‘PAPA, are you crying?’ were the last words popular Awami League councillor Akramul Haque’s daughter had said to him. The family then heard the gunshots. The groan. Then more shots. The sounds, recorded on their phone, and later released to the media, reverberated across paddy fields, along the undulating Chittagong Hill Tracts, across swampy marshlands, on the waves of the Padma and Jamuna, in fancy apartments of Gulshan and Baridhara, and now in the cantonment. It reaffirmed what we all knew, and what the government has consistently denied. That it was the law enforcing agencies of our country, rather than the courts, who decide whether a citizen should live or die.Continue reading “Who lives, who dies, who decides?”
After a week in India attending a wedding, I was ready to head home to Seattle. As I approached the entrance to the Indira Gandhi International Airport, New Delhi, I had my passport and my travel cheat-sheet out. I knew you need a passport and a copy of your itinerary even to enter an airport in India. The security guard at the entrance inquired, “Passport and ticket?”
I handed him my passport and cheat-sheet on which I cram all my travel information (itinerary, frequent flier numbers, phone numbers, addresses, and other travel information), all on a single sheet. I may have to reduce margins, but I make sure that everything fits on no more than one sheet of paper.
The security man ignored the passport and pored through the flight info on the sheet and asked, “Where’s the passenger name on the ticket?” I told him that it had the flight info, but no need to add my name to the sheet as I already knew my name.
“Sir, I can’t let you in without your name on this.”
“But I have traveled in the past without any problem.”
“Sir, we have to follow the rules.” Apparently security had been tightened. Continue reading “Forging Airline Tickets for Fun and Public Service”
Israeli and U.S. Media Conspired to Block Attempted Assassination of Clinton
Political Perspective by Tim King Salem-News.com
Hiding the event from the public makes the media guilty of treason.
(SALEM) – US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton survived an assassination attempt during an official visit to Israel this week, according to Israel Radio and Reuters.
Israel Radio broke the story. Normal security procedures that should have prevented any vehicle on open regions from coming within 200 meters of Clinton were not observed.
Those who follow news from the Middle east are probably not surprised by this. The United States as it turns out, is as devout in its support of Israel as it claims. The recent multiple standing ovations for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Congress, when he is an accused war criminal, apparently apparently mark an even greater dedication to Israel than the United States itself.
Ignoring an assassination attempt and hiding the event from the public makes the media guilty of treason. It really does. They have had their pants around their ankles for years, but this really takes the cake.
The media; CNN, BBC, all of the major networks and the New York Times itself, are worthless today. I have to admit I am shocked that the press actually chose to suppress and thus, misrepresent the event to the public.
Many critics of Israel claim that its political leaders are not working in the interest of anything except war and domination. They have remained determined first and foremost, to take physical possession of Palestine; and Clinton is willing to throw her dignity under the bus in support of it. What a bunch of dishonest deceivers they are.
According to Zee News in India,
- There was an assassination attempt on US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton while she was on an official visit to Israel, according to Israel Radio and a news agency.
- Israel Radio broke the story earlier in the week, which was confirmed by sources inside Israel, but never mentioned again.
- According to World Mathaba, the purported attack on Hillary was related to the current political upheaval in Israel — the aim being kill Hillary, blame Iran and take the focus off the domestic political meltdown in Tel Aviv.
The story grows darker. As we all know, at least five Israeli tourists in Bulgaria were murdered in a bus blast this week;
One of the only things we in this world can be sure of, is that Israel wants to wage a war on Iran. That is so exceedingly clear. Zee News is an established news agency in India.
- According to sources, the attack on Hillary?s convoy, a minimum of three to five vehicles, travelling from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, follows the story earlier of an attack on a bus loaded with Israeli tourists that exploded in Bulgaria, which killed six persons.
- According to World Mathaba, both the Bulgaria attack and the attempted assassination of Hillary was a Mossad “false flag” operation.
If Americans are so determined to support Israel, perhaps they should move there, and that suggestion applies to all who value Israeli interests on a high level than those of the United States of America.
Israel is an apartheid state like South Africa; it is founded on the concept of racial superiority, it is not a nation of Holocaust survivors, and most of those who survived the horrors of the Nazi death machine do not favor Israel’s genocidal position toward Palestine, and they especially deplore Israel’s separate laws and roads for Jews and non-Jews.
Did Clinton make the mistake of driving on a Jewish-only road?
Was there an assassination attempt on Hillary in Israel? – Zee News
Was there an assassination attempt on Hillary Clinton in Israel? – News Track India
The rest of Hillary’s trip didn’t go too smoothly either. This was reported from Egypt.
The protesting crowds hailed the motorcade with vegetables and other objects, reportedly hitting one of the Egyptian officials in the convoy in the face. The American armored motorcade suffered only superficial damage while Hillary Clinton?s car remained intact.
There have been reports of the protesters chanting “Leave, Clinton? and “Monica, Monica,” presumably referring to the scandal with the secretary?s husband, former US President Bill Clinton?s extra-marital affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.
The security concerns in Quetta make it difficult for a foreigner to get about. Wearing Shalwar Kameez (had no idea so much cloth went into these garments) and having a beard helped. At least I made it outside of Quetta, if only to a tourist spot. Nothing as exciting as the Bazkhoshi event I went to yesterday,
but hey, if your client needs a pretty picture and things are difficult, a lake at sunset will do nicely, thank you!
The garbage dump was apparently in the vicinity of an army camp. So my picture taking suddenly became a security concern. This time I was the peacemaker as the solder was picking on one of my minders. Having reduced testosterone levels, we went off to our next location, Quetta’s shoot up alley.
So driving out to see the clay mountains in Bostan was a welcome treat. An approaching sandstorm made it necessary to beat a hasty retreat. The blistering wind didn’t help. Careful watching the video if you have vertigo!
By Owen Bowcott
A photographer who was struck in the face by a police shield during the G20 protests last year has been awarded ?30,000 compensation by the Metropolitan police.
David Hoffman, who was covering the event in his professional capacity, suffered fractured teeth after a police inspector in full riot gear ran at him and hit him with the shield, says his law firm, Bindmans, which negotiated the settlement.
Hoffman’s solicitor, Chez Cotton, said in a statement: “Journalists such as my client are critical in disseminating information into the wider public domain.
“Reporters and photojournalists play a significant role recording political unrest, political events, which includes recording protest and, if it arises, police wrongdoing.
“That my client was assaulted by a police officer when carrying out this essential function, and brutally so, is shocking. Fortunately with photographic and film evidence of the incident and detailed testimony, Mr Hoffman has succeeded in holding the police to account.”
In an accompanying apology, the Metropolitan police said: “On 1 April 2009 well-respected social issues photographer David Hoffman was recording the G20 protests in the City of London.
“The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) recognise that Mr Hoffman was entitled to report on that day but was caused injury by an MPS officer during the event, preventing him from doing so.
“The MPS confirms its recognition that freedom of the press is a cornerstone of democracy and that journalists have a right to report freely. The MPS apologise to Mr Hoffman for the treatment he received and have paid compensation.”
Jeremy Dear, the NUJ’s general secretary, said: “No journalist should be singled out by the police and the police service has no legal powers or moral responsibility to prevent or restrict photographers’ work. Journalists have a duty to record and report on public protests as well as the behaviour of the police.
“David’s case is a shocking example of police brutality and totally unacceptable.”
Related link in British Journal of Photography
The 25th March is a significant day in Bangladesh. It was this day, in 1971, when the Pakistani army began its genocide, causing the death of millions, but eventually also leading to the birth of the nation. The Pakistani army had been supported by the United States, who had sent the seventh fleet to the Bay of Bengal in a show of strength, pitting its might against India and its ally of that time, the Soviet Union. The United States also influenced Bangladesh in a very different way. Exactly 57 years earlier to the day, a man born in Iowa was to affect the destiny of Bangladeshis in a profound manner.
Considering that he was one of only few US citizens to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, he was little known, even in his own nation. Amongst Nobel Prize winners, only Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela and Elie Wiesel have also won the US Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Medal. Norman Borlaug, the man who prevented a billion people from starving seems to have been easily forgotten. His death on the 12th September 2009, went largely unnoticed in Bangladesh.
Interestingly, the man who is said to be the father of the ‘Green Revolution’ is also blamed by some for having encouraged intensive farming, which some environmentalists feel have led to soil depletion and dependency of farmers. Certainly, a side effect of intensive cultivation is the dependence on both fertilizers and pesticides, effectively a dependence on petrochemical products. While the high yields produced by Borlaug’s techniques are undeniable and revolutionary, the increase in costs of fertilizers and pesticides has resulted in dependence on imports from foreign companies. The rate of increase in rice production in India, for instance, has been far outstripped by the rate of fertilizer intake per ton of rice. Borlaug himself had a simple response to this analysis. There was a need for food, and he provided a way to produce more. He has always said, the real answer was to curb population, but while there were mouths to feed, he made sure there was food to feed them. As a result nations that had been facing a potential famine, Bangladesh, India, Mexico and Pakistan became self sufficient in food. Mexico even became an exporter of wheat. Consequently, Borlaug is credited with having prevented over billion people from starvation.
India honoured him with the Padma Vibhushan, its second highest civilian honour. In Bangladesh he received the first honorary membership of the Bangladesh Association for the Advancement of Science. His success in Pakistan, might have been halted by the all to familiar bureaucratic systems we regularly encounter. When seeds destined for Karachi, reached Los Angeles en-route, a Mexican bank refused to honour Pakistan treasury’s payment of US$100,000, because the check contained three misspelled words. But the seeds did eventually arrive, and eventually led to a doubling of wheat production for both India and Pakistan.
While the new technology has undoubtedly also led to increased profits for corporate agribusiness, Borlaug never patented any of his ‘inventions’ and neither became wealthy nor famous despite the phenomenal transformation he had engineered. Rather, he encouraged its free use, himself working in the fields, training farmers how to maximize their yields.
As the initiator of the Nobel Prize had discovered, what technology eventually got used for, depended largely upon who got to use them. Unlike Alfred Nobel, Borlaug, also of Norwegian descent, never accumulated the wealth to find ways to offset the negative effects of his discoveries, but he remained a dreamer till the end.
“When wheat is ripening properly, when the wind is blowing across the field, you can hear the beards of the wheat rubbing together. They sound like the pine needles in a forest. It is a sweet, whispering music that once you hear, you never forget.”
She jumped down from the police van and tried to escape. It stopped, they hunted her down by torchlight, dragged her back and drove off. Men, gathered around the tea stall, wondered why the car had stopped. Curious, they walked up to the spot. A golden coloured sandal, a handkerchief, and broken bits of bangle lay there.
Yasmin: raped and murdered by the police
She was only fourteen years old, her death was brutal. Gang-raped by policemen, and later, killed. Yasmin, a domestic wage worker, employed in a Dhaka city middle class home, longed to see her mother. Leaving her employers home unannounced, she caught the bus to Dinajpur, got down at Doshmile bus stoppage, hours before dawn on 24 August 1995. A police patrol van driving by insisted on picking her up. Yasmin hesitated. One of the police constables barked at those gathered around the tea stall, We are law-enforcers, we will drop her home safely. Don?t you have any faith in us?
Hours later, a young boy discovered her bloodied dead body, off the main road. The police who came to investigate stripped her naked. Bystanders were outraged. Recording it as an unidentified death, they handed over her body to Anjuman-e-Mafidul Islam for burial.
The dead girl was the same girl who had been picked up by the police van, when this news had spread, a handful of people took out a procession. In response, the police authorities held a press conference where a couple of prostitutes turned up and claimed that the dead girl Banu, was one of them, she had been missing. District-level administration and local influentials joined in the police?s attempts to cover up.
Spontaneous processions and rallies took place demanding that the police be tried. Yasmin?s mother recognised her daughter from a newspaper photo, lifeless as she lay strewn in an open three-wheeled van. As a peoples movement emerged, police action, yet again, was brutal. Lathi-charge, followed by firing, killed seven people. Public outrage swelled. Roadblocks were set up, curfew was defied, police stations were beseiged, arrested processionists were freed from police lock-ups by members of the public. Outrage focused on police superintendent Abdul Mottaleb, district commissioner Jabbar Farook, and member of parliament Khurshid Jahan (?chocolate apa?), the-then prime minister Khaleda Zia?s sister, perceived to be central figures in the cover-up. Shommilito Nari Shomaj, a large alliance of women?s organisations, political, cultural and human rights activists joined the people of Dinajpur, as Justice for Yasmin turned into a nationwide movement.
In 1997, the three policemen, Moinul Hoque, Abdus Sattar and Amrita Lal were found guilty. In 2004, they were executed.
Yasmin of Dinajpur is, for us, an icon symbolising female vulnerability, and resistance, both her own (she had tried to escape), and that of people, both Dinajpur and nationwide. She serves as a constant reminder that the police force, idealised in state imaginings as protector of life and property should not be taken for granted, that women need to test this each day, on every single occasion.
In the nation?s recent history of popular struggles, Yasmin?s death helped to characterise the police force as a masculine institution, it gave new meanings to the Bangla proverb, `jey rokkhok shei bhokkhok,? he who claims to protect women, is the usurper, the aggressor. A taboo, sanctioned by state powers, was broken.
Bidisha in remand: sexual abuse
`Go and get a shard of ice. Insert it. It will all come out.?
In her autobiography, Bidisha, second wife of ex-President Hussain Mohd Ershad, later-divorced, writes, I wondered, what will they do with that? Insert it where? (Shotrur Shonge Shohobash, 2008).
Under the influence of what she assumes was a truth serum, injected during remand at a Joint interrogation cell housed in Baridhara, Bidisha writes, the pain was unbearable. A horrible burning sensation coursed through my body, my eyes threatened to burst out of their sockets. If I opened them, it felt like chilli powder had been rubbed in. If I closed them, balls of fire encircled my pupils. My breathing grew heavy. I felt like I was dying, but I couldn?t, I was falling asleep, but I couldn?t. My tongue grew thick. I wanted to say everything that I knew, and things that I didn?t. Questions flew at me from all directions, some of them pounded me from inside my head.
But, Bidisha writes, I stuck to what she knew. I stuck to the truth. Her interrogators got tired. One of them ordered the ice, and ordered someone to leave the room. Was it the policewomen, Bidisha wonders. A strong pair of hands gripped her shoulders, another climbed up her legs, up her thighs, ?like a snake.? But they stopped, disappointed. `I don?t think we can do it. She?s bleeding.?
She writes, but my periods had ended days earlier, why should there be blood? I remembered, it must be the beatings at the Gulshan police station, by the officer-in-charge Noore Alam. She was pushed and as she fell, someone grabbed hold of her orna. Pulled and pushed, her orna soon turned into a noose, she could no longer breathe, her tongue jutted out. She was hit hard with a stick on her lower abdomen, through the daze she could see that he was uniformed. I fell on the floor like a sack. I was barely conscious. I was kicked and trampled with boots on my chest, head, back, and lower abdomen.
During interrogation, the chief interrogator Joshim had repeatedly shouted at her, Do you know who I am? Do you know what I can do to you? Ten-twelve men had been present when the truth serum was injected. Well-dressed, fashionable clothes, expensive watches. Whiffs of expensive after-shave. Trim hair, cut very short. As she repeatedly stuck to the truth, Joshim threatened to hang her upside down, like Arman, he said, who was being tortured in the next room. She was threatened with rape by members of RAB (Rapid Action Battalion). During another round her left thumbnail was prised open and torn away, by something like a pair of pliers. They held my eyelids open so that I could see. Relief came only when the call for prayers sounded, since the men scurried away to pray.
Interrogation sessions were video-recorded, each interrogator had an audio recorder. I remember hearing, be sure to get all the details on camera. I remember someone adding, Who?ll think she?s had three kids? What a figure! The cassette?ll make him happy. Make who happy? she wonders. Toward the end of the three-day remand, one of the men entered and said, It?s over. I?ve talked. To who? asked one of the interrogators. One of the Bhaban men. (I presume, Bidisha means Hawa Bhaban). She was forced to declare on camera that she had not been tortured, to sign written declarations, and also blank sheets of paper.
She was in custody for 23 days in June 2005, because of two cases filed by her husband, and two by the government. What were the allegations? Her husband, the ex-President, first accused her of stealing his cell phone, money from his wallet, and vandalising household furniture. Then she was accused of having different birth dates on two different passports. And lastly, of having stashed away large amounts of money in foreign bank accounts.
Interested quarters tried to make light of the incident, they said, it was a ?purely family affair.? Those in the political know, for instance Kazi Zafarullah, Awami League presidium member, claimed that the ruling BNP had masterminded the event to prevent Ershad from forging unity with opposition political parties since elections were due next year (New Age, 6 June 2005). I was repeatedly asked during interrogation, writes Bidisha, why had I said that the Jatiya Party should form an alliance with the Awami League? Why not with the BNP? (`because they were unable to govern properly, people were furious, Jatiya Party popularity was bound to fall?). Bidisha was expelled from Jatiya party membership, she lost her post of presidium member.
Parliamentary elections under the present military-backed caretaker government are scheduled to be held in December 2008. Jatiya Party (JP) has joined Awami League (AL) led grand alliance for contesting the elections. According to newspaper reports, Ershad is eyeing the presidency.
Pahari women: rape under occupation
Even after the signing of the 1997 Peace Treaty between the government and the PCJSS (Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti), the Chittagong Hill Tracts remains one of the most militarised regions of the world. During the period of armed conflict, according to international human rights reports, sexual violence was inflicted on indigenous women and their communities as part of military strategy. Bangladesh Army personnel have been accused by paharis of having committed extrajudicial killings, rape, torture and abduction. In August 2003, over 300 houses in 7 pahari villages of Mahalcchari were razed to the ground by the army, aided by Bengali settlers. Paharis claim, ten Chakma women were raped, some of them gang-raped. This includes a mother and her two daughters, aged 12 and 15, and two daughters of another family, aged 14 and 16 years. Victims allege, armed personnel alongwith Bengali settlers took part in the rapes. Paharis claim, state-sponsored political and sexual violence still continues.
There is no public evidence that the Bangladesh army has investigated those claims in any way. Nor do we know if the Bangladesh army has charged any soldier as a result of the alleged assaults. Nor is there any public evidence that any military personnel has been punished for any of the alleged rapes.
Tomorrow, November 25 is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. We need to break more state sanctioned taboos.
May 8th 2001. 9:49 AM. Zia International Airport. Domestic Terminal:
The water resources minister strides boldly through the security
gate. Not perhaps `to go boldly where no man has gone before’, but in
a manner in which no person is meant to go. Six people, including
police officers follow him dutifully. Like traditional spouses, three
strides behind. One carries an umbrella, one a briefcase, Razzak is
unhampered by baggage. The security officer at the gate, Azhar,
salutes nervously as he walks past, making no attempt to do the
customary body check. Next in line, as I am being frisked, I ask him
if MPs are checked. He nods affirmatively, though an elderly woman
passenger, hearing my question quickly comes up and says, “No, they
never check MPs.” Azhar is silent, but Hasib Khan, the security
officer comes up and politely explains that they have instructions
not to do a body check on MPs. “We do check the baggage though.” On
further discussions he does admit that this is contrary to security
regulations, but is a general practice with VIPs. “We have no written
orders, but do have verbal instructions. However, we do check
everyone for British Airways flights, as they don’t accept this
Airlines and airports have their own security requirements, and
though their insurance companies might not allow for this deference
to the mushrooming VIP pool, I suppose they may modify their rules to
suit their requirements. As an ordinary passenger however, I have the
right to feel safe in the airplane I board, and it is part of the
services I pay for. That feeling requires me to know that EVERY
person who has boarded the plane has been checked by the security.
When MPs are known to have bomb manufacturing setups in their homes,
and others are seen publicly with gun toting hoodlums, my security
checked flight no longer feels so safe. On a conspiracy theory mood,
I would have suspected British Airways to have cooked up a devious
plot to increase sales. I suspect it has a simpler basis. That
elected representatives of the people, consider the people who voted
them in, to be have lesser rights. In a country where sons of
ministers can murder with impunity and journalists are open targets
for lawmakers, this is a mild example. The fact that there was no one
at the airport who felt they should protest, and that this letter was
refused publication in a newspaper supposedly concerned about such
issues, are signs of a deeper malaise.
Maybe if British Airways was made the election commissioner?