Protecting Freedom of Expression in Bangladesh

Following is the English translation of the statement made by academics, writers, women?s rights, human rights and cultural activists, including freedom fighters, on December 18, 2014 regarding the conviction and sentencing of British journalist David Bergman by the International Crimes Tribunal-2, in Dhaka. The statement was published in Prothom Alo, the largest Bangla daily, the next day. One of the statement makers, Khushi Kabir, withdrew her name from the statement the following day.
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On January 14, 2015, the Tribunal served notice on the 49 statement makers asking them to explain their statement: ?Prima facie it appears that the core content of the ‘statement’ questions ‘transparency and openness’ of the judicial proceedings before the tribunal and also justification of the order sentencing a journalist [Bergman] for the act of scandalising the tribunal constituting the offence of contempt.?
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Over the next two months, 26 statement makers tendered in writing their ?unconditional apology? before the Tribunal. These were accepted as they ?upgraded the majesty of the Tribunal? (Order No 11, dated 18.03.2015), and the 26 were exonerated from further proceedings.
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The remaining 23, who had expressed their ?regret? for any inadvertent impression the Tribunal may have received about it?s ?authority and institutional dignity? having been belittled, have failed to satisfy the Tribunal as their explanation lacks ?true remorse and repentance.? And, in the eyes of the Tribunal, they have, on the contrary, sought to ?defend? their statement by citing the rights and freedoms enshrined in the Constitution of Bangladesh.
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The Tribunal has now decided (Order No. 12, dated 1.04.2015) to initiate contempt proceedings against Masud Khan (consultant), Afsan Chowdhury (liberation war researcher, university teacher), Ziaur Rahman (lawyer), Hana Shams Ahmed (writer, rights activist), professor Anu Muhammad (university teacher), Anusheh Anadil (singer, rights activist), Muktasree Chakma Sathi (rights activist), Lubna Marium (cultural activist, freedom fighter), Farida Akhter (women?s rights activist), Shireen Huq (women?s rights activist), Dr. Zafrullah Chowdhury (public health activist, freedom fighter), Ali Ahmed Ziauddin (freedom fighter), Rahnuma Ahmed (writer), Dr. Shahidul Alam (photographer), Dr. C. R. Abrar (university teacher), Dr. Bina D’ Costa (peace and conflict analyst), Mahmud Rahman (writer), Dr. Zarina Nahar Kabir (university teacher), Leesa Gazi (cultural activist), Shabnam Nadiya (writer), Nasrin Siraj Annie (anthropologist and film-maker, Tibra Ali (physicist), and Dr. Delwar Hussain (anthropologist).
 
If found guilty they face a fine or imprisonment of up to 1 year. Continue reading “Protecting Freedom of Expression in Bangladesh”

Tolerating Death in a Culture of Intolerance

Another blogger. Ananta Bijoy Das, murdered today. Police too busy beating up students to notice:
Anonto blogger killed with text———————————————————————————————————-
Tolerating Death in a Culture of Intolerance | Economic and Political Weekly.
COMMENTARY Economic & Political Weekly EPW MARCH 21, 2015 vol l no 12 11 by?Shahidul Alam
The daylight murder of Bangladeshi blogger Avijit Roy in Dhaka on 26 February reflects the culture of fear and intolerance that has built up in the country over the last few decades. As a result, the middle ground between the extremes has disappeared.
Returning home with your wife, from a book fair where you have been signing autographs, seems a peaceful enough activity. It was in the heart of the university area, and it was not late. The footpath next to Ramna Park, where the 1971 surrender document had been signed, was full of people. Shahbagh Police Thana was nearby, and a police barricade designed to keep visitors to the mela safe, was only a few yards away. Hardly the scene crime stories are made of.
Location of murder of Dr. Avijit Roy near Dhaka University Teachers Students Centre (TSC) roundabout. Photo: Shahidul Alam/Drik/Majority World Continue reading “Tolerating Death in a Culture of Intolerance”

How many more Avijit's must we mourn?

Mourning Avijit Roy

Avijit Roy, wife Rafida Ahmed Banya and daughter Trisha in holiday in New Orleans
Avijit Roy, wife Rafida Ahmed Banya and daughter Trisha in holiday in New Orleans

It was a few yards away from where Dr. Milon had been killed. Then it had been?suspected the police were involved. This time, the police were a silent witness. Blogger and human rights activist Dr. Avijit Roy and his wife?Rafida Ahmed Banna?were returning home after visiting the Amar Ekushey Book Fair. Their ricksha was stopped, they were dragged out and Avijit was hacked to death. Banya?was severely injured and lost a finger.? Continue reading “How many more Avijit's must we mourn?”

More citizens protest against police raid on New Age office

Since the following news item was published in New Age, other prominent citizens have added themselves to the list:?Nasrin Khandoker,?Dr Zafrullah Chowdhury,?Farida Akhter,?Dr Amena Mohsin,?Ashraf Kaiser,?Shahnaz Huda,?Lubna Marium,?Nitra Samina,?Seuty Sabur

new-logo-300px1January 6, 2015
Staff Correspondent

Forty-four eminent citizens on Monday in a statement protested against the police raid on New Age office in the capital on December 28, 2014.

?The operation was not a stray incident, rather it was done in a planned manner to frighten news media as the part of continuing repression on citizen rights,? they said in the statement.

The statement read, ?Without giving any reason, such a police action was serious threat to the objective journalism and the freedom of press.?

It said, ?We also assume that the operation not only targeted a courageous and outspoken editor and his daily but also posed alarming message to the freedom of expression and citizen rights.?
They also demanded punishment of the police officials for the ?censurable incident.?
?We also demand the responsible authorities must apologise for the incident,? they said.

The statement was signed, among others, by Dhaka University teachers CR Abrar, Asif Nazrul and Gitiara Nasreen, photographer Shahidul Alam, Jahangirnagar University teachers Anu Mohammad, Naseem Akhter Hussain, Enamul Haque Khan, ATM Atiqur Rahman and Arifa Sultana, United States? Grand Valley State University teacher Azfar Hussain, Chittagong University teacher Sadaf Noor-e Islam, and right defenders Rahnuma Ahmed and Hana Shams Ahmed.

On December 28, 2014, a group of police led by Tejgaon industrial police station officer-in-charge Salahuddin stormed New Age premises in the peak hours of the newspaper at about 8:25pm without giving any reason.

Salahuddin said that he had ?information of serious nature? for which they needed to search the newspaper office.?He also threatened the newsmen saying that they would need to face dire consequences.

New Age Police Raid Press Release
See more at: http://newagebd.net/83512/44-citizens-protest-against-police-raid-on-new-age-office/#sthash.sNOJHo46.RLJZrpUR.dpuf
Guangming Online:?44 citizens protest against police raid on New Age office
 
 

How Laura Poitras Helped Snowden Spill His Secrets

?By?PETER?MAASS,?MAURICIO LIMA FOR THE NEW YORK TIMES

Glenn Greenwald, a writer for The Guardian, at home in Rio de Janeiro.
This past January, Laura Poitras received a curious e-mail from an anonymous stranger requesting her public encryption key. For almost two years, Poitras had been working on a documentary about surveillance, and she occasionally received queries from strangers. She replied to this one and sent her public key ? allowing him or her to send an encrypted e-mail that only Poitras could open, with her private key ? but she didn?t think much would come of it. Continue reading “How Laura Poitras Helped Snowden Spill His Secrets”

And we all remain silent

what happens to war criminals
Living in the majority world, we have learnt to expect Western hypocrisy. We are used to the rhetoric on democracy accompanying active support of pliant dictators.? We see Western governments preaching human rights, while actively engaging in torture.? Assisting state machineries involved in torture. We see the deification of dissidents in non-Western countries, while Western dissidents are vilified, tortured, sometimes killed. We see extrajudicial killings being approved by presidents, because it is more cost-effective.
With the persecution of??Snowden?however, they appear to have given up the pretense. No longer are they concerned with appearing to be moral. A US citizen is being victimized because he believes in the core principles of his nation?s constitution. His crime lies in being patriotic. For putting public interest before state servitude.
Snowden?is indeed guilty. He spoke the truth. He protested against injustice. He upheld the rights of the common citizen. It is a guilt I would be proud to share. He should wear it as a badge of honour.
Snowden?is doing precisely what the founding fathers of the United States would have wished him to do. The spying by NSA is an assault on all of us who genuinely believe in democracy. A belief many have died for.
From the ashes of this witch hunt, many more Snowdens will surely rise.
Shahidul Alam
Dhaka
22nd August 2013
Stephen Dupont, Jack Picone and Tim Page are other photographers who are expressing their solidarity
Related links:
Father of Edward?Snowden?issues open letter to Obama denouncing ?Orwellian surveillance programs?
Australian film director Paul Cox denounces US-led manhunt of EdwardSnowden
Deepa Mehta also protests

Threats to journalism

David Miranda, schedule 7 and the danger that all reporters now face

As the events in a Heathrow transit lounge ? and the Guardian offices ? have shown, the threat to journalism is real and growing

?The Guardian,?

Glenn Greenwald and David Miranda

Glenn Greenwald, left, with David Miranda, who was held for nine hours at Heathrow under schedule 7 of Britain’s terror laws. Photograph: Ricardo Moraes/Reuters
In a private viewing cinema in Soho last week I caught myself letting fly with a four-letter expletive at Bill Keller, the former executive editor of the New York Times. It was a confusing moment. The man who was pretending to be me ? thanking Keller for “not giving a shit” ? used to be?Malcolm Tucker, a foul-mouthed Scottish spin doctor who will soon be a 1,000-year-old time lord. And Keller will correct me, but I don’t remember ever swearing at him. I do remember saying something to the effect of “we have the thumb drive, you have the first amendment”. Continue reading “Threats to journalism”

Do as I say, not as I do

On Obama’s Cancellation of Summit with Putin and Extradition

The US frequently refuses extradition requests where, unlike with Snowden, it involves serious crimes and there is an extradition treaty
By Glenn Greenwald Information Clearing House

August 07, 2013 “Information Clearing House?- “The Guardian” –?President Obama today?canceled a long-scheduled summit?with Russian President?Vladimir Putin?in part because the US president is upset that Russia defied his?personal directive?to hand over?Edward Snowden?despite the lack of an extradition treaty between the two nations. That means that US media outlets will spend the next 24 hours or so channeling the government’s views (excuse the redundancy) by denouncing the Russian evil of refusing extradition. When doing so, very few, if any, establishment media accounts will mention any of these cases: Continue reading “Do as I say, not as I do”

Stifling the whistleblower

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME
Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-104-2013

11 August 2013
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BANGLADESH: Human rights defender, Mr. Adilur Rahman Khan arbitrarily detained
ISSUES: Arbitrary arrest and detention; ill-treatment; fabricated charges; freedom of expression and opinion; human rights defender; corruption; impunity
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Dear friends,
The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information that the Detective Branch of Dhaka Metropolitan Police has arrested Mr. Adilur Rahman Khan, one of most respected human rights defenders in Bangladesh and the Secretary of Odhikar. A group of plain clothed men picked up Mr. Adilur from his residence at?10:20 p.m., on 10 August 2013. Neither Adilur, nor the family was informed why they were taking Adilur into custody and where they were taking him. Later, media in Bangladesh have published reports, quoting police officers Adilur was arrested in relation to a case registered at Gulshan Police Station, for offenses punishable under the Information and Communications Technology Act, 2006. However, the Gulshan police has informed Odhikar that they had no case registered against Adilur at the station, and that the officers there learned about Adilur’s arrest through the media. There is serious concern about Adilur’s safety in custody. Please intervene immediately in this case, so that Adilur remains safe in custody and released without delay. Continue reading “Stifling the whistleblower”

Are all telephone calls recorded and accessible to the US government?

A former FBI counterterrorism agent claims on CNN that this is the case

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CNN Clemente

Former FBI counterterrorism agent Tim Clemente, on CNN, discussing government’s surveillance capabilities Photograph: CNN screegrab
The real capabilities and behavior of the US?surveillance?state are almost entirely unknown to the American public because, like most things of significance done by the US government, it operates behind an impenetrable wall of secrecy. But a seemingly spontaneous admission this week by a former FBI counterterrorism agent provides a rather startling acknowledgment of just how vast and invasive these surveillance activities are. Continue reading “Are all telephone calls recorded and accessible to the US government?”