Interview on 22nd February 2013, where he talks about the Shahbagh movement, his recent exhibition at Oitijjo in the South Bank in London and his upcoming exhibition on the disappearance of Kalpana Chakma.
Even the pit stop in Dhaka is threatened by Jamaat’s hartal tomorrow. I am hoping it will be even more of a flop than previous ones. Those of you who missed the interview in BBC (1:09 into the programme where I talk about Shahbagh). Look out for the oped in New York Times on Friday and the interview on Listening Post in Al Jazeera on Saturday.
I’d thought of writing about Monsanto this week — the US-based biotech giant which is being sued by five million Brazilian farmers for 7.7 billion dollars for its seed-patenting, rightly dubbed “GM genocide” — but the press statement from Amnesty International USA, which had slipped into my inbox caught my eye.
Headlined, “Urgent: From Syria’s Frontlines“, it spoke of an Amnesty report to be released this week which has uncovered “widespread new evidence of heinous war crimes committed by the Syrian government armed forces and militias.” Amnesty’s ?investigations of the Houla and Dara massacres, claims the release, provides “unequivocal evidence that the Syrian army is responsible for gross violations of human rights on a massive scale.” Only Bashar al-Assad’s armed forces and militias? Only the Syrian army? No mention of atrocities committed by the rebel forces? Of the US secretary of state Hillary Clinton’s admission that al-Qaeda is supporting the armed insurrection in Syria? Which, as Paul Joseph Watson points out, is consistent with reports that these same terrorists had helped to overthrow Colonel Gaddafi in Libya and had been airlifted to Syria by NATO forces? That al-Qaeda’s leader Ayman al-Zawahiri has publicly lent support to Syrian rebel forces? (“Clinton: Al Qaeda, U.S., Helping Syrian Rebels,” Global Research, March 2, 2012). Continue reading “AMNESTY USA ON SYRIAN GOVERNMENT'S WAR CRIMES: The whole truth?”
News agency uses picture of dead Iraqi children to depict alleged government atrocity
Paul Joseph Watson
Monday, May 28, 2012
The British media has been caught yet again with its pants down in the effort to sell a NATO-led attack on Syria, with the revelation that BBC News used a years-old photo of dead Iraqi children to depict victims of an alleged government assault on the town of Houla.
In a report issued hours after the massacre, the BBC used a photo that was first published over nine years ago and taken in Al Mussayyib, Iraq. The image shows a child skipping over the dead bodies of hundreds of Iraqi children who have been transported from a mass grave to be identified.
Bangladesh?s rapidly changing media scene will be in the focus of the special BBC Bangla programme to be broadcast on Channel i, marking the 70th anniversary of BBC Bangla in the year of the 40th anniversary of Bangladesh?s independence.
Produced by BBC Bangla in collaboration with Channel i and moderated by BBC Bangla Editor, Sabir Mustafa, the programme, Freedom of information in the internet age, will debate issues raised by the spread of television and advent of social media.
The debate panel will include: Adviser to the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, H T Imam; Editor of News Today, Reazuddin Ahmed; and Abu Saeed Khan, Secretary General of AMTOB, the Association of Mobile Telecom Operators of Bangladesh. An invited audience of some 200 people will ask the questions.
Sabir Mustafa will moderate the debate, asking about the challenges facing the traditional and new media: ?These challenges are coming from the social media revolution which has opened up new avenues to exchange information and debate. They are also coming from governments and other regulatory bodies which seek to restrict the freedom of the established media through legislation and to restrict the use of social media.?
The pre-recorded hour-long debate will be followed by an hour-long live studio discussion during which BBC Bangla presenter, Akbar Hossain, and studio guests – photographer and blogger Shahidul Alam of Drik, and leading journalist and former president of National Press Club, Shawkat Mahmud – will discuss comments on the topic, texted by viewers using the short code 16262.
The panel debate will be broadcast by Channel i at 7.50pm Bangladesh time on Thursday 22 December, and at 8pm on Saturday 24 December on BBC 100 FM in Dhaka and on shortwave 12035kHz and 9800kHz. The live discussion will go on air on Channel i at 7.50pm Bangladesh time on Friday 23 December.
The army is becoming increasingly involved in business activities.?The Bangladeshi army has over the years played a key role in the country’s political life, but it has now also emerged as a major player in the business arena, with interests spread across all the major sectors of the economy.
Following the example of the Pakistan army, it has been thriving under successive civilian governments. But there are now signs of unease about it within the force itself and within wider society.?Evidence of the army’s wealth and influence is not hard to find.?The five star Dhaka Radisson hotel – which offers guests use of the nearby deluxe army golf course – is owned by the Bangladesh Army Welfare Trust (AWT) and was established on military land.
There are five other top hotels in Dhaka, but none can provide a package that exploits military real estate.
The military’s interests include the hotel and hospitality trade.?Capitalising on its success with the Dhaka Radisson, the AWT is now building another five-star hotel in the port city of Chittagong.
A leading hotelier who did not wish to be identified told the BBC that the use of cheaper military-land amid sky-rocketing land prices in Dhaka has given the army a clear commercial advantage against other players.
In addition to a recently-built fast-food shop aimed at the affluent middle class in Dhaka, the army’s other big business these days is the Trust Bank. Set up under civilian rule, it has now grown into a fully-fledged commercial bank with about 40 branches nationwide.
In 2007, the military-backed caretaker government granted it exclusive rights to receive fees for passports.?Former senior civil servant Akbar Ali Khan says that this is against the government’s procurement rules – and there should have been an open tender to ensure that the cheapest and best passport service was selected.
While bank officials say it played by the rules and received no special favours from the government, its audited accounts – first released in 2007 – caused much controversy.?They revealed that the-then army chief, Gen Moeen U Ahmed, got loans several times larger than the rules allow.?The army’s business empire is thought to be worth around $500m.?At the time, he was chairman of the Trust Bank by virtue of the fact that he was head of the army. And Bangladesh was being ruled by an army-backed interim government.?Gen Ahmed denies any impropriety, arguing that questions over the size of the loan are an attempt “to malign” him.
And there are other parts of the forces which have their own banks. The Civil Defence Force runs the Bangladesh Ansar and Village Defence Party Bank – known as the Ansar VDP Bank. This bank, set up in 1995 by the government, has not yet received any banking licence and functions like a credit society.
But the army’s interests do not end here.
Ice cream sales
If you are buying any ice-cream in rural areas of the country, you may be getting a product of an army-owned business, that of the Sena Kallyan Sangstha (SKS).?The SKS is a welfare foundation whose function is to care for the welfare of veterans and family members of servicemen.?Among other things, the SKS now owns concerns in food, textiles, jute, garments, electronics, real estate and travel.
It is now evident that the Bangladeshi armed forces have been largely following the business model developed so successfully by their Pakistani counterparts.?In Pakistan, the military’s Fauji Foundation has a huge involvement in trade and industry.
Using the Pakistani model, the AWT was founded in 1998 during the previous rule of the Awami League led by the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. The irony is that military business interests have thrived more under civilian rule than under martial law regimes.
The growth of military involvement in commerce has had serious repercussions for the armed forces themselves.?The official probe into the country’s worst ever mutiny by the paramilitary Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) border guards in 2009 – which left at least 68 high ranking military officials dead – bears this out.
Commission Chairman M Anisuzzaman Khan said that the mutiny was partly fuelled by resentment among the BDR’s rank-and-file over the corruption of army officers engaged in the retail sale of consumer items.?It recommended that no forces – military or civil defence – should be allowed to engage in commercial or business activities.?”Law and order forces are meant for defending the country, they are not supposed to run factories or business units,” Mr Khan said.
But an empire worth at least $500m is growing daily and becoming stronger. Plans obtained by the BBC reveal that the army’s business ambitions include power plants and even the insurance businesses – no potential business sector seems out of its sights.?Critics argue that the army should concentrate on serving the country.?Although the army headquarters agreed to respond to the queries made by the BBC, our repeated requests for interviews did not materialise and no response was actually made.?But a number of retired generals have expressed their unease over the army’s extensive exposure in the fields of trade and industry.
Lt Gen (Retired) Mahbubur Rahman – who entered politics few years back and served as the chairman of the standing committee on the Ministry of Defence in the previous parliament – told the BBC that the military “should keep within its charter of duties and not engage or get involved in any financial transactions – especially for business”.?”We have witnessed how such activities can bring disaster,” he said.
A number of leading figures in business and civil society have admitted that many army-owned businesses are virtually indistinguishable from other commercial enterprises in the way they operate.?But as its ambitions develop, it seems that the debate about whether or not the army should engage in such activities will also grow. Related article. Moeen U Ahmed and Trust Bank
“We travel to Dhaka, in Bangladesh for a celebration of South East Asian photography thanks to a festival called Chobi Mela, on its fourth edition so far. Their theme this year is ‘boundaries’: ideas, aspects, images that divide peoples and cultures. Perfect backdrop for the violence in the country ahead of forthcoming elections…” http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/programmes/the_ticket.shtml. They did a hatchet job on Anita’s interviews, but at least the BEEB did give coverage to Chobi Mela IV.
Besides Cristobal (asleep on the rickshaw) and Norman, all the others have gone back.
Richard, Wubin and Cristobal, testing out environmentally friendly modes of transport.
Rupert claims his neighbours need sunglasses to cope with his glistening green punjabi from Dhanmondi Aarong.
The Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) motorbike cruised slowly past Drik in the morning. Earlier I’d seen them cruise in Gulshan and Baridhara. It was like a scene from Easy Rider, though the ‘crossfire’ victims might not think so. I’ve never seen them in the troubled areas of Paltan, or Muktangon, or anywhere there are clashes between the public and the police. The RAB seem to have different priorities. For the moment at least, the elite force seems only concerned with protecting the elite.
Meanwhile, a Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) takes a strange and undefined ‘leave’, with veiled threats of “I shall return”, and the fighting gives way to election frenzy.
The Police in a different role
The campaigner, a new kid on the block
Hired supporters, a new form of employment
Employment for all
And the inevitable traffic jams
For those trying to avoid the winter chill, the priorities are somewhat different. A girl cooks dinner at Russel Square. Earlier the burning cars provided the flames.