March 12 Rally

We were, we are, we'll stay, was the slogan on recent Awami League posters. BNP haven't quite gotten to three generations yet, but the dynasty game is certainly one both parties want to play. ??Shahidul Alam/Drik/Majority World

The government was hell bent on preventing the opposition rally. Trains, buses and launches were all stopped. Ordinary passengers were beaten up and prevented from off loading at stations and ferrys. The police were out in full force in the city, checking on people to make sure they were not opposition supporters heading for the rally.

None of this worked of coursed and massive crowds still made their way to the rally at Paltan. The crowd was still there when I left the rally just after six. On the way up, I had interviewed some of the people gathering for the rally. Tellingly, most of the people I asked had voted for the Awami League in the last elections and had become completely disillusioned by the government. I wonder if Hasina still has some people in her party, who can tell her what is going on, but she is probably so completely surrounded by sycophants that none of this might ever filter through.
Banners on the streets near Paltan. 12th March 2012.???Shahidul Alam/Drik/Majority World

Since there were far too many people to fit near the dais, separate clusters of people watched on large digital screens all along the road.???Shahidul Alam/Drik/Majority World

I had been there in Manik Mia Avenue after Ershad's fall, where Tarique Zia had been displayed to the public as the new crown prince. This young man seemed to be an heir apparent that we need to look out for.???Shahidul Alam/Drik/Majority World

The leader of the opposition, Khaleda Zia might well be pleased. Though there are many who feel the government's heavy handedness was what handed them their success.???Shahidul Alam/Drik/Majority World

Sadly, the day ended with over a hundred people being killed in the launch disaster. While the nation was in mourning and the callous attitude of the transport ministry was being severely criticised, the Awami League brought out a celebratory party, as a show of strength. The survivors of the victims might not appreciate the irony.
Related link:
ISI admits funding BNP

Author: Shahidul Alam

Time Magazine Person of the Year 2018. A photographer, writer, curator and activist, Shahidul Alam obtained a PhD in chemistry before switching to photography. His seminal work “The Struggle for Democracy” contributed to the removal of General Ershad. Former president of the Bangladesh Photographic Society, Alam set up the Drik agency, Chobi Mela festival and Pathshala, South Asian Media Institute, considered one of the finest schools of photography in the world. Shown in MOMA New York, Centre Georges Pompidou, Royal Albert Hall and Tate Modern, Alam has been guest curator of Whitechapel Gallery, Winterthur Gallery and Musee de Quai Branly. His awards include Mother Jones, Shilpakala Award and Lifetime Achievement Award at the Dali International Festival of Photography. Speaker at Harvard, Stanford, UCLA, Oxford and Cambridge universities, TEDx, POPTech and National Geographic, Alam chaired the international jury of the prestigious World Press Photo contest. Honorary Fellow of Royal Photographic Society, Alam is visiting professor of Sunderland University in UK and advisory board member of National Geographic Society. John Morris, the former picture editor of Life Magazine describes his book “My journey as a witness”, (listed in “Best Photo Books of 2011” by American Photo), as “The most important book ever written by a photographer.”

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