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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?’

As Drik As Possible

The dot matrix Olivetti printer was noisy. The XT computer came without a hard drive: two floppy disks uploaded the operating system. When the electricity went (as it often did), we had to reload it. Our bathroom doubled as our darkroom. A clunky metal cabinet housed our prints, slides, negatives and files. Anisur Rahman and Abu Naser Siddique were our printers; I was photographer, manager, copy editor and part-time janitor. Cheryle Yin-Lo, an Australian who had read about us in a magazine, joined as our librarian. We offered and she happily accepted a local salary. My partner Rahnuma Ahmed often got roped in when we were short-staffed, which was often.

Climate_Migrants
Climate Migrants: “Our people are driven by a terrible sense of deficiency. When the last tree is cut, the last fish is caught, and the last river is polluted; when to breathe the air is sickening, you will realize, too late, that wealth is not in bank accounts and that you can’t eat money.” Alanis Obomsawin Photo Abir Abdullah from his series on Climate Change.

Chasing Windmills

AZIZUR RAHIM PEU, born 10th June 1964, died 14 October 2014

Azizur Rahim Peu
Azizur Rahim Peu

“If you let me go, I’ll kill myself.” I’d never given a job to anyone before. So this response to my suggestion that there was a better future for him elsewhere, was something I wasn’t prepared for. I had returned to Bangladesh after having been away for twelve years. Not having the capital myself, I had set up a photographic studio in partnership with a businessman cum photographer Khan Mohammad Ameer and his businessmen brothers. The studio ‘Fotoworld’ was posh, and we photographed the glitterati. We also took pictures of factories, the odd milk powder tin, food, cigarette cartons and pretty much anything people would pay us (and sometimes not pay us) to shoot. Azizur Rahim Peu was my first recruit. I’d come to know him through the Bangladesh Photographic Society, where I was the general secretary and had taken an immediate liking to the young man.

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.

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Drik calendar 2012 now available:

Farmers harvest a bumper crop of Jute in Bogra district due to favourable weather and timely rain. The District Agricultural Department is expecting 240,000 bales of jute to be produced in Bogra region this year and the farmers are optimistic about getting good prices. Bogra, Bangladesh. July 20, 2010. ? Shafiq Islam/DrikNEWS

A moment of crisis, a celebration, the unexpected, a dream realized, hidden truths, a reaffirmation of what we knew. Through TV screens, newspaper pages, giant electronic screens and tiny handsets, we gather, sift, scroll and parse news unfolding. Through twitter feeds, facebook and blogs, we circulate the news that we are fed, to inform, alert and mobilise those around us. Occasionally we question. The news photograph brings down powerful autocrats, highlights the plight of a single child, shines a spotlight on communities in strife, ignites the passion of victory, shares the tragedy of loss.
Villagers of Choto Gunorgati live in fear of river erosion and have shifted house three or four times to makeshift housing in crowded and unsanitary conditions. It is estimated that 100,000 families have become homeless in northern district of Bangladesh. This village located about 160 km from the capital city of Dhaka, beside the Jamuna river is well known as a weaving village. It has lost 7 kilometres to erosion in the last 6 years. Sirajgonj, Bangladesh. June 3, 2007. ? Tanvir Ahmed/DrikNEWS

But the manufacture of consent has rarely been more engineered. With everything from wars to presidential campaigns being stage-managed and with mainstream news increasingly fed by official sources, reliance on usual sources of news images has become increasingly dangerous.