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Tag: corruption

Making us pay with our lives

‘Could you get a small size pizza and some French fries for Zafrullah and send to GK? He is not eating and maybe a change in menu will help.’  It was our very own freedom fighter Dr Zafrullah Chowdhury that Shireen Huq, his wife, was talking about, and I wasted no time in my search for the pizza.

Rahnuma Ahmed being tested for Covid-19 in our flat in Dhanmondi. ─ Shahidul Alam/Drik/Majority World

The journalist who got too close

‘REPEAT a lie often enough and it becomes the truth’, is a law of propaganda often attributed to the Nazi Joseph Goebbels. The Bangladesh government seems to have studied Goebbels’ book well. The lies generally come in the form of denials. ‘No, we have not been involved in “crossfire” and “disappearances”.’ ‘There is no political motive.’ ‘No one will be spared.’ ‘The elections were fair.’ ‘The judiciary is independent,’ the list goes on. The lies are repeated ad nauseam in political rallies, in talk shows, in press briefings and through social media trolls.

Shafiqul Islam Kajol photographed by his son Monorom Polok

‘We do not condone any such incident and will bring the responsible officials to justice’ said the foreign minister Dipu Moni at the Universal Periodic Review of Bangladesh at the Human Rights Council in Geneva on February 4, 2009 in response to accusations that the government was involved in ‘crossfire,’ a Bangladeshi euphemism for extra-judicial killings. She added that the government would show ‘zero tolerance’ to extra-judicial killings, or torture and death in custody. Indeed, doing so was part of the election campaign for the Bangladesh Awami League when they were in the opposition. As often happens however, once elected, their position changed, and ‘crossfire’ has become so integral to the Bangladeshi lingo that MPs now use the term in parliament, ‘You are allowing crossfire as part of a fight against drugs. Then why aren’t you doing the same in case of rape?’

Looting in the Time of Corona

The Jamuna TV report was disturbing. The CNG drivers are desperate. Rikshaw driver Nazrul from Kurigram waits forlornly for a passenger. Another waves the 30 taka he has earned. Face taut, eyes glazed he stares from his perch. ‘Will this 30 taka feed me or feed my wife?’ he asks angrily. The roadside shopkeeper doesn’t have customers, but there is no respite from the rent, or the ‘chanda’ (protection money) he has to pay the local ruling party thugs. Roadside restaurants feed these workers. Yes, close contact is risky, and the far from ideal washing arrangements, signals a high risk of contagion. But they have little choice. Death by starvation is no better a choice than death by virus. ‘God will save us,’ one of them says, ‘what other hope do we have?’ The kids who work in the restaurants get ‘food for work’ in a very literal sense. They draw no wages. When there is work, they get fed. He’s a plucky kid. Putting up a brave face to the fact that today he’ll go hungry. No promises for tomorrow. Lockdown, hand wash, drinking lots of water, social distancing. I recognise the importance of these fancy terms. But what does that mean for the 67 million day-labourers of Bangladesh to whom water itself is a luxury?

Early in the morning a day labourer waits for work, near Dhaka University Campus. March 2020.

Free Shahidul!

On the night of 5 August renowned Bangladeshi photographer Shahidul Alam – an old friend of and contributor to New Internationalist – was seized from his home in Dhanmondi, Dhaka, by men claiming to be plainclothes police officers. He appeared in court late in the afternoon of the following day, when the Detective Branch of the police requested and was given seven days’ detention during which they would interview him about his comments on the recent student demonstrations in Dhaka. Photographs and videos of his arrival at the Dhaka Metropolitan Magistrates’ Court show him to be barefoot and having to be half-dragged, half-supported along. He managed to say to a reporter present: ‘I was hit (in custody). (They) washed my blood-stained punjabi and then made me wear it again.’

Prothom Alo journalist attacked

by Firoz Gazi, DrikNEWS Correspondent, Jessore, April 2013

Journalist Masud Alam was attacked after he reported a corruption story.??He is the Abhaynagar Correspondent for Daily Prothom Alo. On 28 March, his assailants attacked him at Ulobottola, situated in Dhopali Village, Shundori Union, Abhaynagar Upazilla, Jessore.?His left hand was broken from the attack and his muscles flattened from the beating. The Police have arrested six men who were involved in this attack.??Masud Alam is now receiving treatment at Jessore Medical College Hospital.

Highly lethal and highly under-regulated

The Economist

Quick study: The global arms trade

Andrew Feinstein, author of?The Shadow World: Inside the Global Arms Trade

ANDREW FEINSTEIN is our inaugural host for “Quick study”, a new series on Prospero that offers a crash course in a particular subject, delivered by an expert in the field, with some suggestions for further reading. Mr Feinstein is the author of the new book “The Shadow World: Inside the Global Arms Trade”, out this week in Britain and America. A former South African MP, he resigned in 2001 in protest against the government’s refusal to allow an investigation into a corrupt ?5 billion arms deal. His 2007 political memoir, “After the Party: A Personal and Political Journey Inside the ANC” (reviewed by The Economist here), became a bestseller in South Africa. Mr Feinstein lives in London and he co-directs Corruption Watch, an anti-corruption organisation. Here he answers a few questions about the global arms trade.

Getting in the way

Razia Haque was incensed. She was not a trendy environmentalist. Her sentences weren?t interspersed with English and she didn?t know any of the developmental jargon. She was a grandmother who lived in Elephant Road who walked through the park everyday to drop off her granddaughter at the university. But she knew this was wrong. ?Nature is for everyone. What do they think they are doing? How many years has it taken for these trees to grow? They?ve destroyed the beauty of this place. They?ve dulled our senses. It can only cause bitterness. About common people, about the government about everyone. They do as they please. How can you allow this? You should all give slogans. Who has authorised the cutting of these trees? Once the trees have gone there?s nothing you can do. Just because they?re in power they?ll cut down the trees, how can that be??