Image by Rezwan

Overcrowded passenger ferry capsized in the Padma River in Munshiganj, Bangladesh

The World Cup Goal-E Project

This street in Bangladesh has a colorful world cup celebration

New Chum Hill Ruins

Remnants of Kiandra gold mine at New Chum Hill, #nsw #australia

August 30, 2004


Bahrainis are proud of their multi-million dollar F1 circuit and their shiny cities with clean roads and impressive buildings. But how do they treat those people who build those infrastructures and then sweep them clean? They are mostly Asian migrants (Bangladeshi, Indian, Pakistanis). Bahraini's depend on them as they are also their tailors, carpenters, mechanics, drivers and the shopkeepers, because they find these jobs as not suitable for them (with Petrodollar pride you can think whatever you want). Chana'd Bahraini, a Bahraini blogger tells that racism against the Asian migrant workers has been growing strong. A recent arson attack against 100 Indian and Bangladeshi workers was done by three teenagers without any reason. There is also an effort to move large numbers of migrant workers out of Manama, the capital following clashes between Bahrainis and Asians living in the capital. Their targets are mainly the poorer Asians, many of whom live crammed together into squalid, derelict buildings, because that is all they can afford.

We know about the migrant workers plights as they are raped, tortured, forced to work extra hours and the only justice they get is some reprimand to the Bahraini and no capital punishment. A Bahraini man was jailed for three months after being convicted of brutally torturing a Bangladeshi employee. The sentence will be suspended if he pays a mere BD300 fine.

According to Chana'd, the younger generation of Bahrainis lacks respect for the Asians, and there is no effort to change this. The situation can only get worse.

via Nitin.

August 29, 2004


Here is a guide which shows how to find the real source of a spammer/threat mail.

August 28, 2004


A plan of the fanatics failed because of prompt action of police. A group called "Aamra Dhakabashi" (We the Dhakaites) planned to capture the complex of the Ahmadya sect of muslim in their bid to declare them non-muslim.

A Dhaka court sent Aamra Dhakabashi President Shamsul Huq, Secretary General Jamal Nasser Chowdhury and key leaders Abdul Kader and Sharafat Ali to jail yesterday. Police drove a group of bigots away, who tried to gather at Islambagh Jam-e-Mosque, Chawkbazar Shahi Mosque and Boro Katara Madrasa before the Juma prayers.

The group reacted by declaring a hartal (general strike) on September 2, 2004. This is another learning lesson for Awami Lwague that their prime weapon hartal is being used by every insignificant other also and diminishing its potential as a strong movement into a farce. Now what Awami League would do? Resist "Amra Dhakabashi"'s hartal?

The government this time has dutifully resisted an attack on the basic human rights of a minority group. However, this shows that if they acted this way before, fanatics like these would never had a chance to destabilize the peace and prosperity of the country.

Holy Cow! I did a ROFL after browsing all the 16 slides.

Hat tip: Phil.

August 26, 2004


Bangladesh is being crippled by Hartal (general strike) as another one has been called on the next Saturday.

As Niraj puts it: After the bomb attack, the Awami League could of taken the moral high ground, but instead they choose hartal, squandering their one and only chance to lord it over the BNP.

That is also the general view of the people of Bangladesh who does not have a political affiliation. Of course hardliners of different political parties would have different views. But the fact is that despite having well-established democratic policies, the recent actions of Awami League’s leaders are alienating them from the soft-corners of majority.

Let us look at the political parties in Bangladesh in proportion of their share in the 300 parliament seats and some of their policies:

1. Four Party alliance (currently in power –two-third majority):

a) Bangladesh Nationalist Party - BNP : 195 seats
- Est. in 1977 by President Ziaur Rahman (Late husband of prime minster Khaleda Zia) Promotes Bangladeshi Nationalism.
- In their manifesto it states that they will put their best of efforts to diffuse those parties, which do not promote Bangladeshi nationalism ideology and culture.
- Create a democratic environment and establish people’s rights
- Foreign policy includes international brotherhood without polarizing to specific quarters
- Reformation of Agriculture, education, family planning, culture, manpower development etc.
- Maintains a well informed website, but not updated.

b) Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh : 17 seats
- Established in 1941 promotes rule of Islam i.e. theocracy and form a just and egalitarian society. They have some well-educated leaders but some of their actions in the liberation war 1971 are controversial (loyal to Pakistan and engaged in mass murder). In their words: Constitutionally Bangladesh is neither Islamic nor socialist, it is secular in the sense that the Quran and the Sunnah have not been declared principal sources of law of the country.
- Their aims and objects are establishing the Islamic social order in Bangladesh
- Their programs include:
· Propagation & call (for Islam)
· Organization & Training
· Social Reforms
· To reform the govt. and administration
· Establishing Sharia rule
- The Jamaat-e-Islami is devoted to peaceful and upright means of struggle and a strict adherence to its principle. It devoutly disdains violence and bloodshed (at least in theory as opposed to other radical Islami parties)
- Maintains a well informed website (using blogger) but not regularly updated. And surprise; there is also a post in that site by our good friend Wamy of Moodlogic.

c) Jatiya Party –N.F : 4 seats
- Fraction of Jatiyo Party.

d) Islami Oikya Jote: 3 seats

- Radical Islami party and the leaders are full of controversy.

2. Major Opposition:
a) Bangladesh Awami League - AL : 59 seats
- Founded in 1949 and has produced many influential leaders of the Indian sub-continent and of course the founder father of Bangladesh, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, father of Sheikh Hasina.
- Their manifesto includes: to uphold the ideal of independence and the spirit as well as values of Liberation War
- To recognize human dignity and humanistic values to secure the unity and solidarity of the people of Bangladesh
- To boost up the smooth growth and institutionalization of parliamentary democracy in the right manner and to ensure people’s freedom
- To ensure fundamental human rights irrespective of religion, caste, sex, community, ethnic identity and so on and to provide ample scope for higher standards of living;
- To ensure religious freedom and to eradicate all shades of communalism;
- To build up modern and strong defense system in order to protect the independence and sovereignty of Bangladesh and to contribute to global peace keeping
- To base the foreign policy of the country on the motto, ‘Friendship with all and malice towards none
- Maintains an well informed up-to-date website

3. Other oppositions:
a) Jatiya Party - JP:Ershad : 14 seats
- Founded in 1982 by Lt. General H. M. Ershad (then President assumed power by a coup), who decided to enter in politics. He changed the constitution to name it an Islamic country, however the constitution remained secular in its other aspects. Main policies include:
- Establishing provincial government system
- Freedom of judiciary system
- Law against Hartal.
- Maintains a moderately informed website but not up-to-date

b) Bikalpa Dhara Bangladesh: 1 seat
c) Jatiya Party –Manju : 1 seat
d) Krishak Shramik Janata League: 1 seat
e) Independents: 5 seats

4. Parties with no seats:
a) Communist Party of Bangladesh - CPB
Established in 1948 and produced some good leaders and movement. Is slowly diminishing because of lack of funds after the fall of Soviet communist block. Working for restoration of national and democratic rights of the whole nation as well as that of the working people.
- Maintains a website, not very informative and up-to-date
b) Jatiyo Samajtantrik Dal
c) Et. Al

In comparison of all the policies my favorite would be Awami League, but I am sorry to say the leaders of Awami League are not acting to the greater cause of the peace and stability of general people of Bangladesh. It is true that they are repressed by BNP and there are all the more efforts to keep AL away from power. But AL’s smart and positive reply and movement against this repression is not present. Instead all the movements are diverting to toppling down the government immediately, because of their hunger for power.

We need to keep this in mind that if we believe in democracy than there should not be the notions like there will be only one ideology, one party in the country. There are also notions that all member of Jamayat-e-Islami are controversial. But they have some good leaders too and they have capabilities to contribute in the democracy too. Awami League, BNP and Jatiyo Party to some extent have achievements in their tenures. There are also some black marks in their deeds. The people have given mandates to the parties, which they thought could bring about a change in their lives. They are just pestered and fed up about the deeds of the oppositions (in all the tenures), which have crippled the parliament and led to more unrest hampering the economy. In every tenure the ruling party adopted repressions against opposition and putting their own persons in key positions so that they can come back into the power. Freedom of press and Judiciary system is still a far cry.

There has been much debate in the events of Hasina refusing to meet Khaleda (Khaleda intended to condole the deaths in the recent attacks personally). But political acrimony has deterred that when such a heinous attack to democracy should have been be tackled by unity and cooperation not by politicking and name-calling. A renowned lawyer Barrister Rokonuddin Mahmud has come up with a theory that Prime Minister Khaleda Zia should resign and all the parliament parties would elect an impartial prime minister on the basis of consensus and the parliament would basically rule the country. We need a well functional parliament full of good leaders with good intentions and restricting themselves from backbiting others to make this happen. This is not a bad idea but will never be implemented.

August 25, 2004


After 2 days of the incident, a group has claimed responsibility for the grenade attack on Awami League (AL) rally and issued a fresh threat to assassinate Leader of the Opposition and AL President Sheikh Hasina.

Hikmatul Zihad, by-name an Islami militant organisation (nobody has any information on them yet) has sent a email to the Bengaly Daily "Prothom Alo" from the ID hikmatulzihad@yahoo.com.

The message ran like this according to newspaper reports:


(Don't) think that (Sheikh) Hasina is out of danger. We missed our previous chance but now we are very (careful in) our mission. Tell her to be (prepared).

We are coming and this time we will (accomplish) our target within 7 days. It's a promise.

Now as some has raised the question, what can the government do? There is ofcourse some tools to track IP adresses that the intelligence can use. The government can start investigating the activities of the known Islami militant organisations and their collaborators. But I don't have high regards of the capabilty and intentions of the security personnels that we have. It may be noted here that atleast 16 personnel from the Detective Branch and National Security Intelligence were said to be in the rally to protect Sheikh Hasina. There were more than 280 Police personnels in that region who were controlling the crowds.

Picture: a look at the security personnels in the rally. For those who do not understand Benglai, the red box in the middle is the truck used as a makeshift podium and the men in blue pants are the Police and others are security forces in plain clothes.

Now my question is how can the perpetrators escape amidst such a great number of security forces and nobody has seen anything. It makes people wonder about the capabilty/planning and effectiveness of the security personnel. Some do not strike out the possibilty that they somehow were ordered to let the things happen. The truth, only time will tell. We are just testing out logics.

August 24, 2004


* Panic is a sudden desertion of us, and a going over to the enemy of our imagination."

- Christian Nevell Bovee 1820-1904, American Author, Lawyer

* Fear does not have any special power unless you empower it by submitting to it.

- Les Brown 1945-, American Speaker, Author, Trainer, Motivator Lecturer

* Fear always springs from ignorance.

- Ralph Waldo Emerson 1803-1882, American Poet, Essayist

* Fear comes from uncertainty. When we are absolutely certain, whether of our worth or worthlessness, we are almost impervious to fear. Thus a feeling of utter unworthiness can be a source of courage.

- Eric Hoffer 1902-1983, American Author, Philosopher

August 23, 2004


The norwegian painter Edvard Munch's insight into his masterpiece:
"I was out walking with two friends - the sun began to set - suddenly the sky turned blood-red - I paused, feeling exhausted, and leaned on a fence - there was blood and tongues of fire above the blue-black fjord and the city - my friends walked on, and there I still stood, trembling with fear - and I sensed an endless scream passing through nature."

The work expresses the loneliness and awful despair felt by Munch, on realization of the might of the natural world in comparison to a single human being.

The title of this post is metaphorical. The Bangladeshi general citizens are also screaming in despair and helplessness being stunned by the recent bomb threats and bomb attacks. The might of the terrorists, the unknown force is so vast that a police force and intelligence of a country cannot have a clue who did it. We are predicting that the investigations of the assassination attempt on Sheikh Hasina will lead to nowhere like the previous bombing investigations. No single perpetrator has been arrested till now. I am feeling that our screams are also being stolen. We will no longer be able to cry out for help. "The scream" painting depicts the silent cries of the helpless people.

Click here to know about the theft of the painting.

Many are wondering about the types and origins of the grenades used in the attack on Sheikh Hasina and the AL rally on 21st of August, 2004. The grenades are of ARGES brand, which is patented by an Austrian company "Armaturen Gesellschaft m.b.H." and weighs over one kilogram containing around 36,000 splinters. These detonate within four seconds after removing the clip and thus cannot be thrown outside a radius of 30 yards of the target.

Picture: Clockwise- 1) Grenade found at the scene of attack, 2) the ARGES models 3) Grenade found at Dhaka Central Jail on the following day. (Courtesy the Daily Star)

Now there is the question of the origin of these Grenades. When I searched using google, I found some interesting information. The use of ARGES hand grenades in terrorist activities in the sub-continent:

1) Explosions in Bombay, India on March 12,1993 - Dowd Ibrahim & Memon accused.

2) Attack in Indian Parliament on December 13, 2001 -Laskar-e-Tayeba accused.

3) Two terrorists killed in an encounter near Tughlakabad Fort in New Delhi on Dec 13, 2002

India had linked the attacks with Pakistani extremists and ISI. According to the court records, the recovered hand grenades from the Parliament attack have the marking–HE (Spl HGr-84 Gren ARGES, HE 7 93 002). According to report received from Republic of Austria, an Austrian firm had sold machine and tools used in the production of "ARGES" hand grenades to a firm in Pakistan. That means Pakistan also has capability to produce these grenades. Pakistan Defense Forum shows the origin of ARGES HG 84P2A1 hand grenades procured by the Pakistan Army as : Armaturen-Gesellschaft mbH (ARGES), xxx, Austria; Pakistan Ordnance Factories (POF) & Wah (licensed).

This report says that The recovered grenades are "Urges-84" (ARGES-84) brand and made in China, usually used by Bangladesh Army. The marks in the grenades found are not inscribed (usual norm) but rather painted. Experts say that this means that these were produced to carry out subversive operations.

Now it is the duty of the security services and intelligences to analyze all the information and find out who are behind these. But I can certainly conclude here that the grenades may have links to Pakistan and/or possibly to the Islami extremists. Remember the recent arms haul in Chittagong? I hope experts can say whether the grenades found match with the ones found after the attack.

The Dhaka city is in panic of bomb threats and the shock of the gruesome attack. Many Schools have been kept closed even today and streets are not crowded with many people. For the betterment of all the government should this time give all its efforts to find out the attackers and solve they mystery of the bomb attacks. Otherwise we all be exposed under the hand of the terroists who can strike out anybody, anytime, anywhere.

August 22, 2004


* The new edition of the Carnival of the Capitalists is up.

* Then there is the Carnival of the liberated.

* There is even one Carnival of the recipes.

* Location tracking is the hottest topic in Mobile telephone lifestyle.

* Around the world in 40 Blogs.

Yesterday evening panic spread in Dhaka city as reports of bombing in Awami League rally was coming. There were reports of death and widespread violence. There were fewer vehicles in the street. I was out with my wife waiting in her doctor's chamber. The panic heightened when the doctor informed that she will not be coming because of violence in the street. We hurried home and saw a bit of panicky situation in the street, where there were fewer public transports and a whole lot of people desperate to head home. We eagerly waited for all the TV news to find out what really happened.

It is now confirm that the 13 grenades thrown on a crowded Awami League rally in Gulistan yesterday was in fact an assassination attempt on Sheikh Hasina, leader of opposition and former prime minister of Bangladesh. The attack succeeded in killing at least 16 people and injuring more than 300 people including top Awami League (AL) leaders Abdur Razzak, Amir Hossain Amu, Suranjit Sengupta, Ivy Rahman and Kazi Zafarullah. Hasina was targeted by grenades from the nearby high-rise, but escaped with cuts on her hand because the Awami League leaders formed a human shield around her. Her escape was a miracle as all those who shielded her were critically injured and her personal body guard gave his life to save her. That was not enough. The unknown assailants fired seven bullets at the bulletproof Mercedes SUV, in which Hasina was escorted immediately after the blasts. A bullet also punctured the rear wheel of the vehicle and there was a large hole on the rear right side of its window shield. From the look of it it was an pre-planned coordinated attack.

Hell broke loose in the emergency sections of most of the Hospitals & clinics of the city. Although the official reports of the injured is somewhere near 200-300, they are mostly the persons who are admitted in the hospitals. Scores of people who received minor injuries hurried elsewhere as the hospitals could not treat such a huge number of casualties at once.

Now the question is who carried out the attack. Attacks on the Awami League leadership at different public rallies across the country have increased recently as the party continues to have a firm stand against religious radicals. Although Sheikh Hasina & the AL has blamed the government for the attack and asked it to quit, it is more than obvious that this heinous act couldn't be mastermind of any sane person. It is a continuation of the attacks on the British High-Commissioner and the cinema bombings across the country. Eye-witnesses are saying that a mysterious person looked like Islami activist was seen hurrying away from the seen after the blast. It is the failure of BNP government not to achieve some headway in all the previous bombings cases. If these quarters are not stopped, it will not be long when such attacks would be carried out in BNP rallies too. It is clear now that there are some quarters who wants to annihilate all those who are a threat in their efforts to make this country a Taliban-like state. The Awami League is again misdirecting the anger towards the government (because of power hunger) and again resorting to general strikes (Hartals). The BNP supporters are even thinking that it was AL's internal clash (They have wildest of dreams without logic). But the blame game would certainly cheer up the perpetrators as they are being untouched and they are heading for their goal.

The role of BTV: There were special bulletins in all Bengali private TV channels. This was the first headline of BBC World and third in PTV(Pakistan TV). But the state owned BTV carried out the news without any importance. This news was their third headline after the news of prime ministers aid visit, which was of no greater importance. The BTV carries a slogan "BTV talks about the country and the people". I think it should change the slogan to "BTV talks about whoever is in power".

August 21, 2004


(Picture Courtesy the Daily Star)

The country has been recuperating from the blow of the recent devastating flood. Millions of people have lost all their private properties and infra-structures. The government have so far been successful, with the help of donation of the common citizens and international sources in keeping these people out of misery. More efforts are needed to help these people to be on their feet again.

But what are these people doing? Religious fanatics clashed with police and attacked an Ahmadiyya Complex at Bakshibazar from a procession demanding declaration of the sect as non-Muslim in the run-up to their planned siege to the complex on August 27. Are they out of their minds? Is this the time to be engaged in these kind of issues? And they call themselves Muslim?

The South Asian People's Union against Fundamentalism and Communalism (SAPUFC)has called for a program to resist them on August 27. Let all other forces and individuals join them to resist these fanatics. They must be stopped from using Islam as an agenda to strengthen their positions.

The Islami fanatics of Bangladesh show their true colors again. They have been using the religion Islam to provoke the sentiments of the peace loving Bengalis, they majority of whom is good practicing Muslims. Recently a Bengali daily newspaper "The Prothom Alo" has published a series of reports about some Madrasas in remote corners of the country which has been giving training to extremists. The fundamentalists' response was to burn copies of the Prothom Alo and ransacking its billboards in the capital for publishing the stories. The fundamentalist have also obstructed the sale of the daily at different districts and demanded the cancellation of its declaration citing conspiracy against Kowmi Madrasas and Islam.

Why the rage against Prothom Alo? Because, the investigative reports have clearly depicted the madrasas' source of funds (mostly from Saudi Arabia & other Arab countries) and their missions - to clinch power of this country. These extremists have the same ideology of Al-Qaeda & Talibans. During the past Awami League regime, some of these Madrasas were haunted down by Police and stopped. But during the tenure of the recent government the Police is instructed by higher authority not to meddle with them. I deem this is because of the ruling BNP's coalition partners - the Islami parties. These Islamists are clearly building grounds and soldiers to clinch power someday to have their version of Talibanlike state. The BNP (Bangladesh Nationalist Party) is so vehemently interested in tackling the main opposition party, they are favoring these Islamists. That is why numerous Islami terrorists caught by the police have been released. The notorious "Bangla Bhai" has not been caught avoiding the prime minister's direct orders. The opposition Awami League with their poor leadership of Sheikh Hasina is not doing any constructive movement but have been busy with unnecessary trifles and quarels with government. BNP do not realise now that their enemy is not the other oppositions, but their coalition partner, the Islamists. Our Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia is no. 14 among Forbes' compiles list of world's most powerful women. This is our pride but it will be not for long as the Islamists one of the top agenda is not to have leadership of women. BNP will face the consequence when the serpents will bite them back when the time come. The Islamists are cashing on in the failure of the BNP and Awami Lwague in steering the nation with good leadership. I am surprised that not many people have condemned the threat against Prothom Alo.

A message to the fundamentalists: if you feel that these reports are baseless then protest with evidence in a civil way. How can those reports be conspiracy against Madrasas, when they have clearly pinpointed those madrasas, which are carrying out the training and nothing has been written anything against the overall Madrassa system? Why a newspaper's voice should be strangled? Because they have told the truth? Because they are disclosing your Islamic Zealots? What are you trying to hide?

August 17, 2004

And Everything Will Be in the Custody of the Damned

The above is a title of a poem by Humayun Azad, in which he listed the aspects of his world that he saw as being threatened by the destructive, the evil, the ruinous, the terrible. Some of his images were simple: black clouds, a red sari, the white moon—these too would disappear, be swallowed up by those who fear beauty.

Azad's death has been confirmed as from natural causes (Please refer to my previous post). Probably Azad was living in a wrong time. As he says in one of his poem:

I was living in others’ time
My thoughts were infested with others’ thoughts
I had learnt to walk like the others
I had learnt to talk like the others
They had made me live like them
But I had tried to live my kind of lifestyle
I had tried to dream like myself
I had tried to unshackle my voice
I had chosen tortures to total submission
They did not like it.
My eyes could not see, what it wanted to see
Because my time had not come
I was living in others’ time.

In one remarkable interview he pointed out "In Bangladesh corruption has been blended with religious blindness. The people of Bangladesh are busy with domestic religious blindness, political blindness"

But does Azad's death mean that the struggles of the free-thinkers will be subdued and all will submit to the blindness? We must question ourselves is it always necessary to live and talk like others? Is it a crime to be different or go against the current or just simply pose a question? Probably we embrace submission for a trouble free meager lifestyle in fear of the glorified struggle for truth and liberty. Poet Kaiser Haque dedicates one poem to Azad:

Something is dying in us
and we watch in bewilderment;
When to live and let live
is a philosophy
minced with butcher's knives
the thinking mind must reiterate
before the powers that be
and the powers that are desperate
to be the powers that be
some simple lessons of civilization:
And to drag God's name down
into the gutter of politics
is utterly flagitious
or monstrously insane

To be azad, to be free
to walk, talk, write, sing,
love, draw, dance
is the A to Z of life,
the rest is death

August 15, 2004


* A child who is allowed to be disrespectful to his parents will not have true respect for anyone."

- Billy Graham 1918-, American Evangelist

* Without feelings of respect, what is there to distinguish men from beasts?

- Confucius BC 551-479, Chinese Ethical Teacher, Philosopher

* We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people.

- Martin Luther King Jr. 1929-1968, American Black Leader, Nobel Prize Winner, 1964


The nation mournes today the 29th death anniversary of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the founder father of Bangladesh and his family members, who were brutally assassinated in an army coup. The strike for dispute over holiday certainly mars the solemn occasion this year as I think it is a bad move by the Awami League. But sad to say that many show no respect for"The leader and the man" because of his political ideals and it results in the continuing trend of the ruling BNP and its coalition to eviscerate his images from everywhere. He was controversial at the latest stage of his career because of his roles in trying to turn the country into a communist regime banning all the parties. His sons and party leaders were engaged into corruption and repression (Rakkhibahini) creating an state of anarchy. It all culminated into that coup-d'etat but surely it should not be the way the inevitable change was to happen.

His shortcomings maybe that he was a failed administrator and was steering the nation out of democracy, but he was the man who united the Bengalis and steered us into liberation from Pakistan's oppressions. His love for the country and the people is truly unquestionable.

I hope that we look at Bangabandhu's deeds beyond our political beliefs and ideals and give him the respect he deserves.

August 13, 2004


I was shocked to read the news of the mysterious death of Professor Humayun Azad, a renowned writer of Bangladesh and a professor of Dhaka University. He was attacked last February by some fundamentalist quarters. The knife attack left the professor with serious head and neck wounds but he survived due to the best possible treatment in home and abroad. He had recently went to Germany because of insecurity due to the new death threats against him and his family. According to BBC, he was found dead in his apartment in Germany. An autopsy by German police is underway to know the cause of the death.

Professor Azad has been well known for his bold and often controversial statements. Here is an article about the book which marked him for death by the fundamentalists.

Everybody may not agree with a writer. Instead of arguing with logic, some people are resorting to these kinds of madness like death threats. Mind it if somebody endorses such acts also commits the same crime. In a democratic society this is not at all expected.

We are anxiously waiting to know more about it. Is free voice under threat in Bangladesh?

August 10, 2004

Relief efforts

The flood water is receding and the affected people are slowly returning to their home. They are being exposed to the reality that there is nothing left as their capital: no home, no infrastructure, no crops, no food. So they will have to depend upon aid for quite sometime. In the meantime they will have to tackle the threat of the water-borne diseases.

The Bangladesh government is working with aid agencies and non-governmental organizations to distribute relief although they have struggled to reach those in far-flung districts. The source of the relief is the government food stock and the prime ministers relief fund, which is getting donations of $250000 a day. At last Bangladesh has appealed to the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) for funds to start rehabilitating the over 33 million people uprooted by floods.

But the real heroes are the youth of Bangladesh who are organizing numerous relief camps in the educational institutions across the country. They are volunteering to accumulating donations, packing relief goods and sending them to remotest of places.

Yesterday one of my favorite writers Mr. Zafar Iqbal (Professor of Shahjalal University of Science & Technology) wrote in the Daily Prothom Alo about the marvelous helping attitude and tremendous determination he has seen in the youths, specially the students in his University. He wrote that as the water purifier tablets are scarce in the market, some University students with the guidance of their teachers have developed a new formula of water purifiers from available cheap sources, tested it in the laboratories and started producing and distributing en-masse. He said that people probably will never know about it as they did not do it to earn fame or money and there was no publicity. There are stories like this allover the country.

Ann Seymour, a Brit currently in Bangladesh working in an NGO, has this to say about the relief efforts:

I’ve never seen such an incredible display of unity and spirit . The universities have been closed and turned into relief preparation centers where everyone can turn up to help when they have spare time. When I went along, it was teeming with volunteers from all walks of life who were doing whatever they could to help. People have been given time off work to help, and across the country, ordinary employees have given up a whole day’s salary to donate to the aid work. Almost wherever you go, you can see someone doing something to help. And when I went to one of the food distribution centers, the courage and determination of the flood-affected people I met had me blabbing all the way home.

Related Links: Bangladesh flood worker's diary

August 09, 2004


Help Bangladeshi Flood Victims

Click the above picture for a list of options to contribute to Bangladeshi flood victims. This is a fine effort by the people associated with the web-portal Bangladesh-America.com. Those who find that the account transfer charge is a bit on the higher side can use pay-pal and/or other options.

Many thanks to all those who contributed and remember "Little drops make an ocean".

via: Qeta.

The news has not widely spread yet but there is venture to simplify the writing of Bangla language. Nobo Bangla is being promoted by systech Digital and I believe it is a brainchild of Mr. Shikder Monowar Murshed of linguistic department of the Dhaka University. In this effort they have decreased Bangla vowels & consonants to 39 only and completely eradicating the use of connected words. They claim that it can be easily applied in computer based applications and will be convenient for the users.

But from the look of it one thing I must say that "it sucks". It seems completely different than traditional Bengali scripts. The intention is good but the outcome just horrible. There have been much research to simplify Bangla language by managing the connected words better. But the outcome should not be accepted if it deviates significantly from the existing writing style of more than thousand years.

So I hope the Nobo Bangla people should try something else, keeping the original style and scripture. Being a language of 189 people and ranking 5th in the world, it should not be experimented with. When Bangladesh was under Pakistan rule, there was one such horrible plan by the government to use Arabic scripture to write Bangla.

For example the Ankur Bangla Project have been successful in implementing Bangla (Bengali) on GNU/Linux.

August 08, 2004


Damien Brosnan is an AYAD (Australian youth ambassador for development) assigned in Dhaka for about an year. AYAD, an initiative of Australian government (AusAID) places skilled young Australian volunteers, aged 18-30, on short-term assignments in developing countries throughout Asia and the Pacific. Damien maintains his well informative website "Damo in Dhaka", which contains his experiences in Dhaka (including the other AYADs) supported with loads of pictures and humorous descriptions. You would be amazed to see that such a simple looking site can be a quite interesting read because of its rich contents. His Kolkata, Shiliguri & Sri-Lanka travelogues are also very well written. The photos could catch the moods as well. Looking forward to read more of his adventures.

Via: Michael at "bangers & mash" -weblog of another AYAD in Dhaka.

August 07, 2004


"Just as Muslims feel that Islam is greatly misunderstood in America so too America is greatly misunderstood in the Muslim world." - says Azhar Usman, a Muslim American comedian who is performing the above titled comedy show in US to counter the negative stereotypes and attitudes about Muslims and Arabs. The comedy is about making fun of themselves, their communities and the prejudices they face. -reports BBC.

This show is aiming to demonstrate that the actions of a handful of extremists acting in the name of Islam have nothing to do with most Muslims.

Controversies arouse when an FBI sting operation composed of bogus plans to launder money and attack a Pakistani official led to the arrests of a 34-year-old Iraqi and Mohammed Hossain, 49, a Bangladeshi-American citizen; both clerics of a New York mosque. Deputy U.S. Attorney General James Comey told a news conference that it was the jury's duty to consider "Were they dragged into criminal activity to which they were not predisposed, by a government overbearing his will?" Well from the local newspaper reports I found that the FBI undercover agent posed as a terrorist reached and proposed them to help plotting a terrorist activity and buy certain missile vide money laundering. They were accused of money laundering and aiding terrorist plot.

The lawyer of the accused says that the case against Muslim cleric is "fantasy" and the prosecution has "racial, religious & cultural" overtones.

Back to the comedy show:

"We've made a lot of progress towards ending racism in America," Azhar tells the audience. "But we've been hearing about it for decades. A black man says he can never get a fair trial in America."

He pauses. "But Arabs and Muslims say they can't even get a trial."

The audience roars appreciatively.

Sylhet has been rocked with yet another twin blasts at two cinemas day before yesterday. A boy was killed and 15 other people injured in the explosions. The police showed arrested three people injured as possible suspects. But I doubt whether this investigation will reach a dead-end and the criminals will never face any trial.

Fourteen bomb explosions in Sylhet region since 1997 have killed 23 people and injured many more, but the attackers are doing it again and again as the police and other law enforcement agencies have failed to uncover the motive and bring the criminals to book. There is no headway in the investigations of the May-bombings which injured the British High Commissioner in the Hazrat Shahjalal shrine.

The authorities are clearly not getting the clue that who is behind all these. The right-wing Islami extremists who are against people going in Shrines(mazaars) are deemed behind the bombing in Hazrat Shahjalal shrine. They say that there is no place of worshipping mazaars in Islam. Now they are targetting the Cinema halls because in there view Cinema is unislamic. So they felt that their sole responsibility is to kill other muslim and establish a Taliban-like state in Bangladesh.

As long as the real perpetrators are not caught and punished with exemplary sentences, these attacks will continue to hurt innocent people making the image of both the govt. and the country. I hope and pray that the people affected by the bombings get their justice in time.

You have seen it in the Hollywood & Bollywood movies. When the police wants to kill one detainee, they let him/her escape and shoot from behind.

The same thing happened yesterday in Savar. The notorious "Little" Hannan, one of the top 23 criminals on police list, was killed early hours Friday, the seventh day of his remand by anti-crime Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), allegedly in crossfire between a gang and a Rab team in Savar(near Dhaka) - reports the Daily Star.

However no such incident of gunfight or any casualty was recorded by Savar Police Station and the people of the locality do not think that there was such shootouts. They said that they have heard of only some gun shots.

So why they did want Hannan to be dead? During his remands, he told police of having links with some lawmakers of both ruling BNP and major opposition Awami League. He also claimed a Dhaka City Corporation ward commissioner and another top listed criminal now in jail were his godfathers. None of the people, Hannan claimed to have links with, have so far been questioned or arrested by police or RAB.

Its obvious that to protect these people Hannan had to give his life. Because of the godfathers Bangladesh is turning to be a country infected with terrorism and violence beyond control. The real criminals are never brought to justice where black money buy every law enforcement measures.

August 03, 2004


HSBC and International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies of Bangladesh (IFRC) have joined hands together to collect funds for the flood affected people of Bangladesh.

The details of the account no. & Swift code can be found here.

Please extend your hands for the flood affected people and your small contribution will mean them a lot.

* "Gaping void" 's tip on " How to be creative".

* Jeff Jarvis
thinks that the terror threat is very real, as is the fear, as is the impact on lives of the Americans.

* Alex at Worldchanging discusses John Kerry's energy plan "An energy independent America" and thinks it is an welcome contrast from the Bush Administrations focus on drilling more oil. In early August, Kerry will unveil an energy plan that he says can break America's addiction to foreign oil, revitalize the U.S. auto industry, help farmers and coal miners, fight global warming, and create jobs -- all for just $2 billion per year.

* Sukanya adjusts to the slower place of life in India but misses the busy life in France and thinks being occupied was better than living mindfully.

* Corante reports "JibJab Files Lawsuit for Right to Distribute Parody". Remember the "This Land is your land" piece?

* Nitin reports that a rebellion is brewing in Belochistan. The Pakistani army launched its brutal operation to suppress them as always. Is Pakistan facing another break-up?

* Visit "Sajjad's Weekly Blog" for the pictures of Bangladesh flood and many others.

August 02, 2004


The flood situation in Bangladesh is improving as the sun is shining and the rainfall is less. After the full moon (blue moon) effect the sea level should fall letting the river water levels to recede below the danger limit.

Now the real challenge lies in keeping the flood effected out of health hazards/ epidemics and rehabilitating them. Nearly 5,000 medical teams have spread out across Bangladesh, many in boats, to try to contain diseases as flood waters continued to recede. There have been numerous efforts all over the country to feed the flood effected people who are in makeshift shelters (usually the govt. educational institutions). In my neighborhood there are two initiatives in one lane for collecting donations in terms of flour, salt, water, plates; which are being sent to the flood victims in the affected areas. There had been some controversies, when the govt. banned collecting money by stopping vehicles in the street in the name of flood relieve. The relief goods are still not adequate for the affected in the remote areas. Out of a requirement of 90 million water purifier tablets only 2.5 million tablets were supplied by the government sources.

The costs of this flood is reported close to $7 billions in losses to agriculture, industries and infrastructure; according to preliminary estimates. This is a huge blow to a poor country like Bangladesh. Assistance would be needed from other countries in repairing and rebuilding the infrastructures.

Some points to be kept in mind to prepare for the next flood:

1) Build embankments all around Dhaka and other major cities
2) Redesign and rebuild the sewerage system
3) Ensure better flood forecasting
4) Involve India & Nepal in managing the rivers
5) Dredge rivers and canals for fluent water flow
6) Stop encroaching the river embankments

The reality is that we cannot stop flooding, but we can reduce the damage.

Update: Dr. Nazrul Islam writes this interesting piece of article "Permanent solution to floods: But which way?" which endorses the "open up approach" , on which I have written recently.

In the recently concluded Asia Cup the performance of Bangladesh cricket team was really dismal. It seems that the burden of test status is becoming too heavy for the cricketers. This is also hampering Bangladesh's image as a nation. They are no longer treated as the cricketbabes as 3-4 years have gone. Everybody is expecting them to show a consistent competitative standard. The battlefield is cruel and do not cater for any emotion or soft corner.
As for the tournament performance, the coach Dav Whatmore should come under his fair share of criticism, regarding choosing the right bowling combination (3 pacers/2 spinners) and the right players. He also failed to correct the batsmens' techniques and approaches, who are getting out in the same manner in successive matches without building partnerships.

Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer shared his thoughts on Bangladesh's performance:

"Having watched them (Bangladesh) play, I think they have certainly made strides. They looked fit and quick. They have lot of talent… I know it from being in the country. The infrastructure is building but the first-class system needs a lot of fine tuning."

Bangladesh's poor showing with the bat is the result of a poor domestic cricket structure. There are not enough 3 or 5 day first class cricket are being played on proper pitches. Indian Ranji Trophy produces promising cricketers who scores 200-300 in a domestic match and the same player is deemed good when they can score a half century in International cricket. You can tell from the Bangladesh first class cricket statistics that only a few of the present cricketers have made performed outstandingly and carried over their form in international matches.
The reality is that Bangladesh never will be competitive with the major international teams with its present set of cricketers, present format of domestic cricket and political influence on the mangement board.

I think the commitment of Bangladesh Cricket Board should change from "there is nothing to loose" to "playing better cricket". Otherwise we should voluntarily ask for withdrawal of the test status which has burdened Bangladesh Cricket.