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

May 29, 2009

Summary of the national probe report on the BDR mutiny in Bangladesh

Formation of the enquiry committee and its scope

1. The enquiry committee formed with former secretary Anis-uz-Zaman as its chairman and comprising of 12 members started its work with the responsibility of unearthing the background and cause of the BDR mutiny at Pilkhana on February 25 and 26, other related matters and make recommendations.

2. The enquiry committee visited the BDR headquarters and related installations and recorded statements of 107 people, including army officials and BDR members present at Pilkhana during the incident, members of the families of the army men, arrested rebel and detained, local civilians, media personalities, former Director General of BDR, politicians, chiefs of different forces and agencies, ministers and lawmakers. The Committee collected information (as far as possible) from different intelligence agencies and investigating agencies on the planning of the mutiny, its cause and motive, discontent in BDR and Daal Bhat programme.

Background of the rebellion

3. The mentality of not accepting authority of the army had been dormant among the BDR members for long. They had been demanding appointment of their own officers under a system as the BCS cadre, increase of border allowance, 100 per cent ration allowance, sending them to the UN Mission, restructuring of their salary structure in a similar model as that of the army. Besides, the Daal-bhat programme, punishment of sepoys, lack of transparency in running BDR shops, luxurious lifestyle of officials, corruption in running the schools etc gave rise to questions and discontent among the BDR men. They circulated leaflets at different times with the aim of venting their discontent and realising their demands. BDR authorities at different times took initiatives to solve the problems through raising some logical demands to the government.

Plan for rebellion and earlier attempts

4. A group of BDR members started getting organised over these demands centring the national election and tried to meet with different political figures. They became restless after failing to get expected response from the political personalities. In this background they held a number of secret meetings at different places with the aim of taking up action regarding their demands. They also planned to hold army officers, including the director general of BDR, as hostages in the Darbar on February 25. To implement the plan they decided to loot the armoury and take control of different important instillations including different entrances to the BDR headquarters.

Common soldiers thought that the soldiers would take up a stance in the darbar to realise their demands. But they did not have any idea about the real nature of the stand. Only a handful of hardcore mutineers knew about the plan to kill BDR director general and other army officers working with the BDR and other heinous activities.

Those who led the mutiny

5. Among the planners of the mutiny and those who lead it were: DAD Touhid, DAD Habib, DAD Jalil, DAD Nasir, DAD Rahim, Subedar Major Gofran, Nayek subedar Monoranjan, Habildar Assistant Moniruzzaman, sepoy Selim Reza, sepoy Tarek, sepoy Ayub, sepoy Kajal, sepoy Sahabuddin, sepoy Mainuddin, sepoy Rezaul, sepoy Rubel, sepoy Habib, sepoy Muhit, sepoy Nizam, sepoy Shahadat, Lance Nayek assistant Saidur, Ln nayek assistant Lutfor, Ln nayek Zakaria, sepoy Obaed etc.

Distribution of responsibility and start of mutiny

6. In the final meeting held on February 24 night the rebels distributed responsibility among themselves. As per the plan, some rebels of Rifle battalions 13, 24, 36 and 44 took control of gate nos 1, 3, 4 and respectively by 8 am and started looting the central armoury.

When the DG was delivering his address at the Darbar Hall at around 9:27 am two rebels (sepoy Mainuddin and sepoy Kajal) suddenly got on the stage. Sepoy Mainuddin was carrying arms. He aimed his arms at the DG. At that time a blank shot was fired outside which the rebels took as a signal to start the mutiny. Simultaneously some rebels present at the Darbar Hall shouted “Run!” and signaled the soldiers to leave the Darbar.

Afterwards, to instigate soldiers against the army officers throughout the country, outside Darbar Hall at the Pilkhana and later over mobile phones, wireless/walkie talkie, news was spread that officers had shot dead a BDR member at the Darbar Hall. Indiscriminate firing in and around the Darbar Hall started. About 40 army officers got stranded inside the Darbar Hall, others managed to flee. Most of those stranded in the hall were brutally killed.

Government attempt at peaceful solution

7. From the beginning of the mutiny, the government stressed on solving the prevailing problem through dialogue. Alongside, preparations were also taken for an army raid if necessary. In order to not let the visible presence of the army become an obstacle to the ongoing dialogue, the armed forces were told to take up their positions at a safe distance. In the meantime the prime minister handed the responsibility of bringing the rebels to talks to state minister Jahangir Kabir Nanak and whip Mirza Azam. By noon they took initiatives to establish contact with the rebels at Pilkhana gate no 4. At 3:30 pm they took a 14-member team of the rebels led by DAD Touhid to the prime minister’s official residence Jamuna for dialogue with the PM. After a two hour-long discussion, the rebels agreed to lay down their arms and return to the barracks and release all hostages and on these terms, they were given assurance that their demands would be met in phases and a general amnesty was announced.

8. After returning to Pilkhana a difference of opinions arose among the rebels regarding surrender of arms. As a result the decision taken at Jamuna was not implemented. Later from 8:00 pm, a second round of talks between a government team, led by the home minister, and the rebels was held at Hotel Ambala Inn in front of Pilkhana’s gate no 4. A series of meetings were held with different groups of the mutineers and their demands also changed. The mutineers prolonged the talks to facilitate the shifting of bodies, digging of mass graves, fleeing of BDR men from Pilkhana and looting in the cover of the night. In continuation of the talks, at around 1:00 am the home minister, the state minister for law and the IGP entered the Pilkhana premises. Another round of talks was held there and then at 3:00 am the rebels surrendered some arms to the home minister. But after her departure, they took up arms again. By early morning the home minister rescued 15 families being held hostage and brought them out from Pilkhana.

9. Different political leaders came to Pilkhana gate no 4 on February 26 morning They included minister Matia Chowdhury, state ministers Nanak, Qamrul Islam, whip Mirza Azam, MPs HM Ershad, Tapash, Asaduzzaman Noor, Golam Reza, Segufta Yasmin and Mahbub Ara Gini.

Grand alliance leaders Abdul Jalil, MPs Abdur Razzak, Rashed Khan Menon, Hasanul Haq Inu, Sheikh Selim, Mainuddin Khan Badal, Anisul Islam Mahmud, Nurul Islam BSC and Ziauddin Bablu arrived by noon.

Processions around Pilkhana

10. On February 25 and 26, some processions were brought out around Pilkhana area in support of the mutineers. Residents of Azimpur, Hazaribagh and New Market area participated in these processions. They chanted different slogans in support of the BDR men.

Media’s negative role

11. From the start of the incident, private TV channels spread the news of the mutiny at home and abroad through live telecasts. In doing so, they gave preference to the commercial aspects pf the situation over the national security. Where different intelligence agencies, the army and the government itself could not get details form inside the Pilkhana, mutineers in Dhaka and outside of Dhaka were able to get detailed news regarding the position of army and other on goings inside the Pilkhana thanks to the media. In general, the media encouraged the mutineers by publicising the news about the mutiny, and talk shows which created a sentiment against the government and the army among the people.

From the start of the BDR rebellion, it was seen that the media’s uncontrolled, irresponsible and biased transmission, and the easy availability of contact over mobile phones caused tension in BDR units outside Dhaka.

Preparation for talks and army operation and its risk

12. To quell the rebellion, preparation for an army operation and talks to solve the crisis was continued simultaneously. Though the army and Rab took up their positions around Pilkhana by 12 noon on February 25, they were not completely aware of the situation inside Pilkhana, the number of mutineers, the heavy weapons inside, or the exact location of the hostages. On one hand there was the risk of heavy casualty of civilian lives and property in an armed attack inside the densely populated Pilkhana area. On the other hand there was also a huge risk of the mutineers causing massive loss to the residents of the houses and other installations around Pilkhana. There also remained the risk that if the army operation was conducted without knowledge of the exact location of the hostages, then the mutineers could put the blame of the killings of army officers and their families, arson and looting on the army itself. In such a situation a civil war like situation would have been created in the country. Any army attack to check the rebellion could endanger the internal security of Bangladesh.

The Prime Minister’s address to the nation

13. The prime minister’s address was aired over the state TV and radio at 2:30 pm on February 26. She ordered the rebels to surrender their arms and return to the barracks. She warned them not to compel her to take stern measures against them. Preparations for an army operation was also taken as per the government’s decision in case the mutineers did not surrender their arms by the deadline given to them in the prime minister’s address.

End of mutiny

14. Announcements were made using microphones to people living within the three-kilometre perimeter area adjoining the Pilkhana, asking them to move to safety in order to keep the casualty down during an army drive. The Prime Minister’s speech completely shattered the morale of the rebels. They were compelled to accept all government decisions, as they had no other alternative. The rebels started final surrender of their arms to the home minister at 5:50 pm. Then the police, and the army the following morning, took up full control of Pilkhana.

Flight of the rebels and their accomplices

15. From the first day of the BDR mutiny, mutineers and their family members kept fleeing the Pilkhana premises in different ways. Immediately after the mutiny began at Darbar Hall, many of the BDR members (including officers) had fled Pilkhana.

Most of those who participated in the rebellion fled from Pilkhana during the nights of February 25 and 26 (except for around 200 BDR members). The mutineers mainly scaled the boundary walls on the west side and used gate nos 5 and 2 for their flight. Many abandoned their uniforms, boot etc that were found on the bank of a pond near the boundary wall near Bay Tannery.

Some helpful civilians aided the BDR men to flee by supplying them with clothes, food and water. They were led by former BNP ward commissioner Suraiya Begum, her two sons, local criminals Masud and Leather Liton. Many mutineers used the Keraniganj ferry ghat to flee. Former BNP lawmaker Nasiruddin Ahmed Pintu helped them flee by arranging engine-run boats to cross the river. Rab arrested 76 rebels while they were fleeing.

Rescue of hostages

16. Of the 107 army officials present at Pilkhana on February 25 a total of 50 survived. Of them some managed to flee on the start of the mutiny and the rest were rescued on February 26 from hostage. Though rebellion spread to 34 BDR units outside Dhaka none was killed there. 152 army officer and family members posted there could reach safety. All deputy commissioners and police supers as per government order provided them necessary assistance. They also took over the charge of the armoury of the units. Due to uncertain situation there was some confusion over the number of casualties, which was amended later.


17. Information received from different sources show that most of the army officers were killed by 11 am on February 25. Of the 57 army officers, 52 were killed in Darbar Hall and adjoining areas, 5 others were killed elsewhere inside the Pilkhana.

Nine BDR members were killed during the mutiny. Central subedar major Nurul Islam was killed at the beginning of the rebellion. Though no specific information is available regarding the death of the other eight BDR men, it is assumed that they were killed in cross fires when they obstructed mutineers. Besides an army soldier and four civilians were killed and about 30 others were injured.

Recovery of the bodies of martyred officials

18. After killing the army officers the rebels tried to hide the bodies. Bodies of two senior officers were disposed inside a manhole. Two bodies were recovered from Kamrangir Char area and bodies of seven other officers were recovered from the mouth of the sluice gate at the sewerage line adjacent to the embankment. A total of 53 bodies of officers and others were recovered from inside Pilkhana, most of them from the mass graves dug by the mutineers. Two bodies recovered have still not been identified.

What is the cause of the mutiny?

19. The real cause and motive behind the barbaric incident could not be established beyond doubt. The committee feels that further investigation is required to unearth the real cause behind the incident. The negative attitude among the general BDR members towards the army officers, and their discontent over unfulfilled demands may be identified as the primary cause of the mutiny. Analysis of these demands give the impression that such small demands can not be the main cause of such a heinous incident. These points have been used to influence the general BDR soldiers. The main conspirators may have used these causes to instigate this incident, they themselves working from behind curtains to destabilise the nation.

Subsidiary causes

19. Some subsidiary causes played direct/indirect role in realisation of the rebellion. These are: failure of the main intelligence agencies, their inefficiency and organisational failures, collusion of the Rifles Security Unit (RSU) with the mutineers, lack of necessary coordination between the BDR and the home ministry regarding the demands, instigation of the different demands of the mutineers by the electronic media and the information ministry’s overall lack of control over the media.

BDR soldiers also carries out rebellions in 1972 and 1991. But due to limitation of BDR laws, those responsible for the mutinies could not be punished and thus those incidents failed to discourage BDR members from carrying out revolts.

Motive of the mutiny

21. The main aim or motive of the mutiny was to destroy chain of command and render the BDR ineffective, discouraging army officers to work in BDR on deputation in future by brutally killing army officers, putting Bangladesh Army and the BDR on a collision course, destabilising the newly elected government, destroying internal security and stability of Bangladesh, tarnishing the image of the country abroad, and hamper the participation of Bangladesh in UN peacekeeping missions.

Long term impact of the incident

22. The mutiny incident is sure to have a long-term impact in Bangladesh. The BDR rebellion, which was a big threat to democracy, posed a huge challenge to the newly elected government. The rebellion was a threat to stability of the nation. The Army lost many meritorious and efficient officers. Their families lost their dear and near ones and the nation was deprived of their service. As an institution BDR was almost destroyed and has lost people’s trust and respect. Overall the army has also been affected. The reputation of Bangladesh Armed Forces earned in the UN Peace Mission also faces a threat. The dent it made on the morale of the armed forces would take time to recover.

Conspirators and their failed attempt

23. Those who do not believe in the independence and sovereignty of the country, those who do not believe in democracy, those who do not want o see Bangladesh as a stable, democratic and developing country, those who does not want Bangladesh to be secure and have a strong armed forces, made an attempt to reach their vile goals by putting the BDR and the army on a collision course through the BDR mutiny. The mutiny was quelled with political sagacity, wisdom and bold leadership.


24. The enquiry committee made some short term and long term recommendations for the government’s consideration and taking effective steps:

Short term recommendations

a) Immediate completion of trial of all crimes related to BDR killings under the laws of the army to ensure quick and exemplary punishment;

b) Immediate restoration of BDR command and control for the sake of national security;

c) Steps for proper honour and rehabilitation of the army officers, and families of those killed and affected in the BDR rebellion;

d) Steps for proper honour and rehabilitation of the family members of those BDR personnel, including central subedar Major Md Nurul Islam, who were killed in resisting the rebellion.

e) Proper compensation to the civilians who were killed and affected.

f) Steps for identification of the unidentified bodies- intensifying attempts to recover looted arms and ammunitions;

g) Arrest and trial of the absconding rebels;

h) Immediate formation of a permanent “National Crisis Management Committee (NCMC) at the highest level to face different national crises.

Long term recommendations

a) Reconstitution of BDR;

b) Redistribution of responsibility and duty of all intelligence agencies and formation of a permanent Central Intelligence Coordination Committee (CICC) at highest level;

c) Formation of counter intelligence forces for all intelligence agencies including the RSU;

d) Amendment and updating the laws and acts concerning BDR and other para military forces including the articles of rules concerning mutiny;

e) Updating the existing laws and rules to ensure proper work environment and facilities in the army, para military and law enforcing agencies;

f) Refixing the service tenure of all members of BDR personnel in line with those of the army;

g) Bringing a balance in the benefits, salaries and allowances of the army, para military and law enforcing agency personnel;

h) Avoiding the involvement of members of the army, para military and law enforcing agencies in programmes such as Operation Daal-Bhat, and instead engaging them in professional duties as far as possible;

i) Formulation of effective policies and fixing strategies for increasing coordination among the army, para military and law enforcing agencies under different ministries including the home ministry;

j) Formulation of necessary Code of Conduct for the media specifying their (print and electronic media) role in consolidating national security;

k) Controlling mobile telephone transmission tower (BTS) in the sensitive areas housing army, para-military and law enforcing agency establishments;

l) Separate enquiry into the irregularities in Daal-Bhat programme, BDR shop, Kalyan Trust, School Management, contracting etc;

m) Strict ban on any kind of persuasion in appointments in army, para military and law enforcing agencies, considering qualification as the only yardstick for such appointments and a departmental enquiry to find out and take action against those who were appointed in such ways;

n) Arranging more investigations to identify the main persons responsible for the BDR rebellion.


May 28, 2009

No To Tipaimukh Dam

(Also published in Global Voices Online)

The Tipaimukh Hydroelectric Project is being constructed near the confluence of Barak and Tuivai rivers, in Manipur, India and within 100km of Bangladesh border. Costing Rs 6,351 crore ($1.35 billion) the 164 meter high dam will have a firm generation capacity of 401.25MW of electricity. While Hydroelectric projects are typically considered greener than other power generation options in short term, it has significant long-term impact to the environment like changes in the ecosystem, destroying nearby settlements and changing habitat conditions of people, fish and wildlife. Especially in the densely populated countries like India and Bangladesh, where rivers are lifelines, projects like Tipaimukh will create adverse effect to a huge number of population and their habitats.

No wonder right from the start this project faced protests from potentially affected people in India, and from the downstream neighbor Bangladesh. The people of Manipur have been fighting legally to stop the project but have so far been unsuccessful. The Indian government is going ahead with the plan. The Sinlung Indigenous People Human Rights Organisation (SIPHRO) of India said that “the process for choosing it (the project premises) ignored both the indigenous people and the recommendations of the WCD (World Commission on Dams)”.

From Bangladesh journalist and blogger Dhibor says:

এই বাঁধ তৈরির কি অজুহাত হিসেবে বলা হচ্ছে, আসামের বন্যা নিয়ন্ত্রন এবং জল বিদ্যুত উৎপাদন করে, উঃ পুর্ব ভারতের মানুষদের প্রভুত কল্যাণে এই বাধ নির্মিত হবে। পাঠকদের জ্ঞাতার্থে জানাচ্ছি যে, আন্তর্জাতিক পানি আইন অনুসারে, ভাটির দেশের পুর্ণ সম্মতি ছাড়া এবং পরিবেশের ক্ষতি করে কোন দেশই একতরফাভাবে নদী শাসন করতে পারবে না। তবে পরিতাপের বিষয় হলো, আন্তর্জাতিক আইন মানতে কোন দেশ বাধ্য নয়। এখানে জোর যার মুল্লুক তার হিসেবেই এই আইন প্রযোজ্য। ভারতের তুলনায় আমাদের অর্থনৈতিক-সামরিক বা খুটির জোর অল্প বলে, আমাদের মার খেয়ে যেতেই হচ্ছে।

উঃ পুর্ব ভারতের অধিবাসিদের নাকের সামনে টিপাইমুখি বাধের মুলো ঝুলিয়ে রাখা হলেও, তারা পঃ বঙ্গের অধিবাসিদের মত ভোলেননি। তাই এই বাধের বিরুদ্ধে সেখানে তীব্র প্রতিবাদ হচ্ছে। মনিপুরের ২০টি প্রভাবশালি সামাজিক রাজনৈতিক সংগঠন, “একশন কমিটি এগেইনস্ট টিপাইমুখ ড্যাম” এর ব্যানারে রাজপথে নেমেছেন। কারণ এতে উঃপুর্ব ভারতের লাভের চেয়ে লোকসানটাই বেশি হবে। আর প্রভুত ক্ষতি হবে পরিবেশের।

It is being said that this dam is being built for the greater interest of the people of North Eastern India by controlling the rivers to prevent flood in the Asam region and producing electricity. An information for the readers: according to international laws, without the consent of the downstream river nation and causing environmental damage no one country can control the multi-nation rivers alone. But the sad fact is that nobody cares for these international laws. The might is always right while interpreting these laws. As Bangladesh is not so powerful like India in economic and military contexts we always are pushed aside. Residents of the North Eastern parts of India were pampered with many baits of the Tipaimukh dam project, but they kept their cool. About 20 influential socio-political organizations in Manipur have united in the banner of “Action Committee against Tipaimukh Project” and are protesting against the project. The reason - this dam will bring more miseries to those people than the profits pledged. And there will be severe damage to the environment.”

From India Namdingpou Kamei at E-Pao lists the losses and destruction this dam will bring to the local people.

# A total area of land 286.20 sq. km will be submerged forever.
# Barak waterfalls and Zeilad Lake, which are connected with the history of the Zeliangrong people, will be forever underwater and all folklores and legends will have no monuments' proof and it will become a make up story for the next generation.
# More than, 40,000 people will be rendered landless.
# Eight villages situated at the Barak Valley will be completely underwater.
# More than 90 villages mostly of Tamenglong district will be adversely affected.
# About 27,242 hectares of cultivable land will be lost. [..]

The Indian government has offered the Manipur state 10% free electricity (i.e. 40 MW) from the project in exchange of above.

The Hmar indigenous population of North East India fears that:

if the government plows ahead with its proposed dam “thousands of outsiders” will come to settle in the area and as a result the Hmars will be exposed to changes like never before to new culture, economy and politics.

Dr. Soibam Ibotombi of Dept. of Earth Sciences, Manipur University says that the dam will be a geo-tectonic blunder of international dimensions:

The site selected for Tipaimukh project is one of the most active in the entire world, recording at least two major earthquakes of 8+ in the Reichter Scale during the past 50 years. The proposed Tipaimukh HEP is envisaged for construction in one of the most geologically unstable area as the proposed Tipaimukh dam axis falls on a ‘fault line’ potentially active and possible epicenter for major earthquakes.

At BanglaPraxis the impact of Tipaimukh dam in Bangladesh has been discussed.

Paribartan Bangla writes [bn] that several campaigns are ongoing in Sylhet, Bangladesh protesting the Tipaimukh dam. The blogger describes:

এই বাঁধ নির্মিত হলে সিলেট, সুনামগঞ্জ, মৌলভীবাজার, হবিগঞ্জ, ব্রাহ্মণবাড়িয়া, কিশোরগঞ্জ, নেত্রকোনা, নরসিংদী ও নারায়ণগঞ্জ জেলাসহ দেশের সমগ্র উত্তর-পূর্বাঞ্চলে মারাত্মক পরিবেশ ও আর্থিক বিপর্যয় নেমে আসবে। কৃষি, মৎস্য, জীববৈচিত্র্য হুমকির মুখে পড়বে। বর্ষাকালে প্রবল বন্যা আর শীতকালে পানির জন্য হাহাকার দেখা দিবে।

If this dam is built then the whole North Eastern Bangladesh, especially Sylhet, Sunamganj, Moulavibazar, Habiganj, Bramhonbaria, Kishoreganj, Netrokona, Norshingdi & Narayanganj districts will face severe environmental and economical consequences. Agriculture, fisheries and wildlife will be under threat. There will be more flood in rainy season and less water in dry season.
No to Tipaimukh Dam

No to Tipaimukh Dam

Blogger Agami calls other bloggers [bn] to engage in online and offline campaigns to stop the project. A Facebook group has already been created by the bloggers. An online petition has been launched by the “Action Committee against Tipaimukh Project”.

Anandomoye writes [bn]:

উন্নত দেশগুলো যখন স্বল্প ও দীর্ঘমেয়াদি কুফলের কথা বিবেচনা করে বাঁধের মতো অবকাঠামো নির্মাণের মাধ্যমে প্রকৃতিকে নিয়ন্ত্রণের দুর্বুদ্ধি থেকে পিছিয়ে আসছে, সেখানে ভারতের এমন একটি বাঁধ নির্মাণের প্রস্তুতি আরো গভীর পর্যালোচনার দাবি রাখে।

When developed countries are backing out from controlling the nature through infrastructures like building dams, keeping the long term effect on environment in mind, the decision of India to build this dam requires more introspection.

(Map courtesy Abid)

May 25, 2009


I learned via Facebook that a fellow Bangladeshi blogger Ishtiaque Khan has recently got engaged. Congratulations Ishtiaque and long live Facebook :)

May 24, 2009

Cyclone Watch: Tropical Cyclone Two Alias 'Aila'

Image courtesy Weather Underground

The cyclonic storm Two alias "Aila" will make a landfall tomorrow noon.

From Joint Typhoon Warning Center:

241500Z POSITION NEAR 18.7N 88.4E.

Bangladesh is preparing to embrace.

Update: The death toll from Aila rose to 121:

Tidal waves churned by strong winds have inundated vast swathes of land.

Heavy rains coupled with gales flattened huge tracts of standing crops and washed away numerous fisheries.

They also caused extensive damage to embankments and levees in the coastal districts.

More than 800 people have been wounded and at least 58,450 domestic animals killed, according to the disaster management ministry.

The Army has started relief operation at 12 Aila-affected Upazilas in four districts.

May 22, 2009

Gone in 42 Seconds!

Last Day Dream [HD] from Chris Milk on Vimeo.

A man watches his life pass before him

May 21, 2009

TEDIndia Fellows Program

The TED Conference is now accepting applications for 100 TEDIndia Fellows to participate in the TEDIndia Conference in Mysore, India. Approximately 75% of the Fellows will represent the South Asian region, and 25% will represent other regions of the world. For information about how to apply please visit this and this page. The deadline is June 15, 2009.

(Watch the high-res version here)

May 20, 2009

How MPs spend your money?

The above is a burning question which I always want to ask the lawmakers of Bangladesh. But probably I will never know because they will never disclose it.

But we can provide an example for them. Raymond (Mong) Palatino is my colleague at Global Voices and the President of the Kabataan (Youth) Party and a new member of the House of Representatives in the Philippines. He is younger than me (only 29 years) and father of two kids. And he is the first blogging politician in Phillipines.

So how is a blogging politician different from his fellow lawmakers? Mong describes how he spent public money in the first week of his tenure:
Monday: After my oath taking at the Supreme Court in the morning, I attended a press conference at the Minority Office in the House of Representatives. I was given a chance to deliver a short message. I thanked the members and supporters of our party. I also criticized the “Gang of Four” in Congress (Arroyos). I asked the president to convince her sister-in-law to step down and allow other nominees to represent the balut vendors. [..]

Wednesday: My first time to attend the plenary session as a House member. My temporary seat and desk are located at the right side of the plenary. Next week I might join the rest of the minority in the middle-front of the session hall.

I saw these documents on my desk: Two committee reports, Order of Business, Session Journal and two opinion columns (Fr. Joaquin Bernas – PDI April 27; and Malaya editorial – April 23) recognizing the legality of the Nograles proposal to amend the Constitution. [..]

And it goes on to show how he is performing. John Liebhardt took an interview of him for Global Voices where you can learn more about him.

When we will see an MP in Bangladesh blogging?

May 17, 2009

Blogging For A Cause: Support Global Voices Advocacy

Global Voices Advocacy is a project of Global Voices Online which seeks to build a global anti-censorship network of bloggers and online activists throughout the developing world that is dedicated to protecting freedom of expression and free access to information online.

There are so many blogs and causes online, but at Global Voices we feel it's important for bloggers to stick together and support each other when bloggers in many countries still risk harassment, prison or even torture for the work they do - not to mention having their blogs filtered or censored by authorities who object to their opinions. Freedom of speech on the web affects everyone, not just bloggers. It is a human right to both say and read what we wish.

Global Voices Advocacy keeps track of online censorship worldwide in daily posts, and maintains a map of web 2.0 censorship. There are also guides like Anoymous Blogging with Wordpress & Tor or Blogging for a Cause that many bloggers appreciate.

It's a blog run by Sami ben Gharbia, who is himself a blogger in exile, together with a great community of authors.

Click here to learn how you can support Global Voices Advocacy.

This blog post is part of Zemanta's “Blogging For a Cause” (http://www.zemanta.com/bloggingforacause/) campaign to raise awareness and funds for worthy causes that bloggers care about.

May 15, 2009

Guest Post: Globalization in the Third World

By Ashley Brooks

Globalization has caused the international world to become much closer together, negating the many oceans that separate countries from each other. International institutions such as the UN or World Bank have extended out to almost every country, slowly tightening the mold for a global world order, so that even third-world countries now have a chance to be heard and a forum upon which to speak out. Previously, many countries have been mildly overlooked as the western nations have risen up and dominated the global sphere over the past decades; however, these so-called “third-world” nations have now become major players in the global spectrum. However, political scientists such as Samuel Huntington have presented a theory debating the realization of globalization because of the overarching culture clashes.

Samuel Huntington’s “Clash of Civilizations” has helped to establish the fact that nations are no longer dependent on separate states, but rather the different cultures that make up these states. This has become more relevant in the wake of the events of September 11, which helped to establish a new type of world order. No longer are different civilizations solely reliant on ideological or economic rubrics, but are instead dependent on the actual culture, which has had a vast impact on regions such as the Middle East in which there are a plethora of different cultures living together as one overarching state. Additionally, the culture clash between different groups such as radical Muslims and Americans are further solidifying Huntington’s proposal that all wars in modern day will be fought as a result of cultural issues: “The clash of civilizations will dominate global politics.” However, Huntington’s model provides a theory that absolute globalization will be a far-fetched goal due to the rising civilizations and the clash of cultures.

It is difficult to determine the amount that cultural debates will have on a growing world order, but suffice it to say that while countries like China are accepting of corporate America (Starbucks, McDonalds, etc.), it becomes a stretch to imagine countries like Iraq participating in this type of world order. Additionally, many conservative Islamic countries are not accepting of a Western model of life, which is what globalization is on its way to becoming. The Western world has dominated international affairs over the past century, and with one lone superpower, it becomes obvious that a global order will remain under the Western rubric until multiple superpowers are made; China has taken great strides toward overtaking the U.S. in terms of their economy and massive population, which puts it in the running as developing into a future superpower from a third-world perspective. It becomes relevant to ask whether countries in the Middle East or Southeast Asia for that matter, will be able to easily mesh into this new global order. While third world countries are slowly falling back into international affairs, there are still many in dire need of financial aid, which prevents many from becoming full participants.

There is still much conflict within third-world nations as genocides are still occurring, different cultures become intermeshed, and most nations do not have adequate funds to combat increasing health issues. This new world order we have come into has left many countries struggling to find footing in it and it will only be secured through many years of help from the international community. While the third world countries may lag behind, one day we might find ourselves tied together in a new global order. However, ever present will be Huntington’s warning of the inevitable “clash of civilizations” and the repercussions this will have on any new global strategy.

This post was contributed by Ashley Brooks, who writes about the online degrees. She welcomes your feedback at AshleyBrooks234 at gmail.com

May 12, 2009

Its About Time

The Bangladesh Foreign minister has asked Pakistan to apologize for the genocide during the the Bangladesh's war of independence in 1971 by Pakistan Army. She stressed that Islamabad should take millions of stranded Pakistanis back and settle disputed resources claims.

Some people say that Pakistan has already done so. But this is not true. In a visit to Bangladesh in 2002, then Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf expressed regrets for the '1971 events' during the War of Liberation, shifted the blame for genocide from Pakistan's armed forces:
"Your brothers and sisters in Pakistan share the pain of the events of 1971. The excesses during that unfortunate period are regrettable. Let us bury the past in a spirit of magnanimity. Let not the light of the future be dimmed. Let us move forward together."

Killing millions of people, raping hundreds of thousands of women and burning villages certainly define something else other than excess; that is genocide. Burying that past will only trigger such atrocities once again.

It is time those Pakistani generals should be brought to justice and Pakistan should unconditionally apologize to Bangladesh. Pakistan has nothing to lose as why all Pakistani carry the burden for the crime they did not know of (The atrocities were kept in dark from the ordinary Pakistanis).

May 10, 2009

Crying Wolf?

Terror and militancy is a burning threat in all of the South Asian countries. Many terrorist outfits operate in this region and sometime their operations are cross border.

The four month old new Bangladesh government has been tough with the militants, but the efforts are not enough considering the lack of infrastructure and training of the security agencies. However a section of people are propagating otherwise that the government is over stressing the case of Islamic terrorism.
The main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) chief on Saturday at a rally said that there was no militant in the country as they had controlled of the militants by arresting and executing all the militants. Khaleda accused the four-month-old government of the Awami League of plotting to bring foreign troops in the country in the name of anti-militancy fight. (The Asian Tribune)

Interestingly BNP's allies Jamaat-e-Islami also claimed with reference to the government's resolution for a South Asian task force to counter terrorism:
“A certain quarter” is inviting “foreign forces to Bangladesh in search of militants mentioning the country’s inability to fight against militancy”.

The current threats prove otherwise. Recently typed letters were sent to offices of the UN’s children’s fund (UNICEF) and its World Food Programme (WFP), as well as the Red Crescent and Red Cross in the city of Barisal:
“The offices received identical letters signed by the group Jamayetul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) ordering them to shut down and pull out their staff within 24 hours, otherwise they would be killed."

The security around diplomatic zones in capital Dhaka was beeefed after an Islamist militant group threatened three missions including the U.S. embassy:

An unknown terror group, Jameaah Islamiyah al Qaeda, had threatened the U.S. embassy and the British, Canadian and Australian high commissions in Dhaka.

The threats were contained in letters faxed from a number in Malaysia.

The message demanded $100,000 from the missions through Western Union Money Transfer to fund the release of a forensic expert of the group, who is now in a Malaysian prison.

So is the government crying wolf? Can these threat be tackled without cooperation from other countries?

May 09, 2009

Picture of The Day

May 04, 2009

Gadgets & Gizmos

Germans love technology. You will find the use of technology everywhere and there is a tendency to introduce more and more technologies without keeping in mind that too much of it can complicate things. One of our guests came out of a city toilet (which runs a cleaning program after each visit) in panic that there was a sign that the door can open automatically after a certain time. The time (20 minute) was enough but there was something in the thought that the door is mechanically controlled and can be opened without the visitor's consent.

I was watching a TV program which was showing that sophisticated gadgets like coffee machine, car navigation units and ticket dispensers at Rail stations have become so complicated that almost everybody struggles to use them properly. The fully automatic coffee machine had a function called milk island, which the user could not find from the manual. The touch screen ticket dispensers had complicated code input systems and one user mentioned why don't you make it like the dispensers in Singapore. Every station has a button. You press it, insert money and voila! Your ticket is printed. But in Germany you have to go through many complicated menus.

The navigator had a voice recognition system which was not responding to certain words.

The bottom line is that these technologies have been incorporated without keeping in mind that most of the users are not geeks and are not comfortable with complicated menus.
The machine does not isolate man from the great problems of nature but plunges him more deeply into them. - Antoine de Saint-Exupery