Apolitical Intellectuals

 
One day the apolitical intellectuals of my country will be interrogated by the simplest of our people.
They will be asked what they did when their nation died out slowly, like a sweet fire small and alone.
No one will ask them about their dress, their long siestas after lunch, no one will want to know about their sterile combats with “the idea of the nothing” no one will care about their higher financial learning.
They won’t be questioned on Greek mythology, or regarding their self-disgust when someone within them begins to die the coward’s death.
They’ll be asked nothing about their absurd justifications, born in the shadow of the total lie.
On that day the simple men will come.
Those who had no place in the books and poems of the apolitical intellectuals, but daily delivered their bread and milk, their tortillas and eggs, those who drove their cars, who cared for their dogs and gardens and worked for them, and they’ll ask:
“What did you do when the poor suffered, when tenderness and life burned out of them?”
Apolitical intellectuals of my sweet country, you will not be able to answer.
A vulture of silence will eat your gut.
Your own misery will pick at your soul.
And you will be mute in your shame.
–Otto Rene Castillo

Let me see the world just one more time

They said I would need a mask. ?The smell? they said. It was five days into the accident.
But it was no accident. A building built illegally, of faulty construction, showing signs of rupture, had been made their prison. It eventually became their grave. More money needed to be made.

Stitched image of Rana Plaza on the night of 29th April 2013. Photo: Shahidul Alam/Drik/Majority World
Stitched image of Rana Plaza on the night of 29th April 2013. Photo: Shahidul Alam/Drik/Majority World

Continue reading “Let me see the world just one more time”

Occupy BGMEA

Members of Rokeya Bahini during their Occupy BGMEA campaign

Rokeya Bahini in protest at BGMEA. Photo Monirul Alam

Rokeya Bahini in protest outside illegally constructed BGMEA building. Photo Monirul Alam

Members of Rokeya Bahini in front of the illegally constructed BGMEA building demand justice for workers of Tazreen Fashions. Despite court orders, the BGMEA building, which has been built by filling up part of a lake, remains untouched by the government. Photo Monirul Alam

Tazreen bilap short clip?(woman mourning, audio)
Please Retweet: #Bangladesh #Garments #Tazreen #BGMEA

Press statement: BGMEA is responsible for the deaths of Tazreen's workers

BGMEA is a giant propaganda machinery which protects killers

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Organised by Rokeya Bahini

11:00 am, Wednesday, December 12, 2012

In front of BGMEA Bhaban, Panthopoth Link Road, Karwan Bazar

Dear journalist brothers and sisters,
Many garment workers died on the evening of November 24th when fire broke out in Tazreen Fashions in Ashulia’s Nischintapur. The exact death toll is still unknown. According to the government, 112 workers had died but many family members were unable to identify their beloved ones as the flesh had burnt away leaving behind only charred bones and skeletons. Fifty three unidentified bodies have been buried in Jurain graveyard. But several investigative reports have concluded that the death toll is higher. Some of us have conducted preliminary research in Nischintapur’s Buripara at our own initiative, and, we too, have been forced to reach the same conclusion. The government and the BGMEA should immediately have launched a serious drive to ascertain the exact number of those who have died, but instead they displayed a callous indifference which amounts to nothing short of criminal negligence. Continue reading “Press statement: BGMEA is responsible for the deaths of Tazreen's workers”

Why shall I not resist?

Joli No Udhim Kittei. (Why Shall I not Resist! __ originally written in Chakma and Bengali) by Kabita Chakma

by?Meghna Guhathakurta?on Friday, 16 November 2012 at 15:12 ?

Poem by Kabita Chakma, translated by Meghna Guhathakurta
Recited today ( 16th November, 2012) at the Hay Festival, Bangla Academy, Dhaka
Joli No Udhim Kittei. (Why Shall I not Resist! _?
Why shall I not resist!
Can they do as they please –
Turn settlements into barren land
Dense forests to deserts
Mornings into evening
Fruition to barrenness.
Why shall I not resist
Can they do as they please –
Estrange us from the land of our birth
Enslave our women
Blind our vision
Put an end to creation.
Neglect and humiliation causes anger
the blood surges through my veins
breaking barriers at every stroke,
the fury of youth pierces the sea of consciousness.
I become my own whole self
Why shall I not resist!
(Chakma, 1992.7)

Dignified Intolerance

As Black History Month 2012?which carries the theme: ?Black Women in American Culture & History? ?comes to a close, it?s a good time to reflect on the profound influence so many African-American women have had on our country. Among the legends who have inspired so many are poets like Gwendolyn Brooks and Maya Angelou, actresses such as Hattie McDaniel, Dorothy Dandridge and Halle Barry, playwrights and writers like Lorraine Hansberry and Toni Morrison, world-class athletes like Althea Gibson and Wilma Randolph, pioneers like astronaut Mae Jemison and Surgeon General M. Jocelyn Elders, and soul-stirring singers like Etta James, Aretha Franklin and the gone-too-soon Whitney Houston.
Their words, their music, their achievements have moved millions, including me, generating headlines and adoration and awards along the way. Not so recognized are the millions of African-American women who have made their own mark in a world where there have been too many barriers for too long, too often built to hold back people of different races, religions, genders, cultures and sexual orientations.
The older I get, the less patience I have when it comes to tearing down those barriers. Creating a diverse and inclusive world is not something that should be debated but embraced. Our industry has made great strides, but it is taking too long to achieve unfettered inclusion.
Like the women already mentioned, Rosa Parks will always be a superstar in my eyes. She started a revolution when she refused to stand so a white person could sit on a Montgomery, AL bus on December 1, 1955. Her nonviolent stance led to her arrest, but ultimately to greater freedom for the masses.
Rosa?s act of civil disobedience and the resulting legislation that turned the country toward a more righteous course was a massive testament to the power of what I refer to as ?dignified intolerance.?
Rosa Parks had simply had enough. Anyone who has ever felt the sting of discrimination knows what she must have felt. While much progress has been made in the 56 years since that fateful bus ride, staggeringly?even as the U.S. Census Bureau repeatedly shows minorities will be this country?s majority by 2030?the world remains awash in discrimination. It is about time we graciously refuse to give in to the demands of the shrinking majority and press the fight for inclusion of all people, no matter their race, religion, gender, physical or mental abilities or sexual orientation.
We must more aggressively challenge inequities in our industries and the communities in which we live. We must also be more demanding when it comes to challenging one another so that we can effect real change in our lifetimes
I believe that if we join up the individual efforts of each diversity group, we can be stronger, louder and more effective in transforming any momentum into a movement.
I recently proclaimed at Draftfcb that by 2014 we will be an organization that no longer uses the term ?diversity and inclusion.? We are working tirelessly, from the C-suite to the intern ranks, to foster an atmosphere of inclusion, where everyone is empowered to reach great heights.
As an industry, we all need to embrace diversity and make sure inclusion becomes our rallying cry. A new generation is already recognizing that the ?new mass? rejects outdated stereotypes regarding color, gender and sexual orientation. They are cross-cultural and cross-behavioral. Our industry needs to follow suit. It?s not just the right thing to do; it will also boost our bottom line. Companies that don?t mirror the dramatic shifts in our population simply will not survive.
To my fellow CEOs and C-suite executives, change starts with us. We must work together to start a joint uprising that will not tolerate discrimination and exclusion. We must lead by example and mentor our future leaders, instilling in them the knowledge that they should pursue paths they might have thought closed to them. We must tirelessly practice what we preach and prove to the marketplace that we are current, relevant and represent the diverse constituents in the New America we are trying to influence.
That is my stake in the ground. Please add your stakes to mine. Let?s get this movement rolling. It would be an achievement that might just prove to matter most.

Wearing her ghoonghat a few inches higher

Image and text contributed by Sreenivasan Jain, Mumbai

Some text is paraphrased from a recent Book ? Civil Disobedience, Sreenivasan?s father Late. Shri LC Jain, noted economist and Gandhian.

Chameli Devi Jain and her husband Phool Chand shortly after they were married. Photographer unknown

This image was photographed in Delhi, shortly after my Paternal grandparents Chameli and Phool Chand, got married. She was 14 and he was 16. It was unusual for couples in our family to be photographed, especially holding hands, which turned out to be an indication of the unconventional direction their lives would take. They were both Gandhians and Freedom fighters. Continue reading “Wearing her ghoonghat a few inches higher”

Archiving 1971

Date & Time: 12 February, 2012 from 11am to 1pm
Venue: Jatiya Press Club, Dhaka (Conference Room)
The programme will also be online live at www.drik.tv
History, at least in its initial form is generally written by the victor. But who is the victor in a war? How does one value a memory? What purpose does an artifact serve? Each archive is unique; its character shaped on those who set it up, and those who use it. From a photographer?s perspective, the war of 1971 was unique in other ways too. The events leading up to it were documented almost entirely by local photographers. They were themselves caught up in the struggles they were recording. It was not a story that international media neither knew nor was interested in. As such, the immediate aftermath of the crackdown on the 25th March was hardly recorded. For local photographers it was much too dangerous to be out there with a camera. Many of the foreign journalists were locked up in Hotel Intercontinental in Dhaka. It was only the few who managed to sneak out, or film through hotel windows that had tangible records of that fateful night. Others, who recorded those moments, were amateurs who took phenomenal risks in preserving the only visual records of the atrocities. Missing are the subtle nuanced observations. Ordinary people, trying to survive. The euphoria and hope of an expectant nation being replaced overnight by the terror of living under occupation, was a transformation that went unrecorded.
Continue reading “Archiving 1971”