Bangladesh Now

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The Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) were setup as a crack team to support law enforcement. Numerous accusations of extra judicial killings have been attributed to RAB, usually followed by a government press release about people having died in a ‘crossfire’. ? Munem Wasif/DrikNews
Dark glasses, black bandana, arrogance in his face. ‘The Protector’ strides with purpose. A new word enters our lexicon. You can now ‘crossfire’ a person. No questions asked.
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Hanif, a mill worker, was shot dead by the police during a protest rally organised by the workers. Two hundred workers were injured. Crescent jute mill, Khalishpur, Khulna, 11 September 2006. ? Munem Wasif/DrikNews
She mourns in silence. Her man, a worker in a mill, is no more. His crime? Demanding payment for his labour.
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Workers protest on the streets of Khalishpur, even during emergency. ? Munem Wasif/DrikNews
A child screams.
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Soon after coming to power, the caretaker government ordered all illegal constructions and slums be torn down. Those affected do not know where to find shelter since laws and their interpretations are mostly anti-poor. Dhaka Bangladesh. 24 January 2007. ? Munem Wasif/DrikNews
Evicted from a slum that offered little, his parents in search for even less.
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Muslim and Adivasi women unite in their fight against multinationals. Phulbari Bangladesh. 30 September 2006. ? Munem Wasif/DrikNews
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These green fields will disappear if coal mining starts. Phulbari Bangladesh. ? Munem Wasif/DrikNews
Angry women protest the illegal hand-over of their land to multinationals.
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Choles Ritchil killed in custody
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And the missing photograph. The one we cannot show. The one of the Adivashi leader tortured and killed in custody. He too had the temerity to resist government takeover of his ancestral land.
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A member of Rapid Action Battalion (RAB, Bangladesh’s elite security force), checks the grounds with a dog squad to ensure security of the 14 party led Awami League’s grand rally the next day. Paltan, Dhaka Bangladesh. December 17 2006.
? Munir uz Zaman/DrikNews
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Ratan Kumar, suspected of stealing a gold necklace, was tortured at Bogra Police Station. This photograph (taken with a mobile phone) was published in a daily newspaper, resulted in police officials seen in the picture (the officer-in-charge, three sub-inspectors and a constable) being suspended from active duty. Bogra Bangladesh. 28 January 2007. ? DrikNews
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Police fired tear gas shells and rubber bullets to stop agitated students at Dhaka University campus. As protests engulfed the nation, curfew was declared in 6 divisional cities from 8 at night. A student hurls back a tear gas shell. Dhaka Bangladesh. 22 August 2007.? Azizur Rahim Peu/DrikNews
Now is a difficult time. A time for reflection, a time for retrospection, a time for defiance. Sadly for most Bangladeshis, now has always been difficult. Apart from the brief euphoria after independence in ’71, there were the lesser joys when the autocrat left in ’90, on winning a Nobel peace prize in ’06 and even temporary relief when emergency was declared in January ’07. But those feelings have been short-lived. Particularly for the poor. When elephants clash it is the grass that gets hurt.
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Soldiers and rescue workers recover a child’s body from landslides caused by heavy rains on the deforested hills of Chittagong city. One hundred and six people died, many more were injured. Chittagong Bangladesh. 12 June 2007. ? Tanvir Ahmed/DrikNews
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A woman mourns the death of her family members, all of whom died as a result of the mudslide. Chittagong Bangladesh. 12 June 2007. ? Tanvir Ahmed/DrikNews
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Life is fearful for a slum-dweller. When will she face the next eviction? Dhaka Bangladesh ? Munem Wasif/DrikNews
Arrests in the night, the brutality of high prices and the daily grind of poverty are the realities that wear people down. But they are warriors. Despite the weight of unjust governance, despite the price they always end up paying, they still protest. And the photojournalists? When justice is compromised. When the poor are trampled under the march of ‘reform’. When fear evokes silence. When familiar faces turn away. To stay ‘neutral’ is to stay aloof. They stand on the side of the oppressed. Unashamedly so.
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Rickshaws without proper licenses seized by police and dumped near Police Control room. Rickshaws are environment-friendly and affordable by the middle class and often the only source of paid work for men migrating from villages in search of work. 17 February 2007. Dhaka Bangladesh. ? Munem Wasif/DrikNews
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A village woman dries dhan (husked rice grain) as flood waters recede. Chilmari, Rangpur. August 8 2007. A village woman dries dhan (husked rice grain) as flood waters recede. Chilmari, Rangpur. August 8 2007. ? Munem Wasif/DrikNews
On Tuesday the 4th of September 2007 DrikNews will hold its inaugural photographic exhibition “Bangladesh Now”. The photographs shown are a selection from the exhibition.
The exhibition will be opened by Nurul Kabir, editor, New Age, who will share his views about the current situation in Bangladesh,
before the opening. The program starts at 5.00 pm.

Drik will be 18 years old on that day. We’d like you to be with us

13 thoughts on “Bangladesh Now”

  1. Compelling images, a powerful message ? This is Drik in its best birthday garb. Your tenacious perseverance to highlight the plight of the poor, your continued commitment not to stay silent and stand on the side of the oppressed makes you the warriors we need to emulate across South Asia. Warm congratulations Shahidul and Drik Team on 18 strong years and wishing you the best for years to come.

  2. When all else fails, then falls down a curse. Not explained by science, nor rationality, nor any justfied thought process – but recorded in the “Purans” and old texts of this land. When pushed to extreme loss such a curse will fall and it will be a great trial for all of us.
    Our silent tribute for all photojournalists of Bangladesh for sharing the sights that we otherwise would not have seen. Thank you.

  3. These photos made me weep.
    Your photographers have captured so passionately the pain suffered by this nation’s poorest people, who are always the forgotten victims of the vicious power games our politicians play.
    See you tomorrow @ Drik.

  4. Dear Shahidul and other friends of DRIK
    The pictures shown here once more convince me of the necessity of the work of courageous (photo)journalists. DRIK is a good example which should get many followers.
    I congratulate you at your 18th birthday and sincerely hope that the situation in Bangladesh will have improved considerably, when you reach your 19th.
    Best,
    Jos van Beurden, author Jhagrapur Revisited

  5. Thanks so much for the reflections of current time we have been facing in Bangladesh. These have been invaluable glimpses to look at and recall “ki jug e amra kori baash…”.
    Wishes to Drik to its 18th anniversary..

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