Doing the Bhangra Down India Gate

Where’s your bicycle? The Uber driver asked me jokingly. Yes, I had been known in photography circles and it is true that I did know a few Nobel Laureates. Given that I am a public speaker, and wear several hats, I do also come across the odd head of state, or celebrity. I’d be overstating it if I said they all knew me well. I have featured prominently in a film produced by Sharon Stone, but the long conversation on the phone, after my release, was very much an exception. But now that I have Uber drivers recognizing me, and people stopping me in the streets for selfies, I need to be careful I don’t trip over my own ego. Maybe I should be thanking the same person that everyone else thanks for everything that ever happens in Bangladesh.

I flatly deny making payments to the Bangladesh government for running a media campaign on my behalf. Neither is it true that I deliberately planted the inconsistencies in their fake news, making it appear they can’t tell a Kaffiey from a tablecloth. Let’s not get too technical. It started with me being a Mossad agent and taking money from Israel. Now I’ve been placed in the Al Qaeda farm, and definitely anti Israel. Considering that Israel is the one country that my government does not have diplomatic relationships with, and the only country my passport is not valid for, being anti Israel should theoretically make me a pal. My enemy’s enemy is my friend and all that.

Screen shot of Arundhati Roy and Shahidul Alam in Blitz taken on December 19
Continue reading “Doing the Bhangra Down India Gate”

Time Magazine: Person of the Year 2018

Shahidul Alam, a photographer and activist who has documented human-rights abuses and political upheaval in Bangladesh for over 30 years. He was arrested in August for making “false” and “provocative” statements after criticizing Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in an interview. Photographed at the future site of the Drikpath Building that will eventually house the Pathshala South Asian Media Institute and the Drik Picture Library set to open in 2019.
Shahidul Alam, a photographer and activist who has documented human-rights abuses and political upheaval in Bangladesh for over 30 years. He was arrested in August for making “false” and “provocative” statements after criticizing Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in an interview. Photographed at the future site of the Drikpath Building that will eventually house the Pathshala South Asian Media Institute and the Drik Picture Library set to open in 2019. Moises Saman—Magnum Photos for TIME

By ELI MEIXLER / DHAKA

December 11, 2018

Committe for Protection of Fundamental Rights: Digital Security Act and Citizens' Rights

English Press Release page 1
English Press Release page 1

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Weekly Polls

Here is the third Poll:
Saudi Arabian law does not recognise religious freedom, and the public practice of non-Muslim religions is actively prohibited. No law specifically requires citizens to be Muslims, but article 12.4 of the Naturalisation Law requires that applicants attest to their religious affiliation, and article 14.1 requires that applicants to get a certificate endorsed by their local cleric. Saudi Arabia, a member of the UN’s Human Rights Council and a close US ally, is hiring more executioners, according to its Ministry of Civil Service website.
With 85 people already executed this year alone, Saudi Arabia is recruiting eight more executioners to fulfil positions that require carrying out beheadings, as well as performing amputations on those who committed smaller offences, according to a report from Reuters
Is the inclusion of Saudi Arabia in the Current Membership of the Human Rights Council, 1 January – 31 December 2015 justified?


Here is the second Poll:
While theoretically there is a separation between the judiciary and the executive, there are many who feel the judiciary is unduly influenced by the party in power. The recent increase in the number of contempt of court cases has also raised doubts in people?s minds about whether the primary motive of the judiciary is to implement justice, or whether it is to protect the image of the government. The Bangladesh judiciary has had a long tradition of resisting autocratic rule and has in the past taken landmark decisions that have gone against the ruling party. Is that still the case? Tell us what you think and get others to voice their opinion. It is only through occupying the public space that we can bring about a government and an establishment that is truly representative of our interests


With politicians on either side claiming they are the legitimate voice of the people, and with corporate spin dominating news, I thought it would be useful to create a voice for citizens. This is a series of weekly polls that I’ll be conducting from now on. While it will be completely transparent, there is no guarantee that it will not be tampered with or hijacked. The only way we can reduce this is by our active participation. So let your voice be heard. Please send me your suggestions for future polls. They can be on any topic that you consider to be in the public interest.
Here is the first Poll:

Please feel free to provide further information or comment:

The Blood Telegram: Nixon, Kissinger and a Forgotten Genocide.

?By Gary Bass. The Economist

UNTIL 1971 Pakistan was made up of two parts: west and east. Both Muslim-dominated territories were born out of India?s bloody partition 24 years earlier, though they existed awkwardly 1,600km apart, divided by hostile Indian territory. Relations between the two halves were always poor. The west dominated: it had the capital, Islamabad, and greater political, economic and military clout. Its more warlike Pashtuns and prosperous Punjabis, among others, looked down on Bengali easterners as passive and backward. Continue reading “The Blood Telegram: Nixon, Kissinger and a Forgotten Genocide.”

WHERE IS DEMOCRACY

‘Where is Democracy?’ based on Kolaveri D , is a satire on the state of democracy in Gujarat. Exposing the myth of Vibrant Gujarat the song raises questions about corruption, poverty, women’s conditions, the atmosphere of fear and how the image of one leader has been promoted while others have been pushed to a corner. Sung by Priyank Upadhyay, it has been directed and shot by young Anhad filmmaker Arma Ansari. While Manish Dhakad has acted in the music video, words by Shabnam Hashmi .

 Kolaveri D latest version 17th August, 2012

Chance meeting

An old student Zin Myoe Sett had set up a meeting with the big wigs of the Myanmar Photographic Society. Christophe Loviny had briefly dropped in to give me an invitation to thier opening at the France Institute of the show?”Aung San Suu Kyi, The Burmese Way to Democracy”. They say the rains in Yangon start on the 20th May. The clouds had obviously not read the script.

Burmese opposition?politician and General Secretary of the?National League for Democracy?(NLD) in Myanmar Aung San Suu Kyi (born 19 June 1945) at the French Institute in Myanmar where she was inaugurating the photo exhibition "Aung San Suu Kyi, The Burmese Way to Democracy". Photo (c) Shahidul Alam/Drik/Majority World

Part I Military-installed caretaker govt, or a 'consortium' govt?

By Rahnuma Ahmed

As I’d explained in my column published on February 13, 2012,  I’d disappeared from these pages to work on three manuscripts intended for Boi Mela 2012. While they missed the bus — more work needs to be done for them to see the light of day — but what did make it to the Mela is a collection edited by Udisa Islam, for which I’d written the foreword.
Bikkhobh Shonkolon: Joruri Obosthay Bisshobiddaloy 2007 (Dhaka: Shrabon, 2012) is an archival collection, in print, of the student protests which broke out in August 2007, when army personnel stationed in an army camp on Dhaka University grounds beat up university students who were watching a football match. Dubbed a “trivial incident” (tuccho ghotona) by the then chief of general staff Sina Ibn Jamali, student protests mushroomed, enveloping other public university campuses, and college campuses as well. Protests spilled out on to the streets of Dhaka and other major cities, expressing growing popular discontentment and resentment at the military-installed caretaker government’s rule.  The so-called “trivial incident” proved to be a resounding nail in the caretaker government’s coffin. Continue reading “Part I Military-installed caretaker govt, or a 'consortium' govt?”