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

February 27, 2009

United in grief, united for justice

BDR Mutiny: Today's Updates

Twitter messages to start your day with:

TheTravlnAzn: A Minister present at Ambala during talks mentioned that they were aware of the problems in BDR, but didn't see it as a threat.

TheTravlnAzn: Also, there are still a number of missing people that were inside the BDR compound that firefighters spent all night looking for.

nine_L: Find out who is going to be beneficiary, who had the evil plans. BDR was used by external power they are victims. What a HENIOUS crime!

doubtinggaurav: Is it just a BDR mutiny: There’s a second possibility: A faction within the Army, which either owes allegiance t.. http://tinyurl.com/b86mkp

birlaa: Bus services to Dhaka suspended indefinitely - http://tinyurl.com/bddere

W7VOA: India media, Bangladesh experts say BDR has abandoned border posts -- no guards manning Bangladesh side of 4,000-km border with India.

ehabmehedi More bodies of Mil. Officers extracted. At least 7 bodies dugg out of the ground - Chann i . #bdr #dhaka

littleabout: 38 more bodies found at BDR headquarters: Dhaka, Feb 27 (ANI): Thirty-eight more bodies were found on Friday dur.. http://tinyurl.com/cxba9z

KidFromDhaka: I Don't think all member of BDR present @ Pilkhana was involved in murder itwas planned by small group other just followed with mobmentality

Blog views:

Kotha Chilo writes:

What do you call it when a group of "disgruntled" BDR soldiers [Bangladesh border guards] started their expression of grievances by open-firing on the commissioned army officers? Mutiny? Rebellion? Revolt? Uprising? When the events started to unfold at Dhaka's BDR headquarters, Bangladesh news media coined words such as "mutiny" and "revolt".

What happened inside BDR headquarters wasn't any 'mutiny' – that was gross violation of chain of commands and brutality. Even our liberation war did not see so many of our officers dead – killed brutally.
The BDR soldiers said they were repressed, oppressed and tortured by the officers posted in BDR sectors. They said they became "disgruntled" of their [the army's] behaviour as well as corruption. What a way to protest and drive your demands home. Till now, out 186 officers 20 bodies of officers have been recovered from the river and sewage holes. The rest are missing. BDR chief Maj-Gen Shakil Ahmed Chowdhury was killed in the first minute. His wife was burnt alive inside their residence. The soldiers killed many officers indiscriminately without judging who were guilty of corruption and who were not. What do I call it now? The "disgruntled-ness" of soldiers has led to more than 100 deaths.
"disgruntled"? Isn't the wife who is manhandled every night "disgruntled"? Aren't the day labourers who remain unfed and half-fed "disgruntled"? Aren't the people who live under misrule of so-called democratic politicians and power-hungry army dictators "disgruntled"?BDR soldiers – now I feel "disgruntled" at your massacre. I wish I had a way to express my "disgruntled-ness".

BDFact has a theory:
A majority of the Army officers like RAB, Task Forces, Brigades, Divisional HQs, or Units, who were working in different important areas during CTG period, were all posted to BDR as part of the changes of the Govt.

Now that many of them are gone, who benefits from the demise of these 'witnesses'?

An Ordinary Citizen stresses that brutality has no meaning:
We condemn those who to meet their grievances brutally killed the innocent and worthy sons of the nation.

We mourn the death of our brave officers, many of whom had served the nation in their golden career. We also mourn the death of innocent family members and ordinary citizens in the incident.

We express our heartfelt sympathy for the relatives of the dead who have lost their husbands, brothers or sisters in the massacre.

We have no language left but only silent prayer to Almighty for the children who lost their parents and who will remain in shock and pain for long.

This brutality has no meaning. It is not a way to meet one’s grievances.

The government should make a thorough inquiry of the event and punish those who were involved in plotting and executing this heinous act.

Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying reminds:
It is a sad irony that BDR soldiers have carried out this massacre. On the night of March 25, 1971 it was BDR soldiers (then EPR) who became the first martyrs of Bangladesh’s Liberation War when Pakistani soldiers massacred them by the hundreds at Pilkhana. It was the opening salvo of the 1971 genocide. Pilkhana is hallowed ground. These cold blooded murderers have defaced it.

Speaking about the massacre the blogger says:
Now that the BDR “mutiny” in Dhaka is over, bodies of those massacred are being found inside the BDR headquarters at Pilkhana. Other bodies have been discovered dumped into sewege drains. Many army and BDR officers remain missing and it is feared the death toll may rise to 170.

Unheard Voice says:
The anger among the population is rising. More alarmingly, there is news that there is grave frustration inside the army about the handling of this. Amid speculations on the nature of the amnesty, Hasina today hinted on investigating the ‘real instigators’. While that can be done in the mid-long term, in the short term, a clear announcement that no criminals, murderers, rapists and arsonists will be pardoned is a must. Similarly the country needs to mourn and reconcile for the loss of so many army officers.

There will be investigations. General amnesty won’t be applicable to those involved in the killing - Prime Minister said.

- GOVT Announces National Mourning Saturday and Sunday

- Brig Gen Moinul Hossain, AWC, PSC new DG of BDR

Official death toll has reached 67.

Bangladesh: Mutiny Is Over, But Question Remains

Check out my piece at Global Voices Online. Some excerpts:

Yesterday it was a tensed day in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh. The 33-hour long mutiny and siege by aggrieved lower rank officers of paramilitary forces BDR ended as they surrendered their arms in the evening at the Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) headquarters. According to news paper reports seventeen BDR members (mostly army officers in command of the forces) and four civilians have been killed. Hostages were freed but 65-100 army officers and lower rank jawans are still missing and most of them are feared dead.

There has been many turn of events the whole day as the armed forces prepared an offensive to quell the mutiny. Tanks rolled in Dhaka city and people living near the BDR headquarters were evacuated. But after Prime Minister's televised speech the rebels finally surrendered avoiding bloody consequences.

Bloggers like BDfact were live blogging the prime Ministers' speech. Unheard Voice Blog posted regular updates the whole day. Joruri Khobor rounded up Facebook status messages which described the situation.

Jessica Lim posted some photos in her blog and in Flickr despicting the horror people faced. Dhaka Daily Photo has more pictures.

Shahnaz at Dhaka Dweller provides some background of the rebellion of the BDR members and asks some questions:

And this is how the seeds of discontent were first sown. The masters considered them an elite class, far above the lowly serfs. There was great disparity between pay, benefits, working conditions and career advancement between the officers and rank and file, and issues of corruption practiced by senior officers. [..] Soldiers raised their grievances again and again with their officers, to no avail. Their Director General had promised to place the soldiers demands to the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina when she inaugurated the BDR week events. But he must have forgotten his promise, for he only spoke on behalf of his officers on that august occasion. Disgruntled soldiers grumbled all night.

All Sector Commanders were assembled in the Darbar Hall the next morning when in the course of an argument between the soldiers and officers, weapons were drawn and fired. We do not know who fired first, but the results were the same. Soldiers and officers died. And innocent civilians were killed and wounded. Gunshots and heavy mortar firing were heard. Plumes of smoke were seen rising from the BDR complex.

In a democracy, in a people's republic, grievances should not be allowed to explode in this manner. This situation has caught the government unaware, but really, did the government (albeit newly elected), have absolutely no idea this was brewing? Could it not have been prevented?

Bloggers are debating issues like why BDR members resorted to killing the officers and especially, the controversial ‘who fired first'. Quoting a army officer who was present in the scene media reports [bn] that the BDR jawans fired first on the officers. But this blogger quoting his uncle who was also present there [bn] reveals that the BDR chief was involved in firing on a jawan during altercation and this had escalated the situation. The question remains who is telling the truth.

Atiqul Haque rounds up [bn] newspaper and citizen media reports of survivors. Some of the officers who were held hostage revealed shocking tales of brutality on them. The public sympathy shifted from the BDR mutineers to the army victims who were brutally executed. Bloggers like Dhrubo Hasan mourned the deaths. A commenter Nighat Tithi said:

খারাপ লাগছে মানুষের সহমর্মিতা পাবার জন্য তাদের মিথ্যাচার দেখে, শুরুতে টিভিতে একজন জোয়ান বলেছিলেন, মাত্র একজন অফিসার মারা গেছেন, তার নাম বলা যাবে না। অথচ বিদ্রোহের শুরুতেই ৭০ জন (প্রথম আলো'র সংবাদ অনুযায়ী) অফিসারকে গুলি করে মারা হয়েছে। শুধু তাই না, তাদের গুলির পাশাপাশি বেয়নেট নিয়ে খুচিয়ে আঘাত করে হয়েছে। এই কি স্বাধীন দেশের মানুষের নিজের ভাইয়ের প্রতি আচরন? এইসব তথ্য সম্পূর্ণ গোপন রাখা হয়েছিলো ! আহারে, মাত্র ১৭ জনের লাশ পাওয়া গেলো। বাকি লাশগুলোকে কি করা হয়েছে? তাদের কি দাফনও হবে না?

I feel bad to learn that the BDR jawans lied to get sympathy of the people. At first a jawan said only one officer was killed, we will not tell his name. But around 70 officers (as per media reports) were killed at the start of the mutiny. They were also bayoneted besides being shot. Is that how a brother treats his brother in an independent country? These facts were kept hidden. Ah..only 17 bodies were found. What happened to the other bodies? Will not they be buried as per ritual?

The government bowed to BDR's demand by giving them amnesty for the mutiny. Kamaluddin asks [bn] to whom the amnesty was given? Those who brutally killed officers and innocent civilians?

Unheard Voice Blog appeals to the government to declare Saturday, February 28 as the national day of mourning to honor the deceased servicemen and the innocent civilians and demanded justice for the victims.

Update: World Focus posts a blog roundup: Bangladesh revolt ends after deadly soldier mutiny.

February 26, 2009

BDR Mutiny.. Is it over?

The Daily Star reports

* BDR surrendered weapon after Prime Minister gave ultimatum in her speech
* Police took control of BDR headquarters at 6:40 Bangladesh local time without being challenged.
* 12 bodies found; 29 officers rescued
* No one could trace the Director General of BDR Shakil Ahmed, his wife and around 50 or more officers who were taken hostage by the mutineers Wednesday morning.
* BDR jawans deserted 24 border outposts in Chuadanga, Meherpur and Jhenidah districts

BDNEWS24 reports that talks, not tanks, put mutiny to rest which is a success for the government and relief for the people.

More news from different sources (tv, radio etc.):

* DG BDR is dead. Most of the officers were killed during brashfire. it was plotted plan - Maj Kamruzzaman, who was freed confirmed. He said it was well planned for many days. Red-bandana and Ammunition distribution are indications.

* Al jazeera is reporting that all BDR have surrendered at pillkhana. But 12 tanks are now facing the BDR Head Quarters and army has not accepted Hasina's offer of amnesty to BDR jawans.

* Pilkhana has no electricity from the evening. The fate of the arrested BDR Jwans are uncertain.

* People are asking why major opposition parties did not engage in endeavors to resolve this issue. This is a national issue.

* There is apparently a huge disagreement over who shot first. BDR members have been claiming since beginning that the adc (aide-de-campe) of DG SHakil fired the shot first and some army officers confirmed. But army is denying this trying to establish the logic that officers do not carry arms (as there are versions that DG SHakil shot at a jawan when they demanded accountability). This may be decisive in why a force became so violent and suicidal.

* The public sentiment have shifted from the BDR jawans to the army after seeing the deadbodies of the army officers who were brutally killed.

Some more news from twitter:

rajputro: 9 more bodies found from #bdr hq, one of which was of a little girl's :( #dhaka, #bangladesh

rajputro: firetrucks are seen to enter #BDR possibly to search within the sewage lines

@Ekushey Abar jigs :) There will be a dance, a dance od death once the dust settles.

ehabmehedi Anyone got info on the 9yr old dead body found earlier today ? Mujib Hoq had a 9-10/yo daughter. #bdr #dhaka

atunu Facebook users from Dhanmondi areas reporting sounds of Tank Tracks near Lalmatia water tank #bdr #bangladesh #dhaka

I am personally very sad to see many brilliant army officers and jawans, who were brutally killed and also many BDR jawans who were killed in the process. My prayer goes out to their families and may their souls rest in peace. Grievance or no grievances I don't support these kinds of acts of the mutineers. They have killed people like animals. No one is guilty until proven and the problem with taking law in your hand is that many innocent people die and you never get to know who was the real culprit. I do not support the amnesty against these mutineers. The amnesty can be given to rebellion but not the killings. Those who killed should get exemplary punishment so that the nation do not have to go through this kind of trauma again.

Tracking BDR Rebellion updates via twitter

Follow BDR Mutiny updates on Twitter

BDR Mutiny in Bangladesh.. Continued

Thursday is a fresh day but the mutiny situation is still volatile in BDR headquarters at Peelkhana in Dhaka. The first batch of surrender of arms went on till 4AM in the morning. But the second batch did not start.

There are reports of gunfire and unrests in BDR camps across the country. These have reached bdr mutineers and fearing widespread backlash they have stopped surrendering arms. Meanwhile the deadline to surrender arms ends sometime soon.

Here are some more updates via Twitter:

mahmudur #bdr mobile network is off in outside of dhaka at this moment but it will be off in whole country any moment

PurpleRome It all started in Dhaka but now its spreading to the rest of the country. Prime Minister Sheik Hasina will address the nation in a while.

sudhak In Dhaka and the situation is getting worse, mutiny spreading, hearing reports that a state of emergency will likely be called

phpfour crowd rattled in shahbag...continuous gunshots heard near dhaka uni(versity)

mahmudur #bdr army high officials told doctors of dhaka medical college to be prepared for mass causalities to be happened in short time

TheTravlnAzn Army is about to attack thhe BDR of bangladesh if theBDR does not drop its guns by 2pm local time, army has set up a large artillary gun ..

mahmudur #bdr #dhaka pm's speech started from 2:18 pm local time

mahmudur: #bdr #dhaka she is not telling anything about the reason behind this incident

mahmudur: #bdr #dhaka she is pointing something about third party who might be influenced this situation

seoexpertbd: The #BDR panic is still live and leaving office early now.

mahmudur: #bdr #dhaka people who live outside the bdr hq are suffering a lot

omiazad Just talked with my father in Dinajpur. BDR are shooting at anything. They are so desperate. Our house is just beside Kuthibari BDR Camp.


PM Hasina just completed her address to nation. Salient features:
1. Solution through dialogue, not through force.
2. BDR personnel should follow chain of command.
3. Be patient, we will solve it soon.
4. Certain quarters are creating confusion through rumours.
5. Refrain from self-destructive activities, don’t kill your own brothers.
6. Pls help me to solve this.
7. Don’t do anything more when I’m forced to take stern action.
8. Surrender arms, you will not be harmed.
9. Don’t make comments, remarks , or undertake activities that may jeopardise public security.
10. A committee led by Home Minister has been formed to look into BDR’s professional problems.
11. I will take any action for the interest of the nation. Don’t force me to take drastic action.

More news coming from citizen media sources. According to local media the mutiny has spread in Rajshahi, Dinajpur, Naogaon, Satkhira, Feni and Bandarban. 107 army personnel including officers have died so far.

Omor Hasan Al Zahid reports that the army has been preparing for action in Dhanmondi 15 with about 15 vehicles.

Rag Imon urged everyone to stay calm. She says:
Please ensure that there is no war. My fear is that this does not spread as a civil war. We hope that it ends with minimum bloodshed.
rajputro: etv confirmed #bdr personnel are surrendering their arms and returning to barracks

rajputro: #BDr #Dhaka #Bangladesh, people from hajaribag are requested to move away.

TheTravlnAzn Seems like the BDR troops, once hearing the Prime Ministers words, has begun to lower their guns, this is not 100% offical yet!!

From Unheard Voice Blog:
3.23 pm: ETV showing dhanmondi residents around pilkhana being evacuated. police are helping, though some may be fleeing of their own accord. Security around PM’s residence suddenly increased. the AL leadership was there all morning.
rajputro: #BDr #Dhaka #Bangladesh There are as many as 50tanks around dhanmondi shatmosjid road

atunu: #bdr #dhaka Unarmed BDR members are trying to blend in with the civilian outside to escape the slaughter that awaits them

Video of Tanks rolling in Dhaka:

Original Video- More videos at TinyPic

February 25, 2009

BDR Revolt Updates

First of all check my roundup in Global Voices Online.

Update 1:

Unheard Voice reports:

2AM: Fazle Nur Taposh, Sahara Khatun and the chief of Police went inside BDR compound to start the process of surrendering. Bangladesh TV cameraman has been called inside the BDR compound.

3AM: The jawans have started surrendering arms to Home Minister Advocate Sahara Khatun. The Daily Prothom Alo confirms BDR DG Shakil is dead, more than 15 killed. The officers’ families are getting out through Police ambulance.

4AM: Fresh gunshots heard. Its not over yet.

4:10AM Around 50 dead inside the BDR HQ. Taposh taking two buses inside to get the families out. BDR DG’s wife possibly released as well. Another released hostage said that officers’ houses were bombed and cars destroyed.

Army is kept out carefully. Politicians and police chief involved only.

4:27AM The jawans are finished surrendering. Now the tricky part. What to do with them? There are 3300 of them.

Main Report:

The Daily Star interviewed some rebel BDR personnel to learn how it all started:
The DG raised before the Prime Minister only two demands of the army officers in BDR but none of the demands of the lower tier personnel. This intensified our grievance.

when the DG started delivering his speech before 9:00am, a few BDR personnel created a commotion from the rear. The officers, sitting in the front row reacted to their unruly behaviour.

The disgruntled jawans asked the DG about the profit made during the Dal-Bhaat programme. They said after the programme ended, they were told that they would receive bonuses from the profit. Accordingly they had put their signatures on money receipts, but never got the money, claimed the mutineer.

The mutineer said, “At one stage, an officer fired a shot injuring a jawan. Then the lower tier personnel went out of the Darbar Hall and returned there with arms from the Pilkhana armoury and held the officers hostage at gunpoint.”
However the army is denying that anyone has been shot. “Was that a blank fire? An intimidation that provoked?” Surely we know how the armed forces people treats the BDR jawans.

The situation is far from over and still volatile. Rumors are that some of the 40 odd army officers (and some of their family) stationed inside the BDR compound may have been killed. We have then a hostage situation with dead hostages. So an army repercussion may be imminent.

Updates from Unheard Voices Blog:

BDFact says:
It is learnt BDR troops is not likely to surrender arms to night.

Some technical difficulties arose as to whom they will surrender arms as chain of command is fully broken and they are not willing to surrender arms to military.

This was complicated further by a rumor that a group of army commando is on its way from Sylhet to BDR HQ.

Tonight is a night of many probabilities.
Fariha questions why Army was there first to quell the mutiny:
For the army to use a chopper, ack acks and other ammunition to fire in a civilian dominated area in a democratic country is unnatural. We’re just asking for some transparency. Who ordered the army to come to BDR? And why the army and not police?
Globetrotter says:
I have this sneaky suspicion (I hope I’m wrong) that the BDR jawans who led the mutiny won’t lay down their arms. They’ve already killed their officers, so they know that they will have to face the music from the army.
Meanwhile Shahidul Alam has posted some photos from the ground and unbelievable videos:

Live Streaming BDR Mutiny reports

Trouble in Dhaka: BDR (Border Guards) Mutiny

Updates 2:

According to RTV DG of BDR shoot one BDR Jawan in the morning and he was spot dead. Reason is that he was asking for accountability of the Dal Bhat project. Now some backgrounds of this project. In March 2007 BDR started its project Dal Bhat to sell rice, vegetables and other commodities through BDR mobile outlets to bring down their prices. About six months later 200 more outlets were opened to expand their area of sales. 100 was operated directly by the BDR personnel, 50 by the members of the Ansar and 50 outlets by the volunteers like the students from colleges and universities who were not paid. According to the report In 4 months BDR sold commodities worth 300 million Takas. The Operation Dal Bhat continued in the year 2008 too.

The NTV interview with a rebel BDR member revealed:
Soldier with his mouth covered talking to this channel’s reporter has a whole new take on Operation Daal Bhaat. He says prices were artificially jacked up by high ranking BDR officials who stored commodities on BDR parade grounds and released them slowly to ensure prices went up first.
Deal Reached:

UNB ticker reporting: "PM announces amnesty for rebels; BDR delegation promises to surrender arms."

LGRD's Nanok confirmed the amnesty after meeting of PM with BDR representatives. The Jowans promised that they will turn in arms (possibly by next morning. After Army and RAB are withdrawn). Rebel Jowans are claiming they were fired upon first, during meeting in the Darbar Hall in the morning. They claimed Army has been unfairly depriving them of the money allocated for BDR personnel. DG of BDR Shakil Ahmed is unhurt.

Main Report:

Worrying news are coming from Dhaka. There is a mutiny going inside Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) headquarters. Apparently clashes broke out between senior and junior officers as troops have taken control and locked officers. Gun fires and mortar attacks were heard. Police sealed of the surrounding area of BDR headquarters in Dhanmondi. Journalists were seen with bullet vests and they were not given access to the scene. Five people, injured by stray bullets in Jigatala area during gunfight inside BDR Headquarters at Peelkhana this (Wednesday) morning.

There are two unconfirmed rumors:
a) BDR Chief has been shot
b) This is a pre-planned action - the ones who are shooting and killing have red ribbons on their forehead.
c) 46th brigade of the army moved in to quell mutiny. Hundreds of casualty but could not confirm deaths and injuries.
d) Brigadiar Amin (Ansars DG and previously with DGFI) is the plot-planner.

Other worrying developments:
a) Choppers are flying oiver Dhaka and BDR targeted on them
b) Army and RAB could not yet go inside
c) Civilians are being evacuated from Pilkhana. Residents of PWD quarters right next to Rifles have been moved to nearby Jhigatola.
c) There is a rummor of curfew from afternoon.
d) Shops are closing down with the rumor of carfew.
e) Al Jazeera reports that 11 officers have been killed and 60 people are currently hostage
f) No TV station is allowed to cover the event live.
g) Similar disturbances are reported from Rangamati district.
h) Prime Minister urged BDR troops to surrender arms and promised to listen to them for meeting their demands.


a) One Rickshaw puller succumbed to his injuries.
b) The sound of gunfire stopped around BD time 6 PM.
c) A number of children are stuck inside BDR public school. A hostage situation?
d) BDR's Deputy Director General is dead. BDR DG Major General Shakil Ahmed injured?
e) It was confirmed that 12 person has been killed.
e) This has been long planned - all of the sector commanders are there and it appears a lot of them are either injured or killed
f) Escaped BDR jawans are trying to surrender to police in different police stations. Live interview on channel 1.
g) A rebel soldier gives interview to NTV. Tells how it all started. He said they were pressed against wall. They were placing their demands to their DG then Army members started quarrel with them. Firings were exchanged and rebel started. They want Army out of BDR campus. They want to talk with PM

He is telling about corruption of officers in the 'Dal Bhat operation'. They want to live well not with poor conditions. They are now suicidal. They don't fear death.

Rebel's demands:
- PM or Home Minister must come in person to assure the BDR rebels that their demands will be met.
- BDR will solve their own problem Army should not interfere in BDR’s business.
- BDR head should not be appointed from Army.

Rebels describing their plights in an exclusive interview:

Prime Minister’s statement:
- BDR rebels must surrender. Government will meet all their demand.
- Otherwise, there will be strong actions

BD Fact has some questions calling it a defining moment of Bangladesh:
1. What are the actual demands of the BDR personnel? Having its DG from BDR people, not from Army? Did they ask for financial support and additional privileges? For how long these demands were made and not being addressed? Why? We need sequential stories.

2. All sector commanders were present in today's meeting at Darbar Hall. So, it cannot be the case that it was an accident. It must be a preplanned event. Who masterminded this?
Twitter updates:


Live blogging:

With pictures:

BD Fact

News reports:

Berlin from the sky

(Bühne Wuhlheide - Photo courtesy MorgenPost)

The winter this year has been intense and there were more cold days in a month than average. Check how Berlin has transformed as seen from the sky.

Berlin is going Wi-fi

After years of debate the German parliament paved the way for a free wifi network in Berlin city. The network will be within the S-Bahn-Ring (or the green zone) and will offer free for all surfing. The antennas will be posted on the traffic light posts. Guess I will have to look for the warchalking marks in the street soon.
Sony Center
Sony Center, one of the few places in Berlin where there is free wifi

Still today free wifi options in Berlin are limited. There is of course the T-online hotspots everywhere which charges in 24 hours what I pay for a month at home. To tackle this a network of bandwidth sharing called freifunk emerged in Germany which let registered users to use free wifi if they share their home network. I wish we could see something like this in Dhaka.

February 24, 2009

SMS in Bangla

I can read Bangla scripts in my cell phone via the opera mini browser but cannot write in Bangla. BanglaSMS has the solution for me as it offers an opensource program which can be downloaded and installed in my phone. From its website:
The software is self-contained. Just install it into your mobile phone and tell your friends to install it and there you go! All the GSM networks like Grameen Phone, Banglalink, Teletalk or Aktel users can use BanglaSMS to send sms in Bangla.

Oh, by the way, you know what? On 21st February 2009, the great International Mother Language Day, we have released version 2.0.0 as open source (and of course completely free). So who knows, may be you or your friend will write codes to make it even better.
The input system seems very easy. Can't wait to check it out.

February 22, 2009

Watch live: The OSCARS, 81st Annual Academy Awards

Watch live video from Oscars: The 2009 Academy Awards! on Justin.tv

'Slumdog Millionaire' dominates the oscars with 8 Awards including best pictures award. A.R. Rahman got two and Danny Boyle, the director got one. With 'Smile Pinky', another short documentary based in India its India's day with nine awards. Here is the complete list.

Torture And Custodian Death Prohibition Bill 2009

It is about time Bangladesh should do something about the extra judicial killings it has witnessed for many years. Ever since Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) started operating in 2004 to stop spiraling crime, they have made a practice of killing criminal suspects in detention. Torture methods used by the force include beatings, boring holes in suspects with electric drills, and the application of electric shock.

Human Rights Watch reported about it several times and they have published a 79 page report on this.

The Awami League MP Saber Hossain Chowdhury has proposed a bill in parliament titled "Torture And Custodian Death Prohibition Bill 2009". You can read the contents of the bill from here (pdf file).

It deals with provisions implying that the the authorities should record complaints from the victims, give protection to the victim, a special prosecutor should lead the trial proceedings, punishment of the law enforcement agency officials who commit such act.

I think every political party should back this bill and help implement this as soon as possible.

South Asian Rock Music Festival

The second South Asian Bands festival is taking place at Purana Qila in New Delhi, India. 14 rock bands of South Asia are participating in the event.

Nepali blogger Salik Shah, who is in New Delhi to attend the WordCamp, was at the festival and shares his reactions about the Bangladeshi band Miles among others:
The band that actual stole the show was the Bangladeshi band — Miles. Miles just celebrated their silver anniversary. We could see the reason why they are still going strong. I was at the top of my voice when they sang Shanti noi, Shanti noi.. I understand a lil’bit bangle and could actively indulge in their stellar act. They also covered November Rain and yeah — Rockk On… They surely rocked and left us thrilled!!! They also made us ‘Jump’. JUMP. JUMPPPPPPP!!!! When they asked us to chant “jaaala jaala” (one of Miles’ best), I was wondering “kaahan?” Funnily in Nepali, “jaala” means “will go [somewhere]”…

February 21, 2009

Ekushey February

Today is the unforgettable Ekushey February (Bangla Language Movement) which later was recognized as the International Mother Language Day. Watch this splendid presentation of a 23 year old based in London to learn more about it.

Ekushey February from Network Bangla on Vimeo.

Last year was a remarkable year for Bangla computing as more than 30000 Bangla bloggers have emerged and more Bangla contents reached to many more people with its ever growing online presence across the globe. Some of these bloggers are even making marks in the literary arena.

Video via: Asif Saleh

February 20, 2009

The cost of showing off

Bangladesh Police has a tradition of displaying their catch (like the one above from a file photo of the Daily Star) and showing off the recovered ammunitions and explosives to the press.

Today police nabbed one militant and his three female companions of the outlawed Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) at a house in Tongi along with five hand grenades and some bomb-making materials. Later in the day some 100 journalists and police were gathered at the Gazipur Superintendent of Police's conference room where he was briefing about this arrest. The militant Mamunur Rashid, still handcuffed pounced on one of the live grenades that were on display for the press, opened the pin and threw at the police and journalists. 10 police personnel including 2 OCs and 3 newsmen were critically hurt and rushed to the hospital.

The Daily Star comments on the sheer negligence of the police who did not diffuse the grenades even after 6 hours of seizure. Guess they were busy with showing off.

February 17, 2009

Berlin Freeze

'Freeze Berlin' by Flickr user really nothing and used under a creative commons licence.

Last Saturday, February 14th, 2009 at 15:00 a flashmob of thousands of people gathered in Berlin Alexanderplatz and stood still for five long minutes.

Readers Edition reported that no official reason was known why people just stopped. Nobody demonstrated or questioned each other. It happened spontaneously as planned by corresponding social networking groups in StudiVZ & Facebook. Perhaps its just replicating the phenomena people are witnessing elsewhere.

Here is a video of the proceedings:

February 14, 2009

Books By Bangla Bloggers

(First Published in Global Voices Online)

The history of Bangla blogging is relatively short. It was December 2005 when the first Bangla blogging platform was born. But soon more platforms came up and open source development in Bangla input systems eased Bangla computing across the globe and brought more people in blogging.

The most encouraging aspect of Bangla blogging is the number of books the Bangla bloggers have published. Farid writes:
বাংলা ব্লগিং প্ল্যাটফর্ম চালু হবার পরে গত তিন চার বছরে অনেক অলেখকও যেমন লেখালেখিতে হাত পাকিয়েছেন তেমনি অনেক নবীন লেখকরাও ব্লগে লিখে তাদের লেখনীকে ধারিয়ে নিয়েছেন। আর তাই গত প্রায় তিন বছর ধরে প্রতি বছরেই ব্লগ পরিমন্ডল ও ব্লগারদের লেখা বইয়ের সংখ্যা উত্তোরত্তর বাড়ছে। এইবছর তো মোটামুটি ব্লগাররা মিছিল করেই বই ছাপিয়েছেন বিভিন্ন প্রকাশনী থেকে।

After the advent of Bangla blogging platform in the past 3-4 years many non-writers have started to write and some have really excelled in writing. Many budding writers have enriched their experience by writing in blogs. So for the last three years the number of books published by the bloggers are gradually increasing. This year in particular bloggers have flocked to publish their books from different publications.

This year about 50 books have been published by bloggers targeting the Ekushey Book Fair. Here is a list of those books compiled by blogger Meghbaji. Here is a Facebook group called "Bloggers Book". Most of these books are fictions, non-fictions and poems by individual writers/bloggers and a few are collection of blog articles.

Organized by some bloggers of Somewherein Blog the third sequel of collection of articles published in blogs called Opor Bastob -3 has been published. This year's theme is 'short story'. Brigade Sixteen writes about the book:
মুক্ত গণমাধ্যমের মুক্ত মতামত কেমন হতে পারে, সে ধারণা আমাদের অনেকেরই আছে। কিন্তু মুক্ত গণমাধ্যমের সাহিত্য - গল্প, কবিতা, উপন্যাস - তাও কি সম্ভব? সে প্রশ্নের উত্তর খুঁজতেই ব্লগের নির্বাচিত লেখা নিয়ে ২০০৭ ও ২০০৮ সালে প্রকাশিত হয়েছিল সংকলন ‘অপরবাস্তব’।

ব্লগারদের কাছ থেকে মনোনয়ন আহ্বান করা হয়েছিল গত বছরের নভেম্বরে। একমাসেরও বেশি সময় ধরে মনোনয়ন গ্রহণের পর নির্বাচিত গল্পগুলো ব্লগারদের সমন্বয়ে গঠিত একটি নির্বাচক প্যানেলের কাছে পাঠানো হয়। তাঁরা একমাস ধরে যাচাই-বাছাই শেষে মোট ২২টি গল্প চূড়ান্ত করেন, যা স্থান পেয়েছে সংকলনে।

বইটির মূল্য রাখা হয়েছে ১০০ টাকা। "বিক্রিলব্ধ সমুদয় অর্থ ব্লগের নানা উদ্যোগ, ক্যাম্পেইন, মানবিক কর্মকান্ড ইত্যাদিতে ব্যয় করা হবে।

Many of us have the idea how freedom of opinions in an open public media can be. But is it possible to publish (meaningful) literature - prose, poetry and fictions in an open media? To search for the answer we have published collections of blog posts titled Opor Bastob in 2007 & 2008.

In November 2008, we have sought articles by the bloggers. After more than a month of nominating the articles by readers and bloggers they were sent to a selection panel. The panel had selected 22 stories after a month long scrutiny and these were published in the collection of stories.

The price of the book is 100 Taka ($1.45). All proceeds will go to different blog related activities like campaigns, social causes etc.

Shahriar Hasan writes in the comments section:
অনেকেই মনে করেন ব্লগিং মানেই সময় নষ্ট। বইটা তাদের কিনে পড়া উচিৎ।
Many think that blogging means time pass. They should buy this book and read (to realize the truth).

Kowshik writes in the comments section:
২০০৮ এ ব্লগারদের বই বোধহয় বের হয়েছিল ৭/৮। ২০০৯ এ তো মনে হইতেছে পুরা বইমেলা দখল কইরা নিছে ব্লগাররা। ৫০ টার মত বই! গ্রেট!

In 2008 only about 7 or 8 books were published by bloggers. In 2009 it seems the bloggers have invaded the book fair. About 50 books. great!

Last year bloggers of Sachalayatan, an online writers forum published a collection of blog posts titled 'Purnomuthi'. This year another collection of posts will be published by some Sachalayatan bloggers.

Sachalayatan has published a catalog [bn] of books published by Sachalayatan bloggers along with detailed description of the writers. The writers forum has also published four literary e-books till-to-date.

Now let us see how the bloggers are reacting to this phenomenon. Mahbub Shahriar writes:
এবারের বইমেলা আমার জন্য অন্যরকম৷ অন্যরকম এই কারণে যে এবারই প্রথম আমি মেলায় লেখক হিসেবে এলাম৷ এর আগে কতবার মেলায় এসেছি পাঠক হিসেবে৷

This year's (Ekushey) Book Fair is different for me. Because I emerged as a writer this time. I used to come to the fair only as a reader in the past.

Lina Dilruba shares her feelings of buying new books and bloggers books:
আজকে বইমেলায় গিয়েছি। ..বইকেনার মূহুর্তগুলো খুব উপভোগ করি।
এই আনন্দ, এই সুখানুভূতির প্রকাশ ঘটানোর জন্য তাই ব্লগে বসলাম।
ব্লগার বন্ধুদের বই কিনিনি আজ। অফিস থেকে যখন বেরিয়েছিলাম তখন বইয়ের লিস্টটা নিয়ে বের হইনি। পরেরবার প্রথম তালিকাটা ব্লগারদের জন্য বরাদ্ধ থাকবে।

Today I was at the Book Fair. I enjoy the moments when I buy books.
I am blogging to share my excitements of buying new books.
I could not buy the books of the blogger friends because I left the list at the office. I promise the next day their books will be the first priority.

Mamun M. Aziz who blogs with the pseudonym Pathik writes:
প্রকাশক ফোন করে জানালেন আজ বইমেলায় চলে এসেছে আমার গল্পের বই --তথাপি।
ইস ! নিজে এখনো দেখলাম না।
কাল ইনশাল্লাহ যাব মেলায়।

The Publisher called me to inform that my story book "Tathapi" has been published and is now available at the (Ekushey) Book Fair. Ah.. I haven't seen it! Tomorrow will go to the fair.

Ahmedur Rashid, a publisher and a blogger is writing a series on the book fair and the bloggers each day. You can buy Bangla books online and learn more infos about Boi Mela from here. Anno Anon posts some pictures of the book fair.

Many bloggers are using blogs to advertise for free about their books and posting reviews to attract new readers. (1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10)

The publication of books and the book fair have also united the bloggers across platforms. Mahmudur Rahman writes:
আজ বইমেলায় ব্লগারদের বিশাল মহামিলন ঘটবে। সচলায়তন,সা.ইন,আমার ব্লগ এবং প্রথমআলো ব্লগের ব্লগাররা মিলিত হবেন ১৯২নং স্টলের সামনে। আজ অনেক ব্লগারের বই বের হবে। ঢাকার বাহিরের অনেক ব্লগারই আসবেন আজ।<

Today there will be huge gathering of the bloggers in the book fair. The bloggers of Sachalayatan, Somewherein Blog, Amar Blog and Prothom Alo Blog will meet in front of stall no. 192. Today many books of bloggers will be published. Many bloggers will come from outside of Dhaka.

February 13, 2009

How To Celebrate Valentine's Day

This year Global Voices presents a terrific idea to celebrate Valentine's Day:
Blogging brings joy, happiness and new friends to millions of people. Bloggers in our community have already pledged to teach their friends and loved ones, and will be writing about it in their own blogs on Valentines Day. You can sign it too…

Think for a moment about the people in your life. Share this gift with you family, friends, readers and sweethearts - and tell us how it went!

Love is communication

Here are four simple steps to join us on Valentine's Day.

Step 1: You're never alone with a blog. Tell your readers why you love them, and why they should love you.

Step 2: Teach someone you love to blog (or micro-blog!).

Step 3: Link to their first blog post, and encourage readers to visit them. Use this tag: #SMK [social media kisses]

Step 4: Tag your blogging friends to take part in this meme.
More in Global Voices

February 07, 2009

In search of the rodents

From BBC News:
A farmer from north Bangladesh has been named the country's top rat killer after disposing of 39,650 rodents over the course of a year.

Binoy Kumar Karmakar, 40, won a 14in (36cm) colour TV in the government-backed competition to find the most prolific rat killer.

He used traps, poison and flooding to kill his quarry. He collected their tails as proof of his prowess.

His kill-rate was equivalent to one every 13 minutes, officials say.

Busy Days

It is said that people usually are the happiest at home. The past week proved somewhat different for me. I was just going through the motions, trying to avoid numerous dawaats (treats) by relatives. You know the drill, cousin treats us for lunch at home and uncle treats us for dinner in a restaurant and you see the same faces all over again. I was struggling to find time to meet even few from my long list of friends or do something elsse.

But I should not regret, I could make time to see the Swaraswati Puja in Jagannath Hall of Dhaka University. And I went to the Ekushey Book Fair (Boi Mela) a couple of times. There was another interest to be at the boi Mela, to meet some of the bloggers for the first time. The Bangla blogging platforms Sachalyatan and Somewherein have given the opportunity to know some of the finest young writers of recent times in Bangladesh. Some budding writers who made literary magazines (known in our parts as the little mags) a movement are now using blogs to let their writings known to a lot more readers. And I could meet some of them in the Book Fair and bought some of their books.

Now thw worse part, for the last couple of days I have been sick, first with throat infection and later with diarrhoea. In Bangladesh you don't need to see a doctor as everybody around you knows some kind of medicine which is available in any medicine store without a prescription. I first tried to reduce the terrible coughing with an antihistamine drug which worked miraculously but the fever persisted. When the matter got worse with diarrhoea I went to a doctor today who prescribed an anti-biotic. Lets see if he got it right.

Here are some pictures that will narrate a bit more:

A random vagabond is using the street the voice his opinions (would he like to blog, given the opportunity?)

On the way to the book fair after the security check through a metal detector arch. Hell of a lot of work for the security personnel to screen all those people.

Imperialism: stunning photo collage at Chobi Mela.

Statue of Swaraswati, the Hindu goddes at Jagannath Hall field at Dhaka University. Each department made different statues which were fine in details and great to watch.

Innovative statue of Swaraswati, the Hindu goddes at Jagannath Hall pond.

February 01, 2009

More images from Dhaka

Chinese Kite Festival at Charukala Institute

The kites were in all shapes and forms and very colorful

Used books on display for sale on the walls of Charukala Institute

Some rare glimpses of green in the ever transforming Dhaka

Chobi Mela V at National Museum

Overflow of people on to the street from a mosque during Juma prayer on Friday.