Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

Let Us Visit Mahasthan

Expand Messages
  • Aziz Huq
    LET US VISIT MAHASTHAN [AZIZ UL HUQ] I. MAHASTHAN GARH: The Great City of Muslim Bangladesh: Mahasthan, the present day name of the ancient city known as
    Message 1 of 16 , May 30, 2002
    • 0 Attachment
      LET US VISIT MAHASTHAN
      [AZIZ UL HUQ]

      I. MAHASTHAN GARH: The Great City of Muslim Bangladesh:

      Mahasthan, the present day name of the ancient city known as �Pundurunagar�,
      is situated in Shibganj Upazila in Bogra, Bangladesh. About four thousand
      years ago Pundurunagar was an affluent and strong settlement. The mighty
      Maurya, Gupta and other rulers had their provincial capital there. Even the
      initial capital of the Pal dynasty was Pundurunagar. The ruins of this great
      ancient city is situated on the western bank of river Korotoa, which is
      indeed a past glory not only of Bogra but of whole Bangladesh.

      In the year 1808 CE, Buchanon Hamilton, for the first time disclosed the
      details of the ruins of Pundurunagar. Later, scholars like Donnell,
      Cunningham, Beveridge threw more lights on this ancient city. Sir Cunningham
      is credited with identifying Mahastahan, the great Muslim city during the
      glorious Muslim rule of Bangladesh including about two hundred years of
      unbroken and completely independent Bangladesh, with the ancient city of
      Pundurunagar.

      A sense of the glory of the ancient independent Muslim sultanate of
      Bangladesh can be found in the words of Ira M. Lapidus in his book: �A
      History of Islamic Societies, Cambridge� where he cited the fact that
      independent Muslim kingdom existed in Bengal between 1346 CE and 1576 CE and
      mentioned that �.���Muslim scholars, scribes, Sufis, poets and intellectuals
      flocked to India� (from other parts of the world)��..and he wrote:

      �In Bengal, Sufi writers and Muslim rulers adopted the local languages. The
      Hindu classic, Mahabharata, and Arabic and Persian classics, including
      stories from the Arabian Nights, were translated into Bengali at the order
      of Muslim rulers. Muslim poets also wrote in Bengali about Hindu deities and
      myths, using Arabic and Persian loan words. This synthesis of languages and
      literature was the basis for the emergence of a new literary Bengali
      language�.

      Several ancient inscriptions belonging to the Maurya, Gupta, Pal and Sen
      dynasties reveal the existence of the Pundurus in the Pundurunagar.
      Unfortunately nothing much is known about them these days. Before the
      arrival of the Aryans, the Pundurus were the natives of this area. The
      Barendra region of North Bengal (Bogra, Rangpur, Dinajpur, Rajshahi and
      Maldah) was the original home of the Pundurus.

      Inscriptions discovered in 1931 in Mahasthan reveal that there was a massive
      famine in Pundurunagar, when the government gave a decree ordering food
      stuff to be distributed amongst the affected subjects which was to be
      returned during good times indicating that Pundurunagar was an affluent and
      humanitarian society. After the Gupta dynasty, king Shashanka formed the
      powerful Gaur kingdom. After the death of Shashanka, the famous Chinese
      traveler Wan Chuang came to Pundurunagar in the year 639 CE, when besides
      seeing different Buddhist institutions, he saw a huge Bihar or Shangharam
      Bhashu Bihar and a memorial built by Asoka over the body of Buddha.
      According to him Pundurunagar was an affluent city and its perimeter was six
      miles. The civilization of Pundurunagar ranks side by side with those of
      Athens, Babylon, Egypt and that of the Assyrians.

      Pundurunagar became Mahasthan during the glorious days of the Muslim
      Sultanate of Bangladesh. A special attraction of Mahasthan is the Mazhar on
      top of the Garh. Everyday thousands of men and women come from distant
      places to visit the Mazhar. Many people do �manat� which is going on for
      ages, there seems to be no exception and no stop. It appears to be like a
      place of major pilgrimage for both Muslims and Hindus.

      [Calling or asking for help of people who have died and those who are not
      nearby for spiritual or material help and assistance is forbidden in Islam
      and is called Shirk-e-Akbar. The dead do not hear the calls and appeals of
      the living. �Truly you can not make the dead to hear the calls or
      invocations� [al-Qur�an 27:80], Also: �But you cannot make those hear who
      are in the grave� [al-Qur�an 35:22]. Also it is not allowed to vow or
      oblate to some one other than to Allah. It is not allowed to slaughter an
      animal for the sake of some one other than Allah, or in the name of some
      one other than Allah. �Establish prayer for Allah alone and slaughter an
      animal of sacrifice for the sake of Allah alone� [al-Qur�an 108:2]
      Comments: Aziz Ul Huq].

      Some historians and the local people are of the opinion that this Mazhar is
      the Mazhar of Shah Balkhi Mahisawar.

      Apparently, there are two Mazhars related to Balkhi Mahisawar, one being in
      Mahasthan and the other being in Sultanganj of Godagari Thana.

      In the year 1680 CE, emperor Aurangazeb appointed Zamindars of Bihar named
      Syed Reza, Syed Tahir and Syed Abdur Rahman (three brothers) as care takers
      of the Mazhars and Mausoleums of Mahasthan Garh and awarded some lands for
      that purpose. This award letter, written in Persian and inscribed on Bronze
      is still available with Shibganj resident Mashqurul Alam Chowdhury. In this
      �Farman� or �Sanad� emperor Aurangazeb referred to this place as �Astana� of
      Sultan Mahmud Mahisawar and not as a Mazhar. This makes some historians
      believe that this is not his mazhar but was his astana.

      On the Southern gate entrance wall to the so called Mazhar is engraved in
      Bangla: �Narshingh Roy Dashoshho� meaning �Subject�. Now the question is
      who is this �Narshingh� and who is he subject of?

      Half mile North West of the Garh lies the houses, locally known as the
      palace of Porshuram.


      To be continued............
      ___________________________________________________________________________

      [M:MS]
    • MBI Munshi
      Amnesty International s relationship with HRCBM According to the Amnesty International Report 2002, there were high levels of violence against minorities,
      Message 2 of 16 , May 30, 2002
      • 0 Attachment

        Amnesty International’s relationship with HRCBM

         

         

        According to the Amnesty International Report 2002, there were high levels of violence against minorities, particularly Hindus in Bangladesh. Impunity for perpetrators of human rights violations was widespread. Religious groups sought to overturn a landmark High Court judgment, which banned fatwa’s, religious edicts most often issued against women. The report under the sub-heading ‘Violence against minorities,’ details these admittedly unsubstantiated acts of hatred and oppression. Following the elections, hundreds of Hindu families were reportedly subjected to violent attacks, including rape, beatings, and the burning of the property. They were allegedly attacked by BNP supporters because of their perceived support for the Awami League. In. November, a prominent member of the Hindu community was killed while hundreds of families reportedly fled to India. The police failed to take effective measures to protect the community; some arrests were made but most assailants were not brought to justice. This last statement from the report seems a little too confident in coming to judgment when the acts that are being highlighted are themselves only hearsay. The word ‘reportedly’ has already appeared twice and there is the cautious use of the word ‘allegedly’ that seems to suggest a lack of belief and conviction on the part of the reports authors or else they should have been more forthright in their denunciations rather than impishly waft over the more vivid descriptions of violence.

         

        The report continues:  No information was provided about an official investigation into the atrocities, promised in November and December. In response to a petition in November by the legal aid organisation, Ain-o-Salish Kendra, the High Court gave the government one month to explain why it did not protect Hindus. No explanation was provided by the end of the year. On 22 November, Shariar Kabir, a prominent writer and journalists, was detained by police on his return from India. In December, he was charged with sedition but the authorities did not make public the evidence to support the charge. His detention appeared to be solely because he had been investigating the situation of Hindus who fled persecution in Bangladesh. He was still held in Dhaka Central Jail under the Special Powers Act at the end of 2001.  Other minorities suffered attacks. In June, two people were killed and more than 20 wounded in a bomb explosion in a church in Baniarchar, Gopalgang district. Violent clashes between tribal inhabitants and Bengali settlers continued to be reported in the Chittagong Hill Tracts. Three women form the Jumma minority were allegedly raped in May by army personnel, no one was known to have been brought to justice.

         

        The report starts from uncertain beginnings and ends with epic accusations reaching the scales of vitriolic and polemical crescendos of Wagnerian proportions and magnitudes.   For someone not known for his literary flourishes that is the best I can do but if the reader remains patient there is much information I would like to impart. Much of what I have to say cannot be verified but since Amnesty International (AI) has taken the liberty of castigating and censuring without any hard evidence I will likewise do the same.  At this point I should make clear that the report if read by someone who has no knowledge of Bangladesh the country may appear a hotbed of fundamentalism, fanaticism and obscurantist tendencies as expressed in the journal ‘Far Eastern Economic Review’ and the ‘Wall Street Journal’. The AI report gives the impression that the violence detailed in its report concerning minorities is a concerted and planned action by the government or fundamentalist religious groups to commit human rights abuses against minorities. This is not spelled out in so many words but why else put it under the separate heading ‘Violence against Minorities’ rather than take it as a case of general lawlessness in the country. In a modest attempt to dispel these fears and notions I will assure the reader that I am opposed to all forms of repression against minorities as is the vast majority of Bangladeshis.  That the government has failed in effectively dealing or at best putting forward alternative explanations and bringing to justice those that have perpetrated these crimes is only another example of the authorities’ incompetence and a bad case of influence peddling by interested and vested quarters.

         

        My story starts ironically in the majestic and imposing building, we call the Supreme Court Building. It was here that I was introduced to one Advocate Rabindra Ghosh. I later discovered, as did many other lawyers that Mr. Ghosh is head of the Bangladesh Chapter of the organisation that calls itself HRCBM. An organisation based in California but having roots in India and Bangladesh. Initially we struck up a good relationship and he kindly offered to make me a member of another organisation calling itself, ‘Global Organisation for the Peoples of Indian Origin.’  I was taken aback by the offer since he clearly knew my background, history and political affiliations. In convincing me, he claimed that the organisation would make me an international figure with adequate resources to travel the world and take part in important conferences. Taking this all in good heart, I simply smiled and thanked him for his generous offer that never actually materialized. Not that I would ever have accepted, as anyone would realise if they had ever read my article, ‘Akhand Hindustan.’

         

        During our extensive discussions, he proudly showed me a photograph of L.K. Advani, Atal Vajpayee and himself taken during his stay in Delhi.  At the time of the Gujarat riots, he expressed his distress at the deaths of so many Muslims and Hindus. He confided in me that any form of killing is deplorable and we in Bangladesh should live together in harmony. A desire I also shared but our methods of achieving this greatly differed and I was of course taking his and HRCBM’s sincerity at face value.  Then articles in Alochona, Aalaap and Shetubondhon appeared concerning the shady characters involved in HRCBM. I had my suspicions but was not armed with any evidence. After following, the articles written primarily by Mr. Sohail Ahmed and Dr. Farida Majid as well as the write-ups in the New Nation, Jai Jai Din and the Dainik Inqilaab I challenged Mr. Ghosh to make a rejoinder, which he claims he did but it was apparently not published, in any of the said newspapers or magazines.

         

        On one of our long and friendly conversations, he informed me that he had very close relations with Mr. Abbas Faiz of Amnesty International and had met him on several occasions.   Mr. Abbas Faiz as I knew sits in AI’s London office and deals with South Asian affairs and issues. Mr. Ghosh also disclosed that he had close and cordial relationships with several people in the American Embassy in Dhaka. I was amazed at the extensive network of HRCBM connections with the Bangladesh Government, politicians, businessmen, and lawyers assisted by the Americans, several European embassies and primarily by the Indian High Commission.  For me this explains why AI was reluctant to take up the case of several of my famous political clients although there were strenuous efforts inside and outside Bangladesh for them to take up the matter and make representations.   For the nation, this may explain why the 2002 report is so lopsided and biased to fit a particular account, portrayal and depiction of alleged human rights abuses against minorities. I am of course not pretending that human rights abuses did not occur but  AI’s report and involvement with HRCBM has brought out political and international connotations which must be investigated by the Government and interested parties. I am certain that there were religiously motivated acts of violence as the book brought out by HRCBM illustrates and not all of it could be lies but at the same time, it was not a pogrom.  In the majority of cases it was over petty differences such as land or money and many took the BNP victory as an opportunity to inflict reprisals against their Hindu neighbours. To describe this as a concerted attack on minorities similar to what happened in Gujarat is a gross exaggeration of  the situation and a slur on the nation and its people. In putting forward, a better image of Bangladesh (which the present government is miserable failing to do) I applaud those involved in the ‘Riot’ in New York (see Daily Star Magazine – May 31st 2002)  

         

         

        Regards

         

        Munshi

         

        __________________________________________________________________
        Mohammed Munshi
        ICQ#: 
        61656083

        Current ICQ status:  

        +  More ways to contact me
        __________________________________________________________________

         

      • shormilanondi
        Dear Alochoks: Last few months many Alochoks and few other forums ( Shetubondhon, Aalap , NFB ) did marvelous work to unite all Bangladeshis to fight those
        Message 3 of 16 , May 31, 2002
        • 0 Attachment
          Dear Alochoks:

          Last few months many Alochoks and few other forums ( Shetubondhon,
          Aalap , NFB ) did marvelous work to unite all Bangladeshis to fight
          those who work against Bangladesh's interest. The patriotism of many
          Bangladeshis has been visibly apparent throughout the past few
          months, and hats-off to those who worked hard to protect Bangladesh's
          interest in the international arena.

          However, there is more that needs to be done aside from taking part
          in the good fight. HRCBM will not go away nor will its tentacles,
          which appear like mushrooms every day. There is a major fear factor
          of seeing thousands of HRCBM and anti-Bangladesh organization in the
          near future.

          Minority atrocities, religious discriminations are a very tiny
          problem in Bangladesh. This is more likely an issue of law and order
          not communal riots or bigotry.

          But …the real problem lies within the Bangladesh Constitution.

          I have spoken to many moderate Hindu, Buddhist and Christian
          Bangladeshis in the past few months. Every one agrees that the
          campaigns run by HRCBM or " Hindu –Buddhist and Christian Porishod "
          are not acceptable, but all of these people, who are patriots of
          Bangladesh, have viable questions about the country's current status.
          Every one has feeling of insecurity and melancholia because " Islam
          is the state religion of Bangladesh". No matter how much we work to
          unite Bangladesh, until Bangladesh becomes a true " secular state"
          not all Non-Muslims will come forward to unite with Muslims.

          The root of this problem started when Ex-president Ershad declared
          Bangladesh as an " Islamic State". Right after his declaration "
          Hindu – Buddhist –Christian Poroshod "was formed. Many non-Muslims
          felt like second-class citizens.

          But that was definitely not the beginning.

          If we go back in the history, we will see that ex-president Zia
          changed the constitution and made religious political parties like
          Jamaat to practice politics in Bangladesh. What an irony, Zia's
          successor Ershad went little farther then Zia with his so called
          declaration.

          We all know Zia and Ershad wanted nothing but popularity from among
          the majority and used religion as a weapon. It is quite apparent from
          the many party sponsored Ramadan Ifaris and such that no party
          including BNP and AL care about religion but uses the concept of
          religion as their political gimmick to reap benefits. No matter what
          the consequence or how much the necessity, no political government
          will change Bangladesh into a " secular state".

          There are many more adversaries for Bangladesh in the future since
          this is only the beginning. Similar organization like HRCBM and their
          subgroups will spread in future unless we strike the heart of the
          problem.

          Bangladesh can't unite Non-Muslims in Bangladesh unless Bangladesh
          became a secular state.

          The change has to be by the people and pressuring the government
          wouldn't achieve any change. Unfortunately HRCBM and many non-Muslims
          don't understand that and believe that pressure and smearing of the
          government in the international arena would make them change the
          status of Bangladesh.

          As many Alochoks believe the future of Bangladesh don't lies in
          the hands of Islamists, and Islamic government will only worsen the
          situation of Bangladesh. Supporting "State Religion Islam" only harm
          the religious harmony we have in Bangladesh. We have to give our
          thoughts to dissolve this situation as soon as we can. But I wonder
          what can few thousands Bangladeshis in cyberspace can do to change
          the popular idea which support " State Religion Islam of Bangladesh" ?

          Dear Alochoks

          In the past, wise Alochoks gave solution to many problems. Now I
          bring another problem in front of you. Please share your ideas and
          hope we can find a solution to making Bangladesh a " securer state"

          Regards
          Shormila
          _____________________________________________________________________

          [M:MS]
        • Arif Joarder
          TAKEN FROM BBC: http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/south_asia/newsid_2018000/2018 535.stm ... Good times for bourgeois Bangladeshis By Alastair Lawson BBC
          Message 4 of 16 , Jun 1, 2002
          • 0 Attachment
            TAKEN FROM BBC:
            http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/south_asia/newsid_2018000/2018
            535.stm
            -----------------------------------------------------------

            Good times for bourgeois Bangladeshis

            By Alastair Lawson
            BBC correspondent in Dhaka

            Bangladesh is normally only in the news for floods, poverty and
            corruption but the latest figures released by the Asian Development
            Bank (ADB) show the country has grounds to be optimistic.

            The figures show that despite a slight dip in recent months, the
            economy continues to grow at around 4% a year.

            The growth has led to a host of business initiatives, the most
            recent being a $65m Western-style theme park, Fantasy Kingdom, on
            the outskirts of the capital, Dhaka.

            The strengthening economy has also led to an unprecedented growth in
            the spending power of the Bangladeshi middle class.

            -Rising incomes

            Fantasy Kingdom has been hailed as this country's answer to
            Disneyland.

            It is equipped with everything from roller coasters to amusement
            arcades.

            The park is the first mainstream leisure outlet designed especially
            to attract middle-class spending power.

            Economist Devapriya Bhattacharya says the launching of Fantasy
            Kingdom and its possible financial viability speaks about the
            emerging middle-class and its new purchasing power.

            "In some ways, it also gives the image of the new Bangladesh. Now
            you look at the income structure of Bangladesh, the top 10% control
            about 38%-39% of the total national income.

            "If you translate this in real purchasing power parity, we are
            talking about a $70bn market consisting of 13 million people.

            "It's a huge market in comparison to many European countries for
            that matter," he says.

            -Shopping complexes

            Nowhere is the financial muscle of the Bangladeshi middle class more
            clearly seen than in the various new supermarkets that have sprung
            up all over Dhaka and other cities.

            The manager of the biggest new supermarket in Dhaka, TD Pakiya,
            concedes that products in his store are way beyond the budget of
            most of the country's 130 million population.

            The vast majority of us can only dream about the products we see in
            these shops

            Half of all Bangladeshis live below the poverty line.

            "We see a majority of the middle and upper class because still
            there's a segment where people are a bit sceptical about the pricing
            and the ambience we have created here," he says.

            "They little realise that you can have the same prices as outside
            market prices. People are just using the same budget which they
            bought items from the open bazaar, you call it open market, in
            Bangladesh."

            "With the same budget I think they buy more here, I suppose because
            with the quality they get less wastage, the right weight.

            "It's not a matter of having more money, but you can still manage
            with the same budget," he says.

            "It'll take a while to persuade people to come in here, but it's
            more comfortable."

            -Beyond reach

            On the streets of Dhaka, many seem unconvinced about the new
            shopping lifestyle.

            Hanif is one of Dhaka's 400,000 rickshaw-pullers, earning about $3 a
            day.

            "It's obvious that many of these shops are not affordable for us.
            Anybody who goes in them must be a very rich person.

            "The vast majority of us can only dream about the products we see in
            these shops," he says.

            But evidence of middle-class spending power can now be seen all over
            Dhaka, a city which many foreign visitors have likened to one vast
            building site.

            -Changing times

            Everywhere, huge skyscrapers are being built for office, retail and
            housing purposes.

            Mohammed Hussein supervises over 1,500 workmen on a site on the
            outskirts of Dhaka.

            "This is the biggest project in South-East Asia and this is actually
            about 10 storeys high with three basements and the area is about
            450,000 sq.ft," he says.

            While Dhaka undergoes a facelift, individual lifestyles are also
            changing profoundly.

            Some middle-class young people even have Thai disco dancing
            instructors.

            Demand for Western-style music, clothes and food is at an all-time
            high.

            Five years ago it would have been impossible to find an Italian
            restaurant outside Dhaka.

            But diners can have a pizza for lunch on the hour's drive from the
            city to Fantasy Kingdom.

            It is not clear when or even whether ordinary people will see any
            benefits for themselves.

            But Bangladesh today is shedding its stereotyped image of the land
            of floods and poverty.
            ____________________________________________________________

            [M:MS]
          • Asok dasgupta
            Dear Alochaks, We people of this world are taught from childhood to let our other identities succumb to our religious identities. We also forget to analyse the
            Message 5 of 16 , Jun 1, 2002
            • 0 Attachment
              Dear Alochaks,
              We people of this world are taught from childhood to
              let our other identities succumb to our religious
              identities. We also forget to analyse the real causes
              of conflicts between communities which appear to us to
              be religious coflicts which they never are. If we
              learn this truth neither the religious majority of a
              country would be trying to get their religion as the
              state religion nor the religious minorities would be
              depressed if one particular religion is given the
              state religion status.

              Next,if a country declares itself secular but at its
              heart it is not actually so and if another country
              does not declare itself secular but treats equally all
              its citizens--which one is more welcome?

              If Bangladesh declared once Islam as its state
              religion let not the minorities bemoan that. The root
              question is whether all religious groups can live
              together peacefully there? Yes, they can. Bangladesh
              has proved it. Despite slander campaigns against it by
              powerful lobbies it is protecting itself against the
              vicious winds. A country with the spirit of equality
              for all will definitely come out successful. A
              'secular' rubber stamp is not that important at the
              moment as we know that at places it works as a mask to
              hide the ugly faces of the perpetrators.

              -Asok Dasgupta-
              __________________________________________________________

              [M:MS]
            • Shahin
              In response to http://groups.yahoo.com/group/alochona/message/5403 Dear Alochoks: I found Mr. Sarcars suggestion to change statesments about Islam in
              Message 6 of 16 , Jun 1, 2002
              • 0 Attachment
                In response to
                http://groups.yahoo.com/group/alochona/message/5403

                Dear Alochoks:
                I found Mr. Sarcars suggestion to change statesments about Islam in
                Bangaldesh constitution is impractical and non acheivable. I also found it
                emotional.

                In a country with 85% muslim no political party will dare to make the
                initiative, becasue that will bring their political death. The opposition
                will immediately took the opportunity to play with the emotion of the
                public. Any government who will attempt this, I predict will fall within a
                year, if not sooner.

                However, if the nation truly wants to see a secular country, I suggest to work
                for the following instead. I believe these are more practical and achievable.
                I also believe if the government place these well it should not send any
                anti-religious message to public.

                1. Abolish ministry of religion (Dhormo Montronaloy]. I am not sure what
                purpose this ministry serves in the country, accept spending tax payers
                money. Instead government can create NGOs to take care of religious issues.
                Similar to the National Academy of Science and Natinal Science foundation in
                USA which are government supported organizations where experts of different
                fields are members. When governement needs help in a particular issue it
                seeks help from the academy members. Similarly a Foundation can take care of
                religious issues in Bangladeh. A ministry is not needed.

                2. Stop government financial support to religious schools. Government should
                only support schools that follow the national education plan and curriculam.
                There is no need to support any Madrasah through governement fund. But this
                does not mean to close the religious schools. Governemnt can encourage people
                to donate privately to run these schools if they feel appropriate. Therefore,
                I recommend no government funding for religious organziations and schools.

                3. I am not sure how exactly Baitul mukarram mosque is run. If it is funded by
                the governement, I would recommend to privatize the mosque. A citizen
                committee should be created which may run it. The committee should generate
                fund by seeking donations from public and by leasing properties/assetes of
                the mosque. So I recommend separating religious institutions from the
                government administration. Again this should not be taken as anti religious
                activity of the government. This should be understood as reorganization of
                government involvement to religious issues and saving of tax payer's money.

                However, the governemnt should remain careful of any use of foreign funding in
                religious institutions. In a current world and being a less developed
                country Bangladesh can not afford to let unwanted foriegn money control our
                religious institutions.

                The world has changed enormously therefore it is not beneficial for any
                government to directly support any religious faith. But religion plays
                important role in a society, therefore there is no reason to ban any religious
                practice/group. In fact the society must encourage religious practice of its
                citizens. But government should not associate directly with any religious
                faith.

                I would like to hear comments on these suggestions.

                Shahin
                ____________________________________________________________________________

                [M:MS]
              • Tahera Jabeen
                Thanks Shormilla to bring out the same old debate again. I will try to give more insight later regarding this topic as I am in hurry. But I just can t resist
                Message 7 of 16 , Jun 1, 2002
                • 0 Attachment
                  Thanks Shormilla to bring out the same old debate again. I will try to give
                  more insight later regarding this topic as I am in hurry.
                  But I just can't resist to share some of the excerpts from a study as i
                  noticed some parts of the history is missing in her mail.


                  In a paper on the "State of Minorities in Bangladesh: From Secular to
                  Islamic Hegemony", Mr. Saleem Samad, an analyst of the BD scene, points out
                  how the trend towards the Islamisation of the civil society and the State
                  apparatus in Bangladesh started even under the late Sheikh Mujibur Rahman,
                  the first President of Bangladesh.

                  Shiekh Mujibur Rahman revived the Islamic Academy (which was banned in
                  1972) and upgraded it to a Foundation in March 1975 and increasingly
                  attended Islamic gatherings. He also banned sale and consumption of liquor,
                  though production of liquor continued and betting in horse-race. He sought
                  membership of the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) in February
                  1974, attended the OIC conference at Lahore the same year, established
                  diplomatic ties with Pakistan after granting unconditional pardon of the
                  occupational forces of Pakistan involved in war crimes on innocent people,
                  especially women, and allowed their subsequent safe repatriation, and
                  secured the founder membership of the Islamic Development Bank in 1975.

                  Towards the end of his rule, Mujib made frequent references to Islam in his
                  speeches and public utterances by using terms and idioms which were
                  peculiar mainly to the Islam-oriented Bangladeshi - like Allah (the
                  Almighty God),Insha Allah (God willing), Bismillah (in the name of God),
                  Tawaba (Penitence) and Imam (religious leader). He even dropped his
                  symbolic valedictory expression Joy Bangla (Glory to Bengal) and ended his
                  speeches with Khuda Hafez (May God protect you), the traditional
                  Indo-Islamic phrase for bidding farewell. In his later day speeches, he
                  also highlighted his efforts to establish cordial relations with the Muslim
                  countries in the Middle East.

                  According to Mr.Saleem Samad, the process of using Islam for leadership
                  legitimisation purposes gathered momentum during the military regimes of
                  General Ziaur Rahman (1975-1981) and General H.M. Ershad (1982-1990).
                  During the regime of Zia, the Constitution was amended to delete secularism
                  as one of the four state principles and insert "Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim"
                  (in the name of Allah, the beneficent, the merciful). The principle of
                  secularism was replaced by the words, "Absolute trust and faith in the
                  Almighty Allah shall be the basis of all action."

                  "Islamiyat" was introduced as compulsory from classes I to VIII in schools
                  with the option for minority students to take similar religious courses of
                  their own.

                  Between 1982 and 1990, Ershad made systematic efforts to continue the
                  policy of Zia, rehabilitating anti-liberation elements and the parallel
                  Islamisation culminating in the Eighth amendment to the Constitution
                  declaring "Islam" as a state religion. Earlier, the short-lived government
                  of Mustaque Ahmed (August 1975 - November 1975) brought to power at the
                  behest of young military officers, had declared the People's Republic of
                  Bangladesh as the"Islamic Republic of Bangladesh" over the state radio.

                  Mr.Samad points out that the subsequent regimes of Khaleda Zia and Shiekh
                  Hasina, which came to power through popular mandate through a free and fair
                  election process under two consecutive neutral governments (in 1991 and
                  1996), too continued the Islamic policies of the previous governments. They
                  did not try to reverse the Islamisation measures taken by Ershad. The
                  Constitution of Bangladesh, despite the Awami League being in power today,
                  remains an Islamic one.

                  In mid -1993, the Khaleda Zia Government, under pressure from Islamic
                  fundamentalist elements, asked the commercial banks to disallow the
                  withdrawal of substantial cash money by Hindu account holders and to stop
                  the disbursement of business loans to Hindus living in the districts
                  adjoining the India-Bangladesh border.

                  None of these Governments took action to restore to the Hindus their
                  properties seized by the Ayub Government in 1965 under the Enemy Property
                  (Custody and Registration) Order under the "Defence of Pakistan Rules
                  Ordinance" which has since been replaced by the Vested Property Act.

                  More later.

                  Tahera
                  ___________________________________________________________________________

                  [M:MS] Replies related to religious practice in Banagladesh may be
                  considered for posting. Alochona do not consider posting messages that
                  merely preach, support or criticize a religion. The content needs to be
                  related to Bangladesh and its future status for approval.
                • Farida Majid
                  Bangladesh can t unite Non-Muslims in Bangladesh unless Bangladesh became a secular state. The above statement is not exactly true. What does the writer mean
                  Message 8 of 16 , Jun 1, 2002
                  • 0 Attachment
                    "Bangladesh can't unite Non-Muslims in Bangladesh unless Bangladesh
                    became a secular state."

                    The above statement is not exactly true. What does the writer mean by
                    secularism? Does that mean religionless -- or 'dharmo-heenota' as the
                    Islamists describe it? Please, let us not repeat these Jamaati propaganda as
                    if we believe in them ourselves, and then try to seek a solution. If we
                    keep repeating these false ideas of secularism, we will drive away the
                    secularism that is already there and had been there for centuries. We would
                    then be working in the interests that are dear to the heart of the Jamaati
                    leaders.

                    The illegal doctoring of the 1972 Constitution by the military dictator
                    Ziaur Rahman has succeeded in doing one serious damage, and one thing alone.
                    Scrapping the Article 12 has made religion-based politics legal. This was
                    probably done with full support from the US foreign policy setters at the
                    time, who were probably urged by the Saudis.

                    Has that important change in the Constitution stopped the broadcasting
                    of the various religious scripts and their explications on the radio in the
                    early mornings -- a tradition kept up and honored since Pakistan days?

                    Has that change taken off Christmas, Bouddha Purnima, Durga Puja,
                    Janmashtomi, etc. from the list of National holidays? Readers should note
                    that the USA and Britain have less number of religions represented by their
                    national holidays, and India, the birthplace of Lord Buddha, have no
                    holidays for the Buddhists.

                    Culturally uninitiated Hindus of Bangladesh who are whipping up
                    communal frenzies among the Hindu citizens of BD are alienating them from
                    their fellow citizens. This is what I am deadly against. Bangladesh is very
                    proud of its Hindu tradition. Janmashtomi, by the way is a specifically
                    local festival. Nowhere else in the world is it a national holiday. Whether
                    you are a Muslim, Christian or Bouddha, Shri Krishna is a beloved Bangalee
                    cultural icon. It is a fact the HRCBM people of New York conveniently
                    forget to mention that the number of BD Muslim attendants at their annual
                    Durga Puja festival far exceeds the few if any from West Bengal. Now that
                    they have completely aligned themselves with the BJP and the fascist Sangh
                    Parivar of India, they may decide to abandon Durga Puja and start
                    celebrating Ram-janambhumi and chanting "Jay Shree Ram." The worship of Ram
                    is so un-Bengali, and it is one major reason why the RSS could not get too
                    many Bengali recruits to their cause.

                    Let me conclude with an example of the natural multiculturalism of the
                    ordinary people of Bangladesh. Towards the end of the Jamaati brouhaha over
                    Taslima Nasrin, in the midst of their gloating over the success of throwing
                    her out of the country, an event took place within the earshot of the
                    Mollahs that must have made them uncomfortable. Early in 1994 a hit-song
                    sold in millions and blared out over the loud-speakers all over the country.
                    The singer, Dilruba's voice packed with power and artistic grace belted out:
                    "Shri Krishna biccheder jwaalaaay --e ango jaye jwoliya re, bhromor koyio
                    giya." The song was composed by Radha Raman of Sylhet, probably earlier in
                    the century, and its modern arrangement was quite pleasing with electronic
                    vamps and a base flute to accompany Dilruba's voice. It was an exquisite
                    song!

                    But then, may be the Mollahs were not uncomfortable. After all, they
                    have grown up listening to radha-krishna songs, and these types of
                    'biccheder gan' are extremely popular everywhere. May be it did not raise an
                    eyebrow, it was so natural.

                    All the best.

                    Farida Majid.
                    ===============================================

                    From: <shormilanondi>
                    To: <alochona@yahoogroups.com>
                    Sent: Saturday, June 01, 2002 2:15 AM
                    Subject: [ALOCHONA] Can Bangladesh be a Secular State ?


                    Dear Alochoks:

                    Last few months many Alochoks and few other forums ( Shetubondhon,
                    Aalap , NFB ) did marvelous work to unite all Bangladeshis to fight
                    those who work against Bangladesh's interest. The patriotism of many
                    Bangladeshis has been visibly apparent throughout the past few
                    months, and hats-off to those who worked hard to protect Bangladesh's
                    interest in the international arena.

                    However, there is more that needs to be done aside from taking part
                    in the good fight. HRCBM will not go away nor will its tentacles,
                    which appear like mushrooms every day. There is a major fear factor
                    of seeing thousands of HRCBM and anti-Bangladesh organization in the
                    near future.

                    Minority atrocities, religious discriminations are a very tiny
                    problem in Bangladesh. This is more likely an issue of law and order
                    not communal riots or bigotry.

                    But .the real problem lies within the Bangladesh Constitution.

                    I have spoken to many moderate Hindu, Buddhist and Christian
                    Bangladeshis in the past few months. Every one agrees that the
                    campaigns run by HRCBM or " Hindu -Buddhist and Christian Porishod "
                    are not acceptable, but all of these people, who are patriots of
                    Bangladesh, have viable questions about the country's current status.
                    Every one has feeling of insecurity and melancholia because " Islam
                    is the state religion of Bangladesh". No matter how much we work to
                    unite Bangladesh, until Bangladesh becomes a true " secular state"
                    not all Non-Muslims will come forward to unite with Muslims.

                    The root of this problem started when Ex-president Ershad declared
                    Bangladesh as an " Islamic State". Right after his declaration "
                    Hindu - Buddhist -Christian Poroshod "was formed. Many non-Muslims
                    felt like second-class citizens.

                    But that was definitely not the beginning.

                    If we go back in the history, we will see that ex-president Zia
                    changed the constitution and made religious political parties like
                    Jamaat to practice politics in Bangladesh. What an irony, Zia's
                    successor Ershad went little farther then Zia with his so called
                    declaration.

                    We all know Zia and Ershad wanted nothing but popularity from among
                    the majority and used religion as a weapon. It is quite apparent from
                    the many party sponsored Ramadan Ifaris and such that no party
                    including BNP and AL care about religion but uses the concept of
                    religion as their political gimmick to reap benefits. No matter what
                    the consequence or how much the necessity, no political government
                    will change Bangladesh into a " secular state".

                    There are many more adversaries for Bangladesh in the future since
                    this is only the beginning. Similar organization like HRCBM and their
                    subgroups will spread in future unless we strike the heart of the
                    problem.

                    Bangladesh can't unite Non-Muslims in Bangladesh unless Bangladesh
                    became a secular state.

                    The change has to be by the people and pressuring the government
                    wouldn't achieve any change. Unfortunately HRCBM and many non-Muslims
                    don't understand that and believe that pressure and smearing of the
                    government in the international arena would make them change the
                    status of Bangladesh.

                    As many Alochoks believe the future of Bangladesh don't lies in
                    the hands of Islamists, and Islamic government will only worsen the
                    situation of Bangladesh. Supporting "State Religion Islam" only harm
                    the religious harmony we have in Bangladesh. We have to give our
                    thoughts to dissolve this situation as soon as we can. But I wonder
                    what can few thousands Bangladeshis in cyberspace can do to change
                    the popular idea which support " State Religion Islam of Bangladesh" ?

                    Dear Alochoks

                    In the past, wise Alochoks gave solution to many problems. Now I
                    bring another problem in front of you. Please share your ideas and
                    hope we can find a solution to making Bangladesh a " securer state"

                    Regards
                    Shormila
                    _____________________________________________________________________

                    [M:MS]
                  • Isaac Baroi
                    Dear Friends, Secular state is a vague word. Even USA or Europe never claims to be a Secular state . During our Liberation War Mujib had no clear political
                    Message 9 of 16 , Jun 1, 2002
                    • 0 Attachment
                      Dear Friends,

                      "Secular state" is a vague word. Even USA or Europe
                      never claims to be a "Secular state". During our
                      Liberation War Mujib had no clear political or
                      historical VISION concerning what means "secularism".

                      This is a funny way we minority often react when
                      mentally we feel minorities are insecure. Even Socialism
                      does not believe the word "secular state". What we
                      need now "Justice for all","Democratic Rights for
                      all"

                      In our Bengali history we could see the Hindus
                      though they were minority Jaminders had oppressed
                      Muslim farmers or low cast Hindus throughout the East
                      Bengal in the past. Rabindranath Tagor or Kazi Nazrul
                      Islam's writings are the real picture of BENGALI
                      HUMANITY, nothing secular nor Muslims or Hindus.

                      Christian Missionaries were minority but through their
                      Churches in some cases they were oppressing poor
                      Chriatians and the majority natives in various way.

                      Imam of the mosque did the same. Everyones technique
                      were base on their own selfishness. So, why speak
                      "secular", for whom this "secular", let us speak right
                      for all the oppressed, for all the Bangladeshi people
                      who are living in injustice or suffering from our
                      medival system. Let us fight against the system,
                      against the colonial mentality. Let us change the
                      system which been planted by the colonial rulers.
                      Learn from America how they had change the instrument
                      of oppressions which were planted by the British.

                      I was very surprised to see that someone gave a
                      reference of my friend Salim Samad's article based on
                      different ideas. Salim Samad is one of my dear Muslim
                      friend. He had taken my interview and read my book on
                      the Human Rights issues in Bangladesh. I am not
                      impressed by my friend Salim Samad as Sharier Kabir.
                      Their inner motives is not so "SECULAR" rather
                      "political" and "beneficials".

                      Here, I have to tell to
                      all, please stop politics with the word "minority",
                      whether you are a minority or majority. Think from
                      human family, free from your captive ideas. I am a
                      Bangali or Bangladeshi or a Human being whatever my
                      religion may be. This is the truth of my "ALL RIGHTS".
                      I should be judge through my deeds not by my color,
                      castes or faith.

                      ________________________________________________________

                      [M:MS] I would like to highlight a few statements:

                      1. Even Socialism does not believe the word "secular
                      state". What we need now "Justice for all","Democratic
                      Rights for all".

                      2. In our Bengali history we could see the Hindus
                      though they were minority Jaminders had oppressed
                      Muslim farmers or low cast Hindus throughout the East
                      Bengal in the past.

                      3. please stop politics with the word "minority",
                      whether you are a minority or majority.
                    • Alochona Magazine
                      Dear Alochoks, June issue of Alochona Magazine has arrived!!! Click http://magazine.alochona.org/home/home.asp now. In its fifth year of operation, today it is
                      Message 10 of 16 , Jun 1, 2002
                      • 0 Attachment
                        Dear Alochoks,

                        June issue of Alochona Magazine has arrived!!!
                        Click http://magazine.alochona.org/home/home.asp now.

                        In its fifth year of operation, today it is a wonderful feeling for
                        all of us, here at Alochona.

                        We began Alochona as a discussion forum and now we've grown into an
                        organization that connects like-minded people and hosts a platform
                        for developing bold and innovative solutions to Bangladeshi problems.
                        Thanks to you for your continued support and love.

                        As time passes, Alochona needs to think where it stands now and where
                        can it be in the future. As we always say, we want to see a better
                        Bangladesh. It is a desire that citizens of every country have. The
                        world today is very different than it was a few years ago. Now it is
                        more complex and more open. Advancement in communication has given
                        people more power to know how the national and international leaders
                        are shaping their future. Also, now people can communicate their
                        opinion to someone living far away.

                        Alochona is banking on that change. Alochona has shown how we, living
                        in various parts of the world, can help to shape the new Bangladesh
                        and create a relationship among Bangladeshis across the globe.

                        In this issue, you will have a glimpse of how our beloved members
                        perceive Alochona and its future. You will see how their expectations
                        have grown. To keep up to the satisfaction, we often ask active
                        members to advise Alochona and consider seriously what they have to
                        say. Changes are adopted according to the demands and expectations.

                        For example, in this issue, we have introduced a new
                        section, "Shabbash Bangali" and showcasing some of the heroes of our
                        country who are working hard to bring some changes in the country. It
                        is also collaboration with Ashoka Foundation, which is promoting
                        social entrepreneurship around the globe and in Bangladesh. We also
                        have introduced Business and Economy sections as our readers have
                        shown interest in that area. We hope these initiatives will bring
                        ideas that may influence the thinking of our fellow citizens.

                        It is, therefore, very important to remember that sustainable
                        development in Bangladesh can be made through the cooperation and
                        pooling of the talents and resources of Bangladeshis living around
                        the globe.

                        The theme of the month is Celebrating Alochona.

                        Thank you. Enjoy. And be with Alochona in the coming years. And
                        please do not forget to send a note saying Happy Birthday Alochona.


                        Editor,
                        Alochona Magazine
                        http://magazine.alochona.org/home/home.asp
                      • Big Lion
                        Congratulations to Alochona for a job well done. Good luck and best wishes in the coming years. Now on to more serious issues. I draw the attention of the
                        Message 11 of 16 , Jun 1, 2002
                        • 0 Attachment
                          Congratulations to Alochona for a job well done. Good luck and best wishes
                          in the coming years.

                          Now on to more serious issues. I draw the attention of the reader to the
                          recent publication of a report by the Awami League.

                          This CRI report that alleges that the BNP-led alliance came to power through
                          unfair means is a carefully timed effort. It seems the idea is to allow
                          substantial time to pass for things to settle down and people to forget the
                          events of the October 1, 2001 election day, before this report is released.

                          Awami League leaders are now talking about case studies on 'crude rigging'
                          in this report. Well, anyone can come up with case studies on their trip to
                          Mars, but making an actual trip to the red planet is a completely different
                          thing.

                          It is imperative that Bangladeshi citizens now take action against the Awami
                          League for holding the nation hostage through its destructive and propaganda
                          politics. I feel judicial proceeding should be initiated against this party
                          in the court of law. To this end, relevent laws should also be enacted that
                          discourage such lengthy absence from the Parliament. There should be
                          guidelines to voice protests and conduct a walkout. Missing the parliament
                          from day one and for months at a time can no longer be called protest
                          walkout. This practice like the destructive hartals is highly unacceptable
                          and must stop now.

                          It is also desirable that the Leader of the Opposition in Parliament, Sheikh
                          Hasina Wajed do not disgrace the nation by taking petty complains to foreign
                          visiting dignitaries. Our internal problems must be resolved internally. She
                          should realize such complaining attitude is demeaning to Bangladesh and to
                          her person and to the Office of the Leader of the Opposition in Bangladesh
                          Parliament.
                          ____________________________________________________________________________

                          [M:MS] Is it important to have laws that discourage lengthy absence from the
                          Parliament? Should there be guidelines for parties and MPs to voice protests
                          and conduct a walkout? Can missing the parliament from day one and for months
                          at a time be called a protest walkout? Shouldn't this practice, like the
                          destructive hartals, be highly unacceptable and must stop now? please comment.
                        • ahsan hasib
                          Dear Madam Shormila: Bravo for such an excellent analysis of out nation-cum social crisis. I almost fully endorse your views except a few reservations.
                          Message 12 of 16 , Jun 2, 2002
                          • 0 Attachment
                            Dear Madam Shormila:

                            Bravo for such an excellent analysis of out nation-cum
                            social crisis. I almost fully endorse your views
                            except a few reservations. However, we the Bangladeshi
                            people were traditionally, historically, and socially
                            contend a secular ideology. How can ewe forget the
                            past when most of us grew up in a mixed culture!!

                            The so called vested interest groups have always
                            jeopardize our well balanced social values, even now.
                            The only solution ahead is probably to jeopardize
                            their values and detrimental attempts with our
                            combined efforts.

                            No doubt we all love our homeland Bangladesh.

                            janani janmabhumishcha shwargadopi garioshi.

                            Regards,
                            Ahsan
                            USA
                            __________________________________________________________

                            [M:MS]
                          • Ashoka Foundation
                            Ashoka Fellows Are Among the World s Fast 50 By Ashoka Foundation In Washington DC, on February 14, 2002 Ashoka Fellows A.H. Maqsood Sinha and Iftekhar
                            Message 13 of 16 , Jun 2, 2002
                            • 0 Attachment
                              Ashoka Fellows Are Among the World's Fast 50
                              By Ashoka Foundation

                              In Washington DC, on February 14, 2002 Ashoka Fellows A.H. Maqsood
                              Sinha and Iftekhar Enayetullah were named winners of Fast Company's
                              first-ever Fast 50 competition. Honored for their innovative work
                              through Waste Concern, Iftekhar and Maqsood are tackling the problem
                              of urban waste disposal in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

                              "Everyday, Ashoka's social entrepreneurs confront society's problems
                              across the globe and take effective action to solve them," said
                              Sushmita Ghosh, President of Ashoka: Innovators for the Public. "The
                              Fast 50 award is further evidence that business and social
                              entrepreneurs are in the same league: social entrepreneurs have the
                              same extraordinary determination and vision of business entrepreneurs
                              but devote these qualities to solving social problems. Iftekhar and
                              Maqsood's success illustrates how the business and social sectors are
                              coming together to activate social change."

                              Iftekhar and Maqsood are the only Fast 50 social entrepreneurs
                              hailing from the non-profit sector and the only winners from Asia.
                              Their organization, Waste Concern, runs neighborhood plants that
                              convert garbage into compost, improve public health and create jobs.
                              As Jane Jacobs, author of The Economy of Cities wrote in 1969, urban
                              waste has become the goldmine of the future.

                              Along with composting, Maqsood and Iftekhar have designed and
                              implemented an inexpensive solid waste management program in two
                              slums of Dhaka. Supported by the United Nations, they have adapted a
                              Sri Lankan model of barrel-type composting that allows slum dwellers
                              to compost their kitchen scraps. People can sell their nutrient-rich
                              products to Maqsood and Iftekhar's organization. Both point out that
                              it is meaningless to exhort people living in slums to keep a clean
                              environment when they don't have enough food on the table.
                              Demonstrating that waste is a resource, made it possible to gain
                              their cooperation. As Mohammad Azizul, a senior slum resident,
                              remarked, "The slum is cleaner, we are earning money, and there is
                              less illness."

                              Iftekhar and Maqsood met while completing their graduate research.
                              They decided to work together to develop programs for urban waste
                              management. They offered free services to the municipal government,
                              to the local engineering department, and to other government
                              agencies, but found no takers. One official heard them out then
                              challenged them: if their ideas for community-managed compost plants
                              were so great, why didn't Maqsood and Iftekhar create it them
                              themselves, without government help? Inspired by the challenge, they
                              founded Waste Concern.

                              To read in-depth about Waste Concern and see hotos of the communities
                              they reach, please visit our photo-studio at

                              http://www.changemakers.net/studio/01may/index.cfm.
                              _______________________________________________________________________

                              [M:MS] From Alochona Magazine http://magazine.alochona.org

                              This is an example of how Bangaldeshi youths are trying to change
                              their country and making us proud internationally.

                              But they all need your help. Please write to Alochona if you want to know
                              more about them and if you can help anyway. Write to management@...
                            • Syed Yousuf
                              Dear Alochoks, Stemming from the recent discussions in Alochona and other e-forums - we at Drishtipat has created an appeal asking authorities do something for
                              Message 14 of 16 , Jun 2, 2002
                              • 0 Attachment
                                Dear Alochoks,

                                Stemming from the recent discussions in Alochona and other
                                e-forums - we at Drishtipat has created an appeal asking
                                authorities do something for the exploited Bangladeshi
                                migrant workers in the Middle East. We hope this appeal
                                will reach the proper authorities and will generate some
                                measures.

                                -Syed A. Yousuf

                                related previous discussions in Alochona;

                                http://groups.yahoo.com/group/alochona/message/5374
                                http://groups.yahoo.com/group/alochona/message/5376
                                http://groups.yahoo.com/group/alochona/message/5392
                                http://groups.yahoo.com/group/alochona/message/5394
                                http://groups.yahoo.com/group/alochona/message/5395
                                http://groups.yahoo.com/group/alochona/message/5397

                                In Drishtipat

                                http://groups.yahoo.com/group/drishtipat/message/639


                                For more related news:

                                http://www.drishtipat.org/appeal/migrants.html

                                Here is the text of the appeal;

                                ============================================
                                We, like all other fellow Bangladeshis, are deeply saddened
                                to learn about the conditions of some Bangladeshi migrant
                                workers in Saudi Arabia. We came to know about their
                                conditions in several internet discussion groups and are
                                calling for the authorities to take swift measures.

                                This particular news we are concerned - is about the
                                Bangladeshi labors working for the Oyon Al-Hejaji
                                Maintenance and Cleaning Company. ( reported by Arab News,
                                May 26th - "Exploited Bangladeshi laborers abandoned by
                                their embassy")

                                The company recruited Bangladeshi workers for very low wage
                                and after the first month the workers were compensated one
                                third of the promised amount. After one month, the news
                                report details, the workers were left on themselves to find
                                their own work and destiny. In this day and age this is an
                                absolute mockery of the common labor recruitment practices.


                                The news details the bureaucracy and inactivity in the part
                                of related counselor officials. We regret to learn that
                                this particular case has been reported about one year ago
                                and has not been solved yet. We urge our officials in Saudi
                                Arabia to keep in mind the great importance and impact of
                                the foreign currency sent to Bangladesh as remittances by
                                the skilled and un-skilled migrant-workers. This is an
                                essential part of our national economy.

                                According to the report, his Excellency, the Bangladeshi
                                Ambassador to Saudi Arabia has expressed his inability to
                                take 'direct' responsibility for these Bangladeshis. In our
                                opinion, this is simply an unfortunate, outrageous and
                                avoidance of responsibility. As the chief representative
                                and our highest official of Bangladesh in Saudi Arabia
                                entrusted with duties of serving our country-folks - we
                                urge Mr. Ambassador to look into this matter immediately.
                                We also would like to ask the newly formed Ministry for the
                                Expatriate Bangladeshis to provide any and all necessary
                                assistance to the Embassy. These are our fellow countrymen
                                and many families must be suffering along with them. We
                                understand not everything is within the counselor's
                                capability - but such avoidance of direct or indirect
                                responsibility will cause the last remaining hopes to fade
                                away.

                                In an encouraging development of events, according to a
                                recent ILO (International Labour Organization) news
                                communiqu� - Thursday 18 April 2002 ( ILO/02/17 ) - "After
                                a visit to Saudi Arabia earlier this year by a team of ILO
                                experts, the Saudi Minister of Labour, Dr. Ali Al-Namlah,
                                has now signed into law new labour rules that allow workers
                                in Saudi Arabia - both national and foreign - to establish
                                committees to guard their interests at workplaces where 100
                                or more are employed." the Migrant workers rights has been
                                recognized by the Saudi Arabian Authorities.

                                We understand the uniqueness of the Saudi Arabian
                                migrant-labor market. We also understand the current market
                                for foreign workers in Middle Eastern nations are in
                                decline. In light of that we hope that this special
                                attention, which is being asked here, from the Embassy will
                                improve the general condition of Bangladeshi workers. It
                                will create a fairer workplace and therefore create more
                                opportunities for future employments.

                                We propose Mr. Ambassador take decisive actions to help
                                these migrant workers and set-up an example of action to
                                avoid the future violations of workers rights. We don't
                                expect the total situation to change overnight. At the same
                                time we do expect the workers will get their minimum dues
                                and all the help form the embassy when needed. We expect
                                the honorable Ambassador to be in contact with the proper
                                authorities in Saudi Arabia and help our fellow countrymen
                                in their dire times.

                                _____________________________________________________________

                                [M:MS]
                              • Farida Majid
                                Cinema [The Guardian ] Bangladesh at Cannes Matir Moina or The Clay Bird, a film by Tareque Masud, wins critics heart with the International Critics Prize
                                Message 15 of 16 , Jun 2, 2002
                                • 0 Attachment
                                  Cinema [The Guardian ]

                                  Bangladesh at Cannes

                                  Matir Moina or The Clay Bird, a film by Tareque Masud, wins critics heart
                                  with the International Critics' Prize

                                  Peter Bradshaw

                                  This charming, gentle film, showing in the Director's Fortnight at Cannes, is
                                  one of the real finds of the festival. It is about the experience of
                                  childhood, but draws upon unexpected reserves of drama and emotional disquiet
                                  to shed light on the world of adults, too. Set in East Pakistan (now
                                  Bangladesh) in the late 1960s, writer-director Tareque Masud's film tells the
                                  story of Anu, a boy whose father, Kazi, has abandoned the sophisticated
                                  European-British ways of his own youth to immerse himself in Islam.

                                  Kazi rejects westernised medicine to treat his ailing young daughter,
                                  and is perpetually furious at his wife's brother, an easy-going left-ish
                                  intellectual, for introducing Anu to sensuous Hindu folk rituals. So Anu is
                                  sent unhappily away to a strict Muslim education.

                                  Here Masud contrives some wonderful scenes of Anu's lonely, vulnerable
                                  childhood - appalling yet fascinating to anyone who has ever been to boarding
                                  school anywhere in the world. The director demonstrates a sure and
                                  compassionate touch in showing Anu making friends with Rokon, another
                                  outcast, and devising his own melancholy fantasy games. Later, when Anu
                                  suffers from an infection of the inner ear, which gives him tinnitus-type
                                  noises in his head, he is immersed under water in front of the entire school
                                  in an exorcism ceremony.Set against these shrewdly evoked scenes of private
                                  drama are some wonderful crowd scenes and ambitious set pieces, centring
                                  largely on the Hindu festivals of which Kazi is so suspicious. Masud also
                                  positions personal upheaval alongside the gathering political storm: a family
                                  tragedy dawns as the Pakistani army begins to invade, and Anu's family flee
                                  for the jungle. This is a tale told with humour, visual flair and a canny
                                  sense of narrative. Masud shows real feeling for both the children's sadness
                                  and their ingenuous pluck in the face of life's trials: a combination
                                  symbolised by the clay bird of the title, yearning to escape its earthly form
                                  and take wing.

                                  Peter Bradshaw is a film critic of The Guardian, London. This
                                  piece was published on May 23 before Matir Maina grabs the coved award in
                                  Cannes.
                                  ____________________________________________________________________________

                                  [M:MS]
                                • Maqsoodul Haque
                                  [Only morally Bangladesh can confront India s regional policy of hegemony and domination. Unfortunately, there is a dearth of wise people among those who
                                  Message 16 of 16 , Jun 3, 2002
                                  • 0 Attachment
                                    [Only morally Bangladesh can confront India's regional policy of hegemony
                                    and domination. Unfortunately, there is a dearth of wise people among those
                                    who determine the policies of Bangladesh and the large presence of the
                                    bootlickers of India in both Awami League and the BNP-led alliance is a
                                    major source of concern for any Bangladeshi citizen. Add to that the
                                    irresponsible role and stupidity of our media, or their conscious or
                                    unconscious effort to facilitate India's design to create a pretext for
                                    India's intervention, and one can't but be deeply concerned.]



                                    Bad news for Bangladesh
                                    Farhad Mazhar

                                    Courtesy: Prothom Alo [May 16, 2002]
                                    http://www.prothom-alo.net/pa/poll/news/category.php?

                                    Soon after BNP came to power, Awami League and its partisan intellectuals
                                    and leafletists stirred up the propaganda that the "fundamentalists" have
                                    come to power. There was hardly any paper where the slippery slope for the
                                    country on the path of fundamentalism was not prognosticated and the fatwa
                                    of the impending doom of the nation was not declared. A segment of the
                                    people even believed in this propaganda. Of course, there was a reason for
                                    it. After the October 2001 election, undoubtedly, there have been harassment
                                    and persecution of the minorities, especially the Hindus, in Bangladesh. But
                                    there was nothing like burning Muslims in a festive atmosphere as it
                                    happened in Gujarat. Also, there was lingering doubt whether those incidents
                                    against the Hindu minority were communally or politically motivated. In many
                                    cases, BNP-affiliated people have pursued an agenda of settling old scores
                                    against their adversaries. Such incidents occurred mostly in those areas
                                    where Hindus are still counted as part of Awami League's vote bank. The kind
                                    of reports that surfaced in the media later on, it seems that subsequent to
                                    those incidents that were instigated by some local BNP affiliates,
                                    Awami-League affiliates themselves have taken on the same kind of role of
                                    persecution of minorities only to blame on BNP to gain some political
                                    mileage. Nothing definitive can be said about the authenticity of any such
                                    reports, one way or another. Almost all the newspapers in which such report
                                    appeared are AL-oriented and they are notorious for their partisanship, not
                                    for journalism. It is due to this ill reputation that they have lost their
                                    credibility with people. They are not trusted, even when they sometime
                                    report the truth. How deleterious this partisan media and journalism is for
                                    the development of a democratic state and government is amply illustrated in
                                    the case of Bangladesh.

                                    There have been repressions against minority - there is no question about
                                    it. Therefore, it remains a sacred duty of the conscious segment of the
                                    society to take a concerted stand against it. Why such united stance did not
                                    emerge is a responsibility that rests squarely on the shoulder of the public
                                    media. Thanks to them: even the enlightened and conscientious people have
                                    difference of opinion in regard to what exactly happened and how it can be
                                    analyzed. The kind of non-partisan or independent information, on the basis
                                    of which such resolution would have been possible, was not available. The
                                    main goal of the newspapers or the public media was to portray, by hook or
                                    crook, that the BNP-led government is a "Taliban" government. They have been
                                    overtaken by the craze for establishing this "Taliban" identity of
                                    Bangladesh before their own nation and abroad. It was a dishonest and
                                    despicable role. Such irresponsible role of the public media, especially
                                    during such national crisis, can be disastrous for the country's
                                    independence and sovereignty. Those who have seen such false propaganda in
                                    the international news media and on the internet know the matters quite
                                    well. For Bangladesh, this is the first bad news.

                                    Let India intervene to protect the minorities in Bangladesh - I have
                                    personally heard such demand from not only some organizations that claim to
                                    represent the interest of the minorities, but also from many of our poets
                                    and intellectuals. In the context of her intransigent approach toward the
                                    Kashmir issue, the ruling circle of India wants to take full advantage of
                                    George Bush's "War on Terrorism" against Islam as a religion and Muslims as
                                    a community. It is transparent from their words and actions. Icing on the
                                    cake would be to subdue and militarily defeat the long-standing struggle of
                                    the seven Indian states, neighboring Bangladesh, for independence. Thus, in
                                    the context of the world geo-politics, using the pretext of defending the
                                    interest of the minorities in Bangladesh, there is a strong possibility of
                                    India's intervention in Bangladesh. Of course, it remains to be seen whether
                                    such design of India would come to fruition in the face of regional
                                    interests of the United States, China, Japan and so on. If we observe the
                                    border incidents and the Indian policy of indiscriminately killing
                                    Bangladeshis by the BSF, then the desires of the Indian ruling class becomes
                                    crystal clear. This is the second bad news for Bangladesh.

                                    Bangladesh's policy toward India must be formulated taking the above aspects
                                    into consideration. The friendship and amity with the people of India must
                                    be fostered sincerely and unconditionally. The ruling class of India and the
                                    people of India must be treated separately in this regard. Only morally
                                    Bangladesh can confront India's regional policy of hegemony and domination.
                                    Unfortunately, there is a dearth of wise people among those who determine
                                    the policies of Bangladesh and the large presence of the bootlickers of
                                    India in both Awami League and the BNP-led alliance is a major source of
                                    concern for any Bangladeshi citizen. Add to that the irresponsible role and
                                    stupidity of our media, or their conscious or unconscious effort to
                                    facilitate India's design to create a pretext for India's intervention, and
                                    one can't but be deeply concerned.

                                    If such an India policy was in place, BNP would have ensured an independent
                                    and non-partisan investigation into incidents related to the minority
                                    repressions immediately in the aftermath of the October election. But BNP
                                    did not do that. Therefore, it has to carry others' corpse on its own
                                    shoulder now. The government is a "Taliban" government - this international
                                    certification has not been received due to those incidents, but due to the
                                    insensitivity of the government in dealing with and investigating those
                                    incidents. Due to the lack of this political astuteness, the public opinion
                                    of Indian people, affected by the propaganda of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad,
                                    will lean against the Muslim-majority Bangladesh. The consequence of this
                                    can be very harmful. I don't know if there is any such farsighted person in
                                    the government or leadership, who can foresee the potential of the course of
                                    regional situation following what happened in Gujarat.

                                    The readers probably remember how at that time the statement of the home
                                    minister that there are exaggerations about the issue of minority repression
                                    served as pouring oil on fire. Even if one minority individual is harassed -
                                    let alone persecuted - it is a responsibility of the government, and as such
                                    of the home minister. It was right at that time the home minister lost his
                                    eligibility for that sensitive post. I read in today's news that being
                                    perturbed by another sweet comment of the home minister, the prime minister
                                    is returning from New York much sooner than expected. By the bullet of a
                                    terrorist, an infant, Naushin, died in her father's lap. The pain and agony
                                    of this tragedy that touched the chord of so many people was affronted by
                                    this minister. He remarked: "To Whom she belongs has taken her." Such
                                    statement is possible only from an anti-Islam person - rather, a person
                                    without any moral principle or sensitivity. Where in the Qur'an Allah said
                                    that his possessions should be sent to him via the bullets of the criminals
                                    and the terrorists? There must be a limit to religious hypocrisy. That such
                                    people are a liability for BNP, we hope that the prime minister has come to
                                    realize it, though belatedly. She needs to realize that the current home
                                    minister is a bad news for both herself and the nation.

                                    Another blunder of the government was to arrest Shahriar Kabir. There will
                                    always be people in a country who would be the agents and spies of other
                                    governments engaged in or experts in subversive acts. This applies to all
                                    countries. During the Cold War, America used to employ journalists,
                                    intellectuals, writers, cultural workers as a front against the spread of
                                    communism. India is applying the same old tactics in Bangladesh. The
                                    importance of news, media, and cultural institutions in this struggle is a
                                    basic fact. The leftists also recognize this aspect and they regard the
                                    'ideological struggle' to win public opinion as an integral part of the
                                    class struggle. Not necessarily though, the journalists, intellectuals,
                                    writers or the cultural activists always knowingly or consciously
                                    participate in this. The lack of mature social thought, immature or
                                    underdeveloped thoughts about state and sovereignty, lack of citizens'
                                    responsibility, etc. often leads a segment of the society to take positions
                                    against their own country. They hurt their own feet with an axe. The main
                                    tendency of the circle of journalism, literature and cultural activism in
                                    Bangladesh is contrary to the interest of the country and its people.

                                    Whether Bangladesh will sustain as an independent country, or whether it
                                    would be better for Bangladesh to become a part of India - there is nothing
                                    wrong in having such a political discourse, because state is not an eternal
                                    entity - it can have change and transformation. Maybe this issue should have
                                    been raised and dealt with much earlier. It is such a nebulous environment,
                                    where the Indian domination has become such a force in our thought and
                                    culture. However, if people have fought in 1971 for an independent and
                                    sovereign country, then why did this not get crystallized in our
                                    consciousness that India is a separate entity - moreover, a larger and
                                    powerful state? Even if one ignores the psyche of the current ruling
                                    establishment of India, due to socioeconomic and political factors, the
                                    character of a large and powerful state like India inevitably tends to be
                                    domineering and imperialist in its regional policy and approach. If someone
                                    thinks otherwise, they have to demonstrate that in this age of capitalist
                                    globalization, even tigers eat grass.

                                    Why was it wrong to arrest Shahriar Kabir? Well, in a country where the
                                    thoughts about state and governance are nebulous, the culture and thought of
                                    such nation in general tend to be anti-state. Arresting someone in such a
                                    state and turning him into a champion of human rights lack any sense or
                                    wisdom. Whether Shahriar Kabir is presenting the truth about minority
                                    repression or misrepresenting the whole thing is irrelevant. If he did
                                    misrepresent, then didn't Taslima Nasreen do the same thing through her
                                    novel? I don't know of any law in any democratic country to deprive an
                                    author of his right to write or take pictures. Actually, anyone can escape
                                    through the hole in the name of democracy and conscience, and that's a hole
                                    we must not close, because to sustain the struggle of changing or
                                    transforming the state, even the worst adversaries of Shahriar Kabir would
                                    be united in defending this basic right. They will not see this retribution
                                    as something directed against an individual only. We always run a risk that
                                    any positive struggle in future might be sabotaged and suffocated in the
                                    name of treason. That's why generally governments are not foolhardy in their
                                    attempts to silence any ideological struggle using laws of treason. Rather,
                                    to confront their opponents, they enhance their own preparation, skills,
                                    intellect, artistic and literary capability, and cultural thoughts. In its
                                    character, BNP is anti-intellectualism and anti-culture. They hardly show
                                    any value for intellect or culture. This is not the first time they have
                                    thrown journalists or intellectuals to jail using the cover of treason. They
                                    have done it before. To defend its own ideology and philosophy, BNP will
                                    confront its opponents at the ideological and philosophical level, it does
                                    not yet have such courage. What is really its ideology? Such apathy,
                                    ignorance and alienation of one of the major political parties toward
                                    intellectualism, literature and culture is another bad news for the country.

                                    The lack of clarity in our political thought is also manifested in our
                                    political conduct. Even after being elected, we don't take our seat in the
                                    parliament. Instead of standing by a democratically elected government to
                                    conduct the affairs of the country, we are ever-immersed in the game of how
                                    quickly a government can be unseated. As soon as we are in power, we think
                                    that the mandate of the people is not to run the country, but to carry out
                                    the political revenge against the opposition. We think that the people have
                                    elected us not to conduct our economic affairs efficiently, but to loot and
                                    destroy the economy. Even in regard to natural resources, our approach is
                                    driven by thoughts about the market, not the state. Whether we should export
                                    natural gas to India, is it only an economic question? Whether transit right
                                    should be granted to India, is that only an economic issue? We should not
                                    confuse economic issues with national issues. To defend or protect their
                                    independence and liberty, people sometimes embrace economic hardship. The
                                    conduct of a slave and a free person can't be the same. This malaise of ours
                                    is deep rooted. Its treatment would be possible only when we are united
                                    about what the disease is.

                                    Why did we seek independence in 1971? Why was this struggle for an
                                    independent and sovereign state? What consciousness was at work at that
                                    time, but not now any more? Or, is it that we were not really conscious at
                                    all? Is it true then that Pakistan was divided to bring Bangladesh into
                                    existence, because India wanted the break up of Pakistan? Does the idea of
                                    Bangladesh as an independent and sovereign state truly operate in our
                                    consciousness? If it does, then how is it that we submit so gleefully to the
                                    regional hegemony and domination? What might explain it?

                                    People hoped that after the new election, there would be improvement in
                                    conditions related to crime, terrorism, and the law and order. It did not
                                    happen. Now, according to the reports in the media, the situation is
                                    terrible. The statements and unworthiness of the home minister as well as a
                                    law enforcement system that carries the legacy of the colonial period are
                                    being used as explanations for the current problems. These, of course,
                                    represent only partial reality. The real issue is that we have embraced the
                                    market system as our socioeconomic system. Mafia, gangsterism, etc. are
                                    inevitable byproducts of capitalist system. We want capitalism, but don't
                                    want terrorism, professional murderers or their syndicates - how is that
                                    possible? We want such a system, where one can't survive unless one does not
                                    crack a jackfruit on another's shoulder. The race and rivalry for wealth and
                                    possessions are our only motto and value. That's how people have gradually
                                    have attuned themselves to the notion that for money one can do just about
                                    anything. It is becoming an innate part of their character. Why shouldn't
                                    there be terrorism then? Those who want to know more can study the history
                                    and activities of Mafia, heroine dealers and so on in other countries.

                                    The real political danger of such terrorist activities is that the unstable
                                    environment that will ensue from the agitation of Awami League against the
                                    failure of BNP will only fortify the hold of such terrorism and violence.
                                    The real difference is that Awami League is an well-knit organization of
                                    organized crime, while BNP is a club of the same. That's why criminal
                                    activities during the Awami League peiod was organized, conducted under the
                                    direction of the political party. Even Shaikh Hasina went ahead and stood by
                                    Zainal Hazari. In comparison, BNP is such a political party that has no
                                    control over the terrorists and criminals. We can have a perennial
                                    discussion about whether unorganized, scattered terrorism is better than the
                                    organized terrorism and vice versa. Or, we can raise the question as to what
                                    should be practically done and how much BNP is willing to do. But before
                                    that I would like to pose a small question to our citizenry. Is there any
                                    law in Bangladesh to justify arresting the relatives of a terrorist, if the
                                    terrorists themselves can't be caught or arrested? Would any democratic
                                    state or human rights lend support to such provision? On what basis police
                                    can take an innocent persons to the police station due to alleged crimes of
                                    their relatives? What constitutional basis is there for this? I hope the
                                    home minister would clarify this.

                                    I do not believe that ousting the current BNP-led four-party alliance from
                                    the power and installing another Awami League government would make any
                                    difference in regard to crime and terrorism. Rather, it would create a more
                                    anarchic situation. There is a need for honest criticism and resistance
                                    against BNP's dangerous failure. However, if such effrots are merely a cover
                                    or tactic for bringing back Awami League to power now, that would really be
                                    a tragic news for Bangladesh.

                                    Translated by Dr.Omar Farooq
                                    Courtesy Shetubondhon

                                    ____________________________________________________________________________

                                    [M:MS]
                                  Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.