August 07, 2007

Bangladesh: Enemy property act , skin color and Floods

In this weeks tour inside the Bangladeshi blogosphere we will discuss an old black law enacted in time of war being put to use by land encroachers and creating human rights abuse on minorities. We will also look at the dark truth that haunts women in Bangladesh and many parts of the world and which is exploited by commercial organizations. These and much more in this week’s round-up:

Enemy property act:

We take you first to Dhaka Blog where Asif discusses a dark act enacted before the independence of Bangladesh:
Following the 1965 war with India, the Ayub government (of Pakistan) in its infinite wisdom decided to constitute something called the “Enemy Property Act”. It allowed them to declare any citizen an “enemy” and confiscate their property. Following Bangladesh’s independence, Mujib’s Awami League government…..reconstituted the act in 1974 calling it the Vested Property Act.
Then he shows the ways which all the political governments used it to repress the minorities, especially Hindus. He calls it the real national shame.

Drishtipat Group Blog Unheard Voices explains:
Encroachers have misused the law with the help of corrupt state authorities to grab property by identifying Hindus as “enemies of the state.”

To amend the situation, the former Awami League government had enacted the Vested Property Repeal Act in 2001. But it was never implemented because of objections from politically influential encroachers and legal complications.
The Blog comments that it is about time to repeal this black law.

Does skin color still matter?

Himadri Ahsan writes in Adhunika Blog about a dark truth that still haunts women in many regions of the world especially Bangladesh. The Blogger says:
Skin lightening products continue to be one of the fasting growing beauty products in the Indian sub-continent, the Middle East, Africa and among African Americans.

The obvious cause of this phenomenon is the deeply rooted social stigma attached with dark skin. In Bangladesh a fair skinned person is often praised and compared with a Sahib (an English man) or Pathan (a Pakistani), establishing the superiority of both the groups of people that ruled Bangladesh.
Politics with flood and the demolition of a building:

In the midst of Flood the national debate is the lack of political party’s involvement in the relief efforts of the Flood affected areas. As a state of emergency is in place, open political activities are not allowed. In the Middle of Nowhere reports that the Government has criticized the politicians saying that it’s time to help flood victims, not for politics. The Blogger asks: ”What, in fact, is meant by doing politics with Flood?”. A Government adviser probably has the answer quoted in a recent televised interview: “They are free to help others like any ordinary citizen but no mileage with political banners will be allowed.”

A Nikonian’s Blog
however points out:
WHY we see a humble Subedar holding a toilet to pose for a photo while distributing those to the villagers? WHY do we even hear as tiny officer as a Lieutenant’s name on television when government officials go to distribute food to flood affected people? Isn’t this flood used for political gain by army itself?
While Bangladesh was reeling with the devastations of Flood, its citizen witnessed demolition of a 22 storied Building (Rangs Bhaban) televised live. Unheard Voices raises some pertinent questions:
What was the rush to demolish an office building of such a magnitude in less than 24 hours notice?

(This was first published in the Global Voices Online)


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