|A representation of capital transfer|
From the above, inflation notwithstanding, it looks like developmentor-developmentee field strength has doubled in strength between now and the last BNP time. There's also, usually, a subsidence in the force during regime shifts, and that Donor Military Care Taker Government boost is noteworthy.
These are just number collected by technocrats at the end of the day, convenient fictions. In social life can look at the movement and alignment of personnel to explain the changes in flux, and we can listen for the induction/repulsion of developmentia amongst their victim/beneficiaries.
|Developmentshire is a space configured by three main actors. With this diagram we make their relations and transactions explicit and issue an appeal to destabilise and vacate the farce.|
Ali Shariati (1933-1977) was an Iranian Political, religious thinker who enlivened the religious intellectual and justice seeking natures of his people suffering under the Shah. He was assassinated in the UK before the Iranian Revolution in 1979.
For several years he would inspire and move student audiences with lectures at a progressive religious institution called Hussainiye Ershad in Tehran. His appeal transcended sector and class, and unsurprisingly he suffered the censure of the Shah's Government and was apparently disapproved of by Khomeini.
Many of his writings are translated and available online, for example on Hajj. He also wrote on and at the Islam/Marxism interface. It would have been interesting to see what he made of the country that emerged after his martyrdom.
The documentary is in 2 parts, total running time 77 mins.
His article below appeared in the New Age newspaper, and provides some good lessons in gatekeepers, the coupling of Tribunals and secular ideology, the politics of the information bazaar, and the social production of journalism at the conjunction of Bangladesh and the UK.
The author has bravely reported on the War Crimes Tribunals and been hauled over the coals for challenging the Awami Liararchy of Bangladesh over its national crown jewels.
It is a contemptible Tribunal, but inevitable given the failure of the surviving accused ,and their parent organisations, to tell their side of the story for the past 43 years, to challenge the completion of the narrative of Bengali nationalism, and to honour the people of the country with an explanation, warts and all.
Below, the author takes a trip down memory lane and shares an interesting cut of events surrounding his own involvement in framing the issue of some of the war crimes committed during the Bangladesh war, especially to a Western audience.
Tracking down the killers
by David Bergman
FORTY-TWO years ago, on the cusp of Bangladesh winning independence following a nine-month war, gangs of men drove round Dhaka picking up journalists, physicians and academics from their homes.
At least some, if not all, of the 17 men and one woman were taken to a sports centre in Mohammadpur on the western side of the city, where they were detained, and some of them tortured. All of them were killed. [Outrageous crime]
Some bodies were found in a mass grave in Rayer Bazar — but most were never recovered.
All eighteen of those picked up in the four days between the 10th and 14th of December 1971 had one thing in common. They supported Bangladesh’s independence and had either spoken out in favour of it or otherwise assisted those fighting to make it a reality.
A few days after these abductions, whilst the rest of the new nation of Bangladesh celebrated its independence after the surrender of the Pakistan military, the families of these men and women could only grieve.
In 1994 [during BNP, Khaleda Zias first term] , 23 years after the end of the war — and 19 years ago today — I came to Bangladesh to investigate whether or not a man called Chowdhury Mueen Uddin was involved in these abductions. [ I wonder how much of this investigation was following a breadcrumb trail complete with local gatekeepers. There was another target unsuccessfully doorstepped in the documentary, but strangely airbrushed out of this article as he wasn't prosecuted and wasn't any longer associated with East London Mosque, the institutional nemesis of the Bangladesh Awami League in Tower Hamlets.]
Gita Sahgal, a good friend, had been researching the possibility of making a documentary on the attacks on Taslima Nasreen [A terribly handled car crash] and on non-governmental organisations in Bangladesh, and its relationship with growing fundamentalism in the United Kingdom [Ok so not a shit-stirrer then]. She asked me to read through her research proposal and in it there was a line [which could have been a lie] about a man who was the vice-chairman of East London mosque having been involved in war crimes during the 1971 war [Bit of a random link person]. I was intrigued. [Gita Saghal is a bit of an aristo-yaar, a decendant of Nehru with her own South Asian Islam issues as emblematised by her behaviour against Moazzem Begg when he was released from Guantanamo Bay, which prompted Amnesty International to ask her to leave their organisation. On another level this inner narrative has many lessons regarding Indian gatekeepers of the 1990s]
She told me that the information had come from a book — and another friend, a teacher in the East End of London, gave it to me: Genocide 71: an account of the killers and collaborators published in 1987. Shahriar Kabir was one of the editors. [The architect of the Nirmul Committee, the prequel to Shahbag, Bangladesh's very own Tea Party, and an indefatigable proponent of the Secular Bangladesh-War Crimes complex that graced the early internet with half-baked McCarthite lists of 'war criminals' which were basically anybody they identified who didn't support the victorious side of the conflict. In my opinion, and many others, Shahriar Kabir is not a reliable source, many in the opposition camp regard him to be an Indian Agent (but cant show any payslips). There must be a terrible story of how he came to be like he is, but he speaks with such certainty that a shadda wouldn't have the equipment to know any better.]
The book comprises summaries of press reports published during and immediately after the war [uncritically], and provides an account of how some of those who were alleged to have committed crimes in the 1971 had managed to escape proper investigation and processes of accountability, with many resuming successful political careers. [Was the current home minister Muhiuddin Khan Alamgir in this book?]
In it was the name of Mueen Uddin, a man who had come to England in 1972, become a British citizen, and subsequently an influential person within the Bangladeshi and wider ‘Muslim’ community as it is known in the UK. [Personally I think the influence is overplayed, the target selection has been good for publicising the issue, and creating a hate figure to unite around. The use of quote marks around the word Muslim is worth noting too, we are being patronised here.]
The book [It is all about this book] alleged that Mueen Uddin was the operation-in-charge [on the basis of an organogram?] of the abduction of the intellectuals. It claimed he was a leader of Al-Badr, a militia set up by the political party Jamaat-e-Islami, which had collaborated with the Pakistan military.
Based on this book, Gita and I then worked on a proposal for a documentary for broadcast on the Uk television station, Channel 4. Working with a team of Bangladesh journalists [I wonder how self selecting a group this was and how native informants were picked] , we spent many months in Dhaka and Feni talking to people who knew Mueen Uddin during the war, interviewing the families of those whose relatives were abducted, and trying to find eyewitnesses. [Did Gita and David talk to any who departed from their script? n=?]
Slowly, we were able to piece together a [partial] picture of what had taken place. [David, Gita and the Nirmul Committee?]
In 1971 Mueen Uddin was a young journalist, working for the Dainik Purbodesh newspaper - so we first tried to meet journalists who used to work there.
Our first breakthrough [Have to wonder how atom splitting this was] came when we were given the name of the then Purbodesh journalist Atiqur Rahman [Who seems to have been a professional rival of the man he is accusing and is deceased] . He told us that he first came to realise that Mueen Uddin was closely linked to Jamaat and the Pakistan army when he became the first Bangladesh journalist to write about the formation of Al-Badr [Are there any surviving copies of the newspaper?] .
Atiqur’s initial concerns about Uddin were confirmed by two subsequent incidents. [Are these corroborated?]
A few weeks before the war, Mueen Uddin enquired about the number of Atiqur’s house in Arambagh in Dhaka. Feeling momentarily uncertain about giving Uddin the correct details of where he lived, Atiqur gave an inaccurate number 7, instead of 111, and the wrong name of the house, Paglavilla. [trans. Madhouse, a very clever detail, but a bit strange as deshi media is so inbred that everybody shares transport and knows where each other live]
When the war ended, he was shown a list of names of journalists found [Does this list survive to this day?] in the Fakirapur office of Al-Badr, and on it was written his own name, with the false address he had given Mueen Uddin.
The second, and even more significant, incident was when Atiqur Rahman, sitting in the press club sometime in January 1972, received a call from a freedom fighter who told him to come quickly to a particular address. There he found a man called Khaleq Majumdar, whom Atiqur knew as the office secretary of the Dhaka city Jamaat-e-Islami office, tied down to a table [This sounds like a torturous scenario all too common in Bangladesh, but more perilous in those months after the war when many were ruthless to their foes, real and perceived. Perhaps an inquiry into the health of Khaleq Majumdar is due.].
Majumdar pleaded [Why did he have to plead? Was he being intimidated?] with Atiqur that he was not involved in Al-Badr but claimed that Mueen Uddin was the operation-in-charge of Al Badr in Dhaka city. Atiqur questioned him on this, and got Majumder to sign a hand written statement [written under what would appear to be duress].
Based on this conversation, Atiqur Rahman wrote and distributed a press release, which was published in many newspapers, about Mueen Uddin’s alleged role in the Al-Badr and the killings of the intellecutals, a report that was picked up by the New York Times [Very weak evidence, but the NYT will have rendered it into truthhood].
Along with these reports, a picture of Mueen Uddin was published. And this turned out to be very significant.
One of the next journalists that we met was Ataus Samad, who subsequently became the BBC correspondent in Dhaka [1982-1994] but during the war worked for the West Pakistan based newspaper The Sun [Ataus Samad passed on little more than a year ago] .
In December 1971 he had closed up his home, and had moved to a relative’s house, and thus had no idea that a gang of men came looking for him.
A few days after the war, one of his tenants, Mushtaqur Rahman, saw Ataus Samad on the veranda of his house and came running to him with a copy of a newspaper.
Samad told us that Mushtaq explained to him that a few days before the war ended, some men had come round to his house, found the gates locked and then come to the door of Mushtaq’s house. The face of one of the Bengali men was visible, but at the time Mushtaq had no idea who this person was. However, Mushtaq said the picture of Mueen Uddin in the newspaper was the same as that of the man who had come round to the house.
It was not easy to locate Mushtaq, but when we did, he confirmed the story. [What was the story?]
And when we found another of Samad’s tenants, Mahmudur Rahman, he also said that he had, immediately after the war, recognized Mueen Uddin from the published picture.
Another person who opened up an important line of inquiry for us was Professor Anissuzzaman, now emeritus professor at Dhaka University, from where seven of the men were abducted.
One of his teachers was Moffazel Haider Chowdhury who was taken from his house on December 14, 1971.
Sometime in the middle of the following month, Anissuzzaman went round to Chowdury’s family house. There he met Chowdhury’s brother, Lutful Haider Chowdhury, who told him Mofazzel had recognized Chowhdury Mueen Uddin, a student of his, as one of the men who came to abduct him.
Lutful had died by 1995 when we were making the film, but their sister Dolly was also present at the time of the abduction. And when we met, she said she had recognised that a student of her brother was present at the time of the abduction and later came to [Seems plausible that Atiqur's report and NYT RT provided an authoritative fall guy] know that it was Mueen Uddin.
All of this — and more — became the film The War Crimes File, which was broadcast in the UK in 1996 and won the Royal Television Society special commendation award [Well done you for solving the mystery].
Chowdhury Mueen Uddin has always denied the allegations against him. [and didn't cooperate with Bergman's documentary]
The evidence collected in the course of the research — much of it subsequently set out in affidavit form — was put together and sent to the New Scotland Yard’s War Crimes Unit, which had been set up to investigate war crimes, and was primarily concerned then with allegations that former Nazis during the Second World War, were living in the UK.
The New Scotland Yard responded to the evidence we sent by stating that, in its view, ‘primary jurisdiction’ for the prosecution of these offences lay with Bangladesh, and sent the material to the Bangladesh High Commission. It never said, as claimed by Mueen Uddin in a recent interview with Al Jazeera, that there was insufficient evidence to initiate investigations. [interpretation]
The file slowly found its way, through the Bangladesh Ministry of Foreign Affairs, onto the desk of Abdul Hannan Khan, a senior police officer appointed under the newly installed Awami League government in 1996. [Interesting insight into the security bureaucracy complex . Abdul Hannan Khan is another interesting character. Like many of those in the War Crimes Tribunal Prosecution, he hopes to get the change to become an MP at the next election. This recent statement is scarily sweet, “I think I have every potential to get nomination from the ruling Awami League as I have much popularity in my constituency as a benevolent and sincere personality. I have sincerely worked as an investigation official for the crimes against humanity committed during the War of Liberation. So, I am optimistic of getting nomination from Netrakona-5.”]
A first information report was lodged by one of the relatives, and Hannan then initiated his own investigation.
So now, fast forward, another 17 years, and Mueen Uddin’s case came up before the International Crimes Tribunal in Bangladesh — with Hannan now its chief investigator [I wonder what he contributed to the research file].
The prosecution had not sought Mueen Uddin’s extradition. Possibly this was because it knew that this would delay any trial in Bangladesh [I think it's more likely that they were incompetent, and figure this 'uncontested result' is a consolation prize for them]. Or it may have been the government’s understanding that it would be difficult or impossible for the UK courts to extradite him as the prosecution in Dhaka would seek the death penalty.
As a result, the trial was held in absentia. This, in my view, was a great pity, as the prosecution case was not able to be been properly tested, and Mueen Uddin was not able to put forward his own defence. [Reading this article and knowing that David was working with Gita Seghal with a Bangladesh war framed by Shahriar Kabir, I am not surprised that the accused declined to respond when being doorstepped in his lungi.]
I have always thought that evidence against Mueen Uddin, collected in the making of the film, was compelling [As any young idealist in Bangladesh for the first time would, ask a billion disenchanted development workers]. But I also knew that journalistic endeavours are in themselves not sufficient proof of a person’s guilt, and an appropriate judicial process was essential.
The moment of conviction was hugely significant for the families of the 18 intellectuals who were abducted and killed [I can't imagine what it must feel like if you sincerely believe it to be true].
Immediately after the trial, I met Anirban Mostafa. He is the son of Golam Mostafa, one of the journalists abducted. In the early morning of December 11, Anirban, then a baby, was being walked in his father’s arms to get him to go to sleep [Duas].
A group of men came and asked Mostafa, ‘Are you ANM Golam Mostafa?’ He said, ‘Yes.’ Then they said, ‘Please leave the baby for a while and come with us. We have to go to the office for a while.’
That was the last time Anirban saw his father.
I had last met Anirban almost two decades earlier in 1995 when he was a young student and we were interviewing his uncle Dulu Rahman.
It was an emotional moment when we met again in the tribunal. I asked him how he felt now with the conviction of Mueen Uddin. He said that, since his father’s death, ‘Bangladesh had become his father’ and he always had faith in his country. [I saw an interview with Anirban by the BBC Bangladesh hack Mahfuz Siddique, "They sacrificed their lives for a secular Bangladesh, and I hope today's verdict will let that Bangladesh be here again, because Bangladesh itself is secular, I hope, I believe we shall find that Bangladesh again".]
It was quite a moment.
Whatever questions there may be about this trial process, it is important for people to recognise and understand that it does at least meet the need for justice felt by the families of those abducted and murdered forty two years ago. [Vendetta more like.]
David Bergman is editor, Special Reports for New Age.
This weekly publication has a terrible, perhaps purposefully, web archive. So im pasting this piece here. Zia and Mujib discuss their female relative's conversation with eachother.
A ‘dialogue’ about the dialogue
Between two past Bangladesh Presidents Bangabandhu Seikh Mujibur Rahman (SMR) and Ziaur Rahman (ZR) at an undisclosed location. Wiretap, courtesy US National Security Agency (NSA) and Edward Snowden, NSA’s exclusive news distributor.
SMR: Zia, your wife and my daughter don’t talk to each other much or often. But on the rare occasion they do, incendiary sparks fly like fireworks on Independence Day. Do you agree?
ZR: Absolutely, Bangabandhu. I’m really impressed by the wide range of topics they discussed on 27 October 2013. Aren’t you?
SMR: I am. Hi-tech communications; red alert; dinner invitation; birthday celebration; swearing-in ceremony; mayhem; chicanery; even murder. You name it. Astonishing virtuoso duet.
ZR: Do you think that Khaleda’s red phone was dead?
SMR: Not sure. But I’ll give Khaleda the benefit of doubt, considering the T&T’s legendary efficiency (!) and the limitless vindictiveness of all political cadres irrespective of party, whose vocation is to be more
holy than the pope, and usually say what they think their leaders want to hear!
ZR: But why the emphasis on the red phone? Couldn’t Hasina have called Khaleda on her mobile? Millions of Bangladeshis do.
Khaleda uses Grameen phone!
SMR: Good god, no! Khaleda uses Grameen Phone. Hasina would never stoop to call her on that network. You know, bloodsucker Yunus and all that! Besides, Khaleda’s telephone is black. Hasina’s a red phone addict, having a soft corner for red. A hangover from the days when she took part in May Day rallies. After all, the AL fights for the working man—despite Rana Plaza—and despite the pretensions of the Workers Party, Volkswagen model.
ZR: I note your comments. One should always respect a lady’s choice of colour combination. (Pauses. Clears throat). Bangabandhu, can I speak frankly about Hasina’s strategic mistake?
SMR: Of course. BAKSAL doesn’t operate here. What’s it?
ZR: Well, Hasina should have told Khaleda that she was going to cook the dinner, as she did for Joy on his birthday. Khaleda loves home cooking. She would have accepted the invitation in a flash, especially as Hasina’s kitchen is the only one in Bangladesh awarded the coveted three stars (***) by Guide Michelin, an honour those in the know—the cognoscenti—consider far greater than the Nobel Peace Prize. In 2012, there were only 58 such restaurants worldwide. There have been 125 Peace winners since 1901.
‘Hasina quite modest’
SMR: Interesting. But, you know, Hasina is really quite modest even shy and doesn’t like to blow her own or family trumpet though, for political reasons and filial love, she does. This deification embarrasses me no end, especially when some South Asian leaders especially Indira Gandhi and Zulfi Bhutto make snide remarks about my divinity and mortality.
ZR: Yes, this must be awkward. Are you as upset as Hasina that Khaleda celebrates her birthday on 15 August, the day you were killed?
SMR: Mixed feelings. 15 August is also birth date of Pakistan, Napoleon, Walter Scott, Julia Child and other celebrities. So, if Hasina’s logic were to apply, should there be no “celebration” by people in Pakistan, France, England, USA or elsewhere over these birthdays? I don’t think so. Nevertheless, I believe Khaleda’s decision to cut cake shows poor taste. It’d have been better if she had done this privately without fuss, respecting Hasina’s sensitivity. But I’m also aware, as Hasina is or should be, that public opinion in Bangladesh is divided and polarised over the AL’s performance 1971-1975 and my death. So if I were Hasina, I’d grieve in private with family and friends and not make it a political or national issue or vendetta. That’s counter-productive. We should move on and give the past arest. But I’m curious about two things, Zia?
ZR: What’s that, Bangabandhu?
SMR: Can Khaleda really blow out all the 68 or so candles in one breath? Why would she want people to know how old she is?
ZR: First question. Don’t know. But she’s no longer a demure housewife and may have developed strong lungs since entering politics. Second question. Your guess is as good as mine.
SMR: Cagey answers, Zia! But you are right. We men throughout history haven’t been very adept at understanding powerful women (such as Boadicea; Czarina Catherine: Dowager Empress Cixi; Cleopatra; Rani of Jhansi). Let’s not get bogged down on this fascinating point when there are more interesting questions to ponder about the dialogue.
ZR: I agree. Let’s do that. About the date for the dinner, there was quite a tug-of-war, ping-ponging, yo-yoing, wasn’t there?
SMR: Yes. This reminds me of the adage: What’s in a name? Nothing yet everything. Both the Begums had their own logic and self-interest to insist on the dates (27 Oct by Hasina; 30 Oct by Khaleda) they were prepared to have dinner. But I wonder if Hasina was being too clever by half in inviting Khaleda on 26 October for dinner the next day, when the 60 hour hartal was to start, on such short notice?
ZR: We don’t agree on many things, Bangabandhu, but on this point, I believe you may have a point. Also, if my wife is right, getting permission at about 11 pm on 25 October to hold the 26 October rally with a few mikes appears to be classic guerrilla skirmishing by the government against political opponents. Give a little to avoid the charge of muzzling public opinion but place conditions and hindrances to make the permission ineffective. It’s not cricket! Even the Pakistanis in 1971 didn’t do this to you on 7 March 1971, did they?
Things have changed
SMR: Well, Zia, things have changed a lot since the relatively halcyon days of 1947-1971. In my time, Bengali politicians would criticise each other in public but break bread and talk civilly in private despite their differences. But then we didn’t have any women politicians around! We’ve become like US politicians, behaving nastily with opponents publicly and privately, as the recent US government shutdown and the last US presidential election suggest. Are the frosty and divisive Tea Party politics of the sole superpower resonating in Shonar Bangla? Or is it the other way round? If the latter, we should be flattered: the hyper power imitating Kissinger’s “basketcase” Bangladesh! Both US and Bangladesh public hold politicians in utter contempt.
ZR: Even though I’m a political neophyte, Bangabandhu, your observation is astute. As you’ve already stated, the charges hurled and topics discussed by the two ladies are incredibly eclectic: sweet double-talk; hearing deficiency; sleep patterns; stubbornness; and reciprocal gory accusations of homicide, all the while going round and round in circles, getting nowhere. Everything under the sun except elections!
MR: Interesting points, Zia. The ladies covered impressive ground in just 37 minutes. We men would still be talking or would have ceased talking after five minutes or so. Fish or cut bait, I say. Perhaps the intellectual make-up of the “weaker” sex is more formidable and durable when it comes to discussing matters of state, especially when compromise is considered a sell-out. No quarter is given or sought. It’s a gladiatorial fight to the death, like in ancient Rome. I hope this doesn’t sound like gender discrimination on my part!
‘Hell hath no fury’
ZR: Not being a sociologist, I can’t answer that, Bangabandhu. But the English playwright William Congreve wrote in The Mourning Bride in 1697: Hell hath no fury like that of a woman scorned! Perhaps this saying may explain the bittersweet much-ado-about-nothing nature of the dialogue. There is near universal unanimity in the media that the telephone chat was an exercise in banality and futility, a high-class crass farce that ill-serves our people. They deserve better, don’t they?
SMR: Your observations are not without merit, considering it involves two bitterly antagonistic females. How do you think a contemporary Congreve would deal with two scorned women turning on each other?
ZR: With extreme delicacy. Probably stop writing; retire to the lovely English countryside to navel-gaze, do some Freudian analysis and contemplate possible options.
SMR: A pox on both parties?! Commendably neutral. The two ladies could do worse than emulate this latter-day Congreve. This might just save the frustrated Bangladeshi population, a hostage to their irrational, emotional and self-serving whims and fancies, from further bondage and outrage. Right is might but might is not right.
ZR: Aameen! But who will bell the cat?
|The roundabout in Motijheel Dhaka, where protesters |
were massacred by cover of darkness 6th May 2013.
|Hay fest's Tahmima Anam, daughter of Daily Star Editor Mahfuz Anam launching Hay Dhaka 2012, which excluding inconvenient truths.|
A few days ago Hefazot e Islam announced they would be offering Friday congregational prayers on November 15th at the Motijheel site in Dhaka*, from where they were so violently evicted on 6th May earlier this year. That massacre was the centre piece of a constellation of state crimes that one might describe as Bangladesh's Lal Masjid without the militants or media coverage. This time, Hefazot e Islam are demanding an investigation into what happened.
In the absence of official journalism of integrity, competence and courage, there is a need to bypass it with real human communication and sense-making. We have been here several times before and need to remember to be less sheepish this time.
* I hear that the Government's 'sufi' toolboy Tariqat Federation is trying to throw a spanner in the works, watch this space.