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

November 28, 2007

In the eye of the storm

BBC's month long project Bangladesh Boat Diary ends with this note:
While exposing the apparent dangers of climate change, the BBC team were on hand to report the horrors of Cyclone Sidr.

Are the two issues connected? Might the ferocity of the storm have been weakened were it not for rising temperatures in the Bay of Bengal? Might such storms become more common in future?
The questions are accumulating but we don't seem to find the answers.

Today's Links

Sobbing General

Parvez Musharraf quits as the army chief to become the President of Pakistan. We have watched this scene many time in many places of the world.

November 27, 2007

Combating the next cyclone

An Ordinary Citizen reassesses Bangladesh's capabilities to combat mega-cyclones.

November 26, 2007

Taslima again

Taslima Nasrin is again in media spotlight because fundamentalists in India are demanding India to expel her. The Bangladeshi writer is in exile since 1994, when fundamentalists issued a fatwa against her for the allegedly blasphemous first novel Lajja. Read some interesting commentaries on the latest controversy:

* The sword and the monk’ s cowl

* Taslima Nasreen: The Daughter of Eternal Bangladesh on the run in India- But Why?

* How Taslima Nasreen knocked Mossamat Akhera Bibi off the headlines?

* Taslima Nasrin, the outcast.

* Bangladesh writer wins ally in hardline Hindu leader.

*Renowned Theatre activist Aly Zaker said:
I don't know Hyederabad in the Andhra Pradesh and its muslims who drove her out of that city, but I have some experience of knowing the mindset of the majority of muslim inhabitants of the city of Calcutta (now known as Kolkata) during our war of liberation in 1971. Most of them not only refrained from supporting us they were most annoyed with us for breaking Pakistan. To give vent to their anger and frustration they even did not hesitate to physically torture fellow muslims from Bangladesh who took refuge in Kolkata.

Cyclone Sidr related news

* Concern Worldwide's update on the cyclone Sidr damage, relief and rescue efforts.

* The fatal shore: Tahmima Anam writes in the Guardian:
A couple of days ago, someone sent a proposal to a mailing list entitled "Sidr cyclone compensation fund". "What do people think of the following idea? Set up a fund, funded totally by expatriates, to pay cash compensation to families of the deceased? If we set a scale - 5,000 taka (£35) for each adult and 2,500 taka (£17.50) for each child." The fundraising target was set at $275,000 (£133,000), to be raised through global appeals.

Other people replied almost immediately. Some were uncomfortable with placing a price on the victims. "Your suggestion is crude," wrote one. "How do we know whether the victims' families are the ones most in need?" Another person responded: "Can we give the money to the women of the household? Less chances of the money being spent on hooch and gambling."

The fund was set up by the following morning. A name was found (United Bangladesh Appeal); $100,000 has already been pledged.
* Aid and Brand recognition: US also creates some brand awareness in a muslim country.

* A thanksgiving toast from Bangladesh: A CNN journalist remembers what thanksgiving is all about.

* LSU helps Bangladesh save lives with storm surge models.

* Report in a Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten.no

* Photo Essay- Cyclone Sidr: Bramwell Ryan, a Canadian Salvationist journalist working in Bangladesh posts a 5:17 photo documentary in the rubicon. Look for more of Ryan's reports from the Slavation army International site.

* After cyclone, Bangladesh faces political storm: soaring food price is another disaster the government faces.

More aid intiatives:

* Shawn of the Uncultured Project is live-blogging his aid initiatives from the disaster ground.

* Pics, videos, posters, fliers and list of charities for Sidr victims.

* Mikey Leung, a Canadian expat living in Bangladesh: Cyclone Sidr devastates Bangladesh, please help

* A cyclonic perspective from Ashley Wheaton, an expat working in the clothing industry who looks at what poverty means in Bangladesh:
Living in a country like Bangladesh constantly forces me to redraw the lines around my mental conception of poverty. A factory worker seems hard done by until you meet the construction worker. The construction worker earns your sympathy until you see the child collecting trash. The child is then outdone by a disabled beggar... When I was not immersed in this reality it was easy to treat them all as poor, to condemn all of the conditions they faced as equally bad. But in reality the poverty here is extremely complex and it isn't realistic or meaningful to treat each person's poverty as if it were the same.

So what does one do? How does one wrap their head around it all? That's the tough part. I'm still working on it, and a long way from finding any answers I'm afraid. I constantly question and constantly fail to come to a clear conclusion. It's frustrating, but perhaps it is best not to try to pack these predicaments into neat little boxes.

I also face this confusion in my current job. I work for a textile company. We exist because labour here is cheap, because people are willing to work long hours in factories to earn their living. We do not pay them what you or I would want them to be paid. We cannot. If we did we would go out of business and everyone would lose. We try our best to improve, to make things better, to reach lofty goals, but it's not easy. The market and the global economy are against us. I find it frustrating, and yet I also find it rewarding to know that the people I am working to help are not carrying bricks on their heads and their children are not collecting garbage. Is that enough? Of course not. Is it something? Yes, it's something. And hopefully there is much more to come.

Using SMS for raising funds

Dina Mehta highlights the efforts in Bangladesh using simple SMS to get people to donate for the victims.
Bangla blogging platform Somewherein, in association with Save the Children, has launched an innovative SMS based campaign “Jagoron” (which literally means ‘the awakening’) to enable those living in Bangladesh to do their bit in aid of Sidr victims. The campaign works as follows:

A mobile phone user types SAVE and sends SMS to a given number. Each SMS costs Bangladeshi Taka (BDT)2. Then Somewherein and other sponsors add a certain monetary figure, currently standing at 15BDT (this is a dynamic figure which will go up as more corporate sponsors join the campaign) for every BDT2 generated through the SMS and the total amount is deposited in the Save the Children Cyclone Relief fund.

For those living outside Bangladesh, Somewherein requests them to send their donations directly to the Save the Children Cyclone Relief fund as this SMS facility is available for local residents only.

She wonders whether an application like Twitter can enable donations like this on a larger global scale!

So far more than 6000 sms has been sent and 100,000 BD Taka has been raised.

Dina also notes the Bangla Blogging Platforms use of sms blogging tool:

well its very simple…the blog gives directions @bba eg., @bba curfew relaxed from 8am to 10pm. send to 5455. and it gets posted on the blog, that’s it. and the right hand bar of the blog reflects the comments. since its sms generally comments are short. but people are now using it even to wish happy birthday or send general messages :). its useful and fun! and taps the Asian’s love for texting :)

For the Sidr Victims in Bangladesh: need of the hour

Prominent writer Anisul Haque wrote this in Prothom Alo questioning some Bangladeshi's attitude of negligence towards the cyclone Sidr victims. The piece is translated by Asif Saleh of Drishtipat.

Need of the Hour

- Anisul Hoque

I feel really mad at myself at times like these. In fact, I feel like spitting on myself. What sort of shenanigan is going on these days? I have just returned from sidr hit Patuakhali and Borguna's worst hit areas. I can already hear people requesting others to ask for help in a low voice. The background score is attempting to create pity for the victims. "Man needs to stand by another man", "Reach out with your helping hands", etc, etc. How poetic and beautifully rendered words being displayed in radio, television and newspapers. Many kind of humanitarian appeals have appeared. They are asking for help and coming up with various innovative ways to raise funds. Now there will be poetry recital for sidr victims, plays, art exhibitions for fund raising and what not. I feel like a phony and so does everyone around me. I myself is part of this middle class shenanigans.

I know those who are doing this (and I myself have done this many times) have noble and kind goals. But what will be the outcome of these funds? Today is Nov 24th, 2007. It has been eight days since Sidr struck. For the past eight days, hundreds and thousands of people are homeless. Having just lost their family members, these mourning and penniless people have spent sleepless nights under open sky. They don't have any work. They don't have a penny. Gone are their crops, the fishes from the pond, the cattle, the boat, the nets, their life savings - EVERYTHING !! The water of the tube well is rotten, the water of the pond is polluted by saline water from the sea. Even that water is carrying the dead bodies of livestocks. These people don't have a single thing. What have they eaten in the last eight days? What have they drank? How did the skeletal children of theirs pass such cold nights of winder? Have we ever thought about it?

We are now making relief committee? We are asking people to contribute? We are saying we will sing songs, do poetry and collect money?? When will this money be raised? When will they reach these people? Have you ever thought about that?

After directly talking to these people and having seen their sufferings, I have created a list for all of us -- the must dos for all of us based on the need of the hour.

What we, the average citizens, can do?

We shouldn't waste collecting funds for people now. Whatever we have, we should scamper to the affected areas. We need to stop going to the same areas and giving relief to the same people. Rather, my advice for those whose hometown is in the coastal areas, is that they all should go home to their own villages. They should take food with them with rice and daal often being the best choice. The sufferers can barely lit the stove and cook rice for food. They don't consider any thing else to be proper food. If you take matches or candles, it may come of some use as well. Its good if you can take water. But since the communication system is not in functioning order, it may not be feasible to take a lot of water. It would be great, if deep tube well can be placed. This can be done after doing area wise research to find out whether the shallow tube wells can raise enough water.

Those who are not from those areas should also immediately rush there with relief. But please promise that you will reach the remotest areas where no one has gone before. Don't go to the same areas where others are going and distributing relief to the same people repeatedly. If you cannot take food with you, take cash. Give some cash on a per family basis. Even after lot of the roads are destroyed, the markets are still open and goods are being transported by boats. If people have money, the business people themselves will bring the food and other important goods on their own initiative.

It will be nice to give warm clothes as well. But the primary need of the hour is food and water. Then they need medicine. So form your own medical team and rush there with medicine and do treatment in health camps for 7 days. You will save many lives. People will build their houses themselves later, perhaps. If they get the cash, they will figure out their own priorities themselves. We think the next 10 days are EXTREMELY CRITICAL! If you can help these people to survive the next 10 days, they will be able to manage after that. By then the government's Vulnerable Group Feeding (VGF) program should start as well.

What the government should do?

1. Identify the damages and assess the needs as fast as possible.

2. Start the VGF program really quick in the affected areas. The government of Shaikh Hasina did this during flood with help from the army and this was done very efficiently. This time as well, it is essential to have this work coordinated between local government, the local civilian administration and the army.

3. Put in deep tube well to get clean drinking water. If they can put in 500 of them in the entire coastal belt, the scarcity issue of drinking water will greatly be resolved.

4. Take emergency measures to restore the communication system. If needed, the engineering division of the army can be utilized for this purpose. It is very unfortunate that after so many days, all of the ferries in the area have not been restarted.

5. Restore various utility services like electricity and telephone.

6. Reach the areas which are unknown and where it is impossible for average citizens to reach

7. Send a medical team to every single affected union.

8. Create coordination cell in every district headquarter and upajila sadars. These cells will help (not supervise) with information those who will do relief work from the non government sector

What to do for the long term?

[the long term list has been truncated for focus and brevity ]

I criticized the fashionable do gooders and feeble attempts for relief fund raising in the beginning. But it is truly the time to stand up for humanity now. If you can, please rush to a remote char area TODAY. If you can not, after a few days, please by a family a cow or a boat or a fishing net. Even if one life is helped by that, wouldn't it make our life and existence more meaningful?

[First published in Prothom Alo on Nov 24th]

November 24, 2007

Know your enemy

It has been more than one week since cyclone Sidr devastated Bangladesh's Southern coastal region. The official death toll is still at 3199 but the unofficial death toll crossed 6000. Millions of families are displaced and are homeless now. Economists predict US$ 65 billion will be the loss of the nation.

The UN said in a report:
Cyclone Sidr has affected about 4.7 million people in worst-hit districts and a further 2.6 million people, most of them the "poorest of the poor", are in need of immediate help,. (BDNews24)
These people have to be fed up to three months and many still haven't been reached to hand over the aids available. There have been overwhelming response from the local and international community in monetary aid.

However the call of this hour is to reach these aid to the people in remote areas. The armed forces of Bangladesh are so far doing the best they can with their limited resources like helicopters and boats. As I mentioned earlier, Bangladesh needs more helicopters, water purifiers, volunteers, medical helps. I hope the international community keeps these in mind too. One country (name withheld) pledged 5000 Euro for the victims. I don't want to undermine anyone's good wish but really they would do better if they could send a medical teal or lend some helicopters that would be something effective for the aid of the victims.

Two US ships USS Essex and USS Kearsarge are in Bangladesh waters to help in the relief efforts. The US embassy in Dhaka said that each of the ships are carrying 23 helicopters and six small planes which will be used for medical evacuations and surveying the affected areas by approx 1500 US marines. They are also equipped with water purifiers and purified water is of urgent need of many survivors.

While this is happening we see that Hizbut Tahrir Bangladesh, a Branch of Hizbut Tahrir is protesting the arrival of US navy ships in Bangladesh. Hizbut Tahrir is an international, Sunni, pan-Islamist vanguard political party whose goal is to unite all Muslim countries in a unitary Islamic state or caliphate, ruled by Islamic law and headed by an elected head of state.

While the Bangladeshis in the country and abroad are doing their best to help these victims from own resources with innovative ideas like sms aid campaigns and pledging to the international community for more donations you can check the Hizbut Tahrir site that they are silent about the issue. Their priority is to build a caliphate at the expense of all these victims and they don't like the US marine to help save lives. It can be lauded that the police forces have taken action against its spokesman. But it will be befitting to expose their intentions to the common public.

I guess even a dumb person can recognize who is the enemy of the people. Down with political Islam. Hizbut Tahrir should read Abdul Kargbo's post "Compassion Does Not Recognize State Boundaries" for a change:
"At the end of the day, the only thing that matters is that people—regardless of who they are or where they’re from—are capable of feeling compassion for others, even if they are geographically distant. That’s something to celebrate, not question."
Kathy has more updates on the post cyclone relief.

November 19, 2007


I will be traveling for the rest of the week and will have limited internet connections. So updates on Bangladesh cyclone will be almost non-existent.

[BDNEWS24.com] The confirmed death toll from the cyclone reached 3,113 by Monday, while 3,322 are injured and 1,063 missing. Two C-130 aircraft of the U.S. Marine Corp arrived in Dhaka on Sunday night with medical supplies. The King of Saudi Arabia has announced a $100 million grant for the victims. Riyadh would also airlift 300 tonnes of food and relief materials.

Check the Daily Star's update on Monday. The statistics of the destruction of Sidr are horrifying:
The total number of affected families stands at 1.05 million, representing more than 4.08 million individuals.

Crops on 29,374 acres of land have been completely destroyed and on 8,55,525 acres have been damaged partially, according to the government assessment.

The number of completely destroyed houses stood at 300,511 yesterday and the number of partially damaged houses was 626,000. Besides, 384,000 trees have been damaged.

Some 792 educational institutions have been completely destroyed and 4,393 were partly damaged. Embankments of about 57 kilometres (km) of length have been damaged, and 58km of road has been destroyed completely while 87,948km of road has been partly damaged.
The main challenge in helping the Bangladesh cyclone victims is to reach to the remotest of areas in Southern Bangladesh. There are hundreds of small floodplain sediment island or chars for which the government has no records. These people may not have been existed in any book to be included in the early warning efforts. Thats why the death toll is rising after 4 days.

This report will shed a light to the needs of these people:

So efforts should be made to dispatch the aids to these remote areas. Bangladesh has only a few civilian helicopters. The military and Air Force helicopters are being used in most of the relief works. I have not yet seen any country providing means of transport in the relief work.

Also read TIME magazine's "How Bangladesh survived the Cyclone"

Via Bangladesh from our view we see how the slum dwellers in capital Dhaka are coping with the damages that the category 3 cyclone brought them.

ACT NOW: How you can help Bangladesh cyclone victims.

November 18, 2007

The forgotten Operation Sea Angel

From Mash's Blog:

Let me tell you a story of a disaster that you have probably never heard of and the overwhelming American response that you should know about.

In late spring of 1991 a US Navy Amphibious Task Force (ATF) returning from the Persian Gulf war was diverted, on order of President George H.W. Bush, to the Bay of Bengal.

A Bangladeshi citizen, rumor has it, on seeing the ATF approach from the sea, called them "Angels from the Sea." Thus began Operation Sea Angel, one of the largest military relief operations ever undertaken.

Less than two weeks ago, on the evening of April 29 1991, Cyclone Marian, a storm with top sustained winds of 160 mph (Category 5), made landfall as a strong Category 4 storm (155 mph) along the coastline of Bangladesh. The resulting 20 foot high tidal wave killed over 138,000 people and left over 5 million people homeless. Marian was one of the deadliest tropical cyclones on record.

The new democratically elected government in Bangladesh, overwhelmed by the massive scale of the devastation, requested urgent assistance from foreign countries. While relief goods had been stockpiled before the cyclone, most of Bangladesh’s lift capability and almost all of the infrastructure had been wiped out by the force of nature’s onslaught.

The United States responded on May 10 1991 by launching Operation Sea Angel, a relief operation that involved over 7000 US soldiers, marines, sailors, and airmen. The man leading the effort, Lt. General Henry Stackpole, declared, "We went to Kuwait in the name of liberty, and we’ve come to Bangladesh in the name of humanity."

Operation Sea Angel was massive in scale and massively successful:


The relief efforts of U.S. troops are credited with having saved as many as 200,000 lives.

The US effort not only saved lives, but it also won hearts and minds. A Bangladeshi human rights blogger, Rumi Ahmed, who lived through the events recollects in a post commemorating the events:

The first American I have ever met was a soldier, probably a member of US marine corps. I saw him in Bangladesh. He was dispatched to Chittagong, Bangladesh after the deadly storm of April 29 1991. I was hustling across [t]he crowded lobby of Chittagong medical college hospital when I spotted an area where the crowd is a little denser than the rest of the lobby. A well built Caucasian man in battle gear, sun burnt skin, walking across carrying a Bangladeshi toddler on his shoulder. The toddler, clearly a victim of the recent cyclone, was vomiting all over the marine’s body.

The soldier was in Chittagong as a part of operation sea angel.

In response to Rumi’s post, it is heartening to see comments from some of the American servicemen and women who took part in Operation Sea Angel. Sixteen years after they first won hearts and minds, they continue to do so.

In just over one month the United States military executed what would become a blueprint for successful relief operations. The success of Operation Sea Angel contributed to the establishment of military doctrine on relief operations and on inter-agency coordination during joint operations, both of which provided ample lessons learned that could have been applied to Katrina and Iraq.

Operation Sea Angel demonstrated the tremendous soft power of the United States. It also demonstrated the lighter side of force projection. It showed the capability of the United States government to respond to natural disasters anywhere in the world when there is will within the executive branch to commit the resources necessary to recover from a humanitarian crisis. The United States military overcame significant barriers of lack of infrastructure, broken communications lines, challenges due to massive flooding and collapse of levees, lack of coordination between local and central governments, and the demands of a large population on the brink of starvation and in need of immediate relief.

Two US Navy ships are on the way to Bangladesh to assist in the relief operation of the cyclone Sidr Victims. Will many lives be saved by the angels again?


A member of the Operation Sea Angel blogs.

Sidr news updates

Shocking news from Bangladesh via BDNEWS24.com:

Bangladesh Red Crescent Society Sunday said the death toll from cyclone Sidr may touch 10,000 (official death toll surpassed 2,200 Sunday and a government official declared the disaster "a national calamity").

It will take several days to complete the search and know the actual casualty figure and extent of damage to property. Red Crescent officials said some 1,000 fishermen and about 150 boats were still unaccounted for in the Bay of Bengal.

Eyewitness accounts say that in Dhaka (around 300km from costal areas) many trees were uprooted or flattened by the force of category 3 cyclone. Just imagine how it was for the remote habitats of the southern coastal areas which faced the category 4 cyclone blow. From BDNEWS24:

- Communities in the affected south and southeastern areas are reeling from the intensity of reported 250 kmph (155 mph) winds and unexpectedly high tidal surges (10-15 feet).

- Houses in many areas have been reduced to piles of broken wood and twisted corrugated iron sheeting. Phultali bus-stand near Barshal was strewn with large billboards, stacked one on top of the other.

- Mile after mile of betel leaf plantations had been levelled, with coconut trees decapitated and few crop fields salvageable.

- Navy ships scoured coastal areas and sought to clear river channels clogged with sunken vessels.

- The relief operation has been hampered by a huge number of downed trees on the roads and highways, which has severely restricted movement in the area.

- In many areas, 95 percent of rice crops due to be harvested in a few weeks have been badly damaged, officials said. Hundreds of shrimp farms have also been washed away.

- Staying out under the open sky, thousands of survivors in Barguna are now begging for a glass of water, forgetting about the inadequate relief and shelters.

More summary of the cyclone from The Daily Star, Monday's update.

Shahidul News has a touching report "I’ve buried eleven. Just hand me a biri".

Relief efforts:

- Bangladesh Armed forces hand relief to cyclone victims.

- 2 US navy ships are coming to to facilitate rescue work in the cyclone-ravaged south.

- Aid starts pouring in for cyclone survivors. Over $25m pledged in international help till Sunday. United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) have promised US$ 7m and US$ 6.8m financial grants respectively. The United States have promised US$ 2.1m, UK US $5m, and a UK based NGO US$ 4m.

Unique Tribute:

Telegu Portal reports:
Hundreds of people in Orissa paid tributes to the victims of the cyclone that killed over 1200 people in Bangladesh.

People thronged the Puri beach, 56 km from here, Sunday and paid tributes near a sand sculpture created by sand artist Sudarsan Patnaik with students of the Golden Sand Art Institute.

The sculpture showed the high tides and scattered body parts with a message near it that read ‘Help the Cyclone Victims’.

How can you help:

- Association for Bangladeshi Students: Virginia Tech

- Reaching out to Sidr Victims

- Help Bangladesh

- Sidr and what we can do from abroad


How can you help Bangladesh cyclone victims?

The demon that was in the cyclone Sidr.

The aftermath of Hurricane Sidr: signs of progress?

Sidr strikes Bangladesh

Cyclone Sidr: Blogger experiences and reactions

November 17, 2007

How can you help Bangladesh cyclone victims?

I have seen the overwhelming concern of the international citizens over the devastations of the Sidr cyclone that battered Bangladesh leading to a death toll of thousands (now more than 3500), 95% loss of crops in the devastated areas, almost a million destroyed houses made more than four millions homeless and many more miseries to follow. The people were only recuperating from the loss from the devastating floods in the northern part of the country a few months ago.

The Bangladesh Government is doing their best with its limited resources. Its a tough job to cater relief to 3 million homeless people. This will put great pressure on the government, the economy, and the people themselves.

The International community is lending their hands pledging millions:

- The biggest local NGO has released $1 million in their relief efforts.

- The United Nations has pledged several millions of dollars in aid.

- The European Commission said it is sending $2.2m in emergency relief to Bangladesh.

- Germany has released $293,000 in emergency relief aid to Bangladesh. The money will go to German relief organizations working in cooperation with local partners to alleviate suffering caused by Cyclone Sidr.

- Government of Ireland announced that Irish Aid will make up to €500,000 available to assist those affected by the devastating cyclone in Bangladesh.

- The World Food Programme sent 98 metric tons of emergency food rations for 400,000 people.

- International Federation of Red Crescent has allocated CHF 250,000 from the Federation’s Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) to respond to urgent needs ahead of the results and recommendations of ongoing assessments.

- The International NGOs in Bangladesh like World Vision are already active in relief and rescue efforts.

Now have you noticed that most of these aid will find their way through the different NGOs working in Bangladesh? This has been a trend after the 1988 flood because earlier aid was distributed through Government channel and massive corruption due to lack of professional expertise and mismanagement occurred and the needy did not get the relief.

Individual people like Sheril are willing to do something:

Now I am appealing to the international community how they can do their bit in helping Bangladesh. First we need to understand the requirements of the victims of the cyclone:

- Provide shelters and food for those who are displaced/lost their homes.

- Rehabilitation efforts - rebuilding houses - aid in building materials and food for work projects will work best.

- Provide earning for them - rescue the damaged crops and give them loan to work on the next cultivation.

- Keep the nations economy in full swing for the government to recover the loss.

What the international community can do? Just donating some money to any organization may not be the effective way.

- Appeal to your Government to lend a hand to Bangladesh. Encourage them to pledge some long term and fruitful steps like building/maintenance of more cyclone shelters across the coastal areas (you have seen how they save lives) or some sophisticated early warning systems.

- Can any Government help Bangladesh have sophisticated equipments in the met office? Can any organization help build more met offices across the country?

- Help Bangladesh economy recuperate. Appeal to your Government to stop imposing any restrictions on import of Bangladeshi products. It is not a dumping issue. Countries like China has cheap products because of economies of scale. But in Bangladesh its because of cheap labor which earns livelihood for millions of workers and their families. If they are out of job then we have another humanitarian crisis adding to this.

- Appeal to your business community to help Bangladesh economy by importing more of Bangladeshi products or investing in Bangladesh.

- Buy a Bangladeshi product! I am sure you will find a cloth "Made in Bangladesh" in your local chain shop. They may be not impeccable but I can promise you that they have a high standard. If you buy more cloths it will prompt Bangladesh to export more, setting up more clothing related industries, employ more workers who are unemployed now and help Bangladesh make up the economic loss of the devastation of Sidr. And you can be proud that you have played a part in it.

- Buy a Jute product from Bangladesh. The natural fiber is environment friendly and cheap.

- Choose aid organizations wisely. You better would like to know where your money ends up (even it is a small amount). Is it spent for the victims or the new SUV for the local NGO? Are you sure this is not a fake religious NGO who may use it for their political causes?

- The best is to collect fund from the community and dedicate this to some specific causes. Say a cyclone shelter may need USD 10000-20000 to build. If say 200-1000 people can raise this fund and give it to some organization to build the shelter then they may save hundreds of thousands of people from the cyclones in future for say 30-40 years. What a better way to use your asset?

More efforts:

Dristipat has details to mobilize public effort and how and where to donate.

Power blogger Andrew Sullivan appeals to help Bangladesh.

- Association for Bangladeshi Students: Virginia Tech

- Reaching out to Sidr Victims

- Help Bangladesh

- Sidr - what you can do

- BRAC = ACTION, Staff quickly respond to help, What You Can Do

- Different ways to donate


- Sidr News update -Bangladesh Red Crescent Society Sunday said the death toll from cyclone Sidr may touch 10,000 (official death toll surpassed 2,200 Sunday and is nearing 3,000 by the end of Monday. A government official declared the disaster "a national calamity").

The demon that was in the cyclone Sidr.

The forgotten Operation Sea Angel by the US Navy

The aftermath of Hurricane Sidr: signs of progress?

Sidr strikes Bangladesh

Cyclone Sidr: Blogger experiences and reactions

Quote of the day

"When another cyclone hit Bangladesh in 1991 the death toll stood at about 140.000. SIDR is reported to have been at least as fierce as the cyclone in 1991. In the midst of tragedy we therefore also rejoice that Bangladesh this time was much better prepared and able to reduce the impact. Cyclones will pass over Bangladesh in the future again; Bangladesh is strong and prepared. I often get asked this question by visitors ‘Is the development work making any difference in Bangladesh?’ The preparedness for this storm, and the relatively low impact of SIDR, is a sign that yes in Bangladesh it is not just the same old story."

- The Blog of Lamb School, Bangladesh

November 16, 2007

The demon that was in the cyclone Sidr

Photo: Dhaka in the dark Friday evening (the day after) - courtesy The Daily Star

The descriptions of the destructions that cyclone Sidr brought to Bangladesh are coming to appear. Sidr was one of the 10 fiercest cyclones that had hit the region of Bangladesh in the 131 years between 1876 and 2007.

Bangladesh suffered a total disruption of power and can you imagine the national grid broke down because of low usage. Because of disruptions in the cyclone many electricity networks were shut down in the coastal areas and elsewhere in the country to minimize short circuits etc. The underutilized power has prompted an overload in the total network which shut down all power stations one by one. They are coming back online but the authorities say maybe it will take 1 or two days more to become normal. Meanwhile in Bangladesh Telecommunications were dead in most parts because of no power. The city life has been disrupted. The latest from the news sources:

- Unofficial death count crosses 1100. (AP)

- The Bagerhat district administration said violent winds ravaged 1,62,000 houses. At least 51,000 houses were partly damaged.

- A huge number of trees uprooted by cyclone Sidr blocked the Dhaka–Barisal Highway and several other tertiary roads in the country’s south.

- As many as 20,000 thatched houses were damaged by the storm and 5,000 houses were partly damaged in Pirojpur.

- The World Food Programme is sending emergency food rations for 400,000 people. The government, the Red Crescent and other NGOs are also sending teams.

- More than 40,000 policemen, soldiers, coastguards and health workers have been deployed. (BBC)

- Members of Bangladesh Navy have been engaged in disaster management and rehabilitation activities in the cyclone-hit country's south-western region.

- Zia International Airport in Capital Dhaka reopened after 20 hours of closure

- Operations at main Chittagong port also resumed after a suspension lasting nearly 48 hours.

- Due to lack of power supply, Internet connections were also disrupted even for those who were running their computers using generators. This has happened because the Internet service providers had ran out of their backup power systems.

- The cellphone services were disrupted as phone network base stations, most of which are equipped with backup batteries and some with generators, ran out of power. As a result, cellphone service in many areas was unavailable.

- The state-run Bangladesh Television (BTV) in the country's 36 years of history had to suspend its transmission for the first time for nearly three hours yesterday due to power outage.

- Ecological disaster in Sundarbans feared.

Photo: Courtesy The Daily Star

- Cyclone ravaged 95 percent crops in 11 coastal districts. Farmers were currently trying to recover their losses caused by two recent floods.

- Many of the Shrimp hatcheries in Satkhira, Khulna and Cox's Bazar were washed away by the hurricane.

From the Blogs:

Image credit: CIESEN, Columbia University

-Dr. Jeff Masters of Wunderblog analyzes:
population density map of Bangladesh for regions less than 10 meters in elevation (red areas) and higher than 10 meters (green areas). The path of Tropical Cyclone Sidr took it inland over the Sundarbans Forest, the least populated region of the coast. However, the more heavily populated provinces just to the right of the Forest, Barguna and Patuakhali, likely received a storm surge of 10-20 feet. Sidr passed near the city of Barisal, where sustained winds of 92 mph were measured at midnight local time. The deadliest cyclones for Bangladesh have always taken a more easterly track, near the city of Chittagong.

The maximum storm surge from Sidr was probably 20-25 feet, and affected the regions near and to the right of where the eye made landfall. The eye fortunately came ashore in the Sundarbans Forest, the world's largest forest of mangrove trees. This region is the least populated coastal area in the country (Figure 1). Storm surge levels of 10-20 feet probably affected the provinces of Barguna and Paruakhali, which are more heavily populated. Undoubtedly, the storm surge killed many more people in these provinces, and Sidr's death toll will go much higher. However, Bangladesh has done a much better job providing shelters and evacuating people during cyclones since the 1991 storm.
- Tropical Weather Expert Dr. Steve Lyons analyze in the weather channel blog why there was huge surge in Bangladesh.

- BBC is particularly keen to follow up a story that has appeared in the Bengali press. It says that royal Bengal tigers took refuge from the storm in one village deep in the Sunderbans mangrove forest alongside local people.

- Oxfam fears huge humanitarian impact.

- Rumi of In the middle of Nowhere lists more updates of the day after:
Unprecedented damage to property and cattlehead are being reported from Bhola ( eye of 1970 Bhola Cyclone) and other southern districts in Bangladesh. Aerial footages show that miles after miles, villages after villages have been turned into a total rubble. It feels like 10,000 tornados simultaneously ravaged a 200 mile radius area.

As the category 4 cyclone had its landfall near Sundarban, irreparable damage have been done to the flora and fauna in the Sundarbans. It will take many years to know how mnay of several hundred Bengal tigers survived the 20 feet tidal waves.
- Ajaira Pechal posts links of aid organizations who are accepting donations for the victims.

- See picture of a new born boy who was born during the wrath of Sidr and was aptly named Cyclone, thats a unlucky name.

- Kathy comments in Nari Jibon's Bangladesh from our view:
Dhaka experienced a Category 3 hurricane; friends reached via mobiles (cell phones) report that residents have had little or no power or water since the storm. Signs of Bangladeshi resilience are everywhere.
Finally good news from Shawn at The Uncultured Project that lives are slowly returning to normal in Dhaka City:
I kid you not - people are cheering on the streets and in their homes nearby. The reason? The electricity has come back to my little part of Dhaka City. What surprises me is the determined nature for Bangladeshis - at least those in Dhaka City - for things to go back to normal. If this had happened in America - this would be declared a national emergency. TV shows would be pre-empted and this would be covered 24/7. But, for the brief hour I had electricity today, it seems that even local TV stations didn’t bother to pre-empt their programming to cover the damage from the storms.
yeah talking about Bangladeshi resilience.


The aftermath of Hurricane Sidr: signs of progress?

Sidr strikes Bangladesh

Cyclone Sidr: Blogger experiences and reactions

The aftermath of Hurricane Sidr: signs of progress?

BDNEWS24.com & BBC are reporting:
- At least 250 people killed. Barguna had 77 deaths, Barisal 52, Patuakhali 40, Bagerhat 15, Khulna 11, Gopalganj 10, Bhola 15, Satkhira 13 and Faridpur 10, as storm surges nearly five-feet high slammed into 15 coastal districts.

- Hundreds of fishing boats caught in the cyclone failed to return to shore. Red Crescent officials have said at least three villages were flattened by the storm. Search and rescue efforts had been initiated by civilians, army and police, and the casualty figures will rise.

- The storm packing winds of 240 kph (150mph) continued its severest onslaughts on the southern coast from about 5:30pm Thursday to early Friday when it weakened into a tropical storm and was moving across the country to the northeast.

- Communications and electricity supplies snapped across the country. Most parts of the coastal region was virtually blacked out during the night.

- The capital Dhaka had power and communications link cut off as driving rains flooded some streets and strong winds sent billboards flying through the air. Buildings and roofs were shaken by fierce winds during the night, and that by morning power and water supplies had been cut.

- Earlier hundreds of thousands of people were evacuated or sought safe shelter before the storm hit the coast, but some were left behind.

- International Federation of Red Cross And Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) bulletin on its cyclone preparedness programme (CPP) incorporates the services of over 34,000 BDRCS volunteers, reaching approximately 1.1 million people.

Considering the force of the cyclone which is bigger than Katrina in USA (2004) and the 1991 cyclone in Bangladesh I would say that the casualties are much much lower. These days Bangladesh has learnt the lessons. Now it has more sophisticated early warning systems and cyclone shelters to save hundreds of thousands of people.

I still remember the TIME article “cyclone of Death” published just after the 1991 cyclone (left more than 140,000 dead) which quoted from Rabindranath Tagore’s Sea of waves:

In the twinkling of an eye it ended! None could see

When life was, and when life finished!

James Walsh wrote:
“A world used to human-scale catastrophes — plane crashes, say, that kill a few hundred at most — cannot absorb the biblical dooms that visit Bangladesh. Straddling the conjoined mouths of the Ganges and Brahmaputra, two of the Indian subcontinent’s mightiest rivers, the country is regularly drowned by flood crests surging downstream or scourged by whirlwinds from the sea. Of the 20th century’s 10 deadliest storms, seven have devoured their victims at the head of the Bay of Bengal.”
BBC report about memories of the 1970 cyclone:
Water mark more than 20 feet high in Bhola. Hundreds of thousands of people were caught in sleep when death came along with tidal surges via the river (there was no early warning system).
Facing the challenge of this mega cyclone Sidr and keeping the figures under couple of hundreds in a populous land (of 140 million) is truly a sign of progress if one should compare. Its true because of lack of resources we cannot expect Bangladesh to be more perfect in disaster management but this proves Bangladesh is on the right path and more awareness and experience are needed to tackle the changing climates and the wraths of the nature.

Razib asks is Sidr a sign of progress?
"I repeat this litany to offer optimistic note: things are getting better! Bangladesh is a depressing kleptocracy, but it muddles along, and the arrow of progress is in a positive direction."
Earlier in 2005 I wrote about Hurricane Katrina and compared with Bangladesh. Commentators praised the survival instincts of the Bangladeshi people, their ingenuity in the face of adversity and their culture of hard work and the courage to start all over again.

Update I: Reuters reports quoting local authorities and Red Crescent Society that the the death toll has risen to 348. The official count is 247. Fakhruddin Ahmed, chief of Bangladesh's army-backed interim government, flew to some devastated districts on the coasts of the Bay of Bengal on Friday, to see the extent of damage to lives and property.

Care rushed aid to affected areas.

Stunned villagers recount storm terror:
Madaripur, Bangladesh - "I have never seen such a huge storm in my life," Nazrul Islam said, surveying the wreckage after his house - and hundreds like it - were wiped out by the fury of the Bangladesh cyclone.

"Trees have fallen across every street and there is not a single house with a tin roof left, the roofs were blown away and smashed by the wind. Now they are lying all over the place."

Patuakhali: "We shut up all the doors and windows but the storm was so powerful that everything was shaking, we thought the whole building was going to be blown away."
BBC: In pictures: Cyclone strikes Bangladesh, Eyewitness accounts.

Update II:Just spoke to parents in Dhaka. The immediate crisis is the absence of electricity because of damage in the national grid. Water and Petrol pumps are not working and may soon lead to crisis and panic. Many TV channel going on and off air because of electricity problems. Telecommunication network disrupted. The uncultured project updates about the day after in the Capital Dhaka:
The sound of generators now fills the streets of Dhaka - power hasn’t come back since last night. I was kind of hoping that this would be like other blackouts I’ve experienced - where some regions would have power and others not. But, after talking to relatives in Shantinagar, Mohakhali DOHS, Gulshan/Baridhara - it seems like this is a city-wide blackout. That’s a first during my stay here in Bangladesh.


Sidr strikes Bangladesh

Cyclone Sidr: Blogger experiences and reactions

November 15, 2007

Cyclone Sidr: Blogger experiences and reactions

The animation of the Sidr cyclone hitting Bangladesh

Toufiq: Chittagong, Bangladesh 01:29 AM Bangladesh Time (+6 GMT) (in Bangla)
Electricity just went. Its raining heavily outside. Gusty winds are also present. I am awake for unknown danger. Does anybody know cyclone when the cyclone will be past Chittagong or is it really in Chittagong?
Tanvir: 03:00 AM Bangladesh Time (+6 GMT):
The Storm is crossing Barishal and still a category 3 hurricane. It will scale down to category one in 12 hours.
The Uncultured Project: View from Dhaka, Bangladesh
"It felt like something out of a movie. I was in a car on the way home - it was fifteen minutes to midnight. There wasn’t a soul on the street and the only sounds you could hear were the rain beating down on the streets, the noise of the wind, and the car’s engine. It was pitch black too - every home, apartment, and building as far as the eye could see had no electricity. Then - all of a sudden - a blinding bright light and a roar erupts right next to the car - just outside of my side of the car. My window then gets showered in glowing sparks.

I wasn’t in any danger - it was just a transformer exploding. But, for the first time in this whole time in Bangladesh - I was scared…

I’m writing this on my battery’s laptop power. The glow of the screen is the only thing that is lighting up this room. Now, this isn’t the first time there’s been a blackout - but this time it’s different. This isn’t the first time its rained - but this it’s different. It’s different because, this time it’s caused by Cyclone Sidr."

(Picture courtesy Times Online)

Updates from Ghour, Dhaka, Bangladesh (in Bangla):
- National Electricity grid was suspended in coastal regions of Khulna, Bagerhat, Pirozpur and Barishal around 7:30 PM last evening. So mobile and land phone networks went dead.

- A huge damage is expected from the Sunderbans

- Tidal surges of 5-6 feet smashed Patuakhali's low-lying areas. Many houses were damaged in Chittagong and Lakxmipur.

- Chittagong University suspended its classes and exams today.

- The Cox-Bazar coast was inundated with tidal surges of 7-8 feets.

- The scyclone has turned into a storm and its dying down. But it has been raining continuously in many areas.

- Reports have been coming that 3 persons died in Barishal.

The Intersection: USA
It's about time. It's past time. Bay of Bengal cyclones have previously killed tens or even hundreds of thousands from storm surges and flooding. While those of us watching Sidr develop have been sounding alarm, the U.S. media has all but ignored an impending tragedy. Today the storm made landfall and they've finally noticed. While Chris and I don't understand why it took so long to make top headlines, we're thankful that collective American attention is now focused intently on this catastrophic storm hitting the most vulnerable place on earth.

I fear this storm may be a worst case scenario. It's my sincere hope that we're mistaken. #
Dr. Jeff Masters' WunderBlog at Weather Underground: USA:

Interesting unoffical reading from Barisal as before the surge arrived and station went offline:

Wind readings of almost 100mph from the NE - and well outside the eyewall. The most destructive winds near the centre of the storm will hit this site from the SSE and be much more intense...

All available stations where the remains of Sidr's CDO lie are now currently offline from reporting...

Bideshi Blue: USA/Bangladesh:
Although the government says its preparations include the shelters built after the previous cyclone, many are asking: What shelters and in what condition? Both Masters and the BBC among others have commented on the limited number of 2500 multi-use shelters and many of them are in poor condition for the millions that need them.
Related: Sidr strikes Bangladesh - news updates

Sidr strikes Bangladesh

According to latest reports in BDNEWS24.com Tropical Cyclone Sidr strikes Bangladesh at category 4 hurricane velocity. The latest updates from different news sources so far:

- The hurricane SIDR struck Khulna-Barisal coast shortly after 5pm Thursday, setting off driving rains in its path.

- The hurricane triggered heavy winds speeding at up to 180 kilometres per hour through Heron Point, Khepupara, Dublarchar and coastal areas adjacent to the Sundarbans.

- The sea turned "very turbulent", the weather office said. Water level rose by up to 3 feet in the Bay.

- The core of the storm was still about 350 km (220 miles) from the coast and was expected to make landfall around midnight on Thursday (1800 GMT). The core of the storm has been static, but may suddenly move with super speed before it finally slams the shores.

- Evacuated! The BBC team had to leave the MV Aboshar after running aground in bad cylone weather. The vessel—MV Abashar hired for BBC's river tour named "Bangladesh by river"—got stuck in Daulatdia, 25 kilometres off Sirajganj town.

- Chittagong and Mongla ports suspended operations on Wednesday and moved ships to safer areas.

- All schools and colleges in Chittagong and other towns in the storm's path have been shut down and fishing trawlers have been asked to return to port immediately.

- Shah Amanat International Airport in Chittagong suspended its flight operations at 10pm Wednesday until otherwise told.

- Zia International Airport in Dhaka advised to suspend all flights from 9pm until further notice in Thursday.

- At Cox'd Bazar a popular tourist destination, authorities evacuated nearly 200,000 people to about 600 government and private shelters and asked others to move on their own. Nearly 10 million Bangladeshis live along the southern coast.

- The government is all set to face the disaster - The chief adviser of the caretaker Government Fakhruddin Ahmed said.

Update I: BDNews24.com reports:

- The mega-cyclone SIDR ripped through the coastal zones of Bangladesh, leaving a trail of devastation behind. SIDR was more powerful than the 1991 cyclone that killed 140,000 people.

- The storm with strong, gusty winds continued its carnage on the southern coast from about 5:30pm Thursday to about 1:00am Friday.

- The storm triggered tidal surges that inundated many villages in the southern districts of Pirojpur and Jhalakathi. The areas plunged into blackouts.

- Around 600,000 persons evacuated to cyclone shelters.

- Casualties so far: A boat capsized in Satkhira, leaving a 70-year-old man dead. 16 persons are missing.

- The movement of SIDR seems to have slowed, but it is still as powerful as before - a Category 3 hurricane at the present.

- The meteorology department raised danger signal number 10, the highest, at Mongla, Bangladesh's second main sea port, and number 9 at Chittagong and Cox's Bazar.

- In Dhaka, Manik Mia Avenue was littered with uprooted trees. A long stretch of the road went under water, slowing traffic.

More Sidr path info at Joint typhoon warning center.

The Bangladesh coasts have been hit by over 80 cyclones of hurricane violence in the past 125 years, killing about two million people and rendering many more millions homeless.

Cyclone Sidr: Blogger experiences and reactions

November 13, 2007

Cyclone Sidr heading towards Bangladesh and India

37 years ago the "Bhola Cyclone" hit Bangladesh (then East Pakistan), which was the deadliest tropical cyclone ever recorded, and one of the deadliest natural disasters in modern times. Death toll estimates range from 300,000 to as high as 500,000 because of a storm surge in the low-lying delta.

The storm pundit Chris Mooney writes in the Daily Green:
Cyclone Sidr, in the Bay of Bengal, is explosively intensifying. I don't know how strong the storm is right now -- the official tracking agency, the Indian Meteorological Department in New Delhi, lacks a recent update as I write this. To my eye the storm looks like at least a Category 3 or 4, and automated estimates would agree with that assessment. In short, it looks like this storm is going to strike India or Bangladesh, and that it may be very powerful when it does so.
The Bhubaneswar Meteorological Centre said in its report that it may hit Orissa by Thursday. The updated status:
"The very severe cyclonic storm over South–East Bay of Bengal moved northerly direction and lay centred at 5-30 pm over Southeast and adjoining central Bay of Bengal at about 850 km South East of Paradip,”
According to the Daily Star Bangladesh meteorological department raised cautionary signal number 4:
The hurricane was centred 1115 kilometres south-southwest of Chittagong, 1030km south-southwest of Cox's Bazar and 1090km south of Mongla seaport. It is likely to intensify further and move in the north and northwest direction. If it is so, then the hurricane should reach Orissa coast by tomorrow (Thursday).
Lets hope it does not land up in any populous region.

(Get updated Satellite Photo courtesy of the Indian Meteorological department)

Update: The Storm Pundit reports Sidr is getting worse:

Cyclone Sidr, currently in the Bay of Bengal and headed towards India or Bangladesh, recently became the 15th Category 4 or 5 storm of 2007, with sustained winds estimated at 115 knots or more than 130 miles per hour. Now, it's all a matter of where and when.
Update II:Bloomberg reports quoting the U.S. Navy Joint Typhoon Warning Center:
Tropical Cyclone Sidr moved across the Bay of Bengal packing winds of 213 kilometers (133 miles) per hour on a path for Kolkata in India.
Hat tip: Kathy for sending me links of updates.

Update III: BDNews24 reports:
The Met office Wednesday evening sounded great danger signal No. 10 for Mongla port and great danger signal 9 for Chittagong and Cox's Bazar as a severe storm in the Bay of Bengal was expected to make landfall Thursday.

The weather warning left at least 100 tourists trapped on the St Martin's Island as ships and country boats were ordered off the sea. The Chittagong Port Authority suspended operations.

Bangladesh's main tourist resort, Cox's Bazar, wore a deserted look on Wednesday and hotels were largely empty, officials and witnesses said.

Picture courtesy BDNEWS24.COM.

November 12, 2007

Flash mob protesting Pakistan's emergency

Pakistani blogger Dr. Awab Alvi successfully used Flash mob strategy in protesting emergency of Pakistan.

Andy Carvin reports:
"If you announce a date a day in advance, the army and police show up" and they "beat the hell out of you," according to Dr. Alvi.

So he concluded it made more sense to organize very brief protests through telephone calls and other communication channels. At an appointed time, the protesters show up, pull out signs and shout slogans demanding an end to the state of emergency. After 10 minutes, they put away their signs and leave before the authorities can interfere with them.
I need to read the book Smart Mobs: The Next Social Revolution by Howard Rheingold.

A seminar on Bangladesh genocide in 1971

On December 9, 2007 the Department of Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Kean University in Union, New Jersey, will be holding a seminar on genocide in Bangladesh titled "Bangladesh 1971: Intolerance, Violence and Genocide".

This will be the first international academic conference on the Bangladesh genocide and it will become part of the coursework for a masters degree.

More details in Shada Kalo.

A killer speaks

Controversies surround a telephone interview with Col. (rtd) Abdur Rashid broadcasted in Channel-I. Col. Rashid is absconding in exile because he has been found guilty of murdering Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the father of the nation. Shada Kalo and An Ordinary citizen have more on this.

Trigger happy border security force of India

While Indian BSF Jawans gift sweets to Pakistani rangers some of their colleagues are shooting down Bangladeshi cattle traders.

The Bangladesh media reported quoting BDR (their Bangladesh counterpart) sources that the Indian border guards of Jhaudanga camp opened fire on some cattle traders while they were returning home from India in the morning, killing Saheb Ali on the spot.

The Indian media however defended BSF:
BSF personnel last night spotted a group of Bangladeshi intruders cutting barbed wire fencing to sneak into the Indian territory. When challenged by border guards, they attacked the BSF men with sharp weapons, forcing BSF to open fire.
While one Bangladeshi, who had already entered into Indian side got killed, other members of the group managed to flee, police said.

Police suspected that the deceased might be a prisoner as his left hand was tied with a chain and lock.
Notice some irrelevancies? Will people dare to use knife against soldiers at a border post with automatic weapons? And they have managed to only shoot down a handcuffed unarmed man?

This is because the BSF has taken policy of shoot at site. Indian media confirms that BSF has killed 47 Bangladeshis in 2007 while Bangladeshis claim its 97. Talking about Human rights this is premeditated murder and all done to pressurize Bangladesh.

Asif at Dhaka Shohor slates BSF chief A.K. Mitra's claim that the human rights group Adhikar (who is vocal against BSF atrocities) "has emerged as an anti-Indian set-up which is run by former Bangladeshi military men. I admit there are incidents of firing at the border but all these allegations of Adhikar are not true."
Then one has to ask: why Odhikar is busy investigating human rights abuses by "Bangladeshi military men"? Now I don't know the background of the people in charge of Odhikar, but one simply has to ask this: has Odhikar shown the Bangladeshi military any favours? Given that they have investigated the Cholesh Ritchil case when almost no one else did, the answer is resoundingly "No!". I don't think A.K. Mitra is listening.
We have tried to search the truth years earlier but the truth seems fuzzy at the moment.

Limitations of the local media in Bangladesh

Via Asif at Dhaka Shohor we know that how local newspapers are facing hindrances in exercising freedom of Speech. An excerpt from the Daily New Age:
When New Age was going to press on Wednesday evening, we had in our possession photographs of top-brass BNP leaders, including standing committee member Mahbubur Rahman, being assaulted by activists of their own party. While we at New Age strongly believe that – in the spirit of freedom of the press and our readers’ right to information – we are committed to bring those photographs to our readers, a number of our journalists were repeatedly ‘reminded’, however courteously, that Mahbub after all is a former army chief and publishing photographs of him being assaulted may not go down well with his former charges. Living in these times of ‘reminders’ and their untold consequences as they are, we, therefore, sincerely apologise to our readers for our inability to publish those photographs, and hence absconding, even if momentarily, in our responsibility to bring to you the whole truth in its full, graphic manifestation."
The picture in question.

Official declaration: there is no news censorship in Bangladesh.

Dhaka Greeneries are shrinking for public

Rumi at In the middle of Nowhere reports:
Public park space in Dhaka is almost non existent. Almost hidden within this concrete slum of 12 million people, few spots here and there still gives the Dhakaites much needed greenery and some fresh air to walk in the early morning.

While the governments should consider this park space shortage as an issue of priority and do everything possible to make more greenery available to the public, this government has done exactly the opposite.

The took away almost half of Ramna Green (25 acre of 62 acres) and silently gave it to a club of 1500 elites of Dhaka, the Dhaka Club. The hitherto public park space will be the golf course for the 1500 elites of Dhaka. And this broad daylight robbery of public land occurred almost 5 months ago in June 2007.

Missing Person

When a VIP/celebrity is blown out of proportion by media and vanishes from media soon after then people start to question.

Bangladesh has a lot to teach the world

Safia Minney runs the fair trade fashion company called People Tree. She describes about Bangladesh, the land and people she loves:
The politics of neighboring countries are intensifying the problems caused by climate change. In times of heavy rainfall or flooding India will use its dams to favour its own people and land redirecting excess water from its great dams into Bangladesh. And in times of drought when water is scarce Bangladesh will receive only a trickle. The politics of water are well underway and tensions will mount as rainfall patterns are disrupted due to climate change. In an agricultural country where people rely on fishing and farming water means life or death.

The people of Bangladesh are so kind and holistic in their thinking.

Bangladesh has a lot to teach the world, but recently it seems that its “care taker” government lacks confidence in its own people and intellectuals. The world has moved on. Bangladesh and its people hold many of the answers for sustainability. It is the time for multi stakeholder initiatives and approaches when we all work together for change. But confidence is needed in a nation that offers so much, but ends up comparing itself with big business and a world economy system gone mad.

Bangladesh people may need help up as one of the poorest nations in the world but the nation has made great strides in the last 20 years, in terms of literacy and development. It also qualifies as the happiest nation in the world, so clearly there are other benchmarks that determine the true prosperity of a nation.
These and lot more in her blog.

Also don't forget to check the Sarah dress.

Image credit People Tree.

India's new test captain

Congratulations Anil Kumble. But will he be a successful performer in spin department in non-Indian pitches?

November 10, 2007

Bangladeshi Blogosphere remembers Nur Hossain

Today it is Nur Hossain Day.

Mash writes in E-Bangladesh:
On November 10, 1987 a young Bangladeshi man named Nur Hossain was shot and killed by the forces of Bangladesh’s part-time poet and full time dictator General Hossain Mohammad Ershad. On that day Nur Hossain had joined thousands of other Bangladeshis in protesting the dictator’s rule. The protesters demanded a return to democracy. Nur Hossain stood out amongst the protesters. He had the Bengali words “Sairachar nipat jak” painted in bright white letters on his bare chest, and the words “Ganatantra mukti pak” painted on his back. “Down with autocracy” on his chest; “Let there be democracy” on his back. He died for those demands and became a martyr for the democracy movement in Bangladesh.

Today, two decades after his death, we remember and honor him.
Dhaka Shohor writes (in Bangla) that the Nur Hossain square at the zero point (city center) of Dhaka is in dilapidating state and not maintained by Dhaka city Corporation. He ponders: "are the lives of general citizens of lesser value than the elites and this is true even for the democratic governments!"

Black and Grey wrote in an elegy for Nur Hossain last year:
Hossain's struggle--or statement so to speak--was not actually against a particular regime, it was a brave resistance against a brutal and corrupt economic system that had made the country a filthy playground for a class of nouveau arrivé bourgeois. One and a half decades after that nothing significant has changed.
Sushanta writes:
"Look Nur Hossain how the renowned politicians of the country are remembering you with garlands. But did Nur Hossain die for this only?"
Rehan at BangladeshWeb Blogs writes:
Nur Hussain is gone but not forgotten – his bare torso that had two lines written in Bangla on that day -- Gonotontro Mukti Paak, Shoyrachar Nipat Jaak (Long live democracy, down with tyranny) – will always be a glowing symbol for us and generations to come who long for a better Bangladesh.

Let there only be one way for our nation to meander, the way towards democracy, equality and justice for all. Let not anyone take our nation of crores hostage to autocracy, corruption and injustice.
Eskimo says Nur Hossain is the lighthouse of Bangladesh democracy.

Tacit reminds us:
In Bangladesh, we had grown complacent in the last seventeen years, mistakenly thinking that our fragile democracy would endure without proper care and nurturing. We know our mistake today, we know that we need to strive to regain our cherished ideals, to snatch back what has been taken from us, to prove wrong those who contemptuously tell us that we are not deserving of our basic rights as human beings.
Mash concludes:

Now, two decades after Nur Hossain paid with his life for a democracy he envisioned, Bangladesh is once again under a General’s grip. The story is the same. The new General, Moeen U Ahmed, is also fighting “corruption”. The new administration in Washington supports him. Meanwhile the democracy that Nur Hossain earned with his blood lies beneath the boot of another usurper.

YouTube video of the day

November 07, 2007

The South Asian Blogosphere

Welcome to it if you still are missing the South Asian perspectives.

Pakistan cricket team's tour to India 2007/2008

Whenever we think of an India-Pakistan cricket match it promises a great rivalry and excitement to millions of cricket fans in the sub continent. Pakistan cricket team is touring India for a treat of five One Day International cricket matches and two tests (schedule here).

Rahul Dravid was dropped from captaincy and his former deputy Virender Sehwag was appointed as the captain of the One-day squad for the first two matches. India won the first match but Pakistan may get back in the series in the 2nd ODI to be played tomorrow as Mohali pitch is pacer friendly. Pakistan pace star Shoaib Akhter may exploit this pitch if he plays.

More exciting games ahead and as before its my turn to look for online resources to watch/follow matches.

# The TV channels broadcasting live (sadly I don't receive anyone):

* Neo Sports

* DoorDarshan (the feed from NEO Sports)

* Sky Sports (Only the 2nd ODI and the 2 tests)

* GEO Super, the first 24 hour sports channel in Pakistan

# Free video streaming links:

* Fabulous links from Kalyan's Blog.

* Check the Nepali Students Bergen's embedded video link.

* Sopcast: Please download sopcast from here. Then find live video cricket broadcasts from the channels list and click on any one of them. Wait a few moments and you can watch clear free live video of the match in full screen mode.

* Live Webcast from Tamil audio-video.

* All TV channels Online - for free sopcast streaming

* Some more links from Nihar's world.

# Updates via sms:

Receive wicket, score and milestone updates via sms during the test match from Cricket-Online.com

# Exclusives and ball-by-ball commentary in Internet portals:

- Cricinfo.com
- StickyWicket.com
- Cricket365.com
- 123 India.com
- CricketWorld.com
- CricketZone.com
- Crick8.com
- Cricketnext.com
- MSN Cricket

# Highlights:

- Highlights of the India Pakistan ODI Cricket Matches:

- Highlights of the India vs Pakistan 1996, 1999 and 2003 world cup encounters