Thursday, April 30, 2009

Sunita Paul Unmasked

Here is an interesting piece on Sunita Paul from Suchinta's convenor that has appeared in the Daily Star:

http://www.thedailystar.net/newDesign/news-details.php?nid=86171

Have not we suspected all along that she is really fake? I personally did not know of the existence of her second 'white' picture. Like criminals she is leaving her trails of crime everywhere.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Muslim Almanac 2008

Last year, the Muslim Almanac included my article - Seeking Knowledge: our national imperative. In the link above you will find a good review of the subject by Shaheen Nazar of the Arab News.

More on Peel Khana - a correspondence

Mr. Zoglul Husain raised some important points on the matter of Indo-Bangladesh relationship and Peel Khana massacre. Here below is my response:

I was in Bangladesh (B'desh) when the event took place, with all the TV centers zeroing in on the event with 24 hours reporting. A couple of days earlier, I met with some important dignitaries within the government of Bangladesh discussing expatriate issues. After the event, I discussed with some of my junior friends within the defense forces.

My observation is: (1) there was a long-standing line of grievances against the Army officers from the BDR jawans. Some of these included dal-bhat program - where they accused DG Shakil and some top brass of making ill-gotten money, and even transfering the same to overseas. There was apparently an incident in the airport during military rule when boxes of money were seized at the Dhaka airport, reportedly belonging to army officers, including Moeen U. Chy. Other complaints included: promotion, deployment overseas, vacation, retirement allowances, how they are mistreated (both Shakil and his wife were accused in this matter) by Army officers who treated them like servants (tui instead of tumi was commonly used for them), etc. (2) They had a leaflet made on these grievances that was shared with some politicians from all major parties, including both the BNP and AL. (3) The politicians while aware of the problem did not realize how the issues, if unresolved, would end. They thought that in the Darbar Hall when the matter would be discussed, something that had happened in the past, all such issues would be amicably resolved. (4) Some BDR jawans were punished for their own corruption with the dal-bhat program, who like Dalim & co. of the 1975 coup, had a different agenda of their own - to kill the officers - taking cover of the general grievances of the BDR. (5) Some deep graves were dug inside the BDR HQ days before the 2/25 incident. (6) Most of the grievances were legitimate ones and had support within the entire BDR, minus Army officers. (7) Only a few jawans planned and executed the event, and later tried to exploit the matter to garner support from the rest of the BDR. (8) The newly removed DG of Ansar, who was DG of DGFI earlier, was caught carrying an automatic weapon in his car on the day of parade (2/24). (Why was he carrying such a weapon to the rally in his car, and how was he involved, if at all, is a mystery to me!) (9) The Intelligence failed to predict the massacre.

Those are the facts, or so I believe from my own sources of info. To patch things in one direction or another, now comes the conspiracy theorists, speculators, analysts and others of all shades and stripes.

The AL folks would tell you that the most important issue in the election, whether or not you believe it was doctored by the Army, was trial of the 1971 war criminals. Per most reliable accounts, these latter folks are found mostly in the JI and BNP. They surmise that while the issue became a top priority for the new govt. and the issue was debated inside the Parliament with demands coming from the Muktojoddha sector command and many secular groups within the country, the defeated forces hatched up a program to stage the 2/25 event by dint of which the country would be thrown into a chaos, thus totally derailing the issue of trial, and even leading to the fall of the govt. Many had predicted that the life of the govt. won't be more than three months. A few days earlier, Pakistan's special rep Mr. Ispahani had met with Hasina and cautioned against trial, a matter which raised many eyebrows for infiltrating Pakistan's nose into an 'internal' matter of B'desh. Thus, one conspiracy theory is that the ISI with its known ties within the BDR (comprising of the Islamist recruits) staged the event.

The second conspiracy theory that is funneled by BNP camp (and JI) is that it is the AL which was involved in the 2/25 event. Most of their arguments are very close to what you shared below. They say that Ward commissioner like Torab Ali and others, including Home Minister Sahara Khatun, Dr. Alamgir, Nanak, Azam and few others knew the matter all along, at least three days before the incident. They even mention that the Intel provided such matters to appropriate authorities. It was because of such intelligence info that Hasina did not come to the Darbar Hall, they claim. They say that it was staged by the RAW so as to create a chaotic situation in which Indian Army could walk-in, either to protect the Hasina govt, if requested, or to make a Sikim out of Bangladesh.

Both the theories have their pros and cons to make a good story. No wonder that we have seen a good mix of both such views, thanks to Sunita, Shoaib, Mahmudur Rahman and many other Awami Leaguers. So where does the truth lie? Is it either of those views, or somewhere in between, or totally away from those two views - a third view? I don't know. In my opinion, shared earlier, I stated why I think AL could not have done it, which you have challenged.

As to the matter of slogans, there were also BNP supported ones chanted on that day, as shared in the Assembly sessions and heard on TV channels. There are reports that some TV channels celebrated the 2/25 event jovially with distribution of biryani, etc. in a mood resembling the celebration of the Mossad agents near New Jersey when the planes hit the WTC on 9/11. Did they suspect the event? Or, were they simply excited that they got a hot topic to capture the audience, and boost their rating and add to the coffer?

My neutral speculation is that 2/25 by and large was a local event without foreign ties, with enormous intl' implications. A small group within the Jawans who were punished decided that they would use the event to do their crimes, much like Dalim group. After killing, they made i t an all jawan - issue based on earlier circulated grievances. This does not mean that the foreign Intel did not try or could not have tried to influence the matter in certain stage of its development or maturation. This is similar to Mujib's assassination case. Was the CIA involved, as hinted by the journalist Lifschitz (sp ?)? Or was it a rogue element within such Intels that did the job, without direct involvement of its (foreign) govt.? There was a massive Intel failure in our side not to either understand the enormity of the grievances or being in total dark. It is that failure that has led to a culture of coups and political killings inside B'desh since 1975. We don't have an FBI like organization in B'desh. Even there, as you know, it failed to predict 9/11, which inadvertently has led to the conspiracy theory that Bushies staged it to take the country into the era of pre-emptive strikes, unilateralism, etc. These are again conspiracy theories, and one can argue for ages, holding onto a particular notion, for or against Bush.

As to guys like Torab Ali, if the accusations of his involvement are true, it is possible that he may have known the conspiracy of killing without letting someone higher up within the AL know about it. It is also possible that as a former JCO he was totally aware of the fuming anger within the Jawans and tried to bring some AL leaders, including Sahara Khatun, to review such problems and resolve the matter soon, without knowing how the situation was going to end. That is, I still don't believe that he knew the plan of killing and deliberately failed to inform someone in the party leadership, or govt. Most of those lower ranking guys within a party structure have difficulty even talking to a minister, let alone PM. I reject Sunita/Shoaib's theory that the IG Police was a party to the conspiracy. How ludicrous is such an assertion when you realize that he lost his own son-in-law in that event! And honestly speaking, in my prayers at night, I prayed for the safety of his son-in-law and daughter. I was so sorry to learn the next day of his son-in-law's death in the very first few minutes of execution.

I notice that you viewed the last election as a rigged one. I don't know and cannot say one way or another. Is rigging possible? Yes. Did the Army do it? I don't know. According to all reports, foreign and domestic, it was the fairest of elections in B'desh's history. So, many would have difficulty believing that the election was rigged. I know one thing though that the Army did not accept nomination of an honest AL candidate in its territory, Army cantt. areas of Dhaka. I.e., it virtually dictated which AL candidate should be nominated from that precinct.

As to the military, for quite some time, it has been positioning itself to play the role of Turkish or Indonesian army in our soil. It wants bigger role, and has supporters within certain sectors of our population, esp. military politicians. Many observers believe that if our politicians fail to give them their 'due' share, we might be revisited by a culture of coups. I must admit that I appreciated their taking over in 1/11 to rescue the nation from Dr. Iyazuddin's unconstitutional, irresponsible, partisan postures. The latter is now blamed by the same BNP!

After the event of 2/25, I met with Law Minister and Attorney General and discussed 2/25. The latter said that he was not surprised with all those killings since 1975. A nation that can kill its father of the nation has gone to the dogs, and nothing surprises him any more. He is right. I have seen that happen with much more frequency these days. It is a shocking development that will haunt our nation for years to come.

As to Moeen, I am told by certain Bangladeshi bloggers that he is the Indian guy! I don't know how authentic such an assertion is.

Why the ruling Awami League may not have any direct connection with the BDR Massacre

Over the last two months, scores of articles have appeared, some with the notion that the ruling Awami League had caused the BDR massacre in Peel Khana HQ, Dhaka, Bangladesh. I have serious doubt on that thesis. Many believe that the Indian RAW had a hand in that massacre. I entertain doubts there, too. The Indian government trusts Prime Minister Hasina more than Khaleda (ex-PM), and it would be foolish of it to see a trouble brooding in Bangladesh during her premiership that could destabilize the government. This does not mean that Indian government or the RAW does not have any ulterior intention or motive about Bangladesh to get most out of her misery. They do. Barrister Munshi has done a good job with his book on the subject. But we need to be too careful when we analyze things objectively. We simply cannot hypothesize things that are too irrational. Thus, I have problem believing that India is for occupation of a country of the size of Bangladesh. That would be suicidal for India, it is not the USA; and even there in Iraq as we all know the USA found out how difficult it is to control an occupation; winning war is easier done than controlling with an occupation army.

India's major interest lies in seeing that the north-east corner does not pose any threat to its integrity. It also wants to exploit our economy (you can't blame her for that: actually all countries in today's global economy have the same economic plan in one sort or another). For these two to happen, having a pro-Indian govt. is to its advantage, something that is already taken care of through the election win of the AL. After the election win of the AL, the BDR has taken a more proactive role to seal the border, with no movement of arms to ULFA and other separatists, something that was blamed on Bangladesh for years for not doing so effectively. By all measures, killing the goose that lays golden eggs would be too foolish to cool-headed niramishashi (veggie) Indian policy makers! As to the economy, only when Bangladeshi middle and rich-class stop going and buying things Indian, we can get out of that clutch. But with flow of money comes taste, and many of our rich and middle class folks like to spend, wear those kurtas, saris, golden jewelry, etc. So, it may be difficult to compete there unless our products can outperform or beat their merchandise.

And Allah knows the best! May the real culprits behind the massacre be found and punished accordingly for their gruesome orgy of murder and criminal activities!

More on Joy's HIR Article

http://unheardvoice.net/blog/2009/04/26/wazed-and-ciovacco-a-missed-opportunity/

The analysis above in the blog - Unheard Voices - is a thorough point by point analysis of the original HIR article by Wazed and Ciovacco. Since the publication of the article by Joy, much has been made about the value of the HIR as a journal. I am inclined to believe that if Joy was not the son of Awami League Leader, and also claiming to be her adviser, I doubt he would have seen this article accepted in the journal. Nor should we forget that it it is not an academic journal, and does not have a credible peer review board on articles. No wonder, as the Drishtipat author in the above blog has cited, there are many inconsistencies, not just with missing citation of sources of information - credible references but even with wrong English, composition, etc. The journal with the Harvard name (although nothing to do with the Ivy League school - Harvard University) nonetheless has been able to attract articles from many politicians and policy makers around the world and is distributed around some 70 countries. It is also a pace-setter on many controversial subjects.

HIR, according to Wikipedia, was founded in 1979. In its own website it claims: "The HIR features underappreciated topics in the international affairs discourse and underappreciated perspectives on more widely discussed topics. The HIR aims to serve as a trend-setter among similar publications by directing rather than following the public’s attention.... The HIR is more a source of analysis than a source of news or editorial commentary. Its main purpose is not to present facts previously unreported elsewhere. The HIR distinguishes itself primarily by serving as a forum for academic debate, rigorously applying theory to case studies, analyzing historical trends, and making informed predictions."

As the Joy and Ciovacco - article has demonstrated, the HIR does stir debate with its contents. I shall make some observations (by no means a complete or thorough one; my comments soon appeared after the original article was published, and may still be viewed in my own blogspot). The authors had clear agenda to go after the so-called Islamists in Bangladesh, and tried to paint their picture accordingly in a careless fashion that would somehow show its connection with Jamat-e Islami (JI). {We see a similar trend in Mubarak's Egypt with Ikhwan. Every Islam-centric organization - political and non-political including the NGOs - is deemed to have connections with the Ikhwan.} It is like killing two birds with one stone! Forgotten in that context was that the JI might not have any connection with such organizations, ideological or whatsoever (after all, JI believes in constitutional democracy, much like Ikhwan in Egypt, and not something those terrorists stand for through violent overthrow of the government).

Terrorism, no matter how local-centric, may sometimes be influenced by non-local events more as an expression of its anger or frustration that is vented out locally. In an electronic world of our time, it is therefore quite difficult to fight such a brand of terrorism. Examples are plenty to support my point here, from 9/11 attack in the USA to attempts on tourists in Egypt. So, the only way to fight that form of terrorism will require redressing the root cause that gives the impetus for violence.

As to the burqa or more correctly hijab issue, I believe that it is a global phenomenon seen worldwide today. The entire world is seeing a resurgence among believers to go back to their religions. It is no wonder that more than 80 million Christians in the USA today claim to be fundamentalists, believing in the inerrancy of the Bible, second coming of Jesus, Armageddon, killing of non-Christians, etc. In the last ten years, the Muslim world has also seen her share of troubles vis-a-vis the powerful non-Muslim world: how e.g., the Judeo-Christian-Hindu triangle of extremists (Likudnik-Christian Right-Sangh Parivar) has tried to undermine Muslim interest throughout the world. [Many Pakistanis, e.g., believe that India is behind much of instability in Pakistan today.] This has created a psychological pressure to look inward for many conscientious Muslims, esp. those living outside the so-called Dar-al-Islam. Many feel challenged or motivated to show their Islamic identity. Interestingly, it has also been found that women wearing conservative dress, e.g., hijab, are less likely to be harassed by others. I am sure many Muslim women can testify of the same in our crime-prone cities across Bangladesh. So, if they don hijab, it is not necessarily a statement of Islamism or fundamentalism, but may be more due to their choice of looking beautiful and yet modest, while being less harassed by loafers and goondas.

We are also seeing a polarization on social norms within much of our urban population. This is creating much confusion among the policy makers of major political parties in Bangladesh that don't want to be identified as either this or that. Thus, in spite of claims by either netris as being leaders of secular parties, they don't like appearing in public without their ghomta on. That is, both are cognizant about importance of religion or its sentimental values on wider public. Such a behavior, often viewed hypocritical, has not been uncommon in our subcontinent since the days of the Swaraj Andolon in the pre-Partition days of India. M.K. Gandhi himself exploited such religious sentiments for the sake of politics. As we can all testify, the end result has not been what Gandhi had hoped for. It was a divided India along the religious line. This is something that all leaders of the future and today need to take a serious look into.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

All the Fuss about the “Settlers” of the Hilly Districts: Whose Interests Are the Activists Protecting?

The subject of minorities is a very touchy one in any country, especially in nation-states where a national heritage or culture or identity (often dictated by the majority population) defines the characteristic of the state. Such modern concepts of states get complicated if there are other minorities that live in the state, each claiming to be a separate “nation” by virtue of its religion, language, culture, etc.

Bangladesh, as we all know, has about 12% minorities, including approx. 10% Hindus, the remainders being Buddhists, Christians, agnostics, atheists and animists. Most of the latter groups live in the high hills, e.g., Jayintia, Garo Hills and Chittagong Hill Tract districts. Historically the Bengal delta was husbanded by people who resorted to wet cultivation while the people in the hills, who mostly were outside tax collection from ruling authorities, resorted to dry cultivation for their staple food. In the olden days of the Mughal rulers the authority of the state sometimes ended where the hills began. As we all know it was the marauding attacks from the Maghs (Arakanese Buddhists) and Portuguese pirates, which were sponsored by the Buddhist Kings of Arakan, that led to Shaista Khan's campaign to re-conquest Chittagong and its hilly districts, ensuring these territories' sovereignty within the Mughal rule. His campaign stopped shy of the present-day Arakan that demarcated itself from Bangladesh by the Naaf River. During the subsequent Nawabi rule of Bengal and British Raj the territorial boundary remained the same, i.e., both those districts remained integral to Bengal and outside Buddhist rules of Arakan, Burma and Tripura.

Unlike the Mughal and Muslim Sultanates of Bengal, the British Raj (esp. during the Company era) was more interested about collection of revenue and had little concern about the goodwill of the local people and their legitimate grievances whether or not such taxes were burdensome. It was their heavy handedness that led to the horrible famine of 1769-1773 (corresponding to Bangla Year 1176-1180, and more commonly therefore known as “Chiatturer monontor”) killing some 15 million people of Bengal (that included Bihar and Orissa). One in every three person perished in that great famine.

During the British Raj a more drastic and concerted effort was taken to reclaim hilly areas under taxation. In order to increase revenue collection, the Raj created local tribal chiefs in the Hilly districts, Rajas, who would ensure payment of such revenues. For the planes, it had by the 19th century already instituted a similar scheme of collecting revenues from the zamindars (not to be forgotten in this context the Sunset Law), who essentially became the enforcer of collecting such revenues in the form of money or kind (e.g., paddy) from the raiyats - peasants, and petty merchants. That is, the role of the zamindars was similar to a revenue collector in modern times.

The CHT districts like many other hilly parts of pre-modern era India often became refuges to rebels and revenue dodgers who would settle (without its true connotation) there to escape from being hunted down by the ruling authority. In 1784 in the nearby Arakan there was a massive genocidal campaign that was steward-headed by the racist Buddhist king of Burma -- Bodaw Paya -- who had invaded the independent state. Arakan - the land of poets Alaol and Dawlat Kazi - had a significant population of Muslims who had lived in the other side of the Naaf River for centuries. [As shown elsewhere by this author, the origin of the Rohingya people of Arakan pre-dates the settlement of the Tibeto-Burman people there.] The genocidal campaign by the Buddhist king led to a mass scale forced eviction and exodus of hundreds of thousands of people of Arakan to the nearby territories of British India, esp. to Chittagong and CHT districts of today's Bangladesh. Nearly a hundred thousand people, mostly Muslims, were killed by the Burmese extermination campaign. The Mahamuni statue of Buddha itself was stolen away from the Arakan. Many Muslims were taken as slaves and forced to live elsewhere, e.g., in places like the Karen States of Burma.

Those Muslims who were able to save themselves from Burmese annexation of Arakan, like many Magh Arakanese, settled mostly in the Chittagong and CHT districts. The Muslim refugees and their descendants that had lived and settled in those places came to be known by the name Ruhis, depicting their Rohingya/Arakan origin. During the Anglo-Burmese War of 1824-26, Arakan and subsequently the vast territories of Burma came under the British Rule. The exiled Rohingya/Ruhi Muslims and Maghs of Arakan, and their descendants, were allowed and encouraged to resettle in those territories south of the Naaf River. While many did return, others remained behind in Chittagong and CHT districts. The British policy and the subsequent process of return of the Arakanese exiles, esp. the hard-working wet cultivating Rohingya people, facilitated the cultivation of vast territories within Burma, which had hitherto remained barren and uncultivable. This enriched the coffer of the British Government through collection of revenues and taxes. Many descendants of the exiled Rohingyas (or Ruhis of Chittagong) would also become seasonal laborers in Arakan.

Today, the bulk of the non-Muslim population that live in the Hill Tract districts are the descendants of those fleeing refugees from Arakan who fled the territory during Bodaw Paya's extermination campaign. They are our Chakma and Marma people. Their history to the territory cannot be traced with any authenticity before that historical event of 1784. This does not mean that there was no migration of people over the hills. In fact, there was in those days of porous borders where geography was not often attached with politics, state and administration. Like any nomadic people, the Hilly people had no permanent settlement to the territory - they moved to and fro between porous borders of today's Bangladesh, Tripura (India) and Burma. Their migration from outside, much like the Ruhis of Chittagong and CHT, cannot be traced before 1784. Bottom line: the Mongoloid featured Hilly people are as much settlers to the CHT as are the Chittagonians/Ruhis living there. Calling these latter people “settlers” would be false and insincere!

After the emergence of Pakistan in 1947, the CHT was made part of East Pakistan. During the War of Liberation, its Raja openly aligned itself with the Pakistan regime, thus leaving a strong sense of betrayal and mistrust between the local Bengali or Chittagonian people and the Hilly people. During the war of liberation and in the post-1971 era, many Bengalis were kidnapped and killed by the extremist elements of the Hilly people. [An uncle of mine, who had worked as an engineer in the Rayon Mill of Kaptai, embraced a similar fate.] Crimes of this nature continued unabated making the territory unsafe and insecure. Outside the towns, there was virtually no functioning of the government. The territory became impassable and unlivable for most Bengali speaking people. They would be kidnapped, and often times killed, even when ransom money had been paid to the kidnappers.

The so-called Shanti Bahini comprising of armed Hilly bandits and extremists demanded autonomy and they were aided and armed by anti-Bangladeshi forces. With the assassination of Sk. Mujib, as the political scene changed drastically inside Bangladesh, the Shanti Bahini had a new sponsor - India - to destabilize the country. This led to some uneasy situation between the government of Bangladesh and the Hilly people, leading to the deployment of BDR and Army. (India likewise has claimed that Bangladesh government had armed rebels in its north-east corner.) The era of instability persisted during the military-supported govts. of Zia and Ershad.

After the overthrow of the military dictatorship, the situation improved somewhat with the signing of peace treaties with rebel leaders. Unfortunately because of its demography and geography, the region has seen infiltration of arms, which inevitably has gone to forces that are destabilizing the region. Thus, even to this day, criminal Hilly gangs armed by anti-Bangladeshi governments and NGOs still continue to harass the local police, BDR and military outposts, and kidnap and kill Bengali speaking population, including members of the local and foreign NGOs that work on various projects aiming to improve the economic and social condition there.

In recent years some NGOs have emerged with questionable intentions and aims that are at odds with aspirations of our people and territorial integrity of Bangladesh. Some of the so-called human rights activists are nothing but foreign agents working towards weakening the sovereignty of Bangladesh. They are in cahoots with foreign governments and agencies that want to further destabilize the country under the name of autonomy for the Hindus, Christians and Buddhists - almost everyone but Bangladeshi Muslim citizens! Interestingly, these same people would object to any Islamic and Muslim NGOs, smelling there deep conspiracy for Talibanization of the country, but have no problem working with foreign governments and NGOs that like to turn Bangladesh into Sikim or a failed state that is fragmented into parts along ethnic or racial lines. Nor would these charlatans have any tears shed for the victims of Hindu and Buddhist pogroms inside India and Burma, respectively. What hypocrites!

How can we be oblivious about the harmful activities of some of those NGOs that, taking advantage of Bush’s anti-Muslim doctrine in the post-9/11 era, had lobbied the US Congress to punish Bangladesh, claiming falsely that there was a government policy for ethnically cleansing minorities? Some even called for separate homeland for Hindus! They had no bite of moral conscience into hobnobbing with religious extremists and ultra-nationalists, racists and bigots within the RSS, BJP, VHP, SPDC and Likud.

Dr. Ajay Roy, father of Mukto-mona’s founding moderator Avijit (the site became a major platform to insult the Prophet of Islam and for anti-Islamic campaigns in the post-9/11 era) bemoans that currently 56% of the population living in the Hilly districts are Bengali-speakers. I never heard him complain about the demographic change that had been taking place inside Indian Kashmir. Unlike Kashmir where there is a government-run program and policy towards change of the demography, so as to turn the Muslim majority area into a Muslim-starved area, Bangladesh government does NOT have a discriminatory policy of preferred settlement for its Bengali-speaking population into the Hilly districts. As anyone else living inside Bangladesh, the Hilly people are entitled to live and work anywhere. That is why there are today more Hilly people living outside the Hilly districts mostly for economic reasons. As minorities, they also enjoy certain preferred treatment in education and employment sectors that are denied to the majority.

With a high fertility rate among Bengalis, it is no accident that they are a majority in some Hilly districts today. Many of them are engaged in various professions, mostly in trading and commerce. Bangladesh government cannot enact fascist ghettoization laws that confine any particular ethnic or religious group into living in enclaves or reserves. Any suggestion along that line is simply unrealistic and criminal to the core.

The Hilly people are aware that in a poor country like Bangladesh with scarcity of land (where national earning is dependent on foreign remittance of her economic labors around the world) any law that is discriminatory to the pursuit of freedom of movement, employment, economic prosperity and happiness for all will be detrimental and almost suicidal. They also understand that they are the best protectors and preservers of their language and heritage, something that is unfortunately becoming very difficult for small minorities in a global economy of our time. Even in places like Kolkata, how often does one hear Bengali compared to Hindi or English?

I could not disagree more with speakers of the event reported in the Daily Star who said that the Bengali-speaking people needed to be removed forcibly from the Hilly districts for, what they called, “preservation” of its “indigenous” tradition, culture and heritage. Their prescription is no different than that of a racist or a bigot that prefers exclusion over inclusion, ghettoization over pluralism, discrimination over equal opportunity, unless being too disingenuous, serving to the altar of anti-Bangladeshi forces that like to see Bangladesh become a Sikim of our time. Shame on them on all counts!

[Ref: See this authors books on the Rohingyas of Burma: “Just Imagine That You Are a Rohingya”, and “Problems of Democratic Development in Burma and the Rohingya People”, both published by JARO from Japan]

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Zionism is Racism: President Ahmadinejad's speech too much for closet racists

Part 1:
The subject of racism is a very touchy one for both its current and former practitioners. It was thus expected that some western countries with nasty past records of racism would boycott the UN racism conference in Geneva, scheduled for April 20, 2009. A couple of days before the event, the USA announced that it would sit out the Geneva forum. Australia, New Zealand, Italy, Germany, Poland and the Netherlands soon followed suit. Through their boycotting the session they have sent a blatant message endorsing racism.
President Dr. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran was the first government official to take the floor. As soon as he started reciting the Muslim prayer of invocation to begin his speech two pro-Israel Jewish saboteurs, dressed in clown costumes, tossed soft red objects. One may recall that for years before the collapse of the Apartheid regime of South Africa, Israel has been its best ally. Thus, such a rowdy behavior from Zionist hoodlums trying to disrupt the conference was not all that unexpected.
After a brief pause, President Ahmadinejad restarted his talk by accusing that the United States and Europe had helped establish Israel after World War II and victimize Palestinians. He said, "The victorious powers [of the world wars] call themselves the conquerors of the world, while ignoring or down-treading the rights of other nations by the imposition of oppressive laws and international arrangements...Following World War Two, they resorted to making an entire nation homeless on the pretext of Jewish suffering. They sent migrants from Europe, the United States and other parts of the world in order to establish a totally racist government in the occupied Palestine. In compensation for the dire consequences of racism in Europe, they helped bring to power the most cruel and repressive, racist regime in Palestine."
This was too much for other former racist countries like France and the UK to swallow, whose diplomats accompanied by some other Europeans walked out of the conference room.
President Ahmadinejad accused the western governments and the United States of defending Israel, calling the Zionist state the “racist perpetrator of genocide.” Does such an accusation sound hollow or untrue? Not really if you have been following the trail of murder of unarmed civilians in the Occupied Territories of Palestine. It was not too long ago that the rogue nation had killed some thousand innocent civilians in the Gaza Strip, which can only be termed a cold-blooded orgy of murder, aggression and savagery, demonstrating Israel’s long standing racism against the Palestinian people. And yet, none of those western governments and the USA, each with its own blood-stained history of lynching and racism, had the moral fortitude to demand a stop of such wanton murder.
The formula for Israel from day one has been nothing but crass racism that distorts history and uses and abuses religion to sanctify her hatred of the “other” people – the Arab Palestinians. It was, therefore, all kosher that on Nov. 10, 1975, General Assembly of the UN – when it was a functioning world body and not relegated to its deplorable current status as a body to sanction crimes of powerful western nations -- equated Zionism as a form of racism and racial discrimination. The Resolution 3379 was approved by a vote of 72 to 35 (opposition coming mostly from former colonial and racist regimes like the USA, UK, FRG, Australia, New Zealand, France, Canada, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Italy, Ireland, Netherlands, Sweden and some client states and of course, Israel).
It took another 16 years when the UN General Assembly by a vote of 111 to 25 (with 13 abstentions and 15 absentees) revoked the Resolution 3379. This time the opposition came only from the Muslim states and Sri Lanka. India and the USSR, like most other countries, voted in favor of revocation, while China, Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco and Bahrain and ten other nations were absent from voting. By that time, President Sadat of Egypt had already signed the peace treaty with the Zionist state, which triggered Muslim disunity and weakened Palestinian leadership. Israel made revocation central to her demand for participation in the Madrid Peace Conference, which was co-sponsored by the USA and Spain in 1991. Under pressure from the U.S. administration of President George H.W. Bush, the UN passed the resolution of revocation.
In his speech to the UN General Assembly, introducing the motion to revoke Resolution 3379, President Bush said, “And now, for the first time, we have a real chance to fulfill the U.N. Charter's ambition of working "to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and nations large and small to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom…. To equate Zionism with racism is to reject Israel itself, a member of good standing of the United Nations. This body cannot claim to seek peace and at the same time challenge Israel's right to exist. By repealing this resolution unconditionally, the United Nations will enhance its credibility and serve the cause of peace.”
As later events have demonstrated over the last 18 years, the U.N. revocation was a serious mistake. It has only emboldened the pariah state to become more belligerent, ruthless and racist, more savage, militaristic and uncompromising. The UN itself has become the lapdog of the veto wielding powers within the Security Council. It has rewarded culprits more often than redressing cries and concerns of the victims of naked aggression, human rights abuse and torture. Not only has the credibility of the UN suffered irreparably, peace appears a far cry, almost like a mirage, today than ever before in our life time.
So, it is important that we understand why the UN in 1975 equated Zionism with racism. Merriam-Webster defines racism as a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race. Racism is a symbol of ignorance, rejection or denial about the root of human existence.
The characteristics of Israeli racism have been: (1) claims that the Jews are superior to all other races; (2) grants exclusive right of Jews around the world to Israeli citizenship while denying the non-Jews the same privilege; (3) attributes an inferior social, economic and political status to the non-Jewish population of Israel; (4) encourages immigration of Jews into Israeli and emigration and deportation of non-Jews from Israel; (5) does not allow immigration of non-Jews, not even those who crossed the front line to the Arab side in 1948, i.e., Israel denies the right of return of Palestinians, while she issues citizenship to any Jew (even an atheist) that had no historical connection whatsoever, neither now nor before, with Israel.
Zionism is racism because it rejects unity of mankind by depicting Palestinians as inherently inferior, like “worms”, having “genetic defects.”
Zionism is racism because it follows Cecil Rhodes’ formula for settlement and colonization to the letter and spirit. If racism was wrong for South Africa and Rhodesia it cannot be right for the Zionist state of Israel today.
Zionism is racism because it is based on lies and a disingenuous slogan “a land without a people for a people without land”, knowing too well that Palestine was inhabited by the people who today are victims of Israel’s ethnic-cleansing campaigns.
Zionism is racism because it fails to acknowledge the Palestinians’ unbroken ties to their homeland. As human rights activist Rabee’ Sahyoun has noted elsewhere, Zionism is racism because it is revisionist in its approach to deny the mere fact that the minority indigenous Jewish community in Palestine, that lived there for the last two thousand years, was an undistinguishable people from its Christian and Muslim Palestinian brethren, and that the leader of the Jewish community of the Jewish quarter of Old Jerusalem, Rabbi Lamram Blau, stood on the side of his Palestinian brothers and sisters being exiled in 1948.
Zionism is racism because through its criminal activities of expulsion of indigenous Palestinians it is forcibly severing a relationship these people had to the land for over four millennia uninterrupted, since before Prophet Abraham (Ibrahim alayhis salam) [Gen. 12:6, 13:7, 21:34].
Zionism is racism because while it pretends to be a democratic movement its very actions show that it is not for plurality or inclusion of non-Jews in the political system of the government. Democracy cannot be just for one race -- the Jews, while it denies the same right to Palestinian Arabs.
Zionism is racism because while it encourages higher child-birth rate amongst the Jews it considers “Israeli Arabs” as “demographic” “time bombs.”
Zionism is racism because it twists history and misuses religion to justify its crimes of stealing and further annexation and occupation of land from its original inhabitants. It is no accident that a 2003 opinion poll in Israel conducted by the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies found that 31% of the Israeli Jews supported the expulsion of the Arab minority, and 46% supported clearance of the territories.
Israel’s activities in recent years have also shown that it is not for peaceful coexistence with Palestinians, let alone a two-state solution. It is for complete annexation of the entire territory by demolition of Arab homes and eviction of Arab population, making the entire territory exclusively for its Jewish population.

Part 2: Zionism needs to be redefined as pure racism and nothing else
Israel’s inherent racism has been vividly clear to anyone, from peace activist Rachel Corrie (cold-bloodedly murdered by Israel) to President Jimmy Carter, who had visited the Occupied Territories. As was noted in 2003 by The Foundation for Middle East Peace, a Washington-based institution that has been tracking Israeli settlement-building for decades, Israel's relentless increase in territorial control had “compromised not only the prospect for genuine Palestinian independence but also, in ways not seen in Israel’s 36-year occupation, the very sustainability of everyday Palestinian life.” The situation today is worse than it was back then in 2003. The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs reported that the Israeli assault in last December and January killed more than 1,300 Gazans, including 300 children. Israeli missiles leveled the parliament building, mosques, the central courthouse, the Ministry of Justice, the main U.N. food storage warehouse, and the Red Crescent Society hospital. The science lab at Islamic University’s highly regarded medical school was destroyed. The Israeli attack was on a defenseless population that had no bomb shelters, no warning sirens, and no adequate means of caring for the victims. In each case Israel’s target was not an opposing army but a civilian society, to destroy Gaza as a functioning community. Truly, Israel’s genocidal campaign succeeded in killing everything except the will of the people.
John Ging, head of the U.N. relief operations in Gaza, reported that by the time the bombing eased off, 400,000 Gazans had been without running water for three weeks, 20,000 homes were destroyed or damaged and 100,000 people were homeless. In the town of Beit Hanoun alone 30,000 tons of sewage flowed in the streets every hour. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch accused the Israeli army of using white phosphorous – a banned substance for use against civilians -- that burns human flesh to the bone. Israel also stopped delivery of humanitarian aid. On Feb. 5 the Israeli navy stopped a Lebanese ship from carrying relief supplies and diverted it to Israel in what the Arab League called “an act of piracy.”
And yet to a jaundice-eyed West, such war crimes of the Zionist state are nothing but a show of its right of self-defense!
The 2008 annual report of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) entitled “The State of Human Rights in Israel and the Occupied Territories” noted that “Arab Israelis are disadvantaged, persecuted, endangered, and live under third-world conditions.”
Israel’s political and military leaders are neither shy about their determination for Eretz Israel nor about clarifying that the non-Jews have no future there. It was in 2002, Israel's ex-education minister, Limor Livnat, spelled out in defense of Zionism that Israel is not “just another state like all the other states.” She said, “We are not just a state of all its citizens.”
Parties like the ruling Likud, Yisrael Beiteinu and National Union consider settling Jews in the entire Palestine as an expression of fulfillment of Zionism. The 1999 Likud Charter, e.g., emphasized the right of settlement in “Judea (and) Samaria”, more commonly known as the “West Bank and Gaza.” Similarly, their claims of the Jordan River as the permanent eastern border to Israel and Jerusalem as “the eternal, united capital of the State of Israel and only of Israel,” do the same. The ‘Peace & Security’ chapter of the 1999 Likud Party platform “flatly rejects the establishment of a Palestinian Arab state west of the Jordan river.” The chapter continued: “The Palestinians can run their lives freely in the framework of self-rule, but not as an independent and sovereign state.” Yet, Israel’s western patrons never ask about ratifying such a Charter!
In a thoroughly researched article “Zionism as a racist ideology” (Counter Punch, Nov. 8/9, 2003) Bill and Kathleen Christison (former high ranking officials with the CIA) rightly observed, “Indeed, the most pernicious aspect of a political philosophy like Zionism that masquerades as democratic is that it requires an enemy in order to survive and, where an enemy does not already exist, it requires that one be created. In order to justify racist repression and dispossession, particularly in a system purporting to be democratic, those being repressed and displaced must be portrayed as murderous and predatory. And in order to keep its own population in line, to prevent a humane people from objecting to their own government’s repressive policies, it requires that fear be instilled in the population: fear of "the other," fear of the terrorist, fear of the Jew-hater. The Jews of Israel must always be made to believe that they are the preyed-upon.”
And this is exactly what the Zionist state has been doing against the original inhabitants of Israel -- the Palestinians. Like a gifted artist, it has painted them as inherently hostile who want to “destroy Israel” and “throw the Jews into the seas.” This justifies eviction of Palestinians, destruction of their homes, discriminating against them and denying democratic rights to them. Situation is created so hopelessly unlivable for this “other” people that they are pushed into violence. And once this happens, they are relegated to the status of “terrorists” with whom no negotiation can be made. Forgotten then are all those conciliatory gestures including the PLO’s decision in 1988 to recognize Israel’s existence, relinquish Palestinian claims to the three-quarters of Palestine residing inside Israel’s pre-1967 borders, and even recognize Israel’s “right” to exist there.
Even when negotiations take place, these are conducted hypocritically as part of face-saving measures (to show that Israel is for peaceful solution to hide her intent), and more as a bargaining tactic not only to extract favorable concessions from the weaker party but also from the sponsor (usually the USA). So those negotiations are a necessary and prudent way to weaken the Palestinian position while further enriching and strengthening the Zionist state. These schemes have not changed; they only get reinvigorated with time.
While all the great nations have valued inclusion or plurality, the Zionist state stands for exclusion, racism and xenophobia. In 2006, Israeli cabinet minister Avidgor Lieberman said that Israel had no alternative but to move toward “exchanges of populations and territory, in order to create the most homogenously Jewish state.” He also said, “Minorities are the biggest problem in the world.” On May 12 2002, Netanyahu dubbed a Palestinian state, in a crude, racist slur, as “Arafat-istan”. When it comes to the subject of Israeli Arabs, it’s hard to tell where Netanyahu ends and Lieberman begins.
And compare such Zionist views with the inauguration speech of President Obama, who said: “For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus - and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.”
It is no-brainer to notice that Zionist leaders like Lieberman and Netanyahu (whose cabinet Avidgor had joined as a minister) are opposed to the values President Obama and America espouse. And yet criticism of Zionist leaders remains a taboo!
In 1923, Vladimir (Ze’ev) Jabotinsky, the spiritual father of today’s Zionism and the founder of the Jewish Legion, wrote: “Zionism is a colonizing adventure and therefore stands or falls by the question of armed force. It is important … to speak Hebrew, but unfortunately it is even more important to be able to shoot — or else I am through with playing colonization.” [The Iron Wall]
No one personifies the colonial expansionist policy of Jabotinsky and the Zionist Israel with ruthless cool-headedness better than Benjamin Netanyahu. The crowning moment for him was the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin by a pro-Likud Jewish zealot Yigal Amir in 1995, during peace negotiations between the Israeli state and the PLO. As a beneficiary of that murder, Likud came to power in 1996 and peace talks came to a halt. The same conglomeration of social forces that blocked any prospect of even a shadow of an independent Palestinian state is now in power under Netanyahu’s watch. Netanyahu and Lieberman, as spokesmen of the settler movement, are physical embodiments of anti-Palestine, anti-Arab racism. As has been noted by Steven Lamini, there is no possibility to reconcile states based on ethnic, racial or religious exclusivism with the existence of democracy. Apartheid South Africa is testimony to this fact.
The civilized people living in vast territories of Asia, Africa and Latin America must take a hard look at today’s Zionism and analyze what this evil is doing to the affected people of the region. When they do, like open-minded curious surgeons, they will find nothing pleasant about this cancerous entity called Zionism. It is not accident that a great Rabbi Yoel Teitelbaum had said, “Zionism is the greatest form of spiritual impurity. They have polluted the Jewish people with their heresy."
A colonial settler movement like Zionism that uproots indigenous people is an anti-thesis of national liberation movement. Like Myanmarism, it remains one of the last relics of racism that needs to be torn down for greater good of humanity.
Israel’s current leader Binyamin Netanyahu should be ranked with Jean Le Pen, Jorge Haider, Radovan Karadzic, Narendra Modi and the rest of the world’s racist demagogues. But the sad reality is Zionists like him won't be, because anti-Arab racism in Israel is either supported or ignored by the mainstream of the Jewish world and almost taken for granted by much of the non-Muslim world.
As has been noted by many experts Arab “terrorism” arises not because of “hatred of western liberties or way of life,” but from hatred of racist, repressive policies of Israel and its patrons. Supporting the oppression of Palestinians that arises from Israel’s racism only encourages terrorism. Thus, if our civilization is serious about stopping Arab terrorism it must root out its main cause - Zionism.
It is high time to openly express outrage and revulsion at today’s Zionism, which is nothing but a racist policy that aims ethnic cleansing of Palestinian people from their ancestral home. The world body needs to reinstate the U.N. Resolution 3379, because Zionism is uglier today than it was back in 1991 when it was revoked.
President Ahmadinejad’s speech on Zionism’s culpability to fostering unbridled racism would sound offensive, inflammatory and unacceptable only to those who have no problem sanctioning war crimes of Israel against unarmed Palestinians. Those individuals are closet racists themselves. Shame on them for sustaining the scourge of Zionism!

Suggested links:
http://www.nkusa.org/HISTORICAL_DOCUMENTS/tenquestions.cfm
http://www.savethemales.ca/091202.html
http://www.twf.org/News/Y2002/0401-NetureiKarta.html

Why Jonathan Power wants to send his daughter to the Muslim world to spend the summer?

Ref: http://www.thebangladeshtoday.com/viewpoints.htm#view-01

It is refreshing to read Jonathan Power's positive piece about the Muslim world. It was good to be reminded that in spite of all the problems facing the Muslim world today, at least in one area, murder, we have an enviable position with the lowest rate. Power's observation and concerns for his daughter are right. In many major American cities it is unsafe to walk alone in the down-town areas after sunset. In my city of Philadelphia, e.g., on the average at least one person is killed every day, mostly by gunshots. Some cities have worse rate. Mugging is also common during broad daylight in cities like Los Angeles. In cities like NY and Miami, once you have parked your car, you may not find it upon return, unless secured through Club or some other electronic or metallic security device. Girls face the threat of getting raped while strolling or jogging alone in a park. Obviously, this does not mean that people feel too insecure all the time everywhere. There are cops everywhere, in subway stations, inside train, in many street corners, and they are also in the roads and highways patrolling. They are also very professional, very honest (almost incorruptible), and always willing to listen and help. Often times, they are the best friends of a person needing help.

While I am glad to read low murder rates in Muslim countries, still, to me, one murder is too many; it is like killing a whole family, a whole nation. Not unsurprisingly, the Qur'an states20it that way. It has also laid down severe warnings against perpetrators. And yet, crime plagues our society today. Our cities are not as safe as these used to be when I grew up.

Power mentioned about safety in Kolkata. I am also told the same thing by many of my friends and relatives who have visited the place several times. Wife of a brother-in-law from Kolkata tells me that a girl can walk all the way to her home from Hawrah train station un-harassed by anyone even at midnight. I am not sure if our major cities in Bangladesh can boast such a claim. A society that fails to secure lives of our vulnerable people is not a place that anyone can feel like living, and surely not sending their daughters to visit alone. I hope situation in our Muslim world would improve further.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Those who authorized torture must be impeached

The subject of an old report by the International Committee of Red Cross and a newly released memo from the Department of Justice has recently become a hot political topic across America. These reports showed how the Bush-Cheney Administration had authorized brutal torture techniques over the last several years. Former Assistant Attorney General Jay Bybee was the primary author of "legal" memos purporting to justify torture. He served from 2001 to 2003 in the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Legal Counsel. Bybee's signature is on the August 1, 2002 memo that justified and authorized acts of torture by the CIA.
Bybee’s memo claims to justify depriving an American citizen of the right to a trial, claiming the power to imprison him without charge on the grounds that he was already guilty. He essentially made the illegal techniques as supposedly "legal".
Bybee is now serving as a judge on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. Many concerned citizens are now questioning: how could such a man who abused his power to facilitate violation of laws and treaties banning torture now have any business reversing the decisions of honest judges and juries? The Obama Administration is now under tremendous pressure to introduce either articles of impeachment or a bill requiring the House Judiciary Committee to begin an impeachment investigation into Jay Bybee.
The ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) is at the forefront of this nation-wide campaign to impeach Bybee. Its Executive Director Anthony D. Romero recently said, "There can be no more excuses for putting off criminal investigations of officials who authorized torture, lawyers who justified it and interrogators who broke the law. No one is above the law, and the law must be equally enforced. Accountability is necessary for any functioning democracy and for restoring America's reputation at home and abroad."
Forget that Bybee’s actions are in violation of the fundamental values on which the USA was founded, what is very disturbing is that he has set a very dangerous precedence for all Americans, if they are ever detained by a foreign government.
When a nation is complacent about its own crimes that are committed by top ranking government officials it shows its moral bankruptcy and cannot demand respect or trust from the civilized world. It is, therefore, necessary that Bybee be impeached for the good of the nation that values and advocates human rights.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Whither Leadership in Bangladesh? My comments on the Probe Report

Ref: http://www.probenewsmagazine.com/index.php?index=2&contentId=5074

I must say that the Probe report, despite some small flaws, is a good analysis on political, civic and military leadership in today’s Bangladesh. The retired Commandant from the NDC, Aminul Karim, Ph.D., PSC, NDC, was a Lt. General and not Major General when he was asked to retire. [I deplore many such decisions of the current government, which effectively has gotten rid of some highly talented and honest individuals who still had years to serve our nation efficiently. Professional jealousy runs so nasty in many government departments that even when an officer is honest, non-partisan, or at least not pro-previous administration, he/she could be perceived as a liability to the new administration. I am told that the former Secretary Mr. H.T. Imam and (retd.) Maj. Gen. Tareq Siddiqui are behind many such orders of reassignment and retirement today.]

Crime and Corruption:
It goes without saying that like most under-developed and third or fourth world countries Bangladesh has her share of crime and corruption, and most politicians are not immune from such vices. We also don't have an effective system that checks and balances so that individuals -- whoever they are -- are held accountable for their actions. There is also the fear among the general population that if they were to complain, let alone become a government witness against the political Mafia Dons, they may need more than one head over their shoulders! Thus, an utterly corrupt individual can steal millions of dollars and money-launder, grab someone's land and yet there is nothing that could redress the matter. That was one of the reasons why the ACC effort failed miserably to put such criminal politicians behind the bar. And the most appalling perception today is judiciary can be bought for the right price. I don't think it is false perception though given the lifestyle maintained by many magistrates and judges, which could not have been maintained without such kickbacks. So, it is almost an impossible fight to root out crime and corruption in our society.

In a country which has not learnt how to effectively fight crime and corruption, it is thus not difficult to understand why in general mostly the mastans, extortionists, Mafia Dons get elected. Naturally, these are the same people that get nominated by most political organizations. The political leadership is often time duped into thinking that if it doesn't nominate such Dons the party may lose election. And then there is the question of forced 'ransom' money collected in the name of the party or leader; so only those with mostly filthy money are preferred candidates. Very rarely do candidates like Dr. Dipu Moni get nominated. [Note: I am not unaware of the particular reason, namely her companionship during Hasina's trips overseas in the aftermath of 1/11, as to why she was nominated by the ruling party, but do want to emphasize here the fact that she did not have the kind of money usually required for running as an MP candidate.] The exceptions are people like Matia Chowdhury, Rashed Khan Menon with long political career and deep grass root support. Again, as we have seen over and over again, the latter combination may not be enough for winning an election in a country like ours where people usually vote more for the party symbol than candidate's personality, qualities, qualifications, etc. The bottom line is: what we have in Bangladesh is a vicious cycle in which each driving element plays its role to sustain and reenergize the process of crime and corruption.

I am, therefore, not surprised to read that some of the most criminal and corrupt politicians are still thought to have a political comeback, probably with a firmer footing than before, something that we have already observed with some “jail-ferat” politicians last year. So energized were some of those corrupt politicians with criminal background that once released from the prison they had no fear and no remorse about threatening all those who might have provided the caretaker government with supporting evidences of their crimes. The louder their gutsy threats were the more they were sought and nominated. It is truly a national disgrace! There was also an unmistakable, almost insidious, atmosphere of revenge that showed that those (outside a few exceptions) who had honestly clamored for a change in political style, leadership - all legitimate demands for reform within our established political establishment - were considered ‘rebels’ and thus, not nominated by any of the major political parties. So, what does it say about our political leadership, and its foresight?

A nation that rewards its criminals and corrupt folks does not have what it takes to become a great nation. It has no room for honest and talented folks whose service is essential not only to arrest the vicious cycle but also to take the next step towards progress. It is this factor alone, if not anything else, which translates into a brain-drain phenomenon, something that no nation that is serious about technology transfer can afford. Just to put this into context, from my own BUET class of 1977, more than 80% of the First Class recipients today are living outside Bangladesh that are now gainfully employed in various university campuses and the corporate world.

Is it possible to reverse this brain-drain trend? Sure. Political leadership can reverse the process by enabling an environment that not only retains its talented folks but also attracts its talented expatriate community and even foreigners who sincerely would like to bring about the desired change within. This is something that the current leadership in Bangladesh ought to take a deep look at if it is truly sincere in translating its stated goal of Digital Bangladesh by the end of the next decade.

To get out of our national disgrace, I have for quite sometime tried to make a case for rediscovering and recapturing our inner resources that define our very humanity. (Interested readers may, e.g., like to read my article: A leadership primer - why we are failing miserably? http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/a_leadership_primer_why_we_are_failing_miserably1/) Sadly, such suggestions sometimes are viewed as an eyesore to our secular and almost agnostic intelligentsia that like to discover fundamentalism with everything. They forget that religion has a tremendous influence in developing people’s character. In their zealous rejection of religious teachings, they also forget that OBL and his comrade Dr. Ayman al-Jawahiri are products of secular education system, and not religious institutions.

I am told that today's school children in Bangladesh are not taught lessons in morality, at least anything that has any religious nuance. If that is true, can they be blamed if they become tomorrow's SaQa, Mamun, Koko, etc.? To add salt to our injuries we are reminded that today's leaders were yesterday's students who were taught such high-sounding virtues, and yet they have failed to live up to the dictates of those higher values. So, many naysayers would ask: what good can such lessons of morality do to change our national behavior that values material success over living an honest life? The simple answer is that while morality like education is neither a sure guarantee for everyone's becoming knowledgeable nor of transforming one into a better human being, it is still the best remedy we have. It is like a vitamin pill that one takes towards preventing a disease from taking its root in the body. One can only hope that majority of the students would grow up to become better human beings who know their accountability not only in front of God but also to the very society and environment that they came from. Words backed up virtuous actions can do miracles, and a wise leadership through its prudence, courage and vision, and ultimately walking the talk, can facilitate and germinate such a process to take its root in the fertile soil of Bangladesh. Leadership matters to initiate and execute such a change.

War Crimes:
The Probe report also cites some politicians who may be tried for war crimes of 1971. The matter of trial has become a national demand, being part of the manifesto of the ruling party. It is now being steered by some powerful elements within the broader secular society. In the midst of such excitement, we should not forget that it is also the touchiest of subjects requiring careful consideration so that it is not misused for political expediency. There are too many in politics who like to politicize such issues so that the playing field is cleared of political rivals so that they could be reelected without much opposition. Branding someone as a war criminal goes a long way to fulfill that selfish desire.

In my personal opinion, only those criminals who were directly involved in committing the crimes of murder, rape, loot, arson, destruction, etc. should be prioritized, and not every Kalimuddin who may not have welcomed the emergence of Bangladesh. That is, no party should be incriminated solely for its political ideology of being Pakistan-pasand. This means, political parties like the Muslim League, PDP, Jamat, Nizam-e-Islam, etc. should not be targeted for their political ideologies that favored a united Pakistan over an independent Bangladesh. However, anyone who had, e.g., a hand in killing, irrespective of his/her political affiliation, cannot hide behind an ideology to protect him or her, and need to be tried.

If we fail in making this important distinction between a failed ideology and its executors, as an ardent student of history, I can see a fractured nation that is bound to revisit its bloody history of assassination, rebellion, mutiny, coup, etc. So, while the cautionary steps and moderation suggested above by me do not translate into ultimate justice they do nevertheless leave behind enough good-will glues to piece us together to function as a more cohesive society. It is the bitter pill that we need to swallow for better good of our nation.
I am reminded here that the Nuremburg Trial did neither go after ordinary soldiers who fought in the WW II nor those who worked in the so-called gas chambers, crematoria, etc., but only after their Nazi leaders who issued such orders. Even a hatemongering, xenophobic intellectual like Julius Streicher did not escape from being prosecuted and found guilty. (See this author’s article on xenophobia: http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/xenophobia_a_brief_analysis/)

Many concerned intellectuals have even suggested following South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation formula to address the issue of war crimes of 1971. A thorough evaluation of the various options is needed here keeping in mind what is good for our nation, without unduly polarizing a segment against another. Let wisdom and not political expediency guide our path.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Sunita Paul’s accusations only depict her inane psychosis

Ref: http://www.americanchronicle..com/articles/view/98680

Sunita Paul claims that AL sympathizers are very disturbed about her write-ups on the Peel Khana massacre, asking her to refrain from writing. She even discloses two such letters from two sympathizers, although we truly don’t know if these were not cooked-up letters to deceive her readers, something that is quite habitual with her. After all, she has not answered my question as to how did she come to learn of what was discussed between Joy and Sohel Taj. Her first-hand narrative of what the two individuals had discussed in their meeting is simply too unbelievable for any rational intelligent being to take her seriously.

Of pressing interest to us is her claim that on April 14 she received a letter from an ex-ambassador of Bangladesh. In this one, unlike the two previous notes, she does not share the name of the individual writer. Given her history of lies, deception, deceit and rumor-mongering, how seriously can we take her on this matter? She claims that the ambassador wrote: "I have gone through some classified documents related to the BDR massacre from the investigation files of probe committees, which evidently show that, mostly Jamaat and BNP leaders were behind this massacre." Her concoction cannot go any better! I have difficulty in believing that such "classified" information on investigation is now made available to an ex-ambassador, whoever he was. Interestingly, Sunita herself is not unaware of this inanity, and as such to dilute our doubt to her make-believe story, she also questions how the ambassador could have seen those "classified” documents related to the BDR massacre from the investigation files of probe committees? Well tried to guess our doubts, but no cigar yet!

It is said that liars like thieves leave their trails behind. There are too many loose ends left by Sunita Paul, too! Just ponder on the last paragraph where the ambassador presumably threatens her: "Moreover, for the sake of national security, Bangladesh government may enforce ban on the online editions of those newspapers publishing your write ups, if you will not please start writing and reporting the truth. For such gracious help, not only Awami League and the present government shall be grateful but, we shall even be ready to duly compensate your valued cooperation in due course of time." How believable are the above claims? Earth is flat! How does the ex-ambassador know that government will enforce ban on on-line publication? More importantly, how about the promise of duly compensating Sunita as a hush money? Such accusations sound too silly, too unbelievable to take her seriously!

Sunita is obviously angry with all individuals that disagree with her yellow journalism, including those who had unmasked her true evil self. She writes, "Some of the people term me as a ´plagiarist´ whiles some as ´fraud´ or ´liar´. Why? Just because, I am not bowing down to the immoral proposal by the ruling party in writing in exchange of money. These blogger are hired ´web terrorists´ of the ruling regime in Dhaka." Silly conclusions by a dumb-headed person! First, she fails to offer any refutation against the charge of plagiarism that was made against her by blogger Mashuqur Rahman in his Daily Star article. And then she brands everyone that questioned her veracity as being 'web terrorists' for the ruling party! Such a charge is not only ludicrous it is also insolent and absolutely false. She wants us to believe that all those who unmasked her are upset for her not bowing down to money. Please, spare us from such self-applauding! Why not Sunita disclose who the gentleman was that had offered to buy her silence?

Sunita is very upset about my questioning the reliability of her so-called interviews and meetings with others. I questioned her interview with Kazi Azizul Huq of the Khilafat Andolon (http://bangladeshkhelafatandolan.blogspot.com/2008/06/interview-with-sunita-paul.html) since for a dumb and deaf person it is very difficult to conduct such without letter (or email) correspondences, which usually take a few exchanges to and fro to complete. I am interested to know from Mr. Huq how the interview took place.

I am also very intrigued by the Khilafat Andolon’s website. Not only does this post Mr. Huq's statements, but also some exchanges with Mr Benkin, a pro-Israeli Zionist propagandist with very negative feelings about Muslims (http://bangladeshkhelafatandolan.blogspot.com/2009_02_01_archive.html).

In the same link, you will also notice a letter from Sunita published that was sent to Mr. Huq, where she writes a letter of condolence for the death of Hafez Hamidullah. In that she writes, "May G-d reward him for his life long dedication towards humanity and good to this world." Note that the word God is spelled as G-d, a common practice among the Jewish people! So, what is the true religious identity of Sunita?

As to Sunita’s blog site, she now claims that it was a false blog with which she had no connection. However, such is news to me. Contrary to her claim, on a thorough search in the Internet, I could not find a single citation where she had denounced the site herself. The only information we have on that site is through the courtesy of Mr. Benkin, who in a letter to Ranjan Chowdhury, wrote, “Ms. Sunita Paul has very angrily refuted the post in her name. She claims that the blog was started by an imposter, not her.” (http://daily-khabor.blogspot.com/2009_02_15_archive.html) So, the matter was probably limited to those two persons and not shared broadly.

The readily available materials point out that Sunita is working in cahoots with groups whose primary motivation is to weaken our national unity for the Israeli interest. Her own writings have shown that she is an anti-Muslim bigot who holds negative feelings against Bangladeshis. Truth, sagacity, honesty and trust are not in her vocabulary. She cannot be trusted with anything to do with our people. Naturally, she is hostile to anyone that questions her immoral intent, and conveniently dumps him/her as an anti-West person, and of course, a Jew and Christian hater. No, I am not surprised by such false accusations from a literally summum, bukmun and oom’yoon!

Like a loser and moron, she mistakenly assumes that I am licking feet of western people for survival. That is utter nonsense! I feel pity for her! Surely, we can’t blame someone who prostitutes her intellect to make a filthy living, who has not known any better. With her low intellectual prowess, she can’t think better. She assumes everyone must be doing her kind of professional (or lack of intellectual) prostitution. For her information, it is the corporate America that has been licking my feet for the past quarter century to solve their complicated problems, to lead and guide them so as to function better, to execute change -- something that it could not do on its own. My expertise in various areas of specialization has been highly sought out and valued in corporate America. No wonder that until quite recently I have held the covetous position of a Director with one of the largest global companies. Let me repeat, unlike habitual liars like Sunita Paul that give bad names to journalism, I don’t have to depend on anyone’s handouts. Shame on her psychosis!


End notes:
http://sunitapaul.blogspot.com/2008/09/salah-uddin-shoaib-choudhury-rapist.html
http://www.tolpar.com/categoryblog/600-salah-uddin-shoaib-choudhury-the-rapist.html
http://www.tolpar.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=category&layout=blog&id=31&Itemid=46
http://daily-khabor.blogspot.com/2009_02_15_archive.html
http://interfaithstrength.blogspot.com/2009/02/fault-dear-brutus-lies-not-in-stars-but.html
http://www.bangladeshihindu.com/author/richard/
http://interfaithstrength.com/images/IDP2.htm
http://www.americanthinker.com/2008/05/indian_conservatives_struggle.html
http://www.americanchronicle.com/articles/view/71564

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Should not we be concerned about yellow journalism regarding Bangladesh?

Ref: http://www.americanchronicle.com/articles/view/98368

I am really intrigued by statements of Sunita Paul regarding Bangladesh. It is not difficult to assume that if Joy had a meeting with Taj the matter happened closed-door, away from any eaves-dropper, much less the presence of someone like Sunita. However, the way Sunita writes it gives the impression that she has had the first hand info on such private conversations between the two gentlemen of the Awami League. That is too much for anyone to swallow who cares about knowing facts and not mere rumors. I wonder if she is not copycatting Judith Miller in yellow journalism! E.g., just read her statement below to draw your own conclusions:

What was the agenda of discussion of Joy with junior minister Sohel Taj? The discussion was mostly on fixing strategies of international media campaign centering the BDR massacre. Sohel has provided most of the information to Sajib Wajed Joy, which he received from Abdul Kahar Akhand, the investigation officer with Criminal Investigation Department, probing the BDR massacre case.

Who told Sunita what Taj and Joy discussed?

Sunita goes onto write: "Joy was very dissatisfied to see long list of Awami League leaders and activists as collaborators and conspirators of the massacre, which came out from the statements of the BDR jawans during interrogation. He gave=0 Ainstructions to Sohel Taj to brief Kahar Akhand on twisting the information for trying to salvage as many as possible BAL men. There were also discussions on strategizing to save Barrister Fazley Noor Taposh, Sheikh Fazlul Karim Selim, Sahara Khatun, Mohiuddin Khan Alamgir, Jahangir Kabir Nanak, Mirza Azam, Liakot Sikder and other BAL men."

How does Sunita know all such information about Joy? Are we supposed to assume that this woman who was born deaf and dumb is also a psychic?

My suspicion is that Sunita is trying to hem a story on the Peel Khana massacre that is mostly based on speculation and innuendos that may have little to do with actual facts. Personally, I have no problem if a writer were to state clearly that he/she suspects, or feels, or believes that such and such might have happened, which allows the reader to consider such as possibilities. But when the words are used in such a way that puts one as an all-knowing insider to the event (even of a private conversation), something that Sunita does consistently, truth gives way to falsehood. I have problem with such yellow journalism.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

More on Sunita Paul

Ref: http://www.newsfrombangladesh.net/view.php?hidRecord=257944

Rimon Chowdhury's accusations follow a typical formula. He is irate about my questioning of Sunita Paul's true identity that is shrouded in mystery and deceit. He now discovers Awami-Baksali link. How wonderful! Should I likewise brand him as a blind supporter of the BNP?
As to his accusation of political bias, let me state that I am not linked with any political party – neither here in the USA nor there in Bangladesh. Unlike her newly found Madonna, my writing on political and international affairs have appeared in print media (and the Internet) since 1981. Those are sufficient to belie his unfound allegation. As an invited speaker, I have spoken in many school, college and university campuses. He can also inquire about those speeches made since 1978 to verify if there is any truth to his accusations.
To reiterate, far from being a partisan to any political party or ideology, in the last 31 years of my residence in North America, I have, much like many concerned expatriates, tried to act as a goodwill ambassador of our people -- a task that is not easy for a country where democracy has not yet taken firm roots. I have relentlessly fought against xenophobia, racism and bigotry, let alone false accusations, fear- and hate-mongering about Bangladesh. This does not mean that Bangladesh has a clean slate, or that its politicians are angels. Far from it, politics has truly failed Bangladesh and her people. Sadly, therefore, many bad guys have held important positions in Bangladesh, adding to miseries of our people.
During the BNP rule, I was even accused of being a BNP-supporter by some accusers who belonged to a hate group that had vowed to see the end of Islam, including banning of the Qur'an, in our world in the aftermath of 9/11. Obviously, my articles rebuking bigotry and promoting pluralism were too much for them to automatically assume something that I was not. They were puzzled to read my accusations against the number two man (currently the deputy leader in the Jatiya Sangshad) within the BNP for his land-grabbing crimes in 2005.
Mr. Chowdhury accuses Mr. M. Rahman (who wrote an article on Sunita Paul in the Daily Star) and me of character assassination of Ms. Sunita Paul. That accusation is untrue. I merely quoted what Sunita herself had said about Bangladesh and her people in the last two years, which showed her true negative feelings. I was also puzzled by her comments about Mr. Salah Uddin S. Choudhury. In her own blog http://www.sunitapaul.blogspot.com/ she accused him of molesting her, calling him a bastard (dt. Sept. 2, 2008). She wrote: “I am writing this blog out of frustration-- I have never been hoodwinked by any person in the world like I was, by a person no other than Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury. I still can't believe that just about a couple of days ago, I wrote in favour of him in Global Politician. The same person, for whom I had launched an international crusade, tried to rape me this morning-- as a sign of his gratitude!” She goes on to write, “I had long believed that Shoaib really wanted to achieve something with his campaign for peace between the Jews and Muslims. Though his campaigns were only based in the Internet and did not have any outreach across Bangladesh, I am sure he was creating some impact somewhere. My friendship with him emerged from professional cooperation. But never had I thought he would attempt to sexually assault me. I went to Shoaib's residence today to take my update about his case. I was sitting in his murky drawing room when he entered there drunk. Upon some gibberish words, he suddenly grabbed me hard and tried to molest me. I tried to push him off and when I failed, I screamed. Some domestic help came to the spot and rescued me. I left his house immediately. I now know that behind the veil of his international fake image of peace lover, Shoaib is a true criminal. Hence I am withdrawing all the good things that I wrote about him. Death to that bastard!”
The above accusation by Ms. Paul and then her later endorsement of Mr. Choudhury for the coveted Nobel Peace Prize (see the links in the original article) opens the Pandora ’s Box. If the accusation against Mr. Choudhury is true, was she in Bangladesh at the time of the incident? Did she enter the country under her name or a false name? How was she communicating with him, when we are told that she is deaf and dumb by birth? How did she even conduct her interviews with others, esp. the Khilafat Andolon spokesman? What caused her to endorse the “bastard”? Why?
There are many who believe that Mr. Salah Uddin writes under Sunita's name and that her picture in the American Chronicle Internet site (http://www.americanchronicle.com/authors/view/2950) is a fictitious one. Allah knows the best. I am, however, told that there was no visa issued against anyone named Sunita Paul from the Bangladesh Embassy in India last year. If this information is reliable, her mere presence in Bangladesh during the said molestation by Mr. Chowdhury raises serious doubt about her truthfulness, let alone her mere existence under that name.
My main argument has been that the writer - Ms. Paul - remains an anti-Muslim and anti-Bangladesh propagandist, who is being promoted by certain quarters that have clear agenda against our people. Can we detach her from her message? Should not we be all concerned about her true intent?
I don't doubt that in her writing about Peel Khana massacre, Sunita had raised some valid questions that beg answers from the ruling party. It is important that those questions be answered; otherwise people will believe in rumors that may not be true, thus, further polarizing our society into enemy camps, a sure recipe for national disaster. In these days of the Internet, the power of written words cannot be ignored. That is why Sunita Paul's message cannot be separated from her attitude about Bangladesh. While her writing today may please the BNP die-hards because of the ammo that such carries against the ruling party (rightly or wrongly) plus the nasty partisanship that permeates Bangladeshi society and among some expatriates here, they ought to know the harmful effect of poison ivy before getting drawn into it for its lustrous leaves.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Land-grabbing and its implication on the expatriate community

Can you imagine that all on a sudden you could become a landless person that has been robbed of his family inheritance or property where you had lived for almost half a century? Not only have your parents bought the property legally with all the right legal documents and had the R.S., P.S. and B.S. records listed accordingly in their names, they have been paying all the taxes, revenues and utility bills ever since. It must be your worst nightmare to find that with no notice served against you from either the magistrate or the police, you found your premises attacked by more than a hundred miscreants while the police either won’t come to your rescue or are actually helping the land-grabbing criminals, and your old parents are evicted from their homes. Do these sound fictitious or mythic drawn from the Middle Ages when the only law was – “might is right”? No, if you are living in Bangladesh what I just described is a distinct probability.

My own family became victims of such a land-grabbing scheme in April 9, 2005 when a local land-grabbing criminal named Jaker Chowdhury (a.k.a. Jaker master), armed with more than a hundred miscreants, broke into our 4-acre compound in Khulshi, Chittagong damaging boundary walls, and beating up our guards. They harassed everyone inside including our tenants with threats of rape, torture and demolition unless they vacate our compound. Jaker was backed by a very powerful and influential politician – Salauddin Qader Chowdhury (BNP-MP) who was then Prime Minister’s Adviser on Parliament Affairs. For the next ten weeks, they terrorized my family living in a six-story house “Aranika”, while successfully evicting 16 tenant families, demolishing 11 one-story homes that were built in the early 1960s and cutting down hundreds of teak and Mahogany trees that my father had planted over the preceding 46 years. Unfortunately, we did not get any help from the law enforcing forces. They said, “Our hands are tied!”

My own pleas to Mahmudur Rahman, a favorite technocrat of Madam Khaleda Zia, to have her restrain SaQa were ignored. We could not even get an injunction order issued against the land-grabber! Later I was told by the Commissioner of Dhaka Division that everyone was afraid of SaQa (much like a Mafia Don), and that the only thing I could do to restore my family properties was to have a direct face to face meeting with the powerful politician.

The most saddening part for us was that my mother had a heart surgery only three weeks earlier, and she had to witness the eviction of our tenants in that fateful, rainy day of April. Some of those tenants had lived for more than 25 years. The whole experience was a traumatic experience for all of us, and still to this very day, I have nightmares.

It goes without saying that in today’s Bangladesh land-grabbing has become a big business, albeit a lucrative one, which is often aided by corrupt and greedy politicians. It is a Mafia like operation promising high returns with connections in the Land Deeds & Records Department that help to forge documents and stamps, plus a corrupt judiciary system where sometimes verdicts can be bought in favor of the criminal syndicate, and an equally corrupt police force who may show serious dereliction of duty and betray public trust to seal the immoral land-grab. This accusation should not overlook the fact that there are many honest officers in each of those government institutions and departments. To understand the motivation for a corrupt police officer, I was told by a Police Deputy Commissioner recently that if he could help a land-grabbing criminal dispossess someone from his land that is located in a posh area the monetary benefit promised by the criminal is sufficient for his life; he need not work any more!

The land-grabbing syndicate follows a typical pattern, which may include:
(1) Buy the so-called 'power of attorney', often through illegal money-laundering, from family members of a dead zamindar (who had moved to India after Partition of Pakistan) now living in India. [Note: During the British Raj, while most Muslims were peasants in the aftermath of the Permanent Settlement Act, most of the new zamindars were Hindus in the East Bengal. After partition of India, a large majority of them settled in India];
(2) In that so-called Deed of Power-of-Attorney, deliberately falsify information by showing the “raiyat” (peasant) properties -- tenanted (projabili) land of land-owners -- as part of the zamindari property so as to target such properties for potential land-grab. [Note: the zamindars under the British Raj were responsible for collection of revenues only from the projabili land; such properties never belonged to the zamindar as ‘khas-dakhali’ land. With the passage of the East Bengal Estate Acquisition and Tenancy Act of 1950, the entire Zamindari system itself was dissolved, all the raiyats were made owners and asked to pay their revenue directly to the Government, while former zamindars were paid adequate compensation by the government for loss of their income];
(3) If the previous two methods could not be employed, falsify land deeds in collaboration with the corrupt officers in the Land Deeds & Records Department to show that the property was bought by or sold to the land-grabbing. It is well known that an official falsified record could be obtained from these vital offices with a payment of approx. 1% of the actual property value;
(4) File 'Partition Suits' on behalf of the dead zamindar family member (who had become Indian citizens) without the knowledge of the real owners and get a verdict in their favor so as to prepare the groundwork for future land-grab with support of government agencies (Note: in these cases, the real owner is not made aware that his/her land is being contested by these attorneys, and as such, are often ill prepared to put up an injunction on time to stop such a court-decreed possession or land-grab by the criminal syndicate);
(5) Grab the property of the legal owner of the (erstwhile) ‘raiyat’ property by evicting him/her and/or his/her tenants with tens/hundreds of criminal cadre behind. In this scheme of things: the local thana is already managed by the land-grabbing syndicate, and the corrupt politician is engaged for his/her support so that the entire criminal project will move smoothly with no action expected to come from the law enforcing agencies; no court order is even served to the affected family who did not know that there was an old case, resurrected from the early Pakistan days, on its property and that the court, without an independent, unbiased inquiry, had already issued an execution case for possession of his/her legally owned and possessed land by the land-grabbing syndicate that had wielded its power of attorney;
(6) In the meantime, sell the property to tens of greedy buyers willing to buy land at prices significantly lower than actual market value, making them all a party to the criminal loot;
(7) Before the actual land-grab, sometimes the legal owner is threatened to pay extortion money (which may run into several crores of Taka), failing which he/she is threatened about the dire consequences of losing his/her entire property on which he/she had been living and paying taxes, revenues, bills, etc. for all these years;
(8) If the aforementioned methods had failed, bribe the judge to issue a favorable verdict in favor of the land-grabbing syndicate;
(9) Upon illegal land-grab, quickly change the face of the property by demolishing old structures/buildings and repopulate the properties with new buyers;
(10) Use connection with powerful, corrupt and greedy politicians, government officers, police and magistrates, etc. to control police and administrative actions against them. (Note: many a times all such people colluding with and aiding the criminal syndicate are promised and delivered a piece of the looted land/apartment/properties.)

Land with its scarcity has become more precious than gold, thus, having a very undesirable, corrupting impact in Bangladeshi society. Forgotten are old words of wisdom behind morality and hard labor. It is befitting here that I share what my father had said in a press conference on April 21, 2005 in the Dhaka Press Club: “It took me more than fifty years of my business life to enrich myself with wealth in a slow and steady way, unlike those few who are becoming or aspiring to become millionaires overnight these days. Forty-seven years ago, when I purchased this property, it had hilly slopes, bushes and jungles. There were no roads, no electricity and no water. For four decades, I improved the place and planted nearly 3000 trees with my own hands, out of which more than a third survived. Being 100% confident of my right-title-interest-and-possession, I could never imagine that within three hours I could be ousted from that same property. It is unfortunate that in our country there are many politically powerful billionaires who can do and undo anything to humble and non-political citizens like me. As a nation, where are we heading?”

I wish things had improved in the last four years. The new civilian government promises digital Bangladesh by 2020, which would require inputs from our talented expatriates. Are we ready for technology transfer? Truly, why should an expatriate return to his/her home and invest there when he/she cannot guarantee safety and security of his/her family or the property bought or inherited legally and the investment made? If it is that difficult for a genuine land-owner to hold onto his properties, with legal papers dating back to 1915, as a new investor, what chance do you have to be able to secure yours? If these be the ground realities of Bangladesh, is there anything we expatriates could do to protect our family properties in Bangladesh?

Our long bitter experience has taught us that it is not possible for a single family to fight against a powerful land-grabbing syndicate. They have the dirty money and the muscle, and a huge cadre of criminals to do their crime, while as a victim you are shorthanded. It is a small investment for them, while as a land-owner you risk everything. Often times you would be pushed to compromise with the criminals.

A concerted effort from the Ministry of Law and Ministry of Home Affairs plus Anti-Corruption Commission is necessary to go after these land-grabbing criminals. Legislators must also enact laws that effectively stop such crimes at the root and punish severely all those linked with such crimes.

Trial of War Criminals and Lootings by the Indian Army in 1971

In his write-up Dr. Bashar (News From Bangladesh, April 10, 2009: http://www.newsfrombangladesh.net/view.php?hidRecord=257270) has raised some very important issues. I shall comment on a few of these:

1. While independent judiciary is much desirable for most nation states, and has worked very effectively in countries with long traditions of democracy and the rule of law, I have serious doubt about its transparency and effectiveness in a crime- and corruption-infested country like Bangladesh. I am reminded by many independent observers of our judicial system that in Bangladesh some judges and magistrates can be bought like whores where many lawyers work as pimps. It is an open secret that even some judges in the High Court nowadays are much given to taking bribes. As to the lower courts, the problem is widespread. If these accusations are true who in the right mind would like to see the emergence of an independent judiciary?

In my family's 4-year battle against a powerful land-grabbing syndicate that during the BNP-era enjoyed support from a BNP-MP from Chittagong, we have found out the hard way as to how despicable and corrupt the judiciary has become. I am sure there are many honest individuals who still do the right thing and are uncompromising, letting us to believe in the system and think that justice would eventually prevail. In these days of ours, they are definitely close to angels! But fact remains there are some who are utterly corrupt. Their lifestyle would testify to their corruption. I could cite some corrupt judges and magistrates that took bribes from the criminal land-grabbing syndicate so that not only would those criminals have a not-guilty verdict in their favor (in spite of gravity of their crimes) but also to harass genuine land-owners.

So, while an independent judiciary is a boon to societies where the rule of law works and judiciary cannot be bought, its independence without any accountability to anyone can foster crimes in our society. The criminals have more money to spend and bribe to buy verdicts in their favor, when judges are dishonest and corrupt. Where can the victim find justice against such crimes committed by corrupt judges and judicial magistrates? The matter of independent judiciary, therefore, needs to be debated thoroughly so as to study its pros and cons, keeping in mind Bangladesh's peculiar socio-economic condition. If we miss that peculiarity, we shall miss everything. A wrong prescription can only victimize our innocent people leaving them no tools to fight against powerful criminals who bribe the judiciary for favorable verdicts.

2. It is true that the Indian Army had committed looting after the fall of the then East Pakistan, leading to the independence of Bangladesh in Dec. 1971. These are not some made-up accusations that are spread by anti-Indian observers, but real hard facts. Those thefts committed by the Indian army are deplorable and must be condemned by all. However, the unpleasant truth is that we won't be able to name a single so-called foreign liberating force that has not committed such crimes. Just look at the robbery by the armed forces of the USA in the not-too-old Iraqi war? Many of the national treasures of Iraq and Afghanistan are now sold in the American and European markets. And as to other military expeditions where the armed forces acted as invaders, the results are much more horrifying, e.g., Israeli Defense Forces in Lebanon, the Russian troops in Afghanistan, Japanese Army in China and Korea. It is rational to believe that confessions of such crimes and due compensation paid for the loot will go a long way towards fostering amity between the affected and concerned parties. This is something that India ought to consider seriously towards improving her image in Bangladesh. In a long line of grievances against India, that would be the starting point of fence-mending measures with Bangladesh.

3. As rightly pointed by Dr. Bashar the important matter of trial of the war criminals of 1971 needs to happen without any political baggage. However, the unfortunate fact is: the major opposition political party is made up of some war criminals who played major roles in not only intimidating and killing freedom fighters (who took arms against the Pakistan regime) and thus solidifying Pakistan army's stranglehold of our people but directly participated in the killings of many innocent unarmed Bangladeshis. So, any call for an impartial trial of the war criminals is not going to be an easy task given BNP's history of drawing much of the former Pakistan-lovers (esp. during the Liberation War) into its ranks and files. In today's Bangladesh, no party can afford to be anti-Bangladesh. But where did those elements hide? Many such individuals with problematic past had joined the BNP. This observation should not belittle the fact that the BNP party also comprises of people that participated in the liberation war, and was formed by Ziaur Rahman - a freedom fighter who rose to become the Army chief and President.
The issue of the trial of war criminals is a national one that is totally endorsed and backed by the voters, and any compromise there would be suicidal to the Awami League. My fear is the trial won't be an easy one given inclusion of some war criminals within the BNP leadership, both inside and outside the Jatiya Sangshad.

Just like the matter of Khaleda Zia's residence within the cantonment, the potential trial of the key figures within the BNP leadership on war crimes would politicize the issue. The party leadership naturally will not allow such from happening and will try to take the nation into a path of confrontation and chaos. The war criminals outside BNP will also the join the band-wagon of BNP to make sure that they are not tried.
There are many inside Bangladesh who even see a connection with the Feb. 25 massacre inside the BDR HQ with such anti-liberation forces within the opposition parties. They surmise that the massacre was initiated so that the trial issue could be sidelined, pushing the country into a political instability. It is not difficult to understand that there are forces within and outside Bangladesh that benefit from her political instability, and are doing their utmost to worsen the situation inside.

It is, therefore, imperative that Bangladesh's genuine intellectuals come forward to diagnose her inherent maladies and offer solutions that are 100% neutral and are untainted by any political affiliation. Failing this, these individuals would pave the path for Bangladesh's failure as a nation state. May Allah help us all.