Showing posts from April, 2013

Bangladesh: A Nation Divided? – Part 4

How many people died in the civil war of 1971 in East Pakistan that culminated in the emergence of Bangladesh? Is the casualty figure even important?

No official record exists. Instead, what we have are conflicting claims on the two sides – the perpetrators and the victims - that are off by a factor of 100!

As has been noted in the Guardian, UK (May 23, 2011) by Mr. Serajur Rahman, who was the deputy head of the BBC Bangla Program, when Sheikh Mujib arrived in London (after being released from Pakistan prison) on January 8, 1972 and was met at the Claridge Hotel by many Bangladeshis, he was informed there that based on information from various sources that up to "three lakh" (300,000) people might have died in the conflict. However, during his interview with journalist David Frost later, Sheikh Mujib was heard saying that "three millions of my people" were killed by the Pakistanis. That mention of the 3 million casualties would eventually become the official vers…

Bombing - ours and theirs

"While we mourn the horrific events in Boston, we must remember that our government perpetrates a Boston bombing weekly in Pakistan, Yemen and Afghanistan," writes Sean A. McElwee in the

He writes, “Yet, in Pakistan the unconstitutional drone war continues to kill innocents. On April 14, between 4 and 6 Pakistanis died in drone strike and numerous civilians were injured. Another strike three days later killed 5 more and injured several. Yet there are no protests in America to capture the responsible party, nor will there ever be justice. The people of Waziristan live in constant fear, and face bombings like that of Boston almost weekly.”

For the full copy of the article, click here.

In his recent article, reporter Spencer Ackerman has covered the subject of U.S. drone in Yemen.

He writes:
Recently, the U.S. Senate heard from Farea al-Muslimi, who lives in a village in Yemen where U.S. drone strikes are believed to have killed civilians. A “psychological fear …

Boston Bombing – the insane madness

I like athletics although I don’t run or jog these days. My younger son is a good short distance runner and has won several regional awards in hurdles and relay races. Although he is a freshman in a university now, his school records in 110m hurdles and other such sprints still remain unbroken and may remain so for a while.

Anytime there is a world class athletic competition shown in the TV, I am glued to it. I am a great fan of Usayn Bolt of Jamaica, probably the fastest man ever in world history.

However, the 26 plus mile long marathon race has not been my favorite athletic item to watch. But I still remember the year 1988 vividly when for the first time in Boston’s history a Kenyan Muslim by the name of Ibrahim Hussein won the race in April. No African had won the coveted race before in Boston. He ended that drought by beating fellow African - Tanzanian Jumo Ikangaa by one second in the closest marathon race ever. Soon thereafter the Africans, esp. the Kenyans, would go on to do…

Jack Haley's article on Buddhism and crimes in Sri Lanka and Myanmar

Jack Haley has been at the forefront for struggle for human rights for many years. His excellent article on the use of religion to justify violence, and Buddhist terrorism in Myanmar and Sri Lanka can be seen in the Huffington Post.

He writes, "The Rohingya minority in Arakan/Rakhine state in western Burma is often considered one of the most disempowered peoples in the world. Formally stripped of citizenship and recognition in 1981, tension has long simmered along these people who live not far from the border with Bangladesh. The current tensions and violence has been abetted by government security forces and that is unsurprising. What is disturbing is that the discourse from some in the opposition democracy camps that received so much support internationally for their struggle are now calling for the forced expulsion of these people to Bangladesh, in spite of Bangladesh emphatically denying that option. Most alarming is the fact that there are robed Buddhist monks calling for t…

Guantanamo Bay Prisoners on Hunger Strike May Die of Starvation

The Guardian of the UK has published two articles in the last few days on the Guantanamo Bay Prison. I share below the information:

Lawyers representing hunger-striking detainees at America's controversial Guantánamo Bay prison have warned they fear some of the protesters could soon die in the ongoing protest.

The news comes as fresh details emerge about conditions at the camp from lawyers visiting clients, letters being written by inmates and phone calls from inside the prison.

They describe dramatic weight loss among many of the hunger strikers, force-feeding, putting protesters in isolation and at least one suicide attempt – though that has been denied by military authorities.

In a letter written by Djamel Ameziane – an Algerian prisoner who has been cleared for release after 11 years of being detained without trial – guards were accused of pressuring prisoners to break the strike. "They are trying to deprive us of everything they can," he wrote in the letter, extract…

Bangladesh – A Nation Divided? – Part 3

After the promulgation of East Pakistan Razakar Ordinance of June 1, 1971, some Bengalis either volunteered or were recruited to work as a paramilitary force or collaborators for the Pakistan’s military regime. They were called the Razakars. Some of the political parties that did not like the division of Pakistan actively sought out recruits for the Razakar (and other militia groups like the al-Shams and al-Badr) to fight and weaken the Mukti Bahini (the freedom fighters for Bangladesh) so that the emergence of Bangladesh as a separate state could be halted. More zealous of those party leaders even allowed their homes to be used as torture chambers for anyone suspected of belonging to the Mukti Bahini. In Chittagong, I was told by Rafiq bhai’s friends how the Goods Hill residence of Mr. Fazlul Quader Chowdhury, ex-speaker of the Pakistan National Assembly, was used to torture many students who were suspected of being members of the Mukti Bahini. Some members of the Razakar came also f…

UNHCHR urges the US government to close the Guantanamo Bay prison

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay on Friday urged all branches of the United States Government to work together to close the Guantanamo detention centre, saying “the continuing indefinite incarceration of many of the detainees amounts to arbitrary detention and is in clear breach of international law.”

“I am deeply disappointed that the US Government has not been able to close Guantanamo Bay, despite repeatedly committing itself to do so,” Pillay said. “Allegedly, around half of the 166 detainees still being held in detention have been cleared for transfer to either home countries or third countries for resettlement. Yet they remain in detention at Guantanamo Bay. Others reportedly have been designated for further indefinite detention. Some of them have been festering in this detention centre for more than a decade. This raises serious concerns under international law. It severely undermines the United States’ stance that it is an upholder of human rights, and weak…

Bangladesh - A Nation Divided? - Part 2

According to Lt. General A. A. K. Niazi, who was in charge of Pakistan's Eastern Command when it surrendered to the joint Bangladesh-India forces on December 16, 1971 in Dhaka, “The 1971 imbroglio was the outcome of an unabated struggle for power between Yahya, Mujib and Bhutto. Yahya wanted to retain power while Bhutto wanted to attain it. This was despite the fact that Sheikh Mujib’s Awami League had emerged victorious and he should have been handed over the government. Bhutto’s fiery speeches were not mere rhetoric, but the actions of a desperate man vying for power at any cost. Had power been transferred to Mujib, Pakistan would have remained united.” [Interview with Amir Mir, India Abroad, in December, 2001.]

Instead of transferring power to Sheikh Mujib, the military government of General Yahya Khan concocted a sinister plan - Operation Searchlight, which called for a brutal military solution to the constitutional crisis in East Pakistan. The plan called for n…