Echo

Almost 98% people of Bangladesh are Bengalis and they speak the Bangla language. The minorities include Chakmas, Khasi, Santhal and other tribes numbering more than a million (about 1.2% of total population) who mostly live in the various hilly regions. Chakmas are ethnically Tibeto-Burman, and are closely related to the Himalayan tribes. According to history, they are originally from Arakan (present Rakhine State of Burma) who hundreds of years ago wandered and settled in different parts of India and Bangladesh.

In recent months many Bangladeshi indigenous people have taken the streets holding meetings, human chains and rallies, demanding constitutional recognition of their population. The 'indigenous' debate arose after some remarks of a special parliamentary committee working to amend the present constitution reverting back to the 1972 constitution. There was no reference of tribal or indigenous people in Bangladesh’s first constitution of 1972 where it was mentioned that Bangladesh would be the land of Bengalis.

The parliamentary committee said that it would recommend recognizing them as “small ethnic groups” and questioned: “Would Bangalees [Bengalis] be termed ‘intruders’ or ‘invaders’ if the ethnic groups are called adivasi (indigenous)?”.



Members of indigenous communities demanded their recognition in the constitution as “indigenous people” instead of tribal or proposed “minority ethnic group” at central Shahidminar in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Image by Abu Ala, Copyright Demotix, 29 April 2011.

The state minister for cultural affairs Pramod Mankin said:

“There is no question that indigenous people would receive constitutional recognition. The debate is in how will they be recognised.”

“The government is reluctant to recognise indigenous people as “indigenous” as it questions ethnicity of the country's native Bangalees.

Monjurul Haque at the Indigenous Bangla blog writes [bn] about the complexity of the situation:

শাসকদের পক্ষে বলা হচ্ছে- ‘পাহাড়িরা পাহাড়ের আদিবাসী নয়’! ‘বাংলাদেশের সংবিধান মানার কারণে পাহাড়েও বাঙালিদের সমান অধিকার’। ‘বাংলাদেশের সংবিধানের আলোকেই পাহাড়িদের বাংলাদেশের নাগরিক হিসেবে সমতলের নাগরিকদেরকেও মেনে নিতে হবে’। অসহায় গরিব সেটেলারদের ধরে ধরে পাহাড়ে পাঠানোর পর বলা হচ্ছে-‘পার্বত্য চট্টগ্রামের চাকমারা বার্মার আরাকান প্রদেশ থেকে এসে এদেশে বসতি স্থাপন করেছে এবং তারাই বহিরাগত!’

The authorities are telling - “The people of the hills are not indigenous people. As constitution of Bangladesh applies everywhere, Bengalis have equal rights to lands in the hills." The people of the hills are also citizens of Bangladesh (not indigenous) - that is also reminded in the constitution. They are sending destitute Bengali settlers to the hills on the ground that “the Chakmas have settled in the hills from their origin – Arakan region of Barma, so they are also settlers”.

It may be mentioned here that the tribals in Bangladesh have been subjected to human rights abuse for long by the Bengali settlers.



Tribal indigenous people of Bangladesh in the Chittagong Hill Tracts. Image by Anwar Hussain. Copyright Demotix 7/8/2010.

Shimon Baskey mentions [bn] what the people of the hills think on this issue:

আদিকাল থেকে আমাদের নিজস্ব ভাষা, সংস্কৃতি, কৃষ্টি, আচার-আচরণ একই, এর কোনো পরিবর্তন হয়নি। আমরা এই দেশের ভূমিজ সন্তান। আমাদের পূর্ব-পুরুষরা কারো জায়গায় বা অন্যকারো দ্বারা বসতি স্থাপন করেনি। তারা এই দেশের বন-জঙ্গল পরিষ্কার করে নিজেরা চাষের উপযোগী করে ওই অঞ্চলে প্রথম বসতি গড়েছে। দেশ বিভাগের সীমানা নির্ধারণ করার আগেই তারা বংশ-পরম্পরায় সে সব এলাকায় বসবাস করছে।

Since ages our own language, culture, beliefs and rituals are the same, nothing has changed. We are people of this land. Our forefathers did not settle in someone else's land or were inhabited there by someone. They were the first settlers by clearing forests and preparing lands for cultivation. They already had been living there for generations long before boundaries were demarcated.

Sarkar Amin recognizes [bn] the plights of these people:

মঙ-মঙ বান্দরবানের এক পাহাড়ে তোমার সঙ্গে পরিচয়। আমি বাঙালি তুমি পাহাড়ি। তুমি আর্টিস্ট। আমি কবিতা লিখি। আমাদের দ্রুত বন্ধুত্ব হলো। তোমার নিষ্পাপ হাসির আড়ালে কোনো কষ্ট কি ছিল বন্ধু?

সংকট আছে। পাহাড়ের জনতা জাতিসত্তার সাংবিধানিক স্বীকৃতি চায়। আদিবাসী হিসেবে অভিহিত হতে চায়। শান্তিচুক্তির ন্যায়সঙ্গত বাস্তবায়ন চায়। বাংলাদেশের শাসক শ্রেণী আদিবাসীদের শতভাগ সাম্যমূলক অধিকার দিতে এখনো আগ্রহী নয়। দুঃখ ও সংকটের এটাই মুল কারণ।

Mong Mong, I first met you in a hill of Bandarban. I am bengali and you are from a tribe. You are a painter and I am a poet. We become friends at once. Was there a pain deep inside your innocent smile? [..]

There is a crisis. The people of the hills want constitutional recognition of their population. They want to be termed as "indigenous". They want implementation of the peace accord. But the ruling elites of Bangladesh do not want recognition of equal rights of the people of the hills. This is the main reason of the pain and the crisis.

Jewel Bin Jahir reminds [bn] how the indigenous minorities feel as their language, culture and beliefs are neglected in the constitution:


আমরা আমাদের বিজু, বৈসু, কারাম, ওয়ান্না, সোহরাই দ্বারা নিজ নিজ শ্রেষ্ঠত্ব প্রমাণ করতে চাইনি। আমাদের সাংসারেক, লালেং, শারণা কেন্দ্রিক বিশ্বাস কখনো অন্যের উপর চাপিয়ে দেওয়ার চেষ্টা করিনি। আমাদের আচিক, চাকমা, ককবরক, ঠার, মুন্ডা, সান্তালী ভাষা দিয়ে জগতের অন্য কোন ভাষার উপর আধিপত্য প্রতিষ্ঠার চেষ্টা চালাইনি।

কিন্তু তারবাদেও আমাদের হাবা-জুম, জংলা-জঙ্গল সব দখল হয়ে যায়। আমাদের নিজ নিজ মায়ের ভাষা কোনঠাসা হয়ে পড়ে। আমাদের আপন আপন বিশ্বাস অশূচি হয়ে যায় দাপুটে বিশ্বাসের প্রতাপে।

We had not tried to prove our supremacy by our Biju, Baisu, Karam Wanna, Sohrai (festivals and rituals). We had not tried to impose our Sangsarek, Laleng, Sharna centric beliefs to anyone. We had not tried to overwhelm other languages of the world by our Achik, chakma, Kokborok, Thar, Munda, Santali languages.

But still our Haba-Zoom(plantations), forests and ditches are being dispossessed. Our mother tongues are being ignored. Our own beliefs are deemed as impure, illogical by influential and imposing beliefs.

The debate further escalated as the foreign minister of Bangladesh commented recently that the term "indigenous" for the people of the hills in Bangladesh is a misnomer:

"In the constitution, all minorities were recognised generically as minorities, and through the 15th amendment, the present government has categorised them as 'ethnic minorities' and no longer only as 'tribal' people."

She also said:

“Giving a special and elevated identity to enfranchise only 1.2 percent of the total population of 150 million by disentitling the 98.8 percent cannot be in the national interest of Bangladesh."

She reminded about the 4000 year old tradition of the Bengalis in this land:

“The ethnic Bengalees are not colonial settlers, neither are they foreigners or non-indigenous to their own native land and never will be.”

Biplob Rahman, a journalist and a blogger protests [bn] the government's stand that there is no indigenous people in Bangladesh. He quotes from Chakma King and member, UN Permanent Forum On Indigenous Issues, Debashish Roy's recent rebuttal [bn]:

সাংবিধানিকভাবে 'আদিবাসী' স্বীকৃতি দিলে মূল ধারা থেকে বিচ্ছিন্ন, প্রান্তিক ও অনগ্রসর এই ১ দশমিক ২ শতাংশ মানুষ তাদের প্রান্তিক অবস্থান জানানোর একটি আইনি ভিত্তি পাবে। এই মর্যাদা তাদের কোনো 'বিশেষ' সুবিধা দেবে না।

If the government recognizes “indigenous people” then this marginalized and underdeveloped 1.2% population will have a legal ground to fight for their rights. However, this recognition will not give them any special rights.

Biplob reminds that the incumbent Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, had given statements on the International Day of the World's Indigenous People several times terming the people of the hills as indigenous people.

He quotes an article of a local newspaper [bn], where it was reported [bn] that:

জানা গেছে, 'আদিবাসী' অভিধা ব্যবহার করলে সরকারকে বিভিন্ন জাতিসংঘের সনদে স্বাক্ষর করতে হয়। সে ক্ষেত্রে পার্বত্য চট্টগ্রামসহ দেশের আদিবাসী অধ্যুষিত অঞ্চলে মানবাধিকার লঙ্ঘনের ঘটনায় জাতিসংঘের সরাসরি হস্তক্ষেপ করার সুযোগ থাকে। এ পরিস্থিতি এড়ানোর জন্যই বাংলাদেশ সরকার কৌশলগত অবস্থান নিয়েছে। এ ক্ষেত্রে এ দেশের প্রভাবশালী রাজনৈতিক দলগুলোর অবস্থান অভিন্ন।

It has been learnt that if the “indigenous term” of any minority population is established then a country is subjected to sign several declarations of United Nations. In that case United Nations can intervene to investigate attacks on human rights of the indigenous population. So the Bangladesh government has taken this stance (of not terming them "indigenous"). In this issue all the major and influential political parties of Bangladesh share same ideology.

Mithusilak Murmu notes [bn] that at present there are certain quotas in the Government services and public education institutions for the indigenous people and wonders whether the present proposal of the Government will lead to change in the practice of the issuance of “indigenous certificates” for the population of the hills.

Around 370 million indigenous people in 70 countries of the world are subject to marginalization and mistreatment. These people in Bangladesh and elsewhere are facing similar problems and are fighting for their identity, land and way of life.

First Published in Global Voices Online

Language map of Bangladesh - Image courtesy Wikipedia. Used under a CC License

Sneak peek at Doel Basic Model  

Posted by Rezwan

Intel ATOM Processor N455 1.66 Ghz
Memory 1GB
10.1 inch WXGA LED Backlight
Graphics Intel GMA 3150
Camera 1.3 megapixels
Hard Disk SATA 250 GB
Bangla/English keyboard
Ethernet/Wifi/Bluetooth
USB 2/Multi card reader/ HD audio
3 cell battery
Warranty 1 year
Manufactured by Telephone Shilpa Sangstha (TSS) Bangladesh
Price BD Taka 13000 (USD 175)

Primary Model BDT 10,000/Standard Model BDT 20000/Advanced Model BDT 26000

Why Bangladesh broke free from Pakistan in 1971  

Posted by Rezwan in ,

I would like to translate this short story someday to English (from Bengali). The story in short: Ms. Lydia Edith, a British school teacher attended a social gathering of South Asians in London and was wondering why Bangladesh got independence from Pakistan in 1971. In that meet a Bangladeshi student sang a beautiful Ghazal in Urdu which was much appreciated by everybody including a Pakistani professor present there. Ms Edith asked the Pakistani professor to sing a Bengali song. The professor politely refused saying that he does not know any Bengali song. Ms Edith persisted - at least one line? The Pakistani professor turned pale from shame - sorry not even a line. And suddenly Ms Edith knew why Bangladeshis broke free from Pakistan's imperialism in 1971.

Bangladesh Census 2011 and Mobile Phone Statistics  

Posted by Rezwan in , ,

According to the fifth national census (March 2011) taken by Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) the population of Bangladesh stands at 142.319 million. The ratio between males and females are almost equal comprising 71.255 million and 71.064 million males and females respectively.

The population has been growing at the rate of 1.34 percent annually, 14.4 percent growth of population since last census (2001, 124.355 million. The number of households stands at 32.068 million, with average 4.4 people constituting one household. With 8,111 people living every square kilometre, Dhaka is the most densely-populated district; 964 people live in every square kilometer of the country in average.

Now this statistics will also surprise you. The total number of Mobile Phone Active Subscribers has reached 76.434 million at the end of June 201 which accounts to roughly 53.71% of population.

The interesting thing is the the market share of the companies. It clearly shows that GrameenPhone rules.



Here is a detailed analysis what these number means (in Bangla). If the current mobile phone growth rate continues (6 million in past six months) then the number could reach 82.5 millions (57.70% reach) by the end of this year. That isn't bad for a developing country. Just imagine how fast the mobile internet users can grow (currently ca 10 million).

Sexual Assault By A Teacher Triggers Student Uprising In Bangladesh  

Posted by Rezwan in ,

The recent events at the Viqarunnisa Noon School and College (VNC), a prestigious girls educational institution in the Bangladesh capital Dhaka, has stirred much buzz in the Bangladeshi blogosphere. Porimol Joydhor, a teacher of Bangla department of the school's Bashundhara campus, was accused of raping a female student of class ten at VNC while giving her private tuition in his premises.
According to reports Porimol recorded the incident in his mobile and threatened the victim that he would post it on internet if she divulged the matter. As the investigations began more shocking information were revealed. The incident took place in late May and the school headmaster at Basundhara branch did not take any action against the teacher after the victim reported it in a letter. Guardians alleged that because Porimol was a student leader of the ruling party the authorities ignored these allegations. When the news broke out in the media [bn] in early July the school governing body was put under a lot of pressure. Porimol was sacked and went into hiding. The committee also suspended two other teachers for their alleged misconduct with girl students.
The events and the student protests caused much uproar in the country and more drama unfolded as the students continued their protest which led to the replacement of the school principal. The mainstream media was accused of using sensationalism and politicizing the events. But some students continued to share their sides of the story via blogs and Facebook.
Bloggers like Bengal Masud posted pictures of the protests and provided regular updates. He posted [bn] on the 6th of July:
অবশেষে ব্লগ-ফেসবুক এবং রাজপথ এই ত্রিমুখী আন্দোলনে পরিমলকে গ্রেফতার করতে বাধ্য হয়েছে পুলিশ। বুধবার দুপুর ১২টার দিকে কেরাণীগঞ্জে এক আত্মীয়ের বাসা থেকে পরিমল জয়ধরকে গ্রেপ্তার করা হয়।
At last after the three-fold campaign via Blog, Facebook and street protests the police was forced to arrest Porimol. Wednesday (6th of July) at around noon he was arrested from a relatives house in Keraniganj (near Dhaka).

Students hold placards denouncing sexual abuse at their school, as they gather at the Central Shaheed Minar.Image by Safin Ahmed. Copyright Demotix.
The students were still in doubt whether the victim would get justice and continued with their protests. Their demands included:
  • All the accused should be brought to justice
  • The school principal and the school management should clarify why they did not do anything against the accused
  • Demanding resignation of the school principal for protecting Porimol.
Many people became furious as the school principal was accused of saying that it was mutual sex.Xabir vents his anger [bn] at Amra Bondhu Blog:
আপনার কি জানা আছে মিউচুয়াল সেক্স হওয়ার জন্যে “কনসেন্ট” নামে একটা জিনিস লাগে। কিন্তু মহামান্যা মাথামোটা অধ্যক্ষা সাহেবা, ১৮ এর নিচে (ক্ষেত্র বিশেষে ১৬) একজন নাবালিকা কখনোই সম্মতি দিতে পারে না।
Do you know that “consent” is required for mutual sex? But dear **** principal, a minor girl below 18 (in some cases 16) can never give consent on her own.
Moreover, the blogger reveals that the section 5 of Sexual Offences Act (2003) says “a person commits an offense if he intentionally penetrates the vagina, anus or mouth of another person with his penis and the person is under aged.”
An anonymous ex-student of VNC recalls [bn] in her blog that her Alma mater was not like this. She posted [bn] on the 8th of July about the student protests online and offline:
আমাদেরকে স্বীকার করতেই হবে যে, যে সব ছোট বোনেরা ফেসবুক এ ইভেন্ট খুলেছে তাদের উপর যথেষ্ট চাপ থাকবে কালকে।এতক্ষনে হয়তো আমাদের গায়ে মানে না আপনি মোড়ল; হোস্নে আরা বানু তোমাদেরকে টিসির ভয় দেখিয়েছেন। পুলিশ প্রশাসনও হয়তো কালকে ভাড়াটে গুন্ডার মতই ব্যাবহার করবে। তারা হয়তো আত্মরক্ষার জন্যই চাইলেও অনেক কিছু করতে পারবেনা। আমাদের সেই সব বোনদেরকে বলছি - আপুরা তোমরা একটুও ভয় পেয় না। আপুরা আছি, আপুরা তোমাদের সবার পাশে আছি।
We have to admit, those younger sisters who opened this Facebook event will be under much pressure tomorrow. It might happen that the principal Hosne Ara Banu had already threatened them to expel from the school. The police may act like hired goons tomorrow. Those sisters may not be able to do much to be safe. But I am telling to those sisters, please don't be afraid. We ex-students are with you together on this.

Students hold placards denouncing sexual abuse at their school. Image by Safin Ahmed, Copyright Demotix
On the 9th of July the students of VNC along-with Parents and ex-students formed a human chaindemanding resignation of the Principal. Bengal Masud posted [bn] videos and pictures of the event.
Soon the protests gathered more support from other members of the civil society. Also many teachers from VNC joined [bn] in the protests.
Blogger Alim Al Rajee is posting [bn] regular updates on this. This Facebook page is also providing updates. Some students are providing updates [bn] on how the interim principal is being accused of belonging to a political party and how the girls are being threatened by different quarters.
Shimul Kibria at Choturmatrik Blog writes [bn] about the trend of blaming the victim in a rape incident as some are blaming the student of VNC rather than Porimol:
কিছু মানুষ তাদের পারিপার্শ্বিকতার নারীদের চিনেছে নিছক একটি ভোগ্যপণ্য হিসেবে। তাদের চিন্তামতে/বিবেচনায় নারী মাত্রই ক্ষুদ্র মননের, স্বল্প ক্ষমতার একটি প্রাণী যা আসলে পুরোপুরি পুরুষের অধীন!
Some people have learnt that women are only consumables. In their perspective women cannot think big, they have relatively less power and are completely submissive to men!
He continues:
প্রতিবাদ এখানেই শেষ নয়; পরিমল ও তার মদদ দাতাদের কঠোর বিচারকার্য নিশ্চিতকরণ, নারী ও শিশু নির্যাতন আইনের যথোপযুক্ত প্রয়োগ নিশ্চিতকরণের জন্যে এই মঞ্চ আরো এগিয়ে যাবে; এটা আমার মতো আরো লক্ষাধীক মানুষের প্রাণের চাওয়া।
The protests have not ended; we have to ensure justice for Porimol and his cohorts and ensure proper implementation of the women and children's act. To achieve these goals this platform should march forward, this is the demand of many thousands of people like me.
First Published in Global Voices Online.

The Shift In Music Trends  

Posted by Rezwan in

The music industry is changing rapidly because of the advent of technological innovation and online streaming outlets. Here is an interesting graph showing the shift in music trends in the past decades:


(Via Andrew Sullivan)

And you know what the current fad is? R&B Club Music.
"In the aughts (Authors Note: The decade from 2000 to 2009), there was still a one-in- four chance that any given week’s chart-topper came from one of four artists. But those artists were Usher, Beyoncé, the Black Eyed Peas, and Nelly, and their hits were pointed at a very different kind of public environment: They were club songs. ... “The club” might be the last remaining space where strangers are all forced to pay attention to the same songs. And whether it’s an actual club or just a bedroom, it tends to be a space where people enjoy feeling fabulous." - Nitsuh Abebe

And here is a prediction about Digital Music Trends in 2011.

Bloggers Arrested In Bangladesh While Protesting Against Energy Deal  

Posted by Rezwan

Many netizens in Bangladesh are raging with anger as for the first time in the country bloggers and online activists among other protesters were arrested while striking in protest of a recent Production Sharing Contract (PSC) between the Bangladesh government and United States energy giant ConocoPhillips for deep sea gas exploration.



Clashes between police and protesters erupted during the 6 hours general strike called by National Committee on Protection of Oil, Gas and Mineral Resources, Power and Ports against the offshore gas deal between the government and ConocoPhillips. Image by Suvra Kanti Das. Copyright Demotix. July 3, 2011

Today's half day long strike called by National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, Power and Ports (NCPOGMR), a left-leaning citizens' group, had disrupted the daily life of the capital Dhaka as most shops, businesses and schools were closed and very few vehicles were on the roads. Police had beaten many protesters mercilessly and arrested them en-mass. Renowned photo journalist and blogger Shahidul Alam updated the situation whole day (accompanied with pictures) in his blog:

Eyewitness report from Nasrin Siraj:

Anu Muhammad, professor of economics of Jahangirnagar University and member secretary of National Committee to protect oil-gas-mineral resources, power and port is arrested from Paltan today (3 July) at 6:53 a.m. While he was walking towards the office of Communist Party of Bangladesh to join the other activists of National Committee for strike campaign, at least 40 anti riot police came forward, grabbed him and took him away in a prisoner’s van. During the arrest he was silent. [..]

Today, from the very morning police started arresting activists of the National Committee. First, at 5:45 a.m leader of Student Union of Jahangirnagar University was arrested from Paltan. All the central offices of left political parties in Topkhana Road and Paltan were surrounded by police from the early morning. Almost all the central leaders of the National Committee are under police custody now.

Breaking News: Nasrin Siraj has since been arrested.

Bangladeshi bloggers had been part of the protest against the energy deal online and offline. A number of bloggers have rallied for the strike yesterday which can be seen in this video. OnnoMonosko Sharat posts pictures about the bloggers protest and writes:

ব্লগের টোকাইরা দলে দলে হাজির হইছিল বিকালে। তাগোরে কেউ পয়সা দেয় নাই। আপ‌্যায়নও করে নাই। নিজে নিজেই আইছে। সমাবেশ করছে, সংহতি জানাইছে। একজন ব্লগারের সাথে থাকে ১০০ ভার্চুয়াল ব্লগার। কারো কারো সাথে থাকে আরো বেশি। কেউ কারও চেয়ে আগাইয়া বা পিছাইয়া নাই..সমান্তরাল।



Bloggers rallying for the strike. Image courtesy Sharat Chowdhury

The bloggers arrived in numbers in the afternoon. Nobody paid them, nor fed them. They came by themselves, rallied, showed support. There are 100 virtual bloggers behind one blogger present. Some have more followers. Nobody is ahead of the other.. all parallel.

Blogger and GV Bangla Lingua translator Kowshik updated about today's strike in his blog at Somewhereinblog.net [bn]:

আপনারা জানেন বাংলা ব্লগের খ্যাতিমান ব্লগার দিনমজুর নামে মূলত তিনজন তরুন প্রকৌশলী লিখে থাকেন যাদের মধ্যে অন্যতম অনুপম সৈকত শান্ত। তেল-গ্যাস নিয়ে তার বিশ্লেষণধর্মী লেখা আমাদের অনেক চরম সত্যের মুখোমুখি করেছে। একটু আগে প্রখ্যাত এই ব্লগার কনোকো ফিলিপসের সাথে অন্যায্য চুক্তির প্রতিবাদ করতে গিয়ে গ্রেফতার হলেন। এখন তিনি শাহবাগ থানায় আছেন।

I hope you know that the popular Bangla blog Dinmazur is authored by three young engineers and one of them is Anupam Saikat Shanto. His analytical writings on oil and gas reserves have provided an eye-opener for many of us. A while ago this blogger was arrested while protesting against the unjust deal with ConocoPhillips. Now he is inside the Shahbag police station.



A protester inside a prison van. Image by Suvra Kanti Das. Copyright Demotix. July 3, 2011

বাংলা ব্লগোস্ফিয়ারের ইতিহাসে প্রথম কোনো ব্লগার গ্রেফতার হলেন। শান্তর গ্রেফতারের তীব্র প্রতিবাদ জানাই। একজন শান্তকে গ্রেফতার করে আন্দোলন স্তিমিত করা যাবে না - বাংলা ব্লগোস্ফিয়ার এখন অনেক সমৃদ্ধ এবং প্রায় সবাই সোচ্চার এই দমন-পীড়ন আর দেশ বিক্রির চুক্তির বিরুদ্ধে।

This is the first time in the history of Bangla blogosphere a blogger has been arrested. We strongly protest the confinement of Shanto. You cannot stop the protests by arresting one Shanto - Bangla blogosphere is very resourceful now - almost everyone are vocal about this repression and the selling out of national interest.

A local TV channel reported that 24 bloggers were arrested in the day, 23 of them had been released so far. There had been rumors that charges of sedition will be brought against the arrested protesters. During the day individual reports of bloggers/activists being arrested occupied different blogging platforms. More bloggers like Ayon at Choturmatrik posted eyewitness reports with photos.

An online poster demanding release of Dinmazur (Shanto). Image courtesy KowshikBlogger Jobaen Sondhi writes:

কনোকোফিলিপস চুক্তি বিরোধী আন্দোলনে দেশের অনলাইন কমিউনিটির যুক্ত হওয়া চলমান আন্দোলনে নতুন মাত্রা যোগ করেছে তাতে কোন সন্দেহ নেই। অনেকে অপবাদ দিয়ে বলেন ব্লগাররা মনিটরের সামনে বসে অলস সময় কাটায়। কিন্তু তাদের বক্তব্যকে মিথ্যা প্রমাণ করে ব্লগাররা দেখিয়ে দিল প্রয়োজনে তারা রাজপথেও যুদ্ধ করতে সক্ষম। এই আন্দোলন সমগ্র অনলাইন বিশ্বে ছড়িয়ে পড়বে এবং অনলাইনের সংগ্রামে সকলে অংশ নিবেন এটাও প্রত্যাশা করছি।

The campaign against the deal of ConocoPhillips has provided a new dimension to the ongoing activism of the online communities of the country. Many say that bloggers spend idle time in front of monitors. But proving them wrong bloggers have shown that they can also engage offline. We hope that this protest will spread to the world and we will have more support.

বর্তমান শাসক ও বিরোধী উভয় দলই সাম্রাজ্যবাদ ও তাদের বিদেশী প্রভুদের পা লেহনে সিদ্ধহস্ত এটা প্রমাণ হলো এবার। ব্লগারদের উচিত এইসব 'দেশপ্রেমিক' নেতাদের স্বরূপ উন্মোচনের পাশাপাশি জনগণকে সঠিক পথে অগ্রসর হওয়ার পথ নির্দেশ ও প্রেরণা দেয়া

The ruling party and the opposition both are prone to satisfying their colonial and foreign lords. The bloggers should expose the true faces of these leaders and guide the nation towards the right path.

Vaskar at Amra Bandhu echoes same sentiments:

আজকের হরতাল আওয়ামি-বিএনপি'র ক্ষমতালিপ্সু রাজনীতিবিদদের প্রতি হুশিয়ারী।

Today's strike is a warning to the power monger leaders of Awami League and BNP (editors note: the ruling party and the opposition)

Mahfuz Jewel at Unmochon blogging platform sees hope in these protests:

আধাজ্বর নিয়ে সকাল থেকে আমিও পল্টনে ছিলাম আজকের আধাবেলা হরতালে। [..] হরতাল যখন শেষ হলো দেখলাম পুরো দেশের যন্ত্রণা আমার মাথায় চলে এসেছে। চোখে ঝাপসা দেখছি, কিন্তু এই ঝাপসা চোখেও দেখছি আশার আলো। মানুষ জেগেছে। দেশপ্রেমিক জেগেছে। জাতির বিবেক জেগে উঠছে। জেগে উঠছে সময়ের সাহসী সন্তানেরা!

I was in fever but was on the ground in Paltan during the half day strike. When Hartal (strike) ended I felt that the pain of the whole nation sat on my head. My eyes were blurred, but I saw hope with those blurred eyes. The people have risen. The patriots have risen. The conscience of the nation is awake. The brave youths are marching forward.

You can find a compilation of blog posts on this debate posted by Haseeb.

Update by Vaskar: Dinmozur has been released.

First Published in Global Voices Online