We will not be silenced

By Mike van Graan

Let us remind you”

They say

These new tyrants

Grown deaf with their own propaganda

Drunk on the spoils of incumbency

And their patrons’ gifts

Blinded by the arrogance

Of too-long

Too-much power

It is us who brought you freedom

If it were not for us

You would not have the right to write

What you like

To say as you please

To insult us with your poems

Your naked paint

Your twisted tunes and

Crass cartoons

Show some respect”

They say

These bloated 1994 pigs

Ten years late to the Orwellian trough

Fast having made up for time lost

Caricatures of that which once they said they loathed

Would have us silent

In the face of betrayal

Would have us genuflect

To them as lords

When first they promised they would serve

Hear this

You thieves of dreams

You robbers of hope

Who seek to balaclava your looting

With radical rhetoric

That springs hollow from

Your empty hearts

Your false smiles

Your crooked tongues

Ours are freedoms we carry in our hearts

They were not yours to give

They are not yours to take

The freedoms written in our hearts

Will find expression

On the streets

In our workplace

On our stages

In the voting booths

So make your hay

While your sun goes down

For soon our onward march

Will footnote you to history

Silence is not an option

Shahidul Alam is a Bangladeshi photojournalist, teacher, and social activist. A TIME “Person of the Year”, he is celebrated for his commitment to using his craft to preserve democracy in his country at all costs. See the project at http://mediastorm.com/clients/2019-icp-infinity-awards-shahidul-alam

The award ceremony in New York by Jose-Carlos Mariategui

‘The Shahidul Alam I Know Is Gentle’

Urvashi Butalia writes about the times she met and worked with the Bangladeshi photojournalist, who was granted bail by the High Court in Dhaka after 102 days of detention.

I cannot now remember when I first met Shahidul Alam, but I think it was some twenty or more years ago when both of us served on the board of an organisation called Panos South Asia. My first impression of him was of a somewhat large, bearded man who spoke with an accent I could not place. It did not take long – perhaps a few hours – for this to change and for the warm, affectionate and caring human being to emerge.

Poppy McPherson

@poppymcp

Iconic shot of Bangladeshi photojournalist and rights activist Shahidul Alam, shared by the campaign. He finally got bail today after more than 100 days in prison, accused of spreading propaganda. He was arrested after posting on Facebook about protests in Dhaka.

To me, Shahidul came across that time as the best kind of nationalist. He loved – he still does – his country Bangladesh. His stint abroad – I never actually knew where he has studied or spent any time – had actually left this feeling much stronger in him. He told all of us about Drik, the photo agency that showcased photographers from the global South and that fiercely protected their rights and their work, refusing to accept that simply because they belonged to the South, their value was any the less. Drik charged for their photos as did international agencies, and why not, was Shahidul’s question. Continue reading “‘The Shahidul Alam I Know Is Gentle’”

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. © 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

—————————————————————————————————

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)