated home minister of state [Lutfozzaman] Babar complained that he had been forced to release him [Khamaru] quickly after the intervention of Tarique Rahman [now BNP senior vice-chairman]…acting at the behest of State Minister for Land [Ruhul Kuddus Talukder] Dulu,” Kamal Siddiqui, then principal secretary to the prime minister, told a US embassy official in Dhaka on December 14, 2005.

Khamaru, also a regional commander in 2004, was later arrested on March 9, 2007 and July 23, 2012. Both Tarique and Bangla Bhai hail from Gabtoli of Bogra while Dulu was a BNP lawmaker from Natore.

In 2012, Khamaru was shown arrested in a case filed for abduction and torture of one Amir Ali of Bagmara in 2004. “He is currently on bail,” OC of Bagmara police Abu Obaida Khan told the Dhaka Tribune yesterday.

At that time, it was alleged that Khamaru had been released upon a high-level decision of the then BNP-Jamaat government. But the leaked cable confirms the role of Tarique behind the release of the notorious militant who hails from Bagmara of Rajshahi. According to the cable leaked in 2011 among over 2.5 lakh others, Siddiqui referred to Tarique as “wind tunnel” – a translation of the name of his Hawa Bhaban office.

“Wind Tunnel has some psycho friends who he listens to because of his lack of experience,” he told then charge d affairs in Dhaka Judith Chammas. The cable was sent to Washington on December 15.

Siddiqui had earlier complained to the embassy officials many times about Tarique, whom he viewed as “unsophisticated and dangerous.”

However, Siddiqui was loyal to Khaleda and the BNP, says the cable titled “Dissent From A Chief Zia Advisor.”  Charged in a number of corruption cases, Siddiqui has been on the run since late 2006.

Tarique’s involvement with the JMB was also substantiated by Babar when Chammas had met him on December 19. At the meeting, then home state minister Babar described the government’s steps to contain the JMB and the JMJB militants, reads another cable.

While saying that they were able to arrest three out of the seven council members of the JMB, Babar expressed frustration over the interference of Tarique.

“Babar confirmed that one of those arrested and released was Kazarul [Khamaru], Bangla Bhai’s reputed deputy. Babar said he was in Singapore when this happened and found out that a young official in-charge in that [Rajshahi] district had done a background check with all the police offices and found no records on Kazarul and therefore released him,” Chammas wrote to Washington.

Babar also admitted that at one time “when Bangla Bhai was allegedly popular in the Rajshahi division for his vigilante action against local criminals, several government ministers supported him.”

When Chammas asked if those ministers were being held accountable, Babar said: “This is a difficult question you are asking me.”

This story was published in the Dhaka Tribune on Wednesday.

WikiLeaks: 1/11 rulers arrested 15,000 for corruption in two weeks

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wikileas logoThis cable describing the first two weeks of military-backed caretaker government was sent to Washington by then US ambassador Patricia A Butenis.

The 15,000 people arrested by police, army, and other security personnel since January 11 include established criminals as well as local and student leaders of both the Awami League and especially the Bangladesh Nationalist Party. Seven deaths in custody have been reported. There is conflicting information on whether the government has created a “no-fly list” to block politically prominent persons from leaving the country. Leaders of the former ruling alliance have complained to us the arrests reflect a government bias against it, but the arrests are broadly welcomed by Bangladeshis desperate for respite from insecurity and political confrontation.

BIPARTISAN ROUND-UP

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According to statistics provided by the Home Ministry’s Press Office, the police, the army, and the paramilitary Rapid Action Battalion have detained over 15,000 people nationwide since the declaration of a state of emergency on January 11. Arrests have averaged between 1,000 and 2,000 a day. Security officials have also seized illegal ammunition and over 100 illegal weapons, often from the homes of politically-linked criminals.

At least 68 leaders of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party have been detained, including the former ruling party’s ex-general secretary from Chittagong, the leader of the party’s affiliated union at Chittagong port, a former member of parliament from Narail district, a commissioner of the Dhaka City Corporation, and five student leaders. (The student wings of Bangladesh’s political parties are often associated with violence.) One of the highest profile targets is apparently Giasduddin Al Mamun, a close business associate of party Senior Joint Secretary Tarique Rahman. Mamun’s house and television station were reportedly raided, and his wife and brother-in-law have reportedly been brought in for questioning on corruption charges. However, Mamum has yet to be located.

At least 34 leaders of the Awami League have also been detained, including the vice president of the party’s Dhaka leadership, a former member of parliament, and six student leaders.

According to Jamaat Islami Assistant Secretary General Kamaruzzaman, no known Jamaat leaders have been arrested. (Note: Aside from a handful of detainees, Jamaat Islami’s violent student group, Chhatra Shibir, is conspicuously removed from this crackdown.)

While the Caretaker Government has not made any statements about the arrests, press reports indicate that most are being detained on charges of corruption, extortion, and violence. A representative of the human rights organization Odhikar told us most of the detainees have charges pending against them in the courts, but that some of the detentions occurred under Section 54 of the Criminal Procedure Code, which allows police to arrest citizens on “suspicion” of having committed a crime.

NINETEEN DEATHS

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Human rights organizations have reported 19 deaths in custody or while being arrested since the declaration of a state of emergency. According to Odhikar, eight deaths were from Rapid Action Battalion “crossfire,” one from police “crossfire,” six in army or police custody, two in the hospital after being detained by police, and two while attempting to flee or avoid arrest.

Four of the dead were affiliated with the Bangladesh Nationalist Party and two with the Awami League. Three youth activists from the former ruling party, from Khulna, Barisal, and Tangail, died from injuries sustained while in police or army custody. On January 20, a former local Bangladesh Nationalist Party joint secretary died after being taken from an army base to a hospital in Chittagong, and an Awami League supporter died in custody in Shariatpur.

NO-FLY LIST?

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The day after the state of emergency was declared, the media began reporting that a “no-fly list” had been distributed to airports. Tarique Rahman and several other prominent leaders of the former ruling party are rumored to be on the list. In addition, Awami League Presidium member Kazi Zafarullah told us he was on it.

Information from government contacts conflicts on whether such a list exists, but many politically prominent persons appear intimidated from trying to leave the country. For instance, Zafarullah told us that although Awami League leader Sheikh Hasina is eager to visit her new granddaughter in Virginia, she feels now is a “poor time” to leave the country.

PARTY REACTIONS MUTED…SO FAR

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Reaction from both major parties has been muted, though both have publicly said the government should go about the arrests in a “neutral” manner. Former Foreign Minister Morshed Khan claimed to us that “80 percent” of those arrested were from his Bangladesh Nationalist Party, while another party leader told us arrests in his home district of Faridpur have been overwhelmingly one-sided. “While innocent party people have been arrested, crime syndicate leaders associated with the Awami League remain scot-free.” Tarique Rahman acknowledged to us that some of his party’s detainees are “naughty” but insisted others are innocent of wrong-doing.

A former senior Bangladesh Nationalist Party minister welcomed the arrests of thugs from both parties, but asserted the fact that most detainees are from his party reflects a government bias against it.

COMMENT

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Muted reaction from the two major political parties reflects their realization that the Bangladeshi public welcomes the arrests as evidence the new Caretaker Government is serious about restoring public order, battling corruption, and creating a neutral electoral environment.

As the huge popularity of the Rapid Action Battalion shows, perceived boosts for security easily trump due process as a popular priority. It is notable, however, that with the exception of people linked to the widely disliked Tarique Rahman, no senior leaders in either party have yet to be picked up, even though at least half the cabinet of the last government should have grounds for great worry. The state of emergency, for which the government has yet to publish its governing rules, has also muffled criticism of the arrests from human rights NGOs.

As long as the Caretaker Government’s popular honeymoon continues, though, the arrests are unlikely to become a major political issue. We will continue to press senior government officials to restore and observe basic human rights, including when the Ambassador pays her first call on the Chief Advisor.

WikiLeaks: Gen Zia’s first address as DCMLA

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wikileas logoThis cable was sent by the US envoy in Dhaka Boster on May 3, 1976 describing what Gen Ziaur Rahman told a May Day rally at Suhrawardy Udyan.

In a hastily scheduled rally on May Day, General Ziaur Rahman gave a rousing patriotic speech calling once more for unity and discipline to safeguard the sovereignty of Bangladesh and vowing that all Bangladeshis would defend the country against aggression. Speaking before an estimated crowd of 50,000 at the Suhrawardy Udyan, General Zia made no new pronouncements, but his tone was more militant and his appeal to the emotions far greater than in past speeches.

Although India was obviously the target of references to possible aggression, continued border attacks and threats to the independence of Bangladesh, General Zia made no specific accusations. On Farakka, he limited his remarks to repeating that Bangladesh must get its rightful share of Ganges waters and to expressing the hope that solution to Farakka would be found soon. In an obvious appeal to Islamicists, both at home and abroad, General Zia said that because of cultural and religious ties, Bangladesh would further strengthen relations with all Muslim countries.

1. In his first appearance at a mass public rally since coming to power in November as DCMLA (Deputy Chief Martial Law Administrator), General Ziaur Rahman at Suhrawardy Udyan on May Day devoted most of his speech to enumerating the dangers facing the country and stressing the need for self reliance and hard work to solve the countries economic problems and ensure its independence.

In now familiar pattern, he reviewed the depredations visited on the country by the regime of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman; attacked miscreants (read Jatiyo Samajtantrik Dal) who in the name of revolution were killing, looting, and raping; condemned the misguided youth and miscreants who were operating from across the border; and asked the people to root out the smugglers who were out to destroy the nation.

On the economic front, Zia said the government had curbed inflation and revived the economy; he called for hard work and increased food and industrial production.

In some obligatory remarks regarding May Day, Zia praised the workers and promised that government would try to increase wages and would consider amending its labor policy (which restricts union activity).

2. With his emphasis upon the Bangladesh-in-danger” theme, General Zia obviously had reference to India. Although he stated that Bangladesh wanted friendly relations with all its neighbors, Zia specifically referred to the miscreants who crossed the border for training and who return to Bangladesh to loot villages. He accused them of wanting to “bring independence with foreign help” and of wanting to set up a government-in-exile. He also said that attacks on the border area were continuing.

On Farakka, Zia said that while the water is being diverted “only to improve the navigation” of Calcutta, it was a life and death problem for one third of the population of Bangladesh and thus Bangladesh must get its rightful share of Ganges water. Claiming that the “whole world” supports Bangladesh’s demand and noting the presence of the Indian technical team in Dacca, Zia expressed the hope that the solution to the Farakka problems would be found in the future.

3. In what appeared to be a reply to Muslim critics of Bangladesh’s continued secular status, General Zia said “secularism is not anti-religion” and said that the government would guarantee the religious freedoms of all the people. In an apparent attempt to blame the bad name of secularism on the practices of Mujib’s regime, Zia went so far as to say that for four years the people — Muslims, Hindus, Christians and Buddhists — “could not practice their religions.” Zia followed his defense of secularism, however, with a promise that the government would further strengthen relations with all Muslim countries of the world because of religious, historical and cultural ties.

4. Comment. That General Zia would address the May Day rally was only announced the evening before, which led to speculation that he might have a major announcement to make. This speculation was fueled by the near simultaneous resignation of DCMLA and air force chief MG Tawab. General Zia did not live up to that expectation but his speech was widely noted for its style as much as for its contents.

In all his previous televised speeches to the country and in appearances at small meetings, General Zia has been a model of restrained, even plodding, delivery. At the Suhrawardy Udyan, he pulled out all the stops, adopting the traditional rhetorical style and gestures of a Bangalee politician. Political activity in Bangladesh remains suspended, but General Zia gave every appearance of a man preparing to toss his hat in the ring.

WikiLeaks: Mushtaque was desperate to get US recognition

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wikileas logoAfter assuming office following the assassination of Sheikh Mujib, Khandkar Mushtaque and then US envoy Davis Eugene Boster met at Bangabhaban where the president urged for US recognition to stay safe from Indian intervention. Boster sent this CONFIDENTIAL cable to Washington on August 20, 1975.

In my first meeting with president Mushtaque Ahmed today, called at his request, he emphasized his need of our assistance in helping him restore normalcy to Bangladesh. He specifically urged immediate US announcement of recognition as help in guarding against Indian intervention. He concluded by asking that his best wishes be conveyed to president Ford.

On an hour’s notice I was summoned at 1500 today to President Mushtaque’s office at Bangabhaban, the palace used earlier by president Mohammadullah. Although I had taken political counselor with me, president asked that we meet privately. He began by inquiring when I was leaving for Washington (I had told him at dinner before the coup last week that I was returning at the end of this month for selection board duty). I told him that I had just been informed that this duty had been cancelled and that I should remain in Dacca. He said he was delighted and that he had expected it.

He then spoke with great earnestness, repeatedly clasping my hand, of his need for us to help him restore normalcy in the country. He said he had not yet developed an agenda of his needs but we must not lose the opportunity today which we had lost in 1971, referring me to our conversation last May in which he had mentioned unsuccessful efforts in which he had been involved with US officials in Calcutta to reach a compromise between East and West Pakistan.

He said we would understand his geographical position and mentioned unfriendly references to him that had already appeared in the Indian press. He said that, as I had seen, he had been able to cope with the situation internally in Bangladesh where calm had been restored without the shedding of any blood but he was frank to say that he would be defenseless if India were to move by land or air, especially by air.

He had received a report, he said, that disaffected Bangalees were being gathered in refugee reception centers and he feared the use of a technique against Bangladesh now which the Bangalees and the Indians had used successfully against Pakistan in 1971. He said that “your people, of course, know everything that goes on”, I said I had noted the Indian statement that the EP NTS here were the internal affair of Bangladesh and had no reason to believe they would act otherwise. He said he hoped so.

He then asked me about our position on recognition. I explained our policy, emphasizing that we were maintaining normal contact with his government but that we had deemphasized the question of “recognition.” He said he understood this from the standpoint of constitutional law but recognition also had important psychological implications. We would have to judge the necessity, he said, but he felt it was extremely important to his effort to assure normalcy and to guard against Indian action that we grant recognition at once –“today*” he added for emphasis. I said I would report his view to Washington. He said he hoped I would let him know immediately if I got a reply on this point.

When I asked if he were able to say anything yet about the new directions his government would take, he said that the redistricting into 61 districts was “all over.”

He said that this program had been linked to the Baksal one-party system and that by killing the mother, he would kill the baby too. I asked if this meant he were dropping Baksal and going back to a multi-party system and he said it did. He said the decision had been taken last night and would be carried out when normalcy had been restored in the country, which we must help him achieve.

I told him at the end of our conversation that I wished him well in his new responsibilities. I said

that, as he would know from his conversation with assistant secretary Atherton, we intended to continue our economic cooperation and hoped this would be helpful. He concluded by asking me to feel free to call upon him at any time and by asking that I convey his best wishes to president ford. He added that he was not sure whether this was diplomatically appropriate at this point but he hoped it was. I said I would be glad to convey his good wishes.

Comment: Taken in conjunction with approach to me yesterday by ambassador-designate Siddiqi, it is clear that the question of our “recognition” has taken on exaggerated psychological importance on the new government and president personally who evidently believes it would have major deterrent effect on any disposition by India to intervene. As I understand our policy, ZBE are prepared at some point to acknowledge that recognition has been granted but normally would wish to wait a further period of time. Nevertheless, I believe this will be one of the most effective and easiest ways at our disposal to show sympathetic attitude to this new government whose president appears intent on policy changes which we would wish to see.

I therefore urgently recommend that we do now what we will undoubtedly be prepared to do in a few days and inform the press that we have recognized the new government. With the UK, Japan, Burma and others already having taken this step, I certainly see little drawback.

WikiLeaks: Army shakeup after Sheikh Mujib killing

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wikileas logoThis confidential cable was sent by then US envoy Boster from Dhaka to Washington on August 25, 1975.

An extensive shakeup at the top levels of the Bangladesh Army was announced last night (August 24). The chief of army staff (COAS), Major General KM Shafiullah, was replaced by the deputy COAS, Major General Ziaur Rahman; as the announcement put it, Shafiullah’s “services…have been placed at the disposal of the ministry of foreign affairs.”

In addition to the departure of Shafiullah and his replacement by Ziaur Rahman, the head of the Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) (the border security force under the home ministry), Major General Khalilur Rahman, was appointed chief of defense staff, a newly-created position.

The deputy COAS posting has gone to an officer presently on training in India, Brigadier HM Ershad (who has also been promoted to major general). Command of the BDR has gone to Brigadier Qazi Golam Dastgir (also promoted to major general), who has been brigade commander, Chittagong.

This flurry of transfers has been accompanied by another noteworthy appointment to the military. General MAG Osmani, who headed the Bangladesh armed forces in 1971, who was a member for a time in Mujib’s government, and who resigned from parliament last January in protest against Mujib’s constitutional changes, was appointed defense advisor to President Mushtaque, who holds the defense portfolio.

Comment: The ouster of Shafiullah completes at least one stage in the army’s efforts to sort itself out in the aftermath of the august 15 coup. Shafiullah may have been thought to have been overly identified with Mujib and was, moreover, generally regarded as a weak leader, a quality which was seen by some as contributing to a slackening of discipline and, thus, to the action of the majors. Some observers think that the army will now be able to reassert its authority over the coup perpetrators.

The reasons for the creation of the post of chief of defense staff, which is in the ministry of defense (and thus apparently senior to all of the service chiefs), remain to be revealed. however, the reason for the selection of Khalilur Rahman to fill the post is perhaps more certain. The former BDR head is senior to Ziaur Rahman (as he was to Shafiullah). Moreover, he is reported to have been critical of Mujib since his repatriation from Pakistan. (Following his return to Banglades, Kalilur Rahman was shunted off into the BDR command but was placated with promotion from brigadier (the rank which he reportedly held in march 1971) to major general.)

Were Osmani less senior and not a former full cabinet minister himself, he might have been appointed as state minister for defense under Mushtaque. The defense advisor title avoids the protocol problem and puts Osmani in a position to exercise whatever authority Mushtaque may delegate to him. thus, there is speculation that Osmani may serve as the de facto defense minister.

Missing in the spate of announcements is any reference to Brigadier Khalid Mosharraf, the chief of general staff and an active participant in the struggle within the army.

Mass violence before and after Sayedee verdict last year

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Nikhil Shil pleads for justice when journalists, social workers and the chairman of National Human Rights Commission visited his house in Banshkhali on March 9, 2013

Nikhil Shil pleads for justice when journalists, social workers and the chairman of National Human Rights Commission visited his house in Banshkhali on March 9, 2013

From a rally at Motijheel on February 4 last year, the leaders of Jamaat-e-Islami and its student wing Islami Chhatra Shibir threatened to wage war against the government if its top leaders facing war crimes charges were convicted.

They also spoke against the trial procedure terming it politically-motivated. Everything happened in front of the police. They were so furious that the tribunal later summoned three of the Jamaat leaders including a former MP.

The following day was set for delivering verdict in Abdul Quader Molla case.

They also announced shutdown for the February 5, when the tribunal delivered verdict against the first Jamaat leader. In January, the tribunal sentenced to death fugitive Abul Kalam Azad alias Bachchu Razakar. But since he was an expelled leader of Jamaat, the party did not react.

On February 5 and afterwards, the Jamaat-Shibir men carried out attacks on the state properties including rail tracks, the law enforcers, Awami League supporters and the Hindus. They have not even spared the Shaheed Minars from their marauding spree to desecrate the symbols of our national unity and identity.

The attacks continued sporadic throughout March when the historic Shahbagh movement gained massive public support.

The attacks escalated when the tribunal on February 27 declared that it would deliver verdict in Delawar Hossain Sayedee case the following day. Jamaat announced hartal again and started attacks, quite systemically.

Since 28 February through March 5, around 60 people were reportedly killed in different parts of the country, including general people without any political affiliation.

The destruction of the Palli Bidyut Samity office in Shibganj, Chapainawabganj alone bled the power sector of financial loss worth Tk200 crore approximately. The railway sector was badly hit with a clear motive. A number of train wagons were burnt to ashes in Rajshahi and Dhaka, rail lines derailed and station rooms destroyed, causing financial loss to the tune of Tk8.5 crore, according to government estimates.

The Jamaat-Shibir men threw off an engineer to death from the roof of a Parjatan motel in Chapainawabganj; brutally attacked an elderly Hindu man as he tried to resist their rampage and later succumbed to his injuries in Banshkali, Chittagong; killed a former Chhatra League leader by attacking him in a preplanned manner in a local garage in Sylhet; torched with petrol an auto-rickshaw carrying two fish traders who suffered serious burn injuries in Netrakona; and mercilessly hacked to death a number of police personnel in Gaibandha, Bogra and elsewhere.

They continued to attack houses, temples and prayer premises of the Hindus. In most instances, as in Bogra, Joypurhat, Sirajganj, Noakhali or Chittagong, the attacks were launched in a preplanned manner, and on occasions, violent Jamaat-Shibir processions suddenly veered towards predominantly Hindu neighbourhoods and launched indiscriminate attacks against them.

In some parts of Chittagong, Feni and Bogra, they incited violence by disseminating the absurd image of Sayedee being visible on the moon.

They used women and children as human shields to allow the cadres carrying out their rioting and vandalism under cover. It is contrary to the Convention of the Rights of the Child and the National Children Policy 2012 that prohibits use of children in political and terrorist activities.

Until March 4, 2013, a total of 235 cases were lodged in connection with the violence in different parts of the country and 1,572 people arrested.

It is alleged that during the days of attacks, pro-Jamaat and pro-BNP newspapers and TV channels like the daily Sangram, the daily Amar Desh, the daily Naya Diganta, the daily Inqilab and Diganta TV instigated the agitators publicly.

List of attacks, clashes prepared by the govt

February 28:

Gaibandha:

Armed Jamaat-Shibir cadres attack Bamandanga Rail Station; torch three rooms of the Station and disrupt rail connection by removing rail slippers; torch Bamandanga Investigation Centre and brutally attack four police constables with sharp weapons and sticks and fire them to death; also grievously injure three other constables who remain in critical condition;

attack Sundarganj police station later where police fire at the attackers in self-defence at the instruction of the executive magistrate; three miscreants are hit by bullets at police attack.

Chittagong:

Unruly Jamaat-Shibir cadres attack police on the Chittagoing-Cox’s Bazar highway under Lohagara in a pre-planned manner; torch a community centre; grievously injure three police personnel and take their arms that were rescued later. They torch a fire service vehicle in Keranihaat in Satkania; cause damage to the vehicles of ASP Circle, RAB and the police station; police take legally sanctioned action to bring the situation under control.

The attackers torch Banshkhali police station, UNO Office and vehicles and set alight valuable records and furniture in a pre-planned manner; torch shops and vehicles of local business people and pharmaceutical companies as well as three-four houses; create anarchy through violence and looting.

In Banshkali, the Jamaat-Shibir activists attacks a number of Shil households in the area and set the houses on fire; they attack one Dayal Haridas, 65, as he tries to prevent the Jamaat-Shibir miscreants; he succumbs to his injuries in hospital while under treatment; the Jamaat-Shibir men vandalise and torch a number of shops and CNG garage belonging to some local Hindus and Buddhists, causing damage to properties to the tune of around Tk50 lakh; the Jammat-Shibir activists torch religious temples and sites of the Hindus with the support of the BNP activists.

Jhenidah:

Unruly Jamaat-Shibir leaders and supporters, along with the BNP supporters, bring out armed processions and engage in indiscriminate violence and vandalism in Court Chandpur area.

They attack the on-duty OC of the police station and other police and ansar members; 17 members of law enforcing agencies seriously injured during the mayhem; six of them were admitted to Jessore Combined Military Hospital from where they were shifted by helicopter to Dhaka’s CMH in further critical condition.

Chapainawabganj:

Armed Jamaat-Shibir cadres attack the peaceful procession by general people welcoming the tribunal verdict of the day; attack on-duty police with sticks, bricks and weapons and indiscriminately vandalise shops, commercial offices in the surrounding areas. As police failed to restrain the rioting mob through peaceful means, police fired at them, at the instruction of the executive magistrate, in self-defence and to protect public life and property; one person taking part in the riots get seriously injured and succumbs to his injuries while under treatment at the Chapainawabganj Sadar Hospital.

Jamaat-Shibir cadres vandalise and torch the newly-built Parjatan (Tourism) Motel in the area; an engineer by the name of Tauheedul Islam try to save himself from the armed violence and mayhem by taking shelter on the roof of the Motel; the Jamaat-Shibir cadres pushes him off the roof and kills him.

In Kansat under Shibganj upazila, the Jamaat-Shibir cadres vandalise, loot and torch the head office of local Rural Electrification Association; vandalise the housing complex of the office and set the houses on fire while keeping 48 families interned; police rushes to the spot and bring the situation under control; the damages done to the office is to the tune of around Tk200 crore.

The Jamaat-Shibir leaders and activists take out a violent procession the same day and in a pre-planned manner attack the local residence of the state minister for power, energy and mineral resources in Shibganj. The police and BGB lodge tear gas shells and fire shotguns to disperse the unruly mob; the local people come forward to support the police; a man named Abdur Rahim is grievously injured and succumbs to his injuries on the spot.

Satkhira:

Unruly and armed Jamaat-Shibir cadres attack police and BGB personnel with bows and arrows, petrol bombs and firearms; a number of police personnel and civilians are injured during the attacks; in self-defence, police and BGB fire at the mob to disperse them and bring the situation under control; four people get killed in this incident.

A violent Jamaat-Shibir procession vandalise and torch the house of a local student leader of Chhatra League named Mamun; they beat Mamun in a brutal and inhuman manner and grievously injure him; Mamun succumbs to this injure on way to being transported to the Khulna Medical College Hospital.

Natore:

Jamaat-Shibir miscreants beat to death the Joint Secretary General of Union Jubo League Md Khairul Islam, 35, in Lalpur.

Noakhali:

Armed Jamaat-Shibir cadres attack and torch the house of one Pulak in Begumganj; they attack the Begumganj Circle ASP, officer-in-charge and other police personnel with local weapons and bricks; as the situation spiralled out of control, police were forced to fire at the mob to protect public life and property, protect government arms and bring the situation under control.

Dhaka:

In Mirpur 1, the Jamaat-Shibir miscreants carried out clandestine bomb attacks to create fear and anarchy in the area; a man named Moslem Uddin is killed on the spot due to bomb blast.

March 1, 2013:

Gaibandha:

Jamaat-Shibir activists attack a bazar in Sundarganj with sticks, iron rods, spears and other weapons and vandalise the shops. As the local people protest against their vandalism, the Jamaat-Shibir activists beat to death a man named Md Shariful Islam.

They also attack the Sundarganj UNO and police force all of a sudden as they were moving towards Bamandanga to take control of law and order. The police fire blank shots to disperse the violent mob.

Joypurhat:

After Jumma prayers, thousands of unruly Jamaat-Shibir cadres carry out vandalism, loot and arson in the Hindu locality of Kashra Gobindapur under Panchbibi upazila; they torch and destroy furniture in many Hindu households; when the police reached the spot led by the local UNO, the Jamaat-Shibir activists attacked them and damaged a police pick-up van; police had to bring the situation under control by firing tear gas shells and rubber bullet.

Netrakona:

Jamaat-Shibir cadres torch a Kali Mandir (Temple of Goddess Kali) in Purbadhala upazila.

March 2, 2012:

Chittagong – Cox’s Bazar:

Hundreds of unruly and armed Jamaat-Shibir activists put up barricade on the roads between Kenanirhat and Chakaria around different bazaar areas and damaged vehicles plying on the road; they stop traffic on the Chittagong-Bandarban-Cox’s Bazar road; they attack the on-duty police as the latter try to restrain them from violence and damages to vehicles; police has to lodge tear gas shells and fire shotguns to disperse the mob; three Jamaat-Shibir activists are killed during these incidents.

Nilphamari:

Unruly Jamaat-Shibir activists obstruct a BGB patrol and attack the law enforcement agencies all of a sudden; the law enforcers make every possible efforts to disperse the mob without resorting to firing; but the mob gets more aggressive and violent and grievously injure a BGB personnel named Momin Miah; BGB fires 10 rounds of fire to disperse the mob; a man named Atiqul Islam dies of bullet wounds on the spot.

Pirojpur:

Jamaat-Shibir and BNP activists bring out a procession and attack a local Awami League office in Indurkani upazila.

Sylhet:

Armed Jamaat-Shibir cadres attack former Chhatra League leader Jogot Jyoti Talukdar and two of his colleagues in a local workshop in Jalalabad in Sylhet town and kill him in a pre-planned manner by arriving on the scene by 10-12 motorcycles; the two colleagues Jewel Ahmed and Joy Sen were left behind on the spot with grievous wounds and in an unconscious state; police take them to Sylhet Osmani Medical College Hospital.

Feni:

The District Jamaat brings out a procession and cause damage to a local market and bank offices and booths in Feni Sadar.

Rajshahi:

An armed and violent Jamaat-Shibir procession vandalises shops in Boalia upazila; they hurl cocktail bombs and bricks at on-duty police; they vandalise the offices of Rajshahi Chamber of Commerce and Dutch-Bangla Bank; a number of people including police personnel and a Banglavision TV journalist are seriously injured during the incident.

Around 10pm, Jamaat-Shibir miscreants torch and turn to ashes three wagons of Dhaka-Rajshahi inter-city Silk City train waiting at the Rajshahi rail station.

March 3, 2013:

Satkhira:

Armed Jamaat-Shibir cadres put barricade on road by felling down trees and damage vehicles; the unruly mob hurl bricks and cocktail bombs at two BGB vehicles passing by and at one point attacked the vehicles; as the BGB vehicles move towards Satkhira town, the Jamaat-Shibir cadres once again attack the vehicles and seriously injure three BGB personnel; as the BGB fails to restrain the mob, they fire at them in self-defence and manage to disperse the crowd; a number of people in mod got injured during the incident; among them, one Md Mahbubur Rahman, 33, later succumb to his injuries.

Bogra:

At 5:30am, Jamaat-Shibir cadres attack, vandalise and torch Phulbari and Upashohor police barracks in a pre-planned manner; police and fire service personnel from Bogra Sadar rushed to the spots and put down the fire; a number of vehicles including two motorcycles and a seized truck were burnt during the incidents.

Separate processions of Jamaat-Shibir cadres start moving towards Satmatha area of Bogra town with sticks and sharp weapons; they try to vandalise and torch the Sadar police station and the Gono Jagaran Manch (Mass Uprising Stage); they turn violent as police and RAB try to restrain them and hurl bricks and cocktail bombs at them; the police and the RAB men lodge tear gas shells and resort to baton charge to disperse the mob; the mob becomes more ferocious and in self-defence and in order to protect public property, police and RAB fire shotgun and rifles; three miscreants are killed at the firing.

Another armed Jamaat-Shibir group vandalises and torch the house of the district Awami League leader Mr Momtajuddin; they also try to attack the house of a local MP elected from the Sonatala-Sariakandi constituency; the police, RAB and BGB manage to disperse the mob.

On the same day, at 5:30am, a group of Jamaat-Shibir activists vandalise and torch the Awami League and freedom fighters’ office in Shahjahanpur and attempt to attack the police station by surrounding it; police lodge tear gas shells and rubber bullets and resort to baton charge to disperse the mob; the mob turns more violent at this and attack the police with sticks and local weapons and torch the police station and a police pick-up van; the officer-in-charge along with seven other police personnel are seriously injured; on-duty police fire shotgun, pistol and rifle at the instruction of the UNO in self-defence and to bring the situation under control; four people are killed on the spot during the incident.

Around 5am, a group of hartal supporters bring out a procession on the highway under Shibganj upazila and all of a sudden attack the Mokamtala police barrack and damage a motorcycle there; the on-duty police lodge tear gas shell and resort to baton charge and shotgun fire to protect themselves and public property; the mob turns more violent and start hurling cocktail bombs and bricks and firing at the police investigation centre; in self-defence, the police at the investigation centre had to fire shotgun and rifle shots at the mob to disperse them; the situation comes under control and two people are killed.

Around 4am, the hartal supporters make an attempt to attack the Nandigram police station with sticks, hammers, iron rods, bricks, kerosene and petrol; due to the resistance put up by the police, they attack the Upazila Parishad office and vandalise the office and government vehicles at the premises; police fire blank shots to disperse the miscreants.

Police manage to restrain the mob from torching the temples and houses of religious minorities; however, the mob manages to damage the local Awami League office and some other houses.

Sirajganj:

At 4:30am, Jamaat-Shibir cadres bring out an armed procession in the municipal area in Belkuchi upazila in support of hartal; they burn tyres on the road and damage vehicles; at one stage, the unruly mob vandalise the local Awami League office; the on-duty policy lodge gas shells and rubber bullets to disperse the crowd and bring the situation under control.

At 6am, the Jamaat-Shibir activists attack the local Awami League office in Enayetpur upazila and vandalise the office records and furniture; at one stage, they attack a number of Hindu temples and puja premises; police rush to the spot and bring the situation under control.

Jhenidah:

At 11:15am, Jamaat-Shibir activists attack police in front of the Harinakundu UNO Office and brutally kill police constable GM Omar Faruque with sharp weapons; they also grievously injure a number of police and Ansar personnel; later additional police force despatch from the district sadar under the leadership of the additional police superintendent rescue the injure police personnel and bring the situation under control.

Rajshahi:

At 9:45am, heavily armed Jamaat-Shibir activists put barricade on the Rajshahi-Chapainawabganj highway with felled trees and burnt tires; they try to attack the police and BGB personnel with firearms and sticks from both sides; one police inspectors along with a number of police personnel get wounded; at one point, the police had to resort to firing in self-defence and protect public life and property; two people named Md Rafiqul Islam and Md Mojahid get killed at the incident.

Joypurhat:

At 11am, a large group of unruly Jamaat-Shibir miscreants gathered around the Panchbibi police station and started damaging the adjacent Shaheed Minar; as police try to prevent them from doing so, they turn even more violent and start throwing bricks and cocktail bombs at the police station and try to set the station on fire by breaking open its gate; in view of the fast deteriorating situation, the on-duty police at the station had to resort to firing in self-defence and to maintain law and order and to safeguard the arms and ammunition at the police station; six people get killed at the incident and 25-26 people injured during the incident.

Dhaka:

Jamaat-Shibir cadres lodge a cocktail bomb near Pan-Pacific Sonargaon Hotel in the evening; the miscreants throw a cocktail bomb at the Head office of Bangladesh Television and set two rail wagons on fire.

March 4, 2013:

Sirajganj:

At 8am, a large number of Jamaat-Shibir activists damage a bridge in Purba Delowa under Ullahpara upazila and take preparations to attack a local Hindu locality and a temple; they also fire at the Office-in-charge of the Police Station as he arrives on the scene with his force; initially, the police lodge tear gas shells and rubber bullets to disperse the crowd; at this, the unruly mob further intensifies their attack on the police; at one stage, the police was forced to fire at the mob to disperse it; later it was confirmed that one Mahfuz, 22, was killed by the Jamaat-Shibir miscreants during the attack.

Satkhira:

At 11:35am, a large group of Jamaat-Shibir activists gather around the Sarashkati bazaar under Kolaroa upazila and indulge in destructive activities having felled trees on the road; as the Kolaroa police rush to spot to restrain them from their anarchic activities, they turn more violent and attack both police and later BGB; the BGB members resort to firing in self-defence and for protection of public life and property; a number of Jamaat-Shibir miscreants are injured at the firing; among them, two succumb to their injuries later.

March 5, 2013:

Dhaka:

In the metropolitan area, at the time of hartal, there are cocktail bomb explosions in Shantinagar, Jonaki Market and BNP Party office areas; there are also some stray incidents of damaging cars and torching buses etc; police rush to every spot and bring the situation under control.

Netrakona:

Around 9:45am, the hartal supports hurl a petrol filled bottle at an auto-rickshaw and set it on fire near Mechhua Bazaar; two fish traders inside the auto-rickshaw suffered serious burn injuries; they were later taken to Netrakona Modern Sadar Hospital.

Jessore:

At 10:45am, Jamaat-Shibir and BNP activists bring out a procession together in support of hartal and obstruct vehicle movement near Chandipur Bazaar under Manirampur upazila; as they are resisted by Awami League activists, the two sides engage in a confrontation; two people are seriously injured at the incident and are taken to Jessore General Hospital for treatment; police bring the situation under control through swift intervention.

At 11am, the hartal supporters attack an Awami League supporter named Russell, 25, and injure him with blows by machetes on different parts of his body;

Systematic and Targeted Killings by Jamaat-Shibir and their Allies

On March 7, 2013, a Jubo League activist named Abdur Rahman was seriously injured in Golladanga Bazar in Bholarhaat in Chapainawabganj during an attack by the Jamaat-BNP cadres in the wake of a confrontation over keeping the shops open during hartal hours. Rahman later succumbed to his injuries in hospital.

On March 9, police recovered the dead body of one Ahmed Miraj, a businessman, beside the rail line under the under-construction Kuril Flyover in Dhaka. It appeared that the deceased was stifled to death. His family members suspect the involvement of the Jamaat-Shibir in the killing due to his elder brother Ahmed Imtiaz Bulbul, a noted musician and composer, being the prosecution witness in the war crimes case against Ghulam Azam, a prominent Jamaat leader, on charges of crimes against humanity and genocide.

On March 9, a police constable named Mofizul Islam was fired to death as he was taking part in a drive to arrest Jamaat-Shibir leaders and activists involved in violent activities in Baira upazila in Khulna.

In the immediate aftermath of the Shahbagh uprising, they killed a blogger and one of the lead organisers of the movement Ahmed Rajeeb Haider near his home in Mirpur, Dhaka while he was returning from Shahbagh on February 15. The five students arrested in connection with the murder admitted to the police that they had carried out the pre-planned and targeted killing at the instruction of a former student leader of the Islami Chhatra Shibir. 

WikiLeaks: Yunus in 2009 urged US to mediate with Awami League

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wikileas logoHere is the verbatim of a cable sent to Washington by Chargé d’Affaires Nicholas Dean on Yunus and Awami League government. Only the sections have been rearranged.

Date: November 30, 2009.

Title: BANGLADESH PM REMAINS COOL TOWARD NOBEL LAUREATE (CONFIDENTIAL)

Ambassador weighs in with Prime Minister

¶5. (C) Fearing GOB displeasure with him would jeopardize Grameen Bank and his other initiatives, Yunus requested the Ambassador put in a good word with the PM on behalf of Grameen and Yunus. In a November 5 meeting with Hasina, the Ambassador highlighted the upcoming visit of Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues Melanne Verveer. The Prime Minister brightened saying that she remembered Verveer and looked forward to seeing her. The Ambassador then suggested that Verveer was also interested in meeting with Yunus; offering this as one of many examples where improved relations between the GOB and Yunus would be good for Bangladesh. At this, the Prime Minister theatrically rolled her eyes and shook her head. She spoke at length about her estrangement from Yunus and nodded her agreement when an advisor in the meeting characterized Yunus as ungrateful for the Grameen Phone deal that the Prime Minister had made possible.

¶6. (C) Most keenly, the Prime Minister felt Yunus had exercised poor judgement by courting military officers who had presented Yunus the possibility of coming to power through military backing in early 2007. She concluded the subject of Yunus by saying: “Perhaps we don’t work together. But we don’t stop him. When I was in Sweden [recently], Yunus was there and we exchanged hands. It is our family tradition.”

Foreign Minister blasts Yunus

¶7. (C) During Ambassador Verveer’s November 11 meeting with the Prime Minister, Ambassador Verveer noted Grameen’s good work and Professor Yunus’ plans to start a nursing school in Bangladesh. The PM did not comment except to note that health care was a top GOB priority and the GOB would support anyone in the private sector wishing to establish a nursing school. When Ambassador Verveer met with Foreign Minister

Dipu Moni the next day, however, the Foreign Minister had a litany of complaints against Yunus.

¶8. (C) In a one-on-one session that lasted more than an hour, the Foreign Minister presented a range of allegations against Yunus and Grameen. She complained about the high interest rates Grameen charges its customers and alleged that the bank used “vicious practices” to recruit customers and obtain loan payments. The Foreign Minister claimed Yunus broke rules and Grameen didn’t comply with Bangladesh law, including auditing requirements. She said many people in Bangladesh were upset when Yunus won the Nobel Peace Prize given his corrupt practices. She also said GOB leaders understood the power of Yunus’ international reputation and therefore “bite our tongues” when accolades were heaped upon him. On a personal note, the Foreign Minister also complained that Yunus did not visit Sheikh Hasina in the hospital when she was injured in a 2004 bomb attack.

Summary

¶1. (C) A prophet has no honor in his own country, at least as far as Nobel Peace Laureate Muhammad Yunus and Bangladesh’s Awami League government is concerned. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Foreign Minister Dipu Moni made clear their distrust and suspicion of Yunus in several recent meetings with senior USG officials. While they claimed Yunus engaged in corrupt practices at Grameen Bank, his micro-credit brainchild, Yunus’ ties to the recent Caretaker Government and his brief contemplation of a role in Bangladesh politics are more likely the reasons for Awami League disdain.

Background: Ties to the caretakers

¶2. (C) During the term of the 2007-2008 Caretaker Government (CTG), some of the CTG’s military backers approached Muhammad Yunus about setting up a political party as an alternative to the two leading political parties, the Awami League (AL) and the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP). It is likely some of the caretakers hoped Yunus’ international stature as a Nobel Peace Laureate and founding father of micro-credit could

translate into a domestic political force that could rid Bangladesh of its endemic corruption and dynastic politics.

Yunus briefly flirted with a political bid, but quickly decided he, and Grameen Bank, were better off remaining outside politics.

New GOB signals displeasure with Grameen

¶3. (C) No one in Bangladesh can escape politics, however. Following the December 2008 national elections that swept the Awami League and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina into power, it soon became clear the new Government of Bangladesh (GOB) was not interested in helping Professor Yunus or Grameen Bank.

The Caretaker Government had passed an ordinance that empowered the Grameen Bank board of directors to appoint its Chairman. Previously, the GOB, which originally held a majority stake in Grameen Bank, had final authority over the Chairman’s appointment.

The Prime Minister signaled her displeasure with Yunus by refusing to ratify the CTG’s ordinance as required under Bangladesh law. The GOB therefore retains its power to appoint Grameen’s Chairman.

¶4. (C) At the same time, the Awami League Government decided not to renew the leases on close to 1,000 fish farms managed under Grameen’s fisheries program since 1986. According to Grameen Fisheries, it took poorly-run, government-owned fish ponds and transformed them into viable operations that support more than 10,000 families. The GOB now plans to reclaim the ponds. The GOB also has not granted approval of a Yunus plan to put establish a job placement/training venture.

Yunus responds

¶9. (C) Ambassadors Verveer and Moriarty met with Yunus November 11, as he was returning to Bangladesh from Germany, where he had joined Nelson Mandela and other luminaries in the Berlin Wall anniversary festivities. The Ambassadors relayed GOB complaints to Yunus, who said they echoed much of what he was hearing from his sources. He disputed all the allegations, noting that Grameen had nearly 8 million borrowers and had disbursed $8 billion in loans since its inception, more than 95 percent of which had been repaid. He said bank customers currently had the equivalent of half-a-billion dollars in savings at Grameen. According to Yunus, he and Grameen complied with all laws, including annual audits.

¶10. (C) Yunus agreed that the Prime Minister likely viewed him as part of the Caretaker Government that tried to remove her and her rival, Begum Khaleda Zia of the opposition BNP, from Bangladesh’s political scene. Yunus said the PM’s attitude was, “you’re either with me or against me.” (NOTE: For her part, BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia has adopted a much friendlier tone towards Yunus, leading some to accuse him of harboring BNP sympathies. END NOTE.)

¶11. (C) Yunus said he would continue to forge ahead with his work at the bank and other Grameen initiatives, including in the areas of health care and social entrepreneurship. He predicted his work would be slowed by the GOB, however, since any new business or organization he planned to start would require some sort of GOB license or approval. Yunus said he had hoped someone would be able to mediate on his behalf; however, he understood the difficulty in doing so given that both Sheikh Hasina and FM Moni were not willing to meet him.

Dean’s Comment

¶12. (C) Despite the wide ranging claims of Yunus’ misdeeds by the PM and FM, it is likely their biggest problem with Yunus is connected to his brief contemplation of politics. That foray, however short, is proof in their minds that Yunus — backed by his millions of borrowers — seeks to usurp them. The unwillingness of the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister to accept positive statements about Yunus from us means that for the time being we must find other ways to support the work of Grameen. Perhaps our efforts are best directed at specific Grameen projects, many of which include U.S. companies or organizations as partners. We will also continue to work with potential mediators such as PM Foreign Policy Advisor and longtime Yunus confidante Dr. Gowher Rizvi.

¶13. (C) This dispute also raises questions about the long-term future of Grameen Bank. Yunus is 69 years old. He told Ambassadors Moriarty and Verveer he had offered to retire on a number of occasions, but the bank board had refused his offers, claiming there would be a run on the bank if he left. Yunus said he had been grooming a successor, but claimed GOB leaders had wooed that person into their camp and now he was working against Yunus within the bank. If Grameen Bank is to continue transforming lives as it has for the last two decades, Yunus and the bank must find a way for Grameen to keep working even after Yunus is gone.

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Here’s another cable sent by US Ambassador James F Moriarty.

Date: May 11, 2009.

Title: NOBEL LAUREATE REQUESTS USG HELP ON GRAMEEN BANK RULES (CONFIDENTIAL)

SUMMARY

1. (C) Nobel Peace Laureate and Grameen Bank Chairman Muhammad Yunus asked that the USG assist him in urging Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to change a long-standing rule that gives the Government of Bangladesh (GOB) control over his position as Grameen Bank Chairman. Bangladesh’s 2007-2008 Caretaker Government passed an ordinance removing the GOB’s authority to select the bank chairman, but the Parliament has not yet ratified that ordinance. In a May 10 meeting with the Ambassador, Professor Yunus requested our input on the best way to request the PM reconsider her refusal. The Ambassador pledged to assist Yunus in obtaining a meeting with the PM and in arguing on Yunus’ behalf with the Prime Minister and her advisers. Yunus also discussed with the Ambassador his disappointment over the new Awami League government. Yunus said the new government had to focus on the nation’s power needs and improve the quality of government bureacracy in order for Bangladesh to weather the current economic turmoil.

COMMENT: Yunus was clearly worried about the unwillingness to relinquish the GOB’s control over the selection of the Grameen Bank Chairman.

YUNUS SEEKS CHANGE TO OLD RULE ON GRAMEEN LEADERSHIP

2. (C) As a followup to the the Secretary’s meeting with Professor Yunus in Washington last month, the Ambassador called on Yunus May 10 at Grameen Bank headquarters in Dhaka. Yunus outlined in greater detail concerns he had raised with the Secretary regarding relations between the Government of Bangladesh (GOB) and Grameen Bank. According to Yunus, Parliament has refused to approve an amendment to legislation that established Grameen Bank in the early 1980s; the amendment would have given the bank’s Board of Directors, rather than the GOB (as has been the practice), the authority to select the Chairman of Grameen Bank, a position held by Yunus since the bank’s inception and renewed every two years.

3. (U)

BACKGROUND:

In order to create Grameen Bank in 1983, when the concept of “micro-credit” was little known or understood, Yunus sought support from the GOB to transform his micro-credit venture from a charitable organization to a full-fledged bank. The GOB passed an ordinance creating Grameen Bank. The ordinance decreed that the GOB would own 60 percent of the bank and would have the authority to appoint the bank’s Chairman. Since 1983, the GOB’s share of Grameen Bank has gradually declined; now the government only owns 5 percent of the bank. The GOB has also continued to re-appoint Yunus the bank’s Chairman. However, Yunus has long desired to change the rule giving the GOB control of his position as Chairman. (NOTE: Yunus’ efforts in this regard are detailed in part in his first book, “Banker to the Poor.” END NOTE.)

4. (C) Over the years, Yunus told the Ambassador, he had applied repeatedly to the GOB to amend the rules regarding the selection of the Chairman. During the recent Caretaker Government (CTG) of 2007-2008, Yunus was successful in persuading the CTG to amend the Grameen Bank ordinance so the GOB no longer had the authority to appoint the bank’s Chairman. Bangladesh’s Constitution requires, however, that an elected government approve all ordinances passed by a caretaker government. When Sheikh Hasina’s Awami League formed a new government following December 2008 elections, Yunus urged the GOB to approve the ordinance that made Grameen Bank leadership independent of the GOB. Despite strong support from several Cabinet Ministers, the Prime Minister refused to approve the legislation.

5. (C) Yunus requested USG assistance with his efforts to have the Prime Minister reverse her decision. In response to a query from the Ambassador, Yunus said he had thus far only spoken with members of the PM’s cabinet and not with the Prime Minister herself. The Ambassador recommended Yunus seek a meeting with the PM as a first step in advocating she approve the amendment to the Grameen Bank legislation. The Ambassador pledged to assist Yunus in obtaining the meeting and in urging the Prime Minister to change the Grameen Bank legislation.

YUNUS SAYS HASINA SHOULD BE “BUILDING BRIDGES”

6. (C) The Ambassador and Professor Yunus went on to discuss more generally the Prime Minister’s performance during her first four months in office. Yunus was critical of the Prime Minister’s actions to strengthen central government at the expense of local government. He also criticized the Awami League government for exacting petty retributions against the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and its leader Begum Khaleda Zia. “This is a divisive strategy,” Yunus said. The Prime Minister “must build bridges.” 7. (C) According to Yunus, the new government leadership must also address the nation’s power crisis and improve the quality of government bureaucracy in order to keep Bangladesh on its development path. If the government and business can begin to meet the nation’s immense power needs, then the rest of the economy will continue to grow, Yunus said. With regard to quality of governance, Yunus observed that the GOB desperately needed professional civil servants who had the expertise to manage their portfolios and who were not subject to the whims of politics.

GRAMEEN FORGES AHEAD IN HEALTH CARE

8. (SBU) Yunus updated the Ambassador on Grameen’s progress in developing health care services for the poor in Bangladesh. Grameen recently finalized an agreement with Harvard to establish Grameen Medical College in Bangladesh, to train doctors with an emphasis on medical treatment of the poor. At the same time, Grameen is partnering with the Nike Foundation, Bayer and a Glasgow, Scotland university to open three nursing colleges in different parts of Bangladesh. Yunus noted the lamentable state of nursing in Bangladesh, which only had one nurse for every three doctors. Yunus also described Grameen’s partnership with GE Healthcare, through which GE will produce basic medical equipment that can be used in village house calls by local health care workers.

COMMENT

9. (C) Despite, or perhaps because of, Yunus’ international reputation, many among Bangladesh’s political elite regard the Nobel Laureate with suspicion. In the atmosphere of Bangladesh’s cult-of-personality politics, Sheikh Hasina and others likely view Yunus’ achievements and stature as a threat to their authority; in their minds, his very brief attempt to a establish a political party in the early days of the 2007-2008 Caretaker Government is proof of an alleged desire to usurp Bangladesh’s long-time leaders, including the Prime Minister. Using this logic, then, it is not surprising the Prime Minister wishes to retain a lever of power over the Grameen Bank Chairman. Yunus and his supporters, including the United States, need to convince the Prime Minister that an independent Grameen Bank is in her interest. We will emphasize that an independent Grameen Bank can support the PM’s stated desire to further alleviate poverty in Bangladesh, and that Yunus as an independent bank chairman can enhance her standing on the world stage. We will work with Yunus to make these points with the Prime Minister and her advisers. We will also note the potential negative consequences of any attempt to sideline such an internationally respected figure as Muhammad Yunus.

Legalise cattle smuggling from India

flagsJust before his retirement, the then BSF chief UK Bansal in November 2012 had made some observations about the Indian Border Security Force’s policies, and gave solution to the unabated killings and torture of Bangladeshi people along the border, especially of the large number of so-called cattle smugglers. The most important thing he said rationally was: “Legalise cattle trading!”

Hence, the BSF men every now and then opened fire on them – beyond international border laws that mention arresting first and then handing over the accused to a police station.

It’s also shameful that this proposal was made to stop the killing of “cattle smugglers” – under the circumstances that the victims of BSF’s extrajudicial killings were mainly the small traders for who it is a profession to only collect the cows from the Indian side, and transport them inside to reach the middlemen or wholesalers.

Read the full story on the Dhaka Tribune 

 

Atrocious Indian BSF kills another Bangladeshi on border

ISIS, other extremists and reaction of common Muslims

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The recent rise of ISIS or ISIL in Iraq and it’s outrageous advancement towards establishing another Islamic state has concerned me in Bangladesh much because of the extent of violent attacks and their plans and methods.

We also have thousands of extremists operating right under the nose of law enforcers and backed by different mainstream political parties. But people in common in this 90% Muslim majority country do no support violent way to spread Islam. Rather they have been restricting other religion followers from doing normal activities for years so that they leave the country or convert to Islam. Current Muslims are mostly converted in the past several generations.

My point of concern is the diminishing values of influential Muslims in Bangladesh and across the globe. The views of common Muslims is not frightening at all.

When the ISIS started publicity, I found not a single Muslim to condemn jihad as they kept mum. When the ISIS issues fatwa that all the Iraqi women would have to entertain them unconditionally, the Muslims in Bangladesh keep mum. When an unconfirmed news says the ISIS would destroy the Kabba in Mecca, they keep silence while only a few educated Muslim bloggers and activists react saying that it was a wrong news!

Well, now that an aljazeera report says the ISIS had destroyed Shia mosques and shrines and will do so in the future, they keep mum still.

I remember the Muslims have over 70 sects with different beliefs and hatred against each other.

It’s really shocking to see the Bangladeshi educated Muslims’ indifference on issues regarding the wrong and destructive preaching methods of this 1500 year old religion. Use of force to teach and compel people to follow Islam is no way acceptable.

In Bangladesh, we had al-qaeda followers in Huji, JMB, Harkat-ul-jihad, and latest Hefazat. There are many other small groups emerging with an aim to establish an Islamic state here.

Ironically, Bangladesh has been an Islamic state since 1986 promulgated by a former military ruler, who is now the special envoy to the incumbent prime minister Hasina. She leads the country’s largest party known to be secular.

Last year, to tame down the uprising of Hefazat who threatened to besiege the presidential palace and usurp power through a mass gathering in May, the Hasina administration bribed the Hefazat leaders and publicly the PM said the country would be run by Madina Charter – a proposition refused by Hefazat and majority Muslims. I wondered why. Later I came to know that the Charter is secular and liberal as it spoke for coexistence of all religion.

Neither the ISIS not any other extremist Islam-preaching group talks about Madina Charter. They do not urge the people to follow the Islamic values and norms and rituals, rather try to force them doing so.

Most shocking is that the world is being bled by violence instigated or carried out by so-called believers, not the atheists!

Crabs, Eel fish at Peoples Bazar BD in Dhaka

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The Facebook-based online shop “Peoples Bazar BD” is aimed at providing virtual marketplace for different products — grown or manufactured by Bangladeshi people who are underprivileged and marginalised in the society.

It’s an initiative taken under the platform “Peoples Bazar Network.”

We are keen to provide consumers quality products.

The network selects the creators or growers through a thorough scrutiny procedure and shoulders the responsibility for any sub-standard item.

It also receives calls for inclusion of more products from similar disadvantaged communities and considers those with utmost importance for promoting among the urban people.

To ORDER any of the products, please inbox us or call the number mentioned in the page info or email to probirbidhan@gmail.com.

Happy Shopping!!! :D

Invest in Bangladesh fear-free

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Invest in Bangladesh for smooth business bribing politicians and public servants.

It’s a heaven for corrupts and unscrupulous human beings who will ensure your profit, no matter how.

The present Awami League-led government gives you more scopes than ever in the past!

Grab the opportunity, hurry!!!

$$$ Impunity Guaranteed (*conditions apply) $$$

 

Bangladesh den for criminals, too

Atrocious Indian BSF kills another Bangladeshi on border

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Did you know? Indian BSF killed one Bangladeshi after entering the territory in northern Lalmonirhat district around 10:30pm Wednesday violating international border laws? Don’t know what can stop these killing machines…

In the recent years, the two prime ministers, home ministers and the heads of border forces sat many times. Even the Border Security Force (BSF) had agreed to use rubber bullets, instead of lethal weapons. They don’t care!

More importantly, the UN too warned Indian government to refrain from such acts. But of no use.

In the last decade, over a thousand Bangladeshi people were killed most of who were “cattle smugglers.”

Cattle smuggling is very common for Bangladeshi businessmen round the year. The demand rises high ahead of two Eid festivals of the Bangladeshi Muslim majority people. But only those who refuse to pay the BSF bribes for the “illegal” act are shot dead without any trial.

According to international border laws, the accused has to be detained and then put on police remand for trial.

Interestingly, both governments allow this “illegal trading,” and acts some official response over the deaths, torture or abductions taking place almost every day.

Former BSF chief U K Bansal just before his retirement on December 1, 2012 said: “We all have to think about it seriously. It is not a problem that can be solved by policing.” He made the comment when asked if the illegal cattle trade should be legalised given the economic realities in Bangladesh.

Nobody cared Bansal. Or else, the number of deaths in shooting could be brought down to nearly zero!

Do you know about the policymakers’ minds?

 

Ruling Awami League second man Syed Ashraful Islam on January 21, 2012 about BSF’s torture said: “Many such incidents are taking place in the bordering areas of the countries–cattle lifting, drug smuggling and many other things. This is nothing new. These happened in the past, are happening now and will also happen in future.”

“Cattle lifting, drug smuggling and many other crimes take place in border areas. We hear about these from people who live along the border and also from those who live elsewhere.”

Asked if torture and killings at the border were provocative, he said: “The state is not too much concerned about it. It is not right that the state shall focus only on these issues, leaving aside all other businesses.”

Another example of callousness is Felani trial.

Though the lone accused in the killing of the 15-year-old girl on the barbed wire along border had confessed to the offence, a special court last year declared him “not guilty!”

Following massive protests and criticism, the Indian government said they’d review the judgement soon.

But the proper time is yet to come…

This is Bangladesh!

আপনি শোধরাবেন না, কারন আপনি ক্ষমা পাবেন

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ধর্মই পৃথিবীর বেশিরভাগ মানুষকে পরিচালিত করে নানান আদেশ, নির্দেশনা, অনুরোধ ও লোভ দেখিয়ে, যেন তারা সততার সাথে জীবনযাপন করে।

পাশাপাশি, সব দেশই অপরাধ দমনে নিজেদের সংবিধান ও আইন-কানুন তৈরি করে।

মূলতঃ এই দুইপ্রকার বিধিনিষেধ সঠিকভাবে মেনে চলার জন্য যোগ্য বাবামা ও সুশিক্ষিত শিক্ষকরা সবসময়ই বলেন। 

কিন্তু তবু কেন ঢাকা থেকে আলাস্কা বা এন্টার্কটিকা পর্যন্ত সবখানে এত নৈতিক অবক্ষয়? কেন মানুষ নিজেকে শোধরায় না?

কারন একটাই: মানুষপ্রণীত আইন সবার জন্য সমান নয়, অর্থ্যাৎ কেউ কেউ অন্যায় করেও টাকা ও আত্মীয়তার জোরে পার পেয়ে যায়। আরেকটা হলো, ধর্মের দূর্বল দিক যেখানে বলা হয়, বিশেষ শর্তে পাপ মোচনযোগ্য!

Rana Plaza survivors need to continue work at Oporajeo

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Oporajeo workers_probir bidhanOporajeo is a knitwear and jute bag manufacturer established by Shongkolon Bangladesh Trust with the aim of providing job opportunity to the survivors of Rana Plaza disaster with least skill migration so that the victims can get back to a stable life again. Though the factory was founded in June 24, 2013 with 5 plain swing machines and 7 workers, within eight months of operation the factory currently have 46 different types of machines with 50 workers.

The factory Oporajeo is completely owned by the workers. They are paid remunerations as per Government rule. On top of that 50% of the profit is equally distributed among them. From the rest 50% of the profit, a percentage is utilized to support the workers’ children education and the rest amount is kept on bank for different operation cost. From this amount, workers can take short loan if required.

Besides providing job opportunity, the factory setup is ensuring the workers’ children education. Oporajeo also provide medical support to the workers. There are some of the workers who require long term physiotherapy. The workers take time off during the physiotherapy session and cover the hours on other time in the week. The workers also get free treatment as and when required.

Currently, the factory is facing fund crunch due to low orders, and hence, it’s become tough for the non-profitable Trust to run the activities and pay the workers regularly.

Please email to kazimh87@gmail.com to extend your support; or phone at +880 1916 809693, +880 1726 828950.

Bangladesh to install maritime safety, navigation tools

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The government has finally begun implementation of a decade-old plan to install seven coastal radio communication stations equipped with high-end lanterns, by replacing the three existing old lighthouses, with a view to ensure safety and security of people and vessels in the sea.

The introduction of Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) and Integrated Maritime Navigation System (IMNS) is likely to take three years to complete.

The bidding process for the main construction work is likely to begin in six months, officials said.

Read the story on the Dhaka Tribune

Campaigners and experts on maritime safety and security have lauded the government initiative. They also stressed that the government should strengthen the Navy and the Coast Guard with regard to quick response in distressed situation.

Ecnec passed the Tk370 crore project on March 11, a year after Bangladesh and South Korea signed a loan agreement to implement the project which will be supervised by the Department of Shipping. The feasibility study was completed in December 2011.

The Korean government has pledged to bear 85% of the project cost while Bangladesh will provide the required land. The loan is available for a 40-year-term at 0.01% interest.

According to the Economic Development Cooperation Fund (EDCF) loan conditions, the project’s consultant must be from Korea. Top Korean companies are expected to participate in the biding process.

The project styled “Establishment of GMDSS and IMNS” would need 35 months to be implemented – 12 months for the bidding process, and the rest to complete the civil construction of the stations and the command centre, system installation, system integration, pilot operation and hand-over of the project management to local authorities.

The system will make easy to monitor passenger ships, oil tankers or fishing vessels, and track and identify vessels going missing or when capsized due to accident or stormy weather. The run-away ships after colliding with another or polluting the water will also be caught.

Bangladeshi ships and fishing trawlers having a terminal will remain connected with the control centre from anywhere of the world.

Apart from the Navy and the Coast Guard, the system information would be shared among other state agencies to ease damage or loss. Data link will be set up with the BIWTA, Chittagong Port Authority, Mongla Port Authority, Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh and the police.

The buildings and equipment of the three existing lighthouses in Cox’s Bazar, Kutubdia and the Saint Martin’s Island – are very old and backdated. They do not have any communication system installed. These buildings would be renovated and equipped with new radio signal and monitoring system.

Four other new stations would be built in Dublar Char (Bagerhat), Kuakata (Patuakhali), Dhal Char (Char Kukri Mukri in Bhola) and Nijhum Dwip (Noakhali) to cover the whole coastal belt of the country, according to the project-related officials.

The new lanterns would cover around 40-50 kilometres.

The radio stations will be connected with the Command and Control Centre in Dhaka. The main hub having state-of-the-art systems would automatically receive and analyse various distress signals, and have real-time information on positions of national flag carrying vessels across the world, status of ships and weather transmitted from the stations.

According to Coastal Association Social Transformation Trust (COAST), some 2 crore fishermen depend on the Bay’s natural resources, mainly fishing, while the coastal waters are used for 75% goods shipment and 90% oil.

Rezaul Karim Chowdhury, executive director of COAST, said it was more important to look into the precautionary measures than just installing signal system.

“If you cannot launch rescue operation quickly, then getting information in real time will not bring any advantage. The Navy and the Coast Guard are not equipped with modern rescue tools, rather they are accumulating war weapons. Moreover, their headquarters and regional offices are not in the coastal areas – a situation which is an impediment to quick response,” he told the Dhaka Tribune on Sunday.

Rezaul observed that the government needed to formulate a policy to assess and protect the maritime resources including fish, oil and gas.

Moreover, the government should simplify the licensing system for fishing trawlers and properly monitor their activities in the Bay to stop abuse and prevent unauthorised trawlers from going to the sea.

When contacted, a senior official of the ministry said the two security forces had been well-equipped to launch search and rescue operation in the Bay.

“The responsibilities to conduct such activities in the coastal water and deep water have been divided among the Navy, the Coast Guard and the ports,” the official told the Dhaka Tribune.

As a member state of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), Bangladesh is responsible for providing information on safety of navigation, prevent accidents and implement Search and Rescue (SAR) activities for any vessel passing through its area in the Bay. The IMO introduced the GMDSS in 1992.

The project would now help fulfil requirements of the IMO and also of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos), the Safety of Life at Sea (Solas) and the SAR Convention.

Bangladesh has won its claim over 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone and territorial rights in the Bay against Myanmar. The demarcation dispute resolution with India is underway. In this context, the government has revised the existing gas and oil blocks within its boundary in line with the verdict. Many measures have been taken to strengthen the Navy.

Finance was the bar

The undivided post and telecommunications ministry since 2000 had tried to manage a soft loan from the Economic Relations Division (ERD) for financing a project named “Modernisation of Silimpur and Mongla radio stations with GMDSS equipment but of no result.

In August 2006, it was decided that a loan from a foreign government would be required to implement the project. In June 2009, the shipping department was given the charge of the project. It modernised the project and prepared a new proposal.

In 2010, the Planning Commission approved the project proposal in principle on condition of availability of foreign funds.

 

Sayedee violence feared, again!

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Do you remember the days of February – early, mid and late? It was a panicking month, most remarkably on and after February 28 when the International Crimes Tribunal sentenced top Jamaat-e-Islami leader Delawar Hossain Sayedee alias Deilya Razakar for committing war crimes as a collaborator in Pirojpur during the 1971 Liberation War.

Mindless attacks by Jamaat-Shibir men along with children, women and ordinary Muslims to save the convict spread fast. They attacked the law enforcers, Awami League supporters and Hindus; they damaged state assets including the railway sector through subversive acts; and spreading propaganda through false news and doctored photo on the social networking sites including Facebook and blogs.

After dozens of deaths, millions of losses and panic biting the people, the government failed to bring the situation under control and ensure peace for the commoners. It has failed to take legal action against the cadres and the instigators so that recurrence could be avoided. The government also didn’t take stern action against the well-known online propaganda machines and their moderators who gave instructions of uprooting railway tracks, attacking the police, spreading hatred and urging the Muslims to sacrifice their lives to save the top Jamaat leaders from facing the war trials.

Now, after a year, the government and the media assume that the Jamaat-Shibir and the anti-Awami League bloc would be active, and this time, in a more dangerous mood since Sayedee and party chief Motiur Rahman Nizami are going to be awarded sentences for war crimes any day – appeals case of Saayedee and war crimes case against Nizami.

At the eleventh hour, it is learnt that the intelligence agencies have been working to trace and monitor the cadres, conducting drives to nab the suspects and be on high alert. Some 1,000 party men have already granted bail.

We, the people, have to stay alert too, again. It’s unfortunate though.

 

 

Let me share with you Dipu Moni’s speech for diplomats on March 7, 2013:

 

Diplomatic Briefing by Hon’ble Foreign Minister on ‘the Recent Violence and Atrocities committed by Jamaat-Shibir and their Allies’,  Thursday, 07 March 2013, UNCLOS Conference Room at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dhaka

Excellencies,

Members of the Diplomatic Corp,

Dear colleagues,

I thank you for your presence this evening on a short notice. I felt it necessary to share with you our Government’s perspectives on the recent incidents of violence and atrocities that we have experienced in different parts of the country. I also wanted to share some messages that we would like to convey to our friends in the international community.

As you are all aware, the orchestrated violence and reign of terror across the country was unleashed in the aftermath of the International Crimes Tribunal-1 (ICT-1)’s verdict on 28 February 2013 convicting Mr. Delowar Hossain Sayeedi of crimes against humanity and sentencing him to death for the charges proved against him beyond reasonable doubt. Mr. Sayeedi, who is also the Nayeb-e-Amir of the Jamaat-e-Islami Central Committee, has been found guilty by the Tribunal of committing murder, rape, torture, persecution, forced religious conversion and abetment during Bangladesh War of Liberation in 1971. It may be noted that the Tribunal has also acquitted him on a number of charges.

It is well recorded that the leadership of the Jamaat-e-Islami and its affiliated students wing Islami Chhatra Shibir have been engaged in a systematic propaganda at the local and international levels to undermine the war crimes trial process and implicate the ICTBD in controversies ever since the trials started in 2010. However, since the pronouncement of the first verdict by the ICTBD on 19 January this year, these radical and extremist quarters had publicly launched a nationwide continued offensive  of violence and criminal activities that have created mayhem and a serious threat to Bangladesh’s national and public security and law and order.

It may also be noted that there has been nationwide unprecedented and spontaneous mass uprisings of the youth of Bangladesh, inspired by the ‘Shahbagh Movement’ at the ‘Generation Square’ in Dhaka, since 05 February 2013 which widely covered by the domestic media, had peacefully but firmly protested the ICT-BD’s second verdict against Mr. Abdul Quader Molla as disproportionate sentence. These peaceful protests have set a global example of how a youth-led national movement can exercise freedom of expression and assembly through peaceful demonstrations.  The ICT verdicts and the peaceful nationwide protests in fact had initially been the main source of outrage of the Jamaat-Shibir cadres and perhaps placed them at a strategic back-foot.

However, they soon re-emerged on the scene with their nefarious designs, including attempts to malign the Shahbagh movement and targeted attacks against the Movement’s social bloggers and organizers with a view to weaken the movement. They have systematically incited fabricated propaganda against the bloggers and organisers of the movement for being involved in anti-religious and anti-Islamic activities using religion for political ends. Their alleged incitement in radicalizing the youths that were involved in the murder of the blogger movement’s leader Ahmed Rajiv Haider is well established now.

They even made a public threat to create a civil war like situation in the country if the ICT verdicts convicted their leaders of charges of crimes against humanity and genocide or unless there was a reversal of the court verdicts. The widespread violence and atrocities that we have witnessed across the country in the last few days has been a materialization of that threat. These threats made it evident that due to its failure to come to terms with the past war crimes of its leaders and purge itself of its tainted leadership and legacy, the Jamaat-e-Islami has lost its standing and credibility as a political organisation among the mainstream Bangladesh population. The Jamaat-Shibir is currently faced with almost an existential crisis and, true to their historical nature of making their points and protests through desperate violent and terrorist means, they would not cede the ground without creating complete anarchy and their intended ‘civil war like situation’.

As a Government responsible for ensuring its people’s protection and well-being, we cannot allow such atrocities to be committed with impunity and in an indiscriminate manner. There is no way our Government would show any tolerance to violent and unlawful means of protest that the Jamaat-Shibir has opted for to strike a blow to the democratic and secular foundation of this country and its socio-economic stability.

One would notice that the reign of terror that the Jamaat-Shibir wanted to create in the country had an unmistakable resonance with their heinous activities during the days of 1971. They have resorted to creating fear, misgivings and insecurity among the civilian population and have launched violent and targeted attacks against the police, BGB, RAB, Ansar and other public officials and their families. We have shared with you a list of atrocities committed by the Jamaat-Shibir since 28 February in different part of the country and the casualties that occurred.

Firstly, like any terrorist organization, they have mounted attacks against certain key point installations around the country such as power stations, television centre, police stations, local government and district administrative offices and trains and rail lines. They have made it a point to create anarchy by striking at infrastructures and public transports even at the potential cost of causing massive loss of human lives. They have not even spared the Shaheed Minars from their marauding spree to desecrate the symbols of our national unity and identity. These are planned and deliberate attacks not just against the Government, but against the State of Bangladesh.

Secondly, you would perhaps notice that there have been systematic attacks against strategic institutions or installations that would undermine our Government’s particular achievements in maintaining a civilian security, steady economic growth, increasing power generation, creating the base for a digital, knowledge-based economy and building a democratic and secular polity as envisaged by our Constitution. The destruction of the Palli Bidyut Samity office in Shibganj, Chapainawabganj has alone bled the power sector of financial loss worth Taka 200 crores approximately. The railway sector has been badly hit with a clear motive to frustrate our Government’s efforts to revive and strengthen this ailing sector after a long hiatus. A number of train wagons have been burnt to ashes in Rajshahi and Dhaka, rail lines have been derailed and station rooms destroyed, causing financial loss to the tune of Tk. 8.5 crores.

The terrorist tactics of the Jamaat-Shibir has been manifest in the way they had thrown off an engineer to death from the roof of a Parjatan motel in Chapainawabganj; had brutally attacked an elderly Hindu man as he tried to resist their rampage and later succumbed to his injuries in Banshkali, Chittagong; had killed a former Chhatra League leader by attacking him in a pre-planned manner in a local garage in Sylhet; had torched with petrol an autorickshaw carrying two fish traders who suffered serious burn injuries in Netrakona; or, had mercilessly hacked to death a number of police personnel in Gaibandha, Bogra and elsewhere.

Thirdly, in a stark reminder of the days of 1971, the Jamaat-Shibir cadres and their supporters continue to attack houses, temples and prayer premises of the religious minorities. In most instances, as in Bogra, Joypurhat, Sirajganj, Noakhali or Chittagong, these have been done in a pre-planned manner, and on occasions, violent Jamaat-Shibir processions suddenly veered towards pre-dominantly Hindu neighbourhoods and launched indiscriminate attacks against them. We believe that a Government is best judged by its performance in protecting its most vulnerable citizens, especially minorities. I can assure you that our Government will not tolerate any attempt to harm our religious minorities in the name of bigotry and extremism. The Government felicitates the local people in some areas that have taken affirmative action to resist such attacks and maintain communal harmony through concerted efforts.

The Hon’ble Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has urged people to form vigilance committees in every locality around the country to resist such terrorist attacks. We hope that people from all walks of life and all shades of political opinions would come forward to take part in these local level initiatives and stand by the law enforcing agencies. We take heart from the fact that the youth, business community and civil society of the country have reacted negatively to these rioting, vandalism and arson attacks and have rejected the hartals/ shutdowns called by the Jamaat and BNP for four days during this week.

Fourthly, the Jamaat-Shibir has also resorted to the worst forms of obscurantism to serve their traditional narrow-minded and self-serving agenda. In some parts of Chittagong, they incited violence by disseminating the absurd image of one of their convicted leaders being visible on the moon. We are equally shocked and outraged to see the use of women and children as human shields to allow Jamaat-Shibir activists to carry on with their rioting and vandalism under cover. We are particularly concerned over reports of allegedly using Madrassa students in such violent activities. These are contrary to the Convention of the Rights of the Child and the National Children Policy 2012 that prohibits use of children for political and terrorist activities.

Finally, it is hard to imagine any religious sentiments being invoked to perpetrate the kind of brutality that we have seen being wreaked upon the police in the last few days. Since 28 February, seven police personnel have been killed; among them, four were killed in Gaibandha, one in Rangpur, one in Chittagong and one in Jhenidah. During the last four months, 569 police personnel have been injured in confrontation with the Jamaat-Shibir cadres. We recall that the police were one of the first victims of the mass killings and atrocities that were unleashed on the people of Bangladesh on the fatal night of 25 March 1971. In continuation of that trend, the Jamaat-Shibir and their allies have initiated a campaign to destroy the morale of our police force by killing their members.

Despite such provocation, the members of Bangladesh Police and Bangladesh Border Guard deployed for maintaining law and order have faced the situation with utmost patience and forbearance. They had to resort to firing only in self-defense and in the interest of maintaining public order and security, after having exhausted other riot control mechanisms. This is the standard operating procedure for the law enforcing agencies everywhere.

Since 28 February through 5 March, 60 people are reported to have been killed in different parts of the country, including general people without any political affiliation. The Government would ensure that thorough investigations are carried out concerning every incident of death and any reported excess committed by the police be dealt with through the prescribed judicial measures. Our Government remains committed to zero tolerance to any form of impunity within our uniformed services. Within this parameter, our law enforcing agencies would maintain an uncompromising stance against any form of violence or terrorist acts under the pretext of political activities to save convicted criminals. Again, till 04 March 2013, a total of 235 cases have been lodged in connection with the violence in different parts of the country and 1,572 people arrested so far.

As I speak to you, the Government has been largely able to contain the spread of violence by now, which remains concentrated in certain identified pockets of the country. We have heightened intelligence operations and deployed additional police and BGB forces in the violence endemic areas. The local administration has been instructed to keep a watchful eye on the developments throughout their jurisdictions and identify the particularly vulnerable areas in light of the violence trend witnessed during the past few days.

The district administrations have started distributing relief and reconstruction materials to the affected families and households including those of the Hindu minorities. The law enforcing agencies are also being geared for intensive training to enhance their preparedness to combat such violence and threat to public security from potential future violent behaviors that are likely to be perpetrated by the Jamaat-Shibir and their allies, especially in reaction to the subsequent ICT verdicts and the ongoing trials. We would need to foil or counter those calculated moves by mobilizing the united force and resolve of our people who have rallied behind the trials in quest of the justice that eluded them for four decades.  It would also be critical for our Government to identify the root causes behind the radicalization among our people in the violence-prone areas and address those causes through long-term development and awareness building strategies.

We believe that the strongest firewall against the Jamaat-Shibir violence has been built by our youth in the Projonmo Chattar in Shahbagh. Their peaceful rallies and demonstrations have stood in sharp anti-thesis and rejection to the path of violence, murder, arson and vandalism chosen by the Jamaat-Shibir and their allies. The Shahbagh youth would like to see justice being ensured for crimes committed against committed against this nation and its people at its birth, and thereby pave the way for national reconciliation with this bloody chapter of our past, and keep the values and ethos that defined our struggle for independence alive in our national discourse and consciousness. The ICT trials therefore, stand as a critical threshold that we would need to cross over as a nation to carry on with our nation building activities in the spirit of peace and reconciliation. Our Prime Minister has said it on a number of occasions in unequivocal terms that no measure of violence or anarchy would derail us from our resolve to try the perpetrators of the crimes against humanity and genocide in our midst and thereby uphold universal justice not only for the people of Bangladesh but for the entire humanity.

I believe that the Shahbagh movement has also got some important messages for our friends in the international community.

Firstly, it is an expectation of the people of Bangladesh that the international community would help in the memorialisation of the war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide that were committed in Bangladesh in 1971.  It is also our expectation that the international community would express solidarity with their legitimate demands for justice against alleged war crimes offenders as a matter of universal principle against war crimes,   which would be the best reparation that we could possibly offer to the victims after these 42 years.

Secondly, there is an expectation that the international community would take a holistic perspective about the ongoing trials and its significance for our nation building efforts, rather than looking at them only through the frame of the technicalities or procedures involved in the trials. Those of you who are better attuned to the historical political context of Bangladesh would surely appreciate that we need to ensure retributive justice for the crimes against humanity and genocide committed in 1971 to pave the way for restorative justice through truth and reconciliation in our society. The sentencing of the convicted criminals should send out an unqualified message to all concerned that the people of Bangladesh would never allow such crimes to be perpetrated on our soil – ‘never, never and never again’, as said President Nelson Mandela!

Thirdly, while we would expect the international community’s appreciation for a new paradigm being set by Bangladesh to conduct the trials of certain internationally defined crimes through exclusively domestic tribunals and a strong sense of national ownership, we would – as I said earlier – remain open to any constructive and legally feasible suggestions to ensure further international standards in the trials in line with the evolving process through which they have been taking shape.

And, lastly, the international community should also react to the fabricated propaganda run by the Jamaat-Shibir and their allies and supporters that the ICT had been a excuse to politically undermine and persecute leading Islamist leaders and thinkers. It is unfortunate that such a false and malafide notion had gained some sympathies within the political circles and media establishments of some of our friendly countries without delving into the antecedents of the accused and the convicted criminals. We have seen how such misguided demonstration of support in certain foreign countries has been used by the Jamaat-Shibir to drive home their point among their local sympathizers about these trials being a pretext for political persecution only. We urge all friendly governments to show respect to the overwhelming popular demand for justice emanating from the people of Bangladesh and join in their condemnation of those that have been found guilty of committing crimes against humanity.

The difficult course of righting the wrongs of the past that Bangladesh has taken upon itself would not just signal an end to the culture of impunity here in this country but would also have profound implications for opening up the possibility for justice for the genocides or ethnic cleansings that have been silenced in other parts of the world and wiped off the collective memory of the world.

I thank you.

ফখরুদ্দীন-মঈনউদ্দীনের বিচার কি হবে?

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3-uddinsপরম শ্রদ্ধেয় বঙ্গবন্ধুর বড় মেয়ে, জননেত্রী, প্রধানমন্ত্রী ও গনতন্ত্রের মানসকন্যা শেখ হাসিনাকে “মিথ্যা দুর্নীতির মামলায়” জড়িয়ে ইয়াজউদ্দীনের অধীনে ফখরুদ্দীন-মঈনউদ্দীনের “অবৈধ” ও “অসাংবিধানিক” সরকার “গ্রেপ্তার” করে বিশেষ জেলে রেখেছিল, এমনকি খাবারের সাথে বিষ মিশিয়ে মেরে ফেলতে চেয়েছিল। গ্রেপ্তার ও নির্যাতনের স্বীকার হয়েছিলেন আরো অনেক কেন্দ্রীয় নেতা।

দুই বছর তারা দেশে নানা অপকর্ম চালিয়েছিল, বিশেষ করে সেই ছাত্র-বিক্ষোভ। এই বিষয়ে তদন্ত করে শিক্ষা মন্ত্রনালয় বিষয়ক সংসদীয় স্থায়ী কমিটির একটি উপকমিটি ফখরুদ্দীন-মঈনউদ্দীনকে দেশে ফিরিয়ে এনে বিচারের মুখোমুখি করার পরামর্শ দিয়েছিল সরকারকে।

প্রধানমন্ত্রী বারবার দুঃখ করেন তাকে গ্রেপ্তার করা হয়েছিল বলে। খালেদা জিয়াকে মনে করিয়ে দেন সেইসব দিনের কথা, যেন দুই নেত্রী এক হয়ে অসাংবিধানিক সরকারদের এড়িয়ে, দুর্নীতি-অনিয়মের জন্য মামলা না খেয়ে নিজেরা নিজেরা নির্বাচন করে রাজনীতির মাধ্যমে করে দেশকে সোনার বাংলা বানানো যায়। এ প্রসঙ্গে তিনি দায়ী করেন ফখরুদ্দীনের আগের তত্বাবধায়ক সরকারের উপদেষ্টাদের যারা একটি নির্বাচন আয়োজন করতে পারেনি বলেই সেনাশাসিত তত্বাবধায়ক ক্ষমতা দখল করেছিল ও শেখ হাসিনাকে গ্রেপ্তার করার দুঃসাহস দেখিয়েছিল।

কিন্তু সেই শেখ হাসিনারই আওয়ামীলীগ ২০০৯ থেকে ক্ষমতায় থাকা সত্বেও এসবের কোন বিচার করলো না!!!

কেন?

২০১১ সালে “উইকিলিকস” ঢাকা থেকে ওয়াশিংটনে পাঠানো কিছু তারবার্তা ফাঁস করে। সেসবের মধ্যে একটি ছিল আওয়ামীলীগের সাধারন সম্পাদক সৈয়দ আশরাফের সাথে রাষ্ট্রদূত মরিয়ার্টির আলোচনা নিয়ে। তাদের মধ্যে কথা হয় ১৮ই জুন ২০০৯-এ।

নতুন সরকার ক্ষমতায় এসে কি কি করবে সেসব নিয়ে কথা হয় তাদের মধ্যে।

সেনাশাসিত তথাকথিত তত্বাবধায়ক সরকারের কারিগরদের বিচারের বিপক্ষে ছিলেন আশরাফ। তিনি বলেন শেখ হাসিনার ইচ্ছা বিচার না করার এবং দলের প্রায় সব নেতাই তার পক্ষে ছিলেন।

এ থেকেই বুঝা যায় সেই “অবৈধ” সরকারের বিরুদ্ধে শেখ হাসিনা যাই বলুন না কেন, সেটা শুধুমাত্র লোকদেখানো। নিজের ও দলের নেতাকর্মীদের উপর চালানো অন্যায্য, অমানবিক ও অবৈধ আচরনের কোন বিচার এই আমলে হবেনা।

বিএনপি যদি ক্ষমতায় আসেও, তারাও বিচার করার দুঃসাহস দেখাবে কিনা সেটা নিয়েও আমার সন্দেহ আছে।

BNP-Jamaat’s attackers of 2001 shouldn’t go unpunished

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All women and girls of all ages including handicapped and elderly women of three Hindu villages in Lalmohan upazila of Bhola were raped immediately after October 1, 2001 parliamentary election.

There had been over 17,000 incidents of murder, rape, gang rape, arson and loot across the country until late 2006 against the Hindus and Awami League supporters by the BNP-Jamaat men.

The Awami League-led government received the judicial commission report in April 2011 but has not taken a single step in this concern!

On Thursday, the High Court directed the government to take legal action against the instigators and attackers immediately, and report back on May 11.

Eager to see what’s next… However, I’m not hopeful.

 

The News Item

The bench of Justice Quazi Reza-Ul Hoque and ABM Altaf Hossain passed the order yesterday after Deputy Attorney General Biswojit Roy placed the gazette notification of the judicial investigation report.

The commission in its probe report held a number of ministers of the then ruling BNP-Jamaat government responsible for instigating the incidents. The leaders include BNP’s Salauddin Quader Chowdhury (convicted for war crimes), Altaf Hossain Chowdhury, Maj (retd) Hafizuddin Ahmed, Tariqul Islam, Zainal Abedin (VP Zainal), Ruhul Quddus Talukder Dulu, Abdul Hafiz, AMH Selim (Silver Selim), Selim Reza Habib, and Jamaat-e-Islami’s Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujaheed (convicted for war crimes).

The gazette was published in April following the directives of the bench. “It is historic as no other probe report was made public earlier through gazette notification,” Biswojit told the Dhaka Tribune.

In response to a question by the court during the hearing, the deputy attorney general said no effective measure could be taken against the perpetrators after the violence. “As the probe report has turned into a gazette, which has legal value, actions will now be taken against the perpetrators,” he said.

The report was prepared by a three-member commission headed by former district judge M Shahabuddin Chuppu, now a commissioner of the Anti-Corruption Commission. The probe body was formed on December 27, 2009 and it submitted the report to the Home Ministry on April 24, 2011.

According to the report, as many as 3,625 incidents of violence took place across the country between October 1, 2001 and December 31, 2002. During that time, 355 political murders occurred while the other 3,270 incidents are related to rape, gang rape, arson, looting and other serious crimes.

But only 221 cases were lodged, in which police submitted final report in 27 cases but discharged the accused. The law enforcers pressed charge sheets in rest of the cases, says the report.

The commission suggested that as there is no timeframe for filing of cases for crimes, the authorities can lodge cases against the perpetrators now.

If an accused is acquitted, appeals should be lodged against them, while if anyone is discharged, then revision cases should be filed, says the report.

The commission also said between 2003 and 2006, more than 14,000 incidents of violence including political murders took place.

Deputy Attorney General Biswojit said the report did not cover all the horrific incidents of violence as many people did not appear before the commission fearing further attacks.

Barisal was the worst-affected division where a total of 2,189 incidents of serious crimes including rape, gang rape, arson and loot were committed just after the election.

Almost all the women, from child to age-old, of three Hindu villages in Lalmohan Upazila of Bhola were raped. Even a physically-handicapped woman, whose two legs were cut, and another 70-year-old woman were not spared.

As many as 38 political murders took place during the same period. But only 39 cases were registered on the incidents and the accused of four cases were discharged, says the report.

Death row war criminal Salauddin Quader’s men killed 12 persons at a house in Chittagong by setting fire. In the division, 97 political murders and 360 incidents of gang rape, arson, loot and other serious crimes took place. On the incidents, only 49 cases were lodged while the accused in eight cases were discharged.

Priya Saha, general secretary of Bangladesh Women Unity Council, told the Dhaka Tribune that war criminal Sayedee’s men had forcefully taken the possession of land more than 200 acres owned by her father and other relatives in Pirojpur. She did not file any complaint or give statement before the commission out of fear.

Days of agonies under autocratic rulers

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I often think how long to tolerate autocrats? I brainstorm how to stand their inhumane acts with a view to avoid suicide cause I never witnessed an ambience of Democratic leadership in Bangladesh since my childhood. It’s horrifyingly!!!

For that I’ve got two solutions: compromise and join the autocrats, or live an honest life and react sharply to pinpoint the issues.

“Free bloggers, arrest the fanatics!”

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