Citizens Protest on Banshkhali Killings

Ganosamhati Andolan chief coordinator Zonayed Saki, speaking at the press conference, held at Gonosasthya Nagar Hospital auditorium at Dhanmondi in Dhaka.

At least seven workers were killed and dozens were shot after police opened fire at SS Power 1 Limited, a Chinese and Bangladeshi owned joint venture company. Workers demonstrating for unpaid wages and other benefits on the coal-fired power plant premises at Baroghona under Gandamara of Banshkhali in Chattogram on April 17.

A press conference held at Gonosasthya Nagar Hospital auditorium at Dhanmondi in Dhaka, was organised to deliver the reaction and findings of an eight member civil society delegation led by Gonosasthya Kendra founder Dr. Zafrullah Chowdhury on April 25, which visited the power plant area and talked with the family of affected workers and also with the factory management.

Ganosamhati Andolan chief coordinator Zonayed Saki, who conducted the programme, said that they had found that the police and the thugs of the company were behind the killings.

Transcript of Saki’s talk:

I’ll present a few points in short. On 25th April we arrived in the afternoon in Banshkhali. You all know that on the 17th of April in Banshkhali at the coal fired power plant there was a protest by the workers they had some demands and there was a protest. The police and alongside the police some helmeted thugs opened fire and so far we’ve learnt from mainstream media that seven people have been killed and over a hundred have been injured according to what workers have said through various means. There are about thirty five with bullet injuries in the hospitals. This is what we find out from our own investigations in Chittagong and nearby places in those localities. Talking to those who have been injured and speaking to the families of those who were killed and those injured what we been able to unearth through our visit are things I will place at the table today. Firstly there is a context to this. You probably all know that on the 4th of April 2016 there had been a protest in that area relating to the setting up of this plant. The locals of Gondamara had come out in protest. The protest had taken place because the government and those who are trying to set up the plant, the ones trying to acquire land, had announced that they were going to set up a textile mill and other industries. It was hidden from the locals that there was going to be a coal fired power plant. So this whole thing started with deception and lying. But people found out very quickly that a coal fired power plant was being set up and there was an awareness amongst the people about the harm that could take place through the setting up of a coal fired power plant as there had been a nationwide campaign to stop the power plant in Rampal. The resistance had been led by the National Committee to Protect Oil Gas and Mineral Resources. So the people of Gondamara knew about what had happened to their salt farms, their agricultural land as well as their dwellings and places of worship. Since large swathes of land were going to be taken away, they set up the resistance. In response to that movement the police were brutal and at one stage they fired on the protesters killing four. When even that failed to quell the uprising they then brought in the combined security forces and set up a large camp and through various means of deception and enticement they manage to set up the coal fired power plant which has been going on since then. Again in 2017 the Bangladeshi company S Alam group of which SS power plant, a company named SS corporation is one of their companies, where subsequently there was Chinese investment in the company, and where much work is given to subcontractors, and other forms of investment. These companies then met with the local administration and locals, but then people linked with the government attacked the locals who were protesting, during the meeting, and one local died in that meeting. This is pretty much the background and the local conflict which has been going on for some time. So the entire locality has protested against the setting up of the plant. But those linked with the government and with the company, have not only taken the side of the coal fired power plant, but have made it a regular feature to attack the locals, and kept the conflict alive. Let’s move onto the incident at hand. We found out on the 16th of April or soon afterwards though the conflict had been going on for some time before, the workers had placed several demands the demands were quite everyday demands, in particular, they wanted the backpay for March which they had still not been given, they also placed some new demands since from the 14th of April Ramadan has started so during Ramadan they wanted their working hours to be reduced from 10 to 8 without loss of pay. So they would continue to get paid for 10 hours but get relief for two so they can have Iftar at that time and they wanted to be released early for Jumma prayers on Friday. The toilet situation is horrible. It’s so bad that the workers themselves have insisted that the toilet facilities be improved, so in general they wanted better working conditions and better safety. These demands are very justifiable and everyday demands. Demands relating to their existence.This is something we will all understand and regarding these demands when Dr Zafrullah spoke to the person who is responsible for the project, a former Additional Superintendent of Police, he informed us that they had accepted these demands but news of this acceptance had not reached the workers. Which is why the workers had protested on the 17th. This was the version of the corporations. When we brought this up with the workers they informed us that on the 16th the owners had asked the workers to send five representatives for a meeting with them. They would then bring up these issues and deal with it in written or verbal form. Five representatives had been sent, but the five representatives never returned to the workers by the following morning. The workers still didn’t know where these representatives were. So we could clearly see there was a difference between the two versions. The following morning when the workers came out in protest and took position outside the office, then the owners asked for two more representatives to be sent from each sector for further meetings. The worker said, “first send back the five people already sent.” They would find out what had already been discussed. This led to a heated situation. Following this agitation the representative of the owner told us that the workers had broken a few things and had been trying to advance towards the homes where the foreign Chinese workers lived. That was when the police opened fire. On the other hand the workers state that at one stage while this agitation was going on, the police took out petrol from one of their own vehicles and set fire to it. And then they began to spread the message that a police vehicle had been set on fire (by the workers) and that there was a conflict and reinforcement was needed to control the situation. So that more police would come in to control the situation. The workers claim that while the police were doing this, and a heated situation had been created, workers also got angry and did retaliate as a result. After this the police opened fire and the workers claim that people wearing police clothes but different shoes, and the same type of helmets that the workers had been issued, were firing guns. So the workers claim that some company people were dressed up as police and many of them opened fire and till now seven have been killed due to the firing. Though the workers claim, and one of them asserted very forcefully that they were more dead because he himself had seen at least nine or even ten who had been shot and he thought all of them had died. This is the perception of the workers and they also say that several bodies are still missing. When Dr Zafrullah Chowdhury spoke to the Officer in Charge of Banshkhali Police Station who had gone to the location with us, and we said we wanted to talk to them the police said they couldn’t talk to us without permission. In other words their mouth was sealed. The most important statement by the workers (despite what was being said by the owners) was “we had already decided that the Chinese were our ‘mehmans’ (guests), whatever was going to happen would happen between us Bangladeshis and we had had already decided that the foreigners would not be affected in anyway” and they had taken special care so that the Chinese would not be disturbed in any way. So the allegations (of the Chinese being threatened) were completely false. This is what the workers told us. So this is the general situation you know after this the police have filed cases against the workers. Not only that but ranging from Banshkhali to the Chottogram Zilla and divisional police administrators, they have actually said that it was the workers who opened fire and this is how they’ve tried to lay the responsibility upon the workers. They’ve filed cases against unnamed thousands, which has led to rampant harassment and arrests in that place. One other thing that needs to be mentioned is a new situation which has materialised. Bangladesh is helpless against syndicates. We now even have vaccine syndicates. We can see that those who bring in vaccines like the organisation BEXIMCO, their director Salman F Rahman who is also the government’s industry advisor, according to the Foreign Minister, is preventing the government from getting vaccine from other countries, like China, Russia and the USA and blocking the government from signing contracts with these countries. So in as horrifying a situation as a pandemic, where people are dying by the hour, in such a situation, when lives of Bangladeshis need to be protected, at that time, vaccine importers are preventing us from getting vaccine from other sources and you know what a difficult vaccine situation we are in. In our country we now have 1.3/1.4 million people who have taken the first jab, they are not guaranteed a second dose so this is the reality. What we’re trying to say is that we hear about the syndicates when it comes to the bazar. About onions, chillis, rice and lentils syndicate. There you have a syndicate for hiring workers. So workers who come to get employment can’t get hired directly. They have to pay taxes to the local powerbroker, that is they have to pay them before they can get hired. This is one. And since in this project since there is an investment and since a Bangladeshi organisation is the main licensee and in charge, so from that perspective, all workers employed here should be employees of this project. But since there is a Chinese involvement then perhaps showing that as an excuse various contract agencies are given subcontracts who hire workers. So the company is not hiring workers directly. They are giving subcontracts to other companies who in turn are hiring these workers. So many of the rights that workers would normally have, are rights the workers are deprived of as the company law under which these rights are determined, are very difficult to establish as it becomes difficult to ascertain who the owner is. This is a problem that already exists in foreign investments in Bangladesh anyway and has been exploited here as well, but not only that, even the hiring by the subcontractors who are powerful, as part of their power dynamics also use these workers to exert their influence. It is these power brokers who collect taxes from the workers. Now the accusation is, that after this attack, most of the workers will lose their jobs. They will need to be rehired, and they will all have to pay taxes again. They will squeeze the tax out of them. So this is the situation that exists. Today we will end with the observation that we believe that a situation has been created where the normal and quite reasonable demands of the workers which should have been accepted, and the owners should have, after discussing with the workers, tried to resolve this. Instead of doing so they harassed the workers in many ways and the workers became agitated, and rather than allaying these concerns the owners turned the police and their pet armed hooligans on the workers and have killed seven people. The number may be higher, numerous people have been arrested about thirty five are there in various hospitals with bullet wounds that we’ve come to know for sure, through various organisations and citizens of Chottogram. Besides there are over a hundred people who have been injured who we’ve had a chance to talk to. In such a shameful situation, where workers have been shot and killed, to then place the blame on the workers is a typical textbook fascism characteristic that has been established. We have condemned this in the strongest possible terms and we have placed some very specific demands which will be placed in front of you in a little while. For the moment I have placed our core observations to you. Now some of us from the group who visited Banshkhali will be expressing their own observations and then Dr Zafrullah Chowdhury will be giving his speech. A distinguished freedom fighter Ishtiaq Aziz Ulfat will now speak to you.

Brahmaputra Diary by Shahidul Alam

Lecture no- 340?Series: Nature

Speaker:?? ? ? ???Shahidul Alam

Topic: ? ? ? ? ? ? ?My Journey As A Witness
Date: ??? ? ? ? ? ? ?August 26, 2014
Time:???? ? ?? ? ?? 6.30?PM
Venue: ? ? ? ? ? ? EMK Centre, Midas Centre, 9th floor, Plot: 5, Road 16 (old 27), Dhanmondi, Dhaka
Moderator: ? ? ?Tughlaq Azad
Ticket: ? ? ? ? ? ? ?50 Taka?only

The source of the river Brahmaputra in the Chemayungdung mountains in Tibet, China
The source of the river Brahmaputra in the Chemayungdung mountains in Tibet, China ? Shahidul Alam/Drik/Majority World

Older than the mountains, it is a river that forces its way through the towering Himalayas. The Tibetans know it as the Yarlung Tsang Po (the purifier). In India, it is known as Brahmaputra. In Bangladesh, it is also known as the Jamuna, The Padma and finally the Meghna before it opens into the sea.
Photographer Shahidul Alam will share his journey towards Brahmaputra’s origin. Continue reading “Brahmaputra Diary by Shahidul Alam”

Not Just Another Brick In The Geopolitical Wall

By leveraging its ties with non-western powers, BRICS can check US hegemony


A different worldview?BRICS leaders profess a shared vision of inclusive global growth and the rapid socio-economic transformation of their own nations. Photo: Roberto Stuckert Filho/PR

Building blocks?The BRICS bank will give priority to loans for developing countries to finance infrastructure projects and environmentally sustainable development. Photo: Media Club South Africa

Continue reading “Not Just Another Brick In The Geopolitical Wall”

Do as I say, not as I do

On Obama’s Cancellation of Summit with Putin and Extradition

The US frequently refuses extradition requests where, unlike with Snowden, it involves serious crimes and there is an extradition treaty
By Glenn Greenwald Information Clearing House

August 07, 2013 “Information Clearing House?- “The Guardian” –?President Obama today?canceled a long-scheduled summit?with Russian President?Vladimir Putin?in part because the US president is upset that Russia defied his?personal directive?to hand over?Edward Snowden?despite the lack of an extradition treaty between the two nations. That means that US media outlets will spend the next 24 hours or so channeling the government’s views (excuse the redundancy) by denouncing the Russian evil of refusing extradition. When doing so, very few, if any, establishment media accounts will mention any of these cases: Continue reading “Do as I say, not as I do”

Flood expert from Bangladesh

“Kemon achen?” Mr. Li from the Chinese embassy greeted me in near perfect Bangla. I had an invitation to the Middle Kingdom, in Chinese, with a gold stamp and an embossed watermark. I felt important as he ushered me in to the spacious embassy building in Gulshan and offered me tea. Normally, I am not a tea drinker, but this elaborate concoction of herbs and berries steeped in water could hardly be refused. It didn’t look anything like tea anyway, and I didn’t want to appear rude. He brought pictures of China, gave me a video and showed me their photographic collection. However, despite all the fanfare, what he steadfastly refused to do was to issue me a multiple entry visa. I had half hoped this official invitation by the Mayor of Beijing, would make my subsequent trip to Tibet easier. Oh well!My first trip to China had been in 1986. The Indian photographer Raghu Rai and I had been asked to judge the Standard Chartered Photography Contest in Hong Kong. The photographs weren’t that great and we’d gone through them quickly. The organisers were embarrassed. Having gotten us, the judges, over for a week, they now needed to entertain us, and arranged for us to see a dolphin show. Raghu and I both felt a side trip to China would be far more interesting. We had taken the train to Guangzhou, and found to our amazement Hindi music wafting down the aisles. Staid-looking Chinese passengers were glued to the train video, listening to “Ichik dana bichik dana, dana’r upar danaaa”. I did have a three-month solo show at the Nikon Gallery in Richmond with that work, but that had been a long time ago, and I was looking forward to Beijing. Continue reading “Flood expert from Bangladesh”

Andrew Biraj wins Gold at China Press Photo Contest

Bangladeshi photographer and Pathshala alumni Andrew Biraj wins Gold award and honourable mention at International Press Photo Contest

A woman sits with her child in a boat during heavy rains at a flooded village in Kurigram, Bangladesh. At least 100 people have died and hundreds of thousands of people were marooned as floods triggered by heavy rains spread across Bangladesh. Photo Andrew Biraj
A woman sits with her child in a boat during heavy rains at a flooded village in Kurigram, Bangladesh. At least 100 people have died and hundreds of thousands of people were marooned as floods triggered by heavy rains spread across Bangladesh. Photo Andrew Biraj

Seventeen-year-old prostitute Hashi, embraces a Babu, her "husband", inside her small room at Kandapara brothel in Tangail, a northeastern city of Bangladesh, March 4, 2012. Many young and inexperienced prostitutes have "lovers" or "husbands" who normally live outside the brothel occasionally taking money and sex from them in exchange for security in this male dominated society. She earns about 800-1000 taka daily ($9.75 - $12.19) servicing around 15-20 customers every day. Photo Andrew Biraj
Seventeen-year-old prostitute Hashi, embraces a Babu, her “husband”, inside her small room at Kandapara brothel in Tangail, a northeastern city of Bangladesh, March 4, 2012. Many young and inexperienced prostitutes have “lovers” or “husbands” who normally live outside the brothel occasionally taking money and sex from them in exchange for security in this male dominated society. She earns about 800-1000 taka daily ($9.75 – $12.19) servicing around 15-20 customers every day. Photo Andrew Biraj


Marx?s Revenge: How Class Struggle Is Shaping the World

By?Michael Schuman?Time Business and Money
Karl Maxr

ADAM BERRY / GETTY IMAGESThe grave of German philosopher and economic theorist Karl Marx, remembered as the founder of modern socialism and communism, in Highgate Cemetery in London

Karl Marx was supposed to be dead and buried. With the collapse of the Soviet Union and China?s Great Leap Forward into capitalism, communism faded into the quaint backdrop of James Bond movies or the deviant mantra of Kim Jong Un. The class conflict that Marx believed determined the course of history seemed to melt away in a prosperous era of free trade and free enterprise. The far-reaching power of globalization, linking the most remote corners of the planet in lucrative bonds of finance, outsourcing and ?borderless? manufacturing, offered everybody from Silicon Valley tech gurus to Chinese farm girls ample opportunities to get rich. Asia in the latter decades of the 20th?century witnessed perhaps the most remarkable record of poverty alleviation in human history ??all thanks to the very capitalist tools of trade, entrepreneurship and foreign investment. Capitalism appeared to be fulfilling its promise ??to uplift everyone to new heights of wealth and welfare. Continue reading “Marx?s Revenge: How Class Struggle Is Shaping the World”

Majority World photo essay in China

Dave, my former student at Shantao University worked as a photojournalist for a Chinese newspaper for about 2 years. He has recently joined as photo editor for Nan Feng Chuang (Southwind Window) magazine, a nation-wide bi-weekly News magazine mainly focusing on political and financial issues about China and the world.
About this Buzkashi story Dave says: We love it. It works great especially with the text written by our writer. I hope we can have more stories like this, visually strong beautiful images, about different lifestyles of people around the world.
MW china 1MW china 2

Travel Writing Scholarship to Beijing

I would like to let you know about an exciting scholarship opportunity for your students. in conjunction with Rough Guides is offering the chance to be mentored by Rough Guides travel writer Martin Zatko. The scholarship recipient will work with Martin in Beijing and also have the chance to write for Rough Guides (including a review of the Forbidden City!). The resulting work will be considered for publication in the next edition of The Rough Guide to China.
The winner of the scholarship will also join international travel journalist and Beijing local, Kit Gillet, for a three-day adventure into his backyard to explore the hutong alleyways, the burgeoning Chinese art scene and even spend a night camping on the Great Wall!
For the last leg of the scholarship, they will discover the rich food culture of Beijing with three culinary experiences (think tea tasting and dumpling making classes) from Hias Gourmet.
Applicants for the scholarship must submit a personal travel essay based on one of the following themes: ?Understanding a Culture through Food?, ?Catching a Moment?, ?Sharing Stories – A Glimpse into Another’s Life?, or ?A Local Encounter that Changed my Perspective?. They will also be asked to provide a statement on why they should be awarded the 2013 Travel Writing Scholarship.
All interested students should visit the World Nomads Scholarship page for more information.
The deadline for entrants is April 19, 2013. We would appreciate you forwarding this information on to your students and lecturers, and uploading the information to the appropriate section of your website as this opportunity is open to all students.
You may also download a poster to put up around your school;
A4 size
A3 size
US letter size?
Please let me know if you would like more information regarding this exciting travel writing scholarship!
Kind Regards,
Alicia Smith

Afghanistan Chronicles, Part 6:

?Near Ground Zero and in Af-Pak Region, Two Labyrinths

Friday, 30 March 2012 10:17By Suzanne Bauman, Jim Burroughs,?Truthout?| News Analysis

Ground Zero
Ground Zero in New York City. (Photo:?Karen Blumberg / Flickr)The endless war on terror in South Asia – with Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, the United States, Great Britain, Russia, India, France, Germany, Spain, all players -? must seem like a senseless maze to the people forced to live with daily random violence in this region. In the United States, too many Americans have emotional yet uninformed responses: either “Kill our enemies before they kill us,” or “Get out of Afghanistan now.” The history of this region is more important than ever to study, as daily headlines inflame both sides without leading to solutions. Continue reading “Afghanistan Chronicles, Part 6:”