The recent 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz was a reminder of the great crime of fascism, whose Nazi iconography is embedded in our consciousness. Fascism is preserved as history, as flickering footage of goose-stepping blackshirts, their criminality terrible and clear. Yet in the same liberal societies, whose war-making elites urge us never to forget, the accelerating danger of a modern kind of fascism is suppressed; for it is their fascism. Continue reading “Why the rise of fascism is again the issue”
By Monirul Alam/The Daily Prothom Alo
Police on Sunday foiled an attempt by the demonstrators of various left organisations to besiege the Ministry of Energy in protest against the hike in energy prices.
Witnesses said at least three activists were injured when police charged batons at them.
Communist Party of Bangladesh (CPB), Socialist Party of Bangladesh (SPB) and Gonotantrik Baam Morcha activists attempted to march towards the ministry from the Press Club area at around 11am, but the police blocked the roads by placing barricades at the secretariat-press club link road.
Protestors attempted to break through but the police charged batons and lobbed tear gas shells to dispersed them.
BILL MOYERS: Welcome. The Sherlock Holmes of money in politics — Trevor Potter — is here with some clues to what the billionaires and super PACs got for their lavish spending in the most expensive election in our history. In a nutshell: “You ain’t seen nothing yet.”
But first, if you’ve been curious about why New York MayorMike Bloomberg endorsed Barack Obama for re-election, just take another look at the widespread havoc caused by the Frankenstorm benignly named Sandy. Having surveyed all this damage?Bloomberg Business Week?concluded: ?It?s Global Warming, Stupid: If Hurricane Sandy doesn’t persuade Americans to get serious about climate change, nothing will.” Continue reading “Naomi Klein on Capitalism and Climate Change”
The first thing I saw last month when I walked into the belly of the dark grey C-17 Air Force cargo plane was a void — something missing. A missing left arm, to be exact, severed at the shoulder, temporarily patched and held together.? Thick, pale flesh, flecked with bright red at the edges. It looked like meat sliced open. The face and what remained of the rest of the man were obscured by blankets, an American flag quilt, and a jumble of tubes and tape, wires, drip bags, and medical monitors.
That man and two other critically wounded soldiers — one with two stumps where legs had been, the other missing a leg below the thigh — were intubated, unconscious, and lying on stretchers hooked to the walls of the plane that had just landed at Ramstein Air Base in Germany. A tattoo on the soldier?s remaining arm read, ?DEATH BEFORE DISHONOR.? Continue reading “The Lily-Pad Strategy”
The United States?multinational?energy company?ConocoPhillips?will soon start looking for gas in a deep offshore area in the Bay of Bengal.
With a short fall in the supply of gas and with declining reserves, the?Bangladeshi?government is desperate to find new supplies of gas.?It is the first time that the government has opened up its offshore territory to foreign exploration.?However, some are criticizing the government for signing this new deal with an international oil company. David Bergman?hears?from both sides.
Bangladesh not only uses gas to fire its power stations to produce electricity; gas has also become essential for many other parts of its economy.
Ijaz Hossain, is one of the country?s leading energy experts and a director of the country?s own gas exploration company, BAPEX. Continue reading “Bangladesh opens its gas fields to US company”
One of the videos presented. A compilation from several videos on major protests in 2011
Long before CSR had become a buzzword and superstars and corporates began to find it essential to have pet social causes to support, we had set up Drik, a small organisation in Bangladesh, which made social justice its raison d’?tre.
Over two decades later, when my show on extra judicial killings at the gallery of Drik, was interpreted by a group of international curators as a ?fantastic performance?. It was time for me to take stock, and see where the art world situated itself and whether I belonged to this marketplace.
As collective movements go, the sub-continent has had its share. Colonial rule, oppression by the landed gentry, women?s struggle for equality in a patriarchal society and the injustice of caste have all been challenged. The solidarity of sustained groups, often against overwhelmingly stronger entities with far greater resources. had been a trademark for undivided India and for Bengal in particular.
It was the dynamics of a ruling class propped up by local agents who stood to profit from inequality, that led to the Gandhian strategy of non-violent resistance. Other methods had also been tried, and Subhas Chandra Bose, with a much more militant outlook, also had a huge following. The Tebhaga peasant movement by the Kisan Sabha had led to laws being formulated that limited the share of the landlords.
Partition did not cure these ills. The ouster of the British did not break up the class structure, but replaced one set of exploiters with another. The British, and other imperial powers continued to maintain unequal trade relations, sometimes in the guise of aid.
Cultural activists in Bangladesh had operated within this milieu. With the military under the control of the West wing, the more populous East Pakistan felt the weight of oppression. Military rule became the vehicle for continued repression but failed to quell the unrest and even the final genocidal attack on the people of East Pakistan, was repulsed by a countrywide resistance.
An independent Bangladesh, free of foreign occupiers, should have been a land free of repression. The reality was very different and cultural activists have had to find new ways of resistance. This has required documentation, articulation and tools of creative expression to deal with injustice in many forms. Having been failed by the major political parties (both government and opposition), cultural actors formed their own groups. Operating with minimum resources, we devised numerous initiatives to mobilise public opinion. Using both new and traditional media, as well as the networking ability of social media we formed lean and tenacious campaigns that chipped away at the establishment and its cohorts insisting on being heard and bent on achieving justice.
But the corporatization of modern Bangladesh has brought about many changes. I remember as a child that we used to respond to natural disasters by grouping together, singing songs, raising money, collecting food and old clothes and going out to affected areas to distribute them. We now leave such activities to the NGOs. Social movements are now sponsored by multinationals and protesters in rallies have sunshades parading the brand logos of telecom companies.
We had simultaneously taken on the hegemony of the west and its new southern accomplices, as well as the repressive regimes that operated within the nation state. But today we also need to examine how social movements have been appropriated, and our inability to operate without ?funding? regardless of the cause seriously limits our capacity for social and political intervention.
As an artist, as an activist, and as an organizer, I have along with my colleagues taken on technology, art, education and culture in its diverse forms and have presented a cohesive front that has challenged the military, major political parties and corporates, while continuing to operate independently within public and private spheres.
The presentation attempts to show how, by resisting not only the formal entities that have usurped power, but also the cultural norms that attempt to pigeon-hole cultural practice in terms of ?fine art?, I as an individual artist, as well as worker in a commune, have tried to ensure that our ?art? does not limit itself to admiration in a gallery. It breathes the gunpowder laden air of street battles with police, the dank vapours of the factory floor and pervades the silence of patriarchal inner chambers.
8th January 2012
As government faces increasing criticism over its controversial deal with ConnocoPhillips and pressure mounts to force the government to reveal the contract, an oil spill in China lends weight to the protesters claims that the company has a poor safety record.
ConocoPhillips Halts Oil Operations In Bohai Bay, China
China said Wednesday it had ordered ConocoPhillips to immediately stop operations at several rigs in an area off the nation’s eastern coast polluted by a huge slick.
The 336-square-mile slick emanating from the oil field in Bohai Bay — which ConocoPhillips operates with China’s state-run oil giant CNOOC – has sparked outrage amid allegations of a cover-up.
On Wednesday, the State Oceanic Administration (SOA) said operations would not be allowed to resume before the source of the spill was fully plugged and “risks eliminated,” as fears over the long-term impact on the environment grow.
“There has been oil seeping continuously into the sea for days from platforms B and C in the Penglai 19-3 oil field and there is still a slick in the surrounding marine areas,” the SOA said in a statement.
“Another spill could happen at any time, which has posed a huge threat to the oceanic ecological environment,” it said, adding it had ordered Houston-based ConocoPhillips to stop operations at those platforms.
Spill ‘Basically Under Control’
CNOOC last week said the spill — which was detected on June 4 but only made public at the beginning of July — was “basically under control” while ConocoPhillips told reporters the leaks had been plugged.
The official China Daily newspaper last week said that dead seaweed and rotting fish could be seen in waters around Nanhuangcheng Island near the site of the slick.
It quoted a local fisheries association official as saying the oil leak would have a “long-term” impact on the environment.
CNOOC has been slammed by state media and green groups over the spill, and it emerged on Tuesday that the firm was cleaning up another slick after a breakdown at a rig off the northeast coast.
The state-run giant said the leak was “minor”.
In a separate incident, a CNOOC refinery in the southern province of Guangdong caught fire Monday but there were no casualties, the company said, adding that the cause of the blaze was still under investigation.
The refinery is located about 25 miles from the Daya Bay nuclear power plant, according to the official Xinhua news agency. Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2011
By rahnuma ahmed
Two hartals, in quick succession. During both, police forces deployed were brutal, as the photos reveal.
The similarity ends there, because the hartal called by the National Committee on Protection of Oil, Gas and Mineral Resources, Power and Ports was for 6 hours (July 3). It was called in protest against the government’s contract with ConocoPhillips signed on June 16; the deal awarded gas exploration and extraction rights to the US energy giant in two deep sea blocks in the Bay of Bengal. The National Committee’s demand? That the deal should be scrapped because it allows Bangladesh to have only 20% of the gas, it permits the company to export the remaining 80%. ?That under these conditions, the deal?similar to other deals signed by the government with multinational companies?goes against the national interest.
The hartal called by the Bangladesh Nationalist Party and its allies, for 48 hours (eight times more, July 6-7), was in protest against the recent 15th amendment of the constitution which includes scrapping the provision for a caretaker government?under which parliamentary elections are held?a one-and-half decade long practise in Bangladesh. Both major political parties are prone to shifting their position 180 degrees on the caretaker government issue depending on whether they are in, or out of, power. There is no credible reason to think that the Awami League would have assented to the scrapping if it had been in the opposition. Or, to forget the long drawn-out maneuverings of the BNP-Jamaat led government many months before national elections were due in 2007, ones that were calculated to ensure fool-proof rigging. In other words, to lead to the BNP-Jamaat led government’s re-election.
As Nurul Kabir insists, the nation is held hostage because the two major political parties have not been able to work out the `rules of the game,’ i.e., the elementary fact that at the end of its term the ruling government must necessarily hold free, fair and credible parliamentary elections, that it should have the political maturity to accept the people’s verdict. No doubt difficult, because each ruling party knows without a single trace of doubt?even though it is loath to admit it publicly?that the people’s verdict will throw it out of power. Because of its miserable 5 year performance. Because of reneging on its own electoral pledges. Continue reading “Police brutality”
In an exclusive interview with ShahidulNews, secretary of the National Committee to Protect Oil-Gas-Minerals-Power-Ports, Anu Muhammad, professor of economics of Jahangirnagar University, speaking outside the Communist Party of Bangladesh office in New Paltan in Dhaka, talked of over 50 activists having been arrested by the police in the early hours of the hartal.
Professor Muhammad was amongst those arrested but was later released. Other activists who remain arrested include active member of the committee Zonayed Saki and Saiful Huq a leading member of Biplobi Workers Party.
They were arrested this morning as they were heading towards their office. The professor spoke of the police having used force and numerous activists being beaten up.
Sunday’s hartal was called on the 18th January in protest against the controversial government treaty (PSC) with the American power giant ConocoPhillips. Activists maintain the contract, which has not yet been made public, only allows Bangladesh to have 20 per cent of the explored gas from Bay of Bengal, allowing the company to export the remaining 80 per cent.
Eyewitness report from Nasrin Siraj:
Anu Muhammad, professor of economics of Jahangirnagar University and member secretary of National Committee to??protect oil-gas-mineral resources, power and port is arrested from Paltan today (3 July) at 6:53 a.m.. While he was walking towards the office of Communist Party of Bangladesh to join the other activists of National Committee for strike campaign, at least 40 anti riot police came forward, grabbed him and took him away in a prisoner?s van. During the arrest he was silent. Anha F Khan, Mehedi Hassan and I were accompanying him today morning while he was walking from his residence. Mehedi Hasan was also arrested.
Today, from the very morning police started arresting activists of the National Committee. First, at 5:45 a.m leader of Student Union of Jahangirnagar University was arrested from Paltan. All the central offices of left political parties in Topkhana Road and Paltan were surrounded by police from the early morning. Almost all the central leaders of the National Committee are under police custody now.
Breaking News: Nasrin Siraj has since been arrested.
Professor Anu Muhammad, speaking from Paltan Thana (Police Station) in Motijheel reported that except for a handful of activists, the rest of the people arrested were still in the police station. “The government is trying to lump our activists with the Islamic Movement to confuse the issue and divert attention from their controversial signing of the ‘sell-out’ contract.”
News update: 10: 10 pm July 3rd 2011.
All arrested activists at Paltan Thana have been released. Paltan had the highest concentration of high profile activists, including Mushrefa Mishu, Saiful Huq, Zonayed Saki and Ruhin Hussain Prince and a large number of women activists. Nasrin Siraj Annie had been earlier released at 7:30 pm.
Activists at Shahbagh Thana and Lalbagh Thana are yet to be released. A large number of respected citizens, as well as MPs of the ruling party campaigned for the release of the activists. Barister Sara Hossain and other lawyers were also present at Paltan Thana and demanded the release of the activists.
Except for one activist, all other activists from Shahbagh and Lalbagh Thana were also released by 10:30 pm. Jubilant crowds clapped as the leaders of the protest rally were released.
DHAKA: Renowned writer, researcher and activist Rahnuma Ahmed asks who is a ?foreign agent?, Anu Muhammad, member-secretary of the National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, Power and Ports, or Dr. Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury, advisor to the Prime Minister on energy affairs?
Rahnuma was talking to banglanews24.com in an exclusive interview against the backdrop of the National Oil and Gas Committee`s siege of the energy ministry on June 14, 2011, police prevented the seige from taking place, Rahnuma was injured in clashes when police resorted to clubbing and lathi charge.
She raised this question when asked about the recent comments made by Dr. Hasan Mahmud, state minister for environment and forest, in the parliament about the oil and gas national committee, and about Anu Muhammad in particular.
Dr Hasan Mahmud told lawmakers, Anu Muhammad is a ?foreign agent,? and that the Oil and gas Committee was formed by `tokais` (street urchins) after the committee called a half-day hartal on July 3 in protest against the deal inked between the government and the US-based company ConocoPhillips for offshore oil and gas exploration. The contract includes the provision of gas export.
banglanews24.com?s Output EditorMahmood Menon took the interview. banglanews: Why do you think Bangladesh should not export its oil and gas? rahnuma ahmed: I will mention only one reason because of space and time constraints, but before that I want to draw your attention to a basic issue. Natural energy resources are limited. They are non-renewable. They get depleted. And that`s why it`s essential that these should be made use of in a planned manner, that we need to seriously consider the issue of national reserves, our needs, how the national interest can best be secured, you know, these matters, that policies and plans of action should be well-thought out, well-planned.? Let`s talk of gas, national reserves are estimated to be 7.3 trillion cubic foot. According to the latest estimates, the daily shortfall of national energy needs is 450 million cubic foot. The demand for gas is increasing at an annual rate of 10%. According to government forecasts, gas reserves are likely to run out by 2014-2015. This is the picture. Continue reading “Rahnuma asks: Who is foreign agent, Anu Muhammad or Tawfiq Elahi?”