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?”
The regular weekly “Solidarity for Limon” rally had been steadily attracting bigger crowds, despite the monsoon rains. The gathering this Friday the 24th June 2011 was especially large. The street plays were popular and since this was not an event aligned to either of the main political parties, it attracted ordinary people who came to express solidarity, or merely to enjoy the performance.
This week’s performance, a drama called Khekshial (Jackal), performed by Aranyak Natyadal in front of the National Museum at around 4:30pm, was however disrupted when two men burst through the surrounding crowd and began wrecking the props.
Attack visible from 8 mins 58 secs onwards. The audience, intially slow to react, as they thought it was part of the play, soon went after the men, but they disappeared into the crowd. Later a young man called Al-Amin was caught by the crowd and accused of being one of the attackers. The man was taken away by Shahbag police, who arrived sometime after the event. The police are reported to have released Al-Amin as he was an innocent by-stander.
The organisers have pledged to continue their protests until the government withdraw the false cases against Limon Hossein and provide adequate compensation for the loss of his leg.
`Attack on demo for Limon,’ bdnews24
Fri, Jun 24th, 2011 8:23 pm BdST
and, `Goons attack demo for Limon,’ New Age, 25/06/2011 00:42:00
In the end, treachery will betray even itself.
When the prime minister, the finance minister etc., not known for being democratically-oriented, feel obliged to respond publicly according to the terms and conditions set by the National Oil-Gas Committee, it is clear that the tide is shifting.
It is clear that? the National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, Power and Ports (NCPOGMR) has made a significant impact on public consciousness. That there is a growing national awareness of the issue of ownership of natural resources; of the terms on which production sharing contracts are signed with international oil companies (IOCs); a growing suspicion that exporting extracted gas may not be the best way of solving the nation’s energy shortfall. More precisely, of the hollowness of the government’s reasoning as to why gas blocks need to be, must necessarily be, leased out to multinational companies.? More broadly, of whether the nation’s ruling class, regardless of which political party is in power, does act in the interests of the nation, of its people.
It is clear from what top ruling party leaders are now obliged to say, to repeatedly say, we are patriotic, we are not treacherous, that they have been forced to cede ground.
It is clear that a moral battle has been won. Continue reading “De-energising Bangladesh”