Echo

 

Posted by Rezwan

HAPPY NEW YEAR

Wishing all a prosperous and peaceful 2006.

I have been very busy lately in home and at work. Blogging had been a rare luxury I could afford lately. I have tons of ideas and events to share but just couldn't make it here (for lack of time).

Just arrived from a family new year's party. This year's celebrations were subdued to some extent. The usual crackers and fire works were absent, at least in the locality I live. Probably what kept people inside home is the extra police protection due to threats of the extremists and bans on firecrackers. The movements of vehicles in popular New Year celebration points like Gulshan, Banani and Dhaka University were restricted. Some people were wandering around in the streets defying all but loud musics and live concerts were played in fewer places than before.

Nothing special on TV either. In recent times one more Bangla satellite channel (RTV) has been launched and two more (Baishakhi & Bangla Vision) went into test transmission. But none looks very promising as they are just the same wine in a new bottle. Now there are 8 Bangladeshi Bangla sattelite channels (including BTV) on air. I wish there were separate channels for 24hr Bangla news, 24hr Bangla music, 24hr Bangla movie and 24hr deshi sport. There is a 24hr Bangla music channel launched by Indian Tara network but is rarely available in Dhaka.

More later. Good night.

 

Posted by Rezwan

THE COUNTDOWN BEGINS

 

Posted by Rezwan

A BOAT RIDE IN BURIGANGA

Last sunday we went to BIWTA jetty in Pagla along the banks of the Buriganga river, some 20 kms away from Dhaka. My last visit to that place some 7-8 years ago was more memorable because the infrastructures and the surroundings have been degraded by now. There are no visible sign for easy direction in the road. The 'Mary Anderson' (Pic: on the left, click for a larger view) was initially a luxury cruise ship for the VIPs, which was converted to a floating restaurant. The Parjatan Corporation, the state tourism organization used to arrange some day long cruises in launch which included on board live music and quality foods. They have curtailed the service and only big groups can hire a whole motor boat.

However people can hire small private yachts and speed boats for a cruise. We have rented a boat (Pic: on the right) which could accomodate our 11 family members and we rode along the Buriganga river down to the South and came back. The rent is reasonable (Tk. 500 per hour, Tk. 1000 for the speedboat) if you avail it in a group. The boat ride was overall relaxing (more photos).

The only downside was that the boat engine was very noisy. And Buriganga waters have been contaminated like anything. The sources were evident, wastes from the industries along the river. The stenches were so prominent that many refused to have their lunch in 'Mary Anderson'.

So we drove on to Narayanganj to have our lunch. Then we went to the Sonargaon Folk Arts Museum, some 29 km from Dhaka before heading back home. The Christmas day holiday was well spent.

 

Posted by Rezwan

THE WORD CHRISTMAS

According to Katy, there are much debate going on in the USA on about the separation of Church and State and using the word "Christmas" in public settings. Her sons' teachers have wished her "Happy Holidays", as they were careful not to let the X-word slip.

She thinks Christmas is an important part of most Americans' traditions and it should not be censored. She also suggests that US can follow the Bangladesh model of observing the holidays of all the major religions.

 

Posted by Rezwan

BANGLADESH IDOL

Last Thursday evening I was attending one cultural show. A local band was performing rocks and modern Bangla songs. The crowds were seemingly not happy with the performance. The acoustics were good, but the vocals were not matching them. Then came a girl, who started to sing popular Hindi movie songs. The crowds were on their feet and cheering like anything. I quietly alienated myself from that place. This is not the Bangladesh I want, lost to the superiority of another culture.

The same night I caught a glimpse of the 'Close up 1 - Tomakey Kujche Bangladesh' (Bangladesh Looks for You) contest finals on TV. This is the first ever music talent show in Bangladesh(can be termed Bangladesh version of American Idol). In that show Nolok Babu, 19, with a passionate voice won the crown with 775,000 sms public votes against the 1st runner-up Razib (331,000 votes), who was the favorite of the judges.

Now for two reasons this competition is significant and successful. The first reason you will get to know from these headlines:

- A 'train singer' is Bangladesh idol

- Penniless street singer set to win first 'Bangladesh Idol' contest

Yes, this is not fiction. Nolok Babu started singing in public after his father, a taxi driver, left them several years back when his mother was down with Hepatitis. Funds were needed to treat her and Babu started singing at the local train station as well as on trains to ensure his mother fully recovered from the disease. On his first day he earned Taka 500, an unimaginable amount for novice street singer. Living in a slum did not stop him to pursue his dream as he continued to sing to earn and got recognition of his talent finally. The key to his popularity was his performance, not sympathy. Nolok Babu is the name he got from his friends and admirers. The prizes he got include a one million Taka singing contract, a car, home theatre system and Plasma TV.

The second reason is that this competition has been a booster for the Bangladesh Music Industry. On the following day, while walking past the music shops in Elephant road and New Market area, I heard the competition songs playing everywhere. The new voices are very good and refreshing from the ordinary contemporaries. People have really welcomed them. Especially the 2nd runner-up Beauty has got a very wonderful voice and she is deemed the next queen of folk music. You can download some of the songs sang by the top contestants (via Rajputro).

Yes, Bangladesh is looking for guys and girls like Nolok, to rock us.

Update: More songs from close up 1 to download.

 

Posted by Rezwan

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO EVERYONE

"So this is Christmas
And what have you done
Another year over
And a new one just begun
And so this is Christmas
I hope you have fun
The near and the dear ones
The old and the young

A very merry Christmas
And a happy New Year
Let's hope it's a good one
Without any fear

And so this is Christmas War is over
For weak and for strong If you want it
For rich and the poor ones War is over
The world is so wrong Now
And so Happy Christmas War is over
For black and for white If you want it
For yellow and red ones War is over
Let's stop all the fight Now"

- John Lennon

 

Posted by Rezwan

BANGLADESH ISRAEL RELATIONSHIP?

According to Israeli Media following the warm-up in relations between Israel and Pakistan, two other Muslim countries which do not have diplomatic relations with Israel have made attempts to establish contacts with Israeli officials. And guess what one is Afghanistan and the other is Bangladesh. (Via Salam)

Ynet News reports:

"Bangladesh's ambassador in a Mediterranean basin country recently approached the Israeli ambassador with an offer to establish regular relations. The Israeli ambassador happily accepted the proposal and the two agreed to keep an open discussion channel."
This is yet to be confirmed from news or other resources in Bangladesh.

Israel is the sole country to which a Bangladeshi cannot travel with his/her passport. A couple of years ago Richard L. Benkin wrote an Article called 'Dear Bangladesh', where he lauded Bangladesh and commented that by establishing diplomatic relations with Israel Bangladesh can play a good role in the peace process between Israel and the Middle East. And I wrote that I would be the happiest person if Bangladesh could make that possible.

 

Posted by Rezwan

TODAY'S LINKS

* Racism: Apartheid and South Asians.

* Racism: Views on recent case of racism in Australia.

* Violence: Protect women worldwide, stop violence against women by clicking a button!

* Technology: v-girl.com offers a mobile girlfriend to download and date. This artificial lady can be your constant companion who shares her secrets, provides conversation, and comes with realistic 3D animation.

* Economy: India is the next manufacturing giant.

* Languages: Quick Bengali lesson 01 by an expat.

* Ban: Pakistan Supreme Court has banned kite making, buying, selling and flying.

* Survival: A 40-year old Kashmiri woman, Naqsha Bibi, was pulled out alive from her living grave 63 days after the South Asian earthquake.

* Election: An Iraqi sees trouble ahead of Iraqi election.

 

Posted by Rezwan

LESSONS FOR RECONCILIATION TOWARDS PEACE

"We can not agree on everything, that’s normal, but we should not dehumanize each other."
Dina Mehta recommends this post to anyone who lives in countries where there is ethnic strife and conflict. In her words:

"I'd say that pretty much covers the whole world. Two bloggers I only recently met at the Global Voices Summit, one an Israeli and the other a Palestinian, both influential bloggers in their worlds, who went on a walk together to sort out some of the more bitter issues that had turned their blogs into targets for vitriolic comments.
The post really touched me because we have similar issues in India between Hindus and Muslims -- I've seen many many posts that bring forth huge loads of hate comments. And really only serve to widen the chasm and not bridge it. I'd urge all those who feel they are affected in any way by such conflicts, to read Haitham's post. It is sheer grace in his bold and brave admission that he has made some mistakes and constructive in his vision that he can learn from them."

 

Posted by Rezwan

TAXI DRIVERS IN NEW YORK DEMAND JUSTICE

(Via Saurav) "Bangladeshi Taxi Drivers Shajedur Rahman & Humayun Kabir Laskar Are In a Coma After Being Victims On the Job. Daily, Over 100,000 NYC Taxi, Black Car and Livery Drivers Face Assaults, Harassment, Road Rage and Verbal Abuse While Working 12-Hour Shifts."

* One out of four taxi drivers is a victim of crime.
* 60% of Taxi Drivers Are From Bangladesh, India and Pakistan (Desis).
* 90% Are Immigrants (Desis, Haitians, Africans, Latinos, Arabs, Europeans, etc.)

Recently the Bangladeshi Community Organizations & New York Taxi Workers Alliance (NYTWA) have organized a rally in Astoria to protest these. I will be looking forward to further developments on this.

 

Posted by Rezwan

BANGLADESH BLOG BUZZ

(crossposted in the global voices online)

1) The liberation war of Bangladesh: The blogosphere went alive on the occasion of the Victory Day of Bangladesh (former East Pakistan).

On December 16, 1971, the Pakistani occupation forces surrendered to the joint command of Indian Army and Bangladeshi freedom fighters in Dhaka after a nine-month bloody war for independence of the country. Bangladesh boldly said no to Pakistan, which was formed on the basis of religion and still married to it. Bangladeshis gave their blood to the cause of democracy and secularism, to be free from oppression and to have a separate identity for the Bengali culture that is thousands of years old.

But the victory against the Pakistanis did come with a price. The Bangladeshis will not forget that between March 25 and December 16, 1971 estimated 3 million Bengalees were killed by Pakistani Army and their collaborators, 200000 women raped and 10 million were displaced. This was the worst genocide after the second world war.

Subhan is furious because thirty-four years later, the victims of the genocide are yet to see one single individual of the occupation forces or their associates brought to justice. Many new generation Pakistanis do not know about their forefathers crimes. Some of the collaborators in Bangladesh took advantage of a general amnesty and even become lawmakers of the present ruling qualition. The Golmal press thinks that Bangladesh is in the midst of a second war of Independence, trying to fight the Islamic extremists as they look nodifferent than the Razakars (collaborators) of the Pakistani Army.

Mezba however thinks that today there is no reason to go Pakistan bashing and ‘Forgive But Not Forget’ should be the motto of Bangladesh.

Razib discusses the misconceptions among some of the new generation Bangladeshis about India’s involvement in the 1971 liberation war and he thinks that the Bangladeshis have failed to pay the due respect to the Indians.

2) Bangladesh is the best: Adda posts an inspirational interactive sketch on why “Bangladesh is the Best” to him. It is sad that Bangladesh is portrayed in the international arena only by the headlines of flood, poverty and other such catchy stories. The bests of Bangladesh are hardly promulgated in the media.

3) Blogging in Bangla: ‘Somewhere in blog’, an affiliation of a software company ‘ Somewhere in’ launches the first ever Bangla blogging tool “Bandh Bhanger Awaj“. Probably this will help the advent of more Bangladeshi bloggers.

 

Posted by Rezwan

TODAY'S TIDBITS

* Opinions: The best possible arguement for withdrawal of US troops from Iraq.

* Human rights: Bangladesh's feared elite police.

* Living: Hightech flush gazzette.

* Warning: Beware podcasters, podcast hijacking is here.

* Changes: From Bangalore to Bengaluru, from Delhi to Hastinapur; whats in a name?

* Stupidity: Iranian leader denies Holocaust.

* Examples: Understanding HTTP.

* Future: Hydrogen is the fuel of the future.

* Technology: Mobiles for the next billion.

 

Posted by Rezwan

BLOG COVERS THE IRAQ ELECTION LIVE

For an exclusive live coverage of the Iraqi election please go to Pajamas Media. PJM & Iraq the model are hosting waves of election updates and photos from eight correspondents based in eight different Iraqi provinces. The superiority of the main stream media has ended.

 

Posted by Rezwan

VICTORY DAY: 16th of December
(from the archive)

On this day in 1971 out of the crucible of blood and sacrifice, Bangladesh was born. This day is celebrated with glory and joy supplementary to the Independence Day, which is the 26th March. Actually Independence Day marks the declaration of our Independence and start of a bloody and glorious War of Liberation against the occupied forces of Pakistan. The govt. of Independent Bangladesh was formed in April 1971. On Victory Day, nine month later the Pakistani forces surrendered to the allied forces of Bangladesh and India. The people of Bangladesh chose to be their own masters rather then the remaining slaves, and achieved liberty. Bangladesh emerged as a sovereign independent country, like it never was before in the more than 3000 years of recorded history of the Bengali speaking people truly, completely independent at last. They were inspired by nationalism and patriotic spirit, which can be represented by one question of a Bengali poet "Who wants to live without freedom?"We must recall the heroic deeds of the founder, father of the nation Sheikh Mujibur Rahman (Bangabandhu), Ziaur Rahman, the freedom fighters, the freedom loving general people of the country (of all race and religion), Ms. Indira Gandhi, and the people of our neighbor India for their support. Our prayers are for those numerous lives lost in this war and their families who endured the pogrom like genocide (almost 3 million casualties including 3000 Indian Soldiers), devastation and rape by the Pakistani Army and their collaborators.

I would like to recall the contribution of people all over the world who lend a hand in help of the numerous refugees who were living in appalling conditions in the camps in India.

The values of the liberation war were secularism, democracy, liberal outlook and modernism and no religious bias. But after the independence government of every hues have been in power and failed to uphold the values of the liberation war. They also reinstated the anti-liberation parties like Jamaat-e-Islami and others who were indicted as collaborators of Pakistan forces. The biggest mistake of the peace-loving nation was to forgive those traitors in a general mercy petition, that is why today we see those anti-liberation forces reigning in glory. So it is mandatory that we should always look back to 1971 to remember our heroic deeds so that we can fight for keeping ourselves in the path laid by the values.

Liberation War Museum is a great initiative to archive the war of independence.

 

Posted by Rezwan

The history of Independence of Bangladesh
(from the archive)

I am not a historian. But I am trying to summarize here the history of Bangladesh's Independence for those who would like to have an idea about it.

In 1947 Indian subcontinent got its independence from British rule and were divided into Pakistan & India. The division was on the notion of two-nation theory, separate religious states of Hindu & Muslim. Some say that the British invoked the Hindu Muslim riots, some say the shrewd politicians, but these grim incidents led people nodding to this partitions and thought if the Hindu's and Muslims had a separate country, there would be no such violence. But wrong again. What happened to most of the Hindus in Pakistan and Muslims in India, who were living in harmony since long? Pakistan was divided into two portions: West Pakistan (containing Pathans, Panjabis, Beluchis) & East Pakistan (containing the Bengalis). A large-scale migration took place after that. Hindus were almost completely wiped out of West Pakistan. But lots of Hindus remained in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) and many Muslims in India.

Pakistan is historically a theological country, from its birth. They chose Arabic fonts for their national language Urdu and imposed it to Bengalis. But the East Pakistanis fought for keeping their language Bangla unchanged and uphold as a second state language, and gave their lives in 1952 in the process (recognized as International Mother Language Day). East Pakistanis were deprived of many things as West Pakistan progressed leaving behind East Pakistan. In East Pakistan Bengalis hold on to their culture and values and Muslim and Hindu (30% of population) happily lived together (which was treated by Pakistanis as not Islamic). The East had to survive a lot of devastating natural calamities, which were neglected by the govt. sitting on West Pakistan.

In 1970, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and his party Awami League won the majority (over 53 percent) in National Assembly election. But the lords at West Pakistan did not welcome it. The Assembly was suspended with the fear that Sheikh Mujib would be the head of the whole Pakistan because of the majority. He called for a nationwide strike and preparation of independence in East Pakistan in March 7, 1971. In 25th March 1971 West Pakistan Army started an operation killing many innocent civilians, University students, even police forces with a view to diffuse the uprising and tensions.

In 26th March 1971, on behalf of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the Independence declaration was read by another patriot, Ziaur Rahman (an Army major that time). A bloody war of liberation began.

Pakistan Army's motto was to ethnic cleanse Hindus and dominate Bengalis with force so that they can rule them better. The general people of Pakistan were told in propaganda that the Army is controlling the civil war, which is being instigated by India. Approx. 3 million people died in the war, women were mass raped by Pakistanis, houses looted, devastated. Many took refuse in the neighboring India. But Bengalis started to resist. Freedom fighters were trained up with the help of India. And the fight back rattled Pakistanis. They could not stop the rebellion within 9 months. At last India engaged in the war in December and Bangladesh got liberated from the tyranny of Pakistan. The Pakistan Army and some collaborators killed some of the finest intellectuals of the country just two days before their surrender in 16th december 1971.

The war itself is an epic. The history of it is being written in bits and pieces and there have been efforts also to summarize it. But we should never end the quest for the true spirit and values of the war.

Click here for the map of Bangladesh.

Bangladesh Liberation War 1971 Photo gallery

Click here and here for more pictures.

Read about the legendary concert for Bangladesh.

More Links:

* Bangladesh Liberation war
* Liberation war of Bangladesh, 1971
* The 1971 India-Pakistan war site
* Bangladesh Liberation War - Wikipedia
* Genocide watch: genocide in Bangladesh, 1971
* Bangladesh Liberation War: A Personal Diary
* The Indian Air force in the liberation war: 1971
* Bangladesh Ministry of liberation war affairs: official site
* Liberation war
* Bangladesh -71: a pc game on the libeartion war of Bangladesh

 

Posted by Rezwan

MARTYRED INTELLECTUALS DAY: DECEMBER 14TH
(From the archive)

December 14 is the day of martyred intellectuals, who were brutally killed by the Pakistani occupation army and their cohorts in 1971. Sensing their imminent defeat in the Bangladesh's liberation war, the Pakistani occupation forces and their local collaborators Rajakar, Al-Badr and Al-Sham kidnapped leading Bengali intellectuals and professionals on December 14, 1971 and killed them only two days before victory at the end of a nine-month long War of Liberation.
Renowned academics, doctors, engineers, journalists, teachers and other eminent personalities were dragged blind-folded out of their residences in the city and killed in cold blood to cripple the new-born nation intellectually. Their bodies were dumped at Rayerbazar, Mirpur and some other places on the city's outskirts.

How savage their thoughts were! The plan of the occupation army and its supporters was to orphan the nation which would certainly need the leadership and wisdom of its worthy sons to move ahead in the early days of its independence.

Some may argue that the killings have set us back a bit. Think about the current crisis of true patriotic leaders and intellectuals with good moral character. But actually its our failure to carry on their legacy as we are forgetting them and our glorious past.

I think we can do more than our usual mundane observance of the day. I demand the government to ensure that this will never happen in the future.

The strongly believe that the nation can produce such great intellects over again. Let us remember those souls and try to do our work with a mission for which they died: "A peaceful, happy, prosperous and independent Bangladesh".

 

Posted by Rezwan

PHONE TAPPING VS. HUMAN RIGHTS

Bangladesh's telecommunication act 2001, provides that phone tapping is an offence and punishable with either a six-month imprisonment or fine not exceeding Tk 50,000 or both.

However, the government has amended the law in an presidential order with immediate effect, allowing intelligence and law enforcement agencies to tap telephone conversations of any individual (The Daily Star). According to the ordinance, telephones can be tapped only with the permission of the chief executive of the home ministry. The government says that this was needed to track Islamic millitants, who had created an anarchy in the country in recent times. The experts say that eight million telephone users' rights cannot be violated for misuse of a few hundreds.

In all developed democracies phone tapping is officially strictly controlled to safeguard an individuals' privacy. In United States a federal court authorises requests for surveillance warrants by federal security agencies. The authority is not a politically biased person like the chief executive of the home ministry.

Analysts fear that there remain the possibilities that the conversations of political persons will be tapped to control their political activities and that the ordinance will be used as a tool for realising political interests. They also fear that this 'tool' can be used ahead of the general elections to harass civil society members, alongside the government's political opponents, who raise voice against its misdeeds.

Sadly the governments always think that whoever speaks against them are their enemy. They have not considered discussing the law in parliament before enacting as if people have no opinion in this. Implementations of these types of black laws will only lead the country to a monarchy, withering democracy.

 

Posted by Rezwan

BIMAN'S HAJJ FLIGHT SAGA

Biman has messed up big time with the hajj flights. The trouble started when the minister for civil aviation Mir Nasiruddin fixed airfare of the national carrier Biman at a higher rate to carry the 50,000 hajjis for the pilgrimage to Mecca. The travel agents protested and threatened to boycott Biman and after the Prime minister's intervention, Nasir resigned. To mend the scar, this had became a political issue of the new minister, who vowed to carry 59,000 hajjis with Biman. Two aircrafts were chartered for hajj flights not to disrupt Biman's regular schedules.

The prime minister opened the first hajj flight and then the nightmare began. The five hajj flights of Biman were cancelled between Sunday night and Monday evening causing a chaos in the Zia International Airport, Dhaka as Biman employees were scrambling to reschedule the flights of several hundred stranded pilgrims. Much later the passengers were informed that the flights could not fly to Jeddah as they did not have the landing permission from the Saudi Authorities (Oops, probably somebody forgot). The stranded hajjis protested and ransacked Biman offices in ZIA airport. Amidst all Sujat Ali, age 55 died of a cardiac arrest at the airport at about 1:30am Monday while asleep in the airport floor. Finally after 30 hours hajj flights resumed leaving bitter experiences to the mostly elderly pilgrims.

I wonder whether the relatives of Sujat Ali or any passenger will ever sue Biman for its mishandling of flights. They can seek compensation under rule 240. Biman however claimed that it had arranged hotel accommodations for the pilgrims whose flights had been cancelled but many of the pilgrimage including Sujat Ali refused. This is not believable as the Biman officials had little idea about what was going on. Will there ever be an enquiry? It is ironic that the government of this so called Islamic country treats Muslim pilgrims like commodities.

Udpate: Biman's problem persisted in Tuesday also even though an additional 387-seater airbus 330-300, chartered from Air Luxor of Portugal arrived in Dhaka for carrying the pilgrims. Guess what! Somebody again forgot to get the landing permission in Jeddah from the Saudi government. Many pilgrims were seen left stranded in the airport Tuesday night, as the Biman officials were trying to accommodate them in regular scheduled flights. Meanwhile the aviation minister said that these kinds of delays can happen everywhere due to unavoidable circumstances. He also said that Biman is not liable to pay compensation as the deceased passenger was not issued a boarding pass. After all what's the life of a commoner is worth?

 

Posted by Rezwan

TODAY'S LINKS

* JMB got Guevara wrong.

* The arrest of Burmese nationals increased recently in Bangladesh after a series of militants’ bomb attacks.

* Why the connectivity is expensive in India.

* Grameen Bank's help changes lives in Joymontop Village.

* Keeping up with the Gateses - Bill & Melinda Gates' South Asia visit.

* Bangladeshi ideas 'can help positively change Africa'.

 

Posted by Rezwan

STUPID WAYS

"Against stupidity; God Himself is helpless. -A Jewish proverb"
The Times of London reports:

"Israel's armed forces have been ordered by Ariel Sharon, the prime minister, to be ready by the end of March for possible strikes on secret uranium enrichment sites in Iran, military sources have revealed."

No wonder this stupidity was encouraged by that stupidity.

Tigerhawk analyses the news:

"Obviously, Israel is sending a signal to Iran, but not to President Ahmadinejad. In all likelihood, Israel hopes to split the Iranian elites and weaken support for Ahmadinejad within the regime."

If stupidity got Israelis into this mess, then why can't it get them out?

 

Posted by Rezwan

TROUBLE IN CHINA

The truth is coming out thanks to the bloggers. Police fired on protesters in Dongzhou Village of Shanwei, China on December 6, 2005 killing an estimated 33 villagers. Nearly 20 are missing and relatives of the people who were killed are seen kneeling in front of the police asking them to return the bodies. China admits killing three people.

The assault against innocent civilians is the deadliest since the killings around Tiananmen Square in 1989. The thousands of people gathered to protest against the amount of money offered by the government as compensation for land to be used to construct a wind-power plant. The village has been completely sealed off by the authority.

More news and round-ups in:

* Pajamas Media
* Gateway Pundit
* Daai Tou Laam Diary

Update: Online news of protest deaths blocked by China authorities.

 

Posted by Rezwan

GLOBAL VOICES ONLINE 2005 LONDON SUMMIT


Global Voice is an international effort to diversify the conversation taking place online by involving speakers from around the world, and developing tools, institutions and relationships to help make these voices heard.
Within one year of its birth, Global Voices Online has become successful to be a platform of communicating previously unheard voices around the world. With its regional editors' & contributors' unbiased and enthusiastic contributions by digging from blogs and other news sources, co-founders Rebecca MacKinnon & Ethan Zuckerman have achieved a phenomenal goal, giving universal access to the tools of speech- blogs. Excerpts from Global voices new mission statement:
"Thanks to new tools, speech need no longer be controlled by those who own the means of publishing and distribution, or by governments that would restrict thought and communication. Now, anyone can wield the power of the press. Everyone can tell their stories to the world."
The Gloval Voices Online summit 2005 took place in London yesterday. You can take a look at what went on there:

* The live conference blog
* Pictures uploaded in Flickr
* Listen to the webcast
* Wiki of session notes
* Session by session updates from Dina Mehta & Neha Viswanathan.

Being a regional editor, Neha spoke for South Asian bloggers. She did a quick round-up on journalist-blogger issues in South Asia:
"It's contextual - where mainstream media doesn't do its job - bloggers do it. In the Bangladesh bomb blasts, bloggers took the lead. In Nepal, on the other hand, blogs were supporting mainstream media. In India there is now the emergence of blatant plaigarism by traditional media off blogs. Also, she raised the issue of - do bloggers want to be journalists?"
As for me I would rather like to be a blogger than a journalist, with no specific assignment desk and deadlines to rule over me.

 

Posted by Rezwan

TODAY'S LINKS

* 'Japan: The key to east Asian unity' - a speech by Mahathir Bin Mohamad.

* Forget That iPod for Christmas: Buy an Ox Instead

* More about the GMAT exam.

* The Great War For Civilization: - Robert Fisk's latest book.

* Women in Islam - veils of the mind.

* Feminism under the hijab.

* A Muslim in a Jewish Land.

* A tale of an American girl who prays a little differently.

 

Posted by Rezwan

TERRORISM IN BANGLADESH, OUTCOME OF A CLASS STRUGGLE?

Bangladeshi rockstar cum blogger Mac Haque has an interesting analysis of the recent bomb atatcks in Bangladesh in "Global Politician Magazine". He says:

"The patterns of recent 'attacks' by JMB for instance are not only confusing but imminently laughable and does not in any way suggest involvement of a serious terrorist (if at all) group....

...If what is unfolding in Bangladesh today is as an outcome of a hidden class struggle over the years, then certainly the Islamists and not the secular Maoists have fired the first worthwhile salvo with attacks on the State. This is not terrorism that has a communal origin, they are apparently by Muslims against Muslims, and is essentially targeted to degrade and divide Bangladesh on sectarian lines, on theocratic philosophies of Sunni, Shiite and Wahabist Islam that are understood – but remains alien to in its very strong Sufi and Buddhism influenced culture."
And a bit of hope?
"Whilst indications are rife, that the JMB is only a trivial brigand’s brigade and more than State’s anti-terrorism apparatchiks like the State Minister for Home Affairs dealing with them, a blanket authority to villagers to use bamboo staves to beat-to-death-at-sight, as has been the Bangladesh tradition even in recent days to deal with violence when all else fails, is thought to be good enough deterrent to rescue Bangladesh. No high-tech weaponry as such is required to deal with such illiterate, low-tech buffoons."

 

Posted by Rezwan

BICYCLE OF VIOLENCE

The suicide bombings in Bangladesh have turned more evil in nature. They are now targeting innocent people. Yesterday's blast occurred as hundreds of curious people had gathered on a narrow street in Netrokona shortly after the police safely detonated another bomb found abandoned in a building. A suicide bomber on a bicycle rode into the crowd and detonated the explosives tied to his body by pulling a cord according to eye-witnesses.

Now the interesting twist is that of the two suspected suicide bombers, one, named Jadab was identified as a Hindu by religion. So it is highly mysterious that now Hindus are also blowing themselves up to establish Allah's rule in Bangladesh.

Some suspect that it is a ploy of the government framing Jadab to put the blame on the opposition. They are trying to say that not Islamic militancy, but political motivations are behind these attacks and the militants are paid goons. If that is a possibility then the government cannot be ruled out of the suspicion as some BNP & Jamaat lawmakers have connections with the militants. So I think we need to analyze all conspiracy theories and see the whole thing in a new perspective.

I think the latest events in Bangladesh have some hidden motives as these will shape up the 2006 general election. Already Jamaat has lost one constituency in the December 5 by-poll in Dinajpur. Locals say that they are frustrated with the skyrocketing prices of essentials and the alarming rise of militancy in the district so they have cast their votes against the alliance government.

Amidst all these politics, the bomb threats keep mounting on the common people. The whole nation is panicked. Mothers are keeping their children from crowded places or even schools. Police and the security forces are exasperated by their new role, protecting the nation and not finding time to catch the culprits. Full body checks, metal detectors, arch detectors are being carried out by police everywhere; in shopping malls, Mosques, public buses and even in protest gatherings. The bomb scares have started to hit the tourism industry. Soon there will be more effects troubling the economy.

Surely we do not want this Bangladesh. I hope our leaders, specially the government have little bit of shame in conceding most of the responsibility in putting the people in this misery.

 

Posted by Rezwan

BREAKING NEWS: ANOTHER SUICIDE BOMBING IN NETROKONA

At least four people have been killed and approx. 50 injured in another wave of suicide bombing in Netrokona (northern Bangladesh) (BBC, CNN). According to local TV channels, the bombs were targeted at Udichee (a cultural organization) district office and its head along with two suicide bombers are dead. The police had defused another bomb in the area an hour before the incident.

So it is evident that the JMB onslaughts are aimed to create panic among common people, not against specific targets like the courts. They are being successful because the government has failed to take any actions against the terrorist apologists in their party and the qualition. They are yet to deploy special forces to hunt these beasts down.

I wonder how many innocent people will have to give their lives before the government realizes their failure to tackle this. Drishtipat summarizes the current situation in Bangladesh and demands real actions to be taken. I ditto their request and urge every Bangladeshi to unite and resist the onslaught whatever way they can.

 

Posted by Rezwan

TODAY'S LINKS

* Wow, what an offer! Switch to Firefox and earn US$ 1.

* Jeremy David Pope, founder of Tranparency International is a true anti-corruption crusader. Read more about him.

* Prof. Juan Cole writes: "How Bush created a theocracy in Iraq"

* Stephen Cohen's "The Idea of Pakistan" is a critical look at pakistan, the idea that shapped it,what has become to that country now and whether it can acheive that idea.

* "The parked domain monetization" business is surprisingly profitable but unethical.

* The maids of Singapore finally get world's attention.

 

Posted by Rezwan

BILL GETS VVIP TREATMENT

I was surprised to see that Bill Gates got unprecedented welcome from Bangladesh just like a head of state. His and Melinda's portraits were hung in front of the VVIP lounge of ZI Airport. Prime Minister personally greeted him in front of her room. All the major ministers were present at different discussion sessions.

Bangladesh is a business potential for Microsoft as due to absence of strict intellectual property/piracy law a major portion of PCs in Bangladesh use pirated Microsoft software. Unlike other countries you can buy an assembled clone desktop PC without software very cheap ($400-$500) and you can buy the pirated software CDs @$1. But now the situation is changing. More local Business houses are keen to get licensed software to be compliant to certain standard. As soon as there are strict IP act in place, everybody will have no option other than to buy the licenses unless they choose open source applications (like Linux based). But Microsoft is widely popular here. And Bangladesh hardware market is growing in exponential rate.

So Gates had no hesitation to sign an agreement with Bangladesh ministry of education to train 10,000 teachers and 200,000 students over the next three years. Obviously the estimated $15 million dollars required for this training would be an investment for potential market for Microsoft software these users will create.

I see the benefit for Bangladesh in the Microsoft announced grant of $15 million for the Asian Women's University in Chittagong. Even from the richest person in the world that is very generous. And Gates also assured that Microsoft will include the Bangladeshi Bangla typing layout in its Windows OS. Currently the layout is based on the Indian INSCRIPT layout which is unfamiliar to most Bangla speaking community.

Bill Gates is also keen to expand investment in Bangladesh.

 

Posted by Rezwan

MONICA YUNUS IN DHAKA

Monica Yunus is quickly establishing herself as one of America’s most promising young sopranos. A 2003 Sullivan Foundation Award winner, Ms. Yunus has already performed with numerous opera companies throughout North America. If the family name is familiar to you then you have guessed it right. She is the daughter of Prof. Muhammad Yunus, the founder of Grameen Bank of Bangladesh and the pioneer of micro-credit. Monica was born to Yunus and his Russian wife in Chittagong, Bangladesh in 1977 and left for USA after only three months. She was bred up by her mother in New Jersey. Muhammad Yunus married a Bangladeshi in 1980 and has been living in Bangladesh. But he still maintains contact with Monica. Monica has been a prize winner in numerous competitions, among them The Florida Grand Opera Competition, Palm Beach Opera Competition, the Lee Schaenen Foundation Award, and most recently The Mirjam Helin International Competition in Helsinki, Finland. She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from The Juilliard School.

Monica is scheduled to come to Dhaka today for a couple of performances and visits to Grameen Bank. Welcome to Bangladesh, Monica.

Related: Dr Muhammad Yunus, a great man.

 

Posted by Rezwan

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"They want to destroy hope, therefore I shall preserve it by any possible means.

They want to kill trust. Thus I will reach out to others, Africans, Asians, Arabs, Americans and Jews alike.

They want to imprison people in labels and stereotypes. I will strive to maintain a dialogue, always focusing on the individuals rather than the symbol.

They want to kill joy in me, thus I will laugh again.

They want to paralyze me, therefore I will take action. They want to silence me--therefore I will speak out."



- Mariane Pearl, wife of Danniel Pearl, the Wall Street Journal reporter kidnapped and killed by extremists in Karachi, Pakistan, in 2002

 

Posted by Rezwan

BREAKING NEWS: ANOTHER SUICIDE BOMBING IN GAZIPUR

This is freaking outrageous. Today at 11:45 AM another powerful bomb went off outside the main administrative office in Gazipur, where lawyers were marching as part of a daylong strike called by the lawyears in protest of the tuesday's bombings. About 25 people including police officers and journalists were injured. No reports of casualties yet but the condition of some of the wounded is serious and they have been moved to the capital Dhaka. (BBC, Reuters)

A young man selling tea had hid the bomb in a flask - while being frisked by security men he allegedly threw the bomb at the policemen, who were checking people in front of the gate of the district administrator's office. The suspected bomber was caught from the scene with injury.

Update I: One dead, Jamayetul Mujahideen is responsible.
Update II: Police recovered a live bomb today at an administrative building at Narayanganj town, 16 km (10 miles) east of the capital Dhaka.
Update III: Prime minister Begum Khaleda Zia postpones visit to UAE. Important ministries received fresh bomb threat.

Meanwhile the High Court yesterday issued a rule on the government why its continuous failure to discharge constitutional obligations to hold impartial, adequate and effective investigations into the bomb blasts on court premises since August 17 should not be declared a failure in protecting fundamental rights (The daily Star).

The government should act now before these menaces cripple the country. Otherwise, soon the people will give their ruling and there will be no return.

 

Posted by Rezwan

BANGLADESHIS REACT

The rise of suicidal militancy and the current political situation have shaken the nation. People have started questioning. Ishtiaque writes a fascinating piece which reflects what many Bangladeshis are thinking. It's a must read. Some excerpts:

"It’s high time something gets done.

Is changing the government a solution? I don't think so. They are all the same. These politicians lack the creativity and dynamic nature that is required in order to solve critical problems. They can only solve some mundane problems, or allocate budget for solving it. They never do the follow up and check how the allocated resources and approved plans are being executed.

And we call them law makers, policy makers, and the Government. I wonder why these stupid, incompetent and half-educated people should make laws for us.

Irony…"
It is a warning to the politicians to stop the bickering and get their acts together. Because if the people rise, they will get no place to hide. It's a psychological war of the nation against some derailed people and their masters. Politicizing it will only lead the nation to hell.