168th Issue Aug.-Sept. 2010
Good governance or rule by power?
The recent incidents in Pabna between the Pabna district administration and a section of the youth wings of the ruling party, the Awami League, has raised lots of questions and the ordinary people are beginning to doubt whether the ruling party will just keep quite or will take action to stop their unruly youth groups to save the country from their hands. The attack on the District Commissioner of Pabna and his colleagues and the vandalism over the recruitment of third class employees illustrated the sense of insecurity of the government officials. The Chhatra League had demanded that their candidates be accepted; even though the time for submission was over. It is an understatement to say that good governance is fraught with danger today in Bangladesh; it is actually under severe constraints. The local and national civil society has become stunned at the happenings in Pabna.
When the civil servants in charge of district administration are driven to tears and express their helplessness in public, for having no protection from the political leaders, rather the leaders instigates the unruly supporters and cadres, there must be something very serious and wrong in the system of governance. It is disconcerting to see the police inactive when some of the officials were being subjected to assault and humiliation. There had been many such incidents when the unruly cadres have forcefully occupied lands of others in front of the political leaders and police administration, when young girls were teased and even raped and the victims approached the local political leader without any support or help, when the students wings of the ruling Awami League tried to occupy the varsity halls and control the tender business in the universities in the country, people looked at the government very helplessly. The prime minister, the home minister and the state minister for home affairs repeatedly said, no terrorist will go unpunished, but when events happened nothing could stop the activists and cadres of the ruling party.
The concept of governance denotes the use of political authority and exercise of control in a society. The head of the state and the ministers should be impartial and be strict to save the lives and properties of the state and the citizens without any partisan view or division. But we have seen in Pabna, the students and the youth wings of AL tried to force their will on the district administration’s recruitment process under the patronage of the local MP, a very naked picture of partisan politics and how the rudimentary norms of administration of and law and order are being thrown to the winds. The local high officials expressed their helplessness with tears in their eyes to an audience comprising members of the local civil society in the face of the vandalism over recruitment and the assault they faced in their service life after the event.
The government and the authority today are being challenged in three areas – firstly, the tender trade where development work is being seriously hampered due to the illegal, unnecessary and unwanted intervention and control of the proper system. Secondly, as the Pabna event has illustrated, there is an unaccepted pressure to dictate government recruitment. The worse and the latest event is when a doctors’ group belonging to the AL has managed to employ all those who failed in the recruitment test, violating all rules and regulations with the support of the authorities. And thirdly, many educational institutions, particularly the public universities, have become battlefields between various fractions of BCL, all for domination of the turf and admission trade.
In the Pabna event the terrorist objectives had been the District Commissioner, Superintendent of the Police and Upazila Nirbahi (executive) Officer, who have been withdrawn following the recent row between the local administration and ruling AL adherents and who failed to control the situation. The ministers of administration and home separately decided on directives from government higher-ups, who were irked by the role the three had played.. The DC was made OSD under the establishment ministry, while the SP was sent to the police headquarters. The decision was taken to ease the feud between the ruling party and the top district administration in Pabna.
It has been reported in the dailies that the establishment of ministry is going to take departmental action against the Pabna DC for “violating service rules” by publicly expressing his helplessness, seeking justice support from the local people and for violating the service rule of “discharging duties with courage.’ How was the DC to show courage when his office was attacked and ransacked by at least 21 party goons who have turned themselves in to the law at the suggestion of AL leaders?###
Religious murder of two brothers
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has condemned the extra-judicial killing of two Christian brothers who had reportedly been cleared of blasphemy charges. Rashid Emmanuel, 30, and his brother, Sajid, 27, were gunned down by suspected Islamic extremists while in police custody on July 19.
“It is obvious that the mere charge of blasphemy, however preposterous it may be, is now a conviction in itself,” HRCP chairperson Mehdi Hasan said in a July 20 statement. “The tragic incidents raise many questions,” Hasan said, particularly in relation to the failure of police security and the lack of a legal requirement for an investigation prior to registration of blasphemy charges.
The HRCP also condemned the use of mosque loudspeakers to instigate violence against religious minorities; It urged the government to act against the promotion of hatred and to ensure that the attackers are prosecuted.
The Catholic bishops’ National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP) also demanded a long-term solution to the abuse of blasphemy laws. According to NCJP statistics, 35 Christians and Muslims have been killed extra-judicially since 1992 over blasphemy allegations.
Local Christian youths are criticizing Church leaders for failing to protect minorities as rumors fly of more Muslim mob attacks. Pakistan intelligence agencies also reported yesterday that terrorists are planning attacks on the worship places of minorities in the provinces.
“We are being killed and persecuted,” Dominican Father Pascal Paulus told ucanews.com, adding that the Church is presently formulating defense strategies. “We are not politicians and will not organize any protests,” he said. UCA News 23.07.10
RMG workers’ new wages
Govt. announced on June 29 the new minimum wage structure for the readymade garment sector. The minimum will be Tk 3,000, the highest raise will be 87% and the new scale will be effective from Nov. 1. The Tk. 3,000 includes Tk 2,000 as basic salary, Tk 800 as house rent and Tk 222 medical allowance. Since the wage board was formed embracing all relevant parties, Govt. was hoping that this would end the long-standing labour unrest.
Violent reaction to wage scale
The next day, July 30, about 5,000 workers went on a rampage through areas of Dhaka and Gazipur, rejecting the scale and demanding Tk 5,000 minimum wage from August. The crowds overcame police barriers and vandalised more than 200 businesses and several factories, most of which had nothing to do with the issue. Many glass storefronts were demolished and a dyeing factory was raided to build a big bonfire of fabrics in the road. The workers also damaged at least five vehicles.
The employment minister, Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain, claimed that a political party was behind the violence to disrupt the war criminals trial, since the damage occurred in areas where people are against the trial. DS 31.07.10
The violence spread the next two days. On July 31 more than 200 RMG workers and 20 police were injured when they clashed in Ashulia and police arrested 12. One factory took to the road and other factories joined them, barricading the Dhaka-Tangail highway and vandalising at least 12 factories.
The Communist Party clashed with the police in Narayanganj, leaving 55 or more injured. On Aug. 1 worker-police clashes in Ashulia and Fatullah injured over 200 people. Angry workers demanding Tk 5,000 as minimum wage damaged 150 factories and businesses. Production was suspended in 350 factories and three others shut down indefinitely. Again, roads were barricaded at three different points for several hours. Worker representatives sat with Govt. and owners in the BGMEA office, however, and agreed to the new pay structure, denouncing violence in the factories. Despite the “understanding,” demonstrations and violence on the streets continued for the fifth day. Business leaders in the garment sector called for Govt. to take stern action against the rioters because the industry is the most labour-intensive and earns almost 80 percent of all export income.
Theviolence spread to Chittagong also and on Aug. 1-2 the workers of two garment shops went on a rampage and brought production to a halt.
Why an RMG worker rebellion?
The recently announced garment worker compromise wage of Tk. 3,000 per month provoked the garment workers rebellion. The BGMEA announced that it was arrived at with participation of representatives of all parties, but it was not widely known that the workers’ representatives were not truly representative of the workers or of their opinions. It was commonly felt that the only just solution was to hold out for Tk 5,000 per month. Yet a survey of The Daily Star showed that more than 60% of the workers said that unrest could have been avoided if they had announced that the salary increment would be given before Eid. Some thought that the Labour Minister had promised this but he denied this, saying: “Legally it takes six months for implementation.” but they were generous in making it only three months. Many workers were still suspicious that the new wage would not be given even after the three months.
Donor charge on project delays
At the present time the World Bank and Asian Development Bank take a 0.5 to 0.75 percent commitment charge for delay in implementing of projects funded by them. The terms and conditions of an agreement on a $1 billion credit offered by India for 14 projects, mostly for infrastructure building, were signed on Aug. 7. The commitment charge is set at 0.5 percent of the credit for delay in implementation. Each project will be treated individually.
Saudi Arabia tight control tested
The rigid control of the Saudi legal system and restrictive interpretation of human rights is being tested for the first time. Sulman-al-Rashaudi, a reform-minded judge, is a political prisoner who was arrested on vague allegations and after more than three years in jail had yet to be charged with any crime. Activists of a political rights association filed a case under a little-known law that offers protection to first-time detainees. Their lawyer cannot even meet his client and the home ministry failed to throw out the case. Human rights observers have been allowed to attend the six hearings to date but they there is a “menacing heavy police presence.” DS 01.08.10
Corruption of ACC police
Two police constables, Faruk Hossain and Faruk Hossain, on deputation at the Anti-Corruption Commission, were arrested Aug. 2 for cheating people by fake ACC notices. They issued notices in the name of the ACC and blackmailed people into paying them bribes to “quash” the notice. ACC Asst. Director Jahangir Alam turned them over to the Ramna Police and filed a case against them.
CU students protest with Violence
Hundreds of students of Chittagong University demonstrated on the streets for eight consecutive days and had clashes with the police that injured over 50 students and 20 policemen. The students made three demands, including cancellation of the rise in fees. They claimed that the departments are taking more money from them without giving a receipt. The CU Syndicate on Aug. 2 decided to close the university and formed a three-person probe committee to investigate the violence and vandalism.
Twenty of the students were charged in two cases and sent to jail on Aug. 3. Of over 250 students detained, t4 were shown as arrested in two cases out of a total of 1,446 named and unnamed students.
Expecting wife beaten to death
Amena Begum (26), who was expecting a baby, was beaten to death by her husband and his sister in Bihari Colony under Khulshi P.S., Chittagong on Aug. 7. Heated quarrels for two days resulted in her death within an hour of the beating. The body was sent for autopsy.
Dhaka airport seems hopeless
About 30 incoming passengers per day have to leave the airport without their luggage. Two of five Bangladesh Biman passengers lose their luggage daily. All this happens despite large numbers of security personnel to observe the unloading process. There are many complaints about packed items being stolen, bags slashed and long delays at carousels waiting for their luggage. When luggage is lost many experience a bureaucratic run-around to get aid. There are many other kinds of complaints as well.
But relief is in sight. Airport authorities will introduce this year in December a computerized automated baggage handling system and eight machines for this have already been ordered. DS 4.8.2010.
Ahmadiyyas again attacked
Angry villagers of Chhandtara Village, Bhatail Upazila and some political elements attacked and injured 10 Ahmadis on Aug. 7 when they began construction work on a mosque at Anandapara. They were sent to hospitals for treatment. The mob also vandalised several houses, as well as two poultry farms.Police said no one was arrested and no case filed. After 1:00 a.m. the miscreants attacked the Ahmadiyyas again and destroyed and demolished their houses, looted their households and all belongings. The next morning they returned cut the trees and looted about fifty cattle of Ahmadis in the presence of police. Later the District authorities visited the place, but no action against the miscreants was taken. Ahmadis were passing their time in fear and anxiety.
The Ahmadiyya community was founded in 1889 to revitalize Islam, but the villagers condemn them as non-Muslims, even though Govt. has not done so.
North Korea executes three Church leaders
In mid-May, right after the disastrous currency reform, police discovered 23 Christians in Kuwal-dong, Pyungsung County, in Pyongan Province, who met at an underground church. After their arrest, they were interrogated at length. Eventually, the group’s “ringleaders” were sentenced to death and executed. The others were sent to Kwan-li-so (Penal labour colony) No 15 in Yodok.
Docs promotion stirs commotion
A ‘gradation list” of doctors published on May 11 was supposed to ensure a “controversy free” promotion of doctors based on seniority. But the list proved to have many errors: dead doctors listed, non-cadre doctors included, doctors now serving private or autonomous bodies, gone abroad or who are on retirement leave and even doctors who have never served the Govt. at all. DS 11.08.10
Woman escapes sure death
Amiri went in a microbus on Aug. 9 with her “divorced” husband Rubel on his promise to restore seven lakh taka and seven tolas of gold ornaments he had taken from her after their marriage and which she wanted back after he divorced her by forging her signature. Rubel’s wife and four family members were in the car and they tied her hands and stuffed cloths in her mouth. When they set off they poured kerosene on her and poured some liquid in her mouth. When the car stopped in front of the Gono Bhavan she jumped out and ran. She fell unconscious and police took her to the DMCH where she woke up and told her story. She said her husband used to beat her when she demanded her money back and once was treated at a crisis centre. She had filed a case against Rubel. She claimed that Rubel had four more wives. Her mother called for punishment of the criminals for trying to kill her. DS 11.08.10
High Court rules TAC illegal
The High Court ruled that the Voluntary Disclosure of Information Ordinance, which was the basis for the Truth and Accountability Commission of the ACC, violated numerous articles of the Constitution and was therefore illegal. It was an alternative system of criminal justice that encroached on the existing one.
The full text of the verdict on Nov. 16, 2008 was released on June 22. It clears the way for the ACC to reopen cases against 297 graft suspects who were pardoned by TAC. [But can the voluntary disclosures be used against them, since they were obtained by fraud?]
The new police – mob action
Rising crime rates normally lead to local crowds taking action themselves. On Aug.11 a mob seized 12 robbers in Sripur, Gazipur and beat six of them to death, while the police arrested the other four. The thieves came in a microbus, fired a shot at trader Abul near Chhatirchar Bazar, and when he cried for help a crowd came running and seized the culprit. DS12.08.10
Khaleda’s fake birthday outcry
Denunciations came from many quarters for Khaleda Zia, leader of the opposition, to stop celebrating her “birthday” – one of many – on Aug. 15, National Mourning Day for the assassination of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Father of the Nation.The women lawmakers of the Awami League made this call on Aug.13, as did a former BNP lawmaker Major (rtd) Akhtarruzan “for the interest of the party as well as of the country.” [It may be recalled that Khaleda also once set her birthday on Christmas Day, for obvious reasons.]
24 ship breakers killed in 16 mos, ignoring Supreme Court order
During the past sixteen months at least 24 workers have been killed in the Chittagong ship-breaking yards, mostly by explosions and contact with toxic materials. In 14 accidents in 14 shipyards, 17 others were maimed or crippled. Govt. has yet to comply with the Supreme Court directives given on Mar. 5, 2009 to provide worker safety measures. The Ministry of Environment is in favour of allowing import of ships with “inbuilt” toxic substances, such as asbestos, while the SC called for decontamination of all ships before sending.
MPs seek development money
For years MPs were striving to have a dominant influence in the upazila council, the lowest level of govt.administration according to the Constitution. It is concerned with village development and an upazila embraces at least two lakh people. Frustrated in that endeavour the MPs are now seeking a direct allocation of Tk 1515 crore for each constituency. On Mar. 9 the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council approved a 5-year project of Tk 4,691 crore for development work in 300 constituencies. But the chairman of Akkelpur Upazila, Joypurhat on Aug. 16 filed a writ petition with the High Court challenging the legality of the govt. decision. The HC asked govt. to respond within four weeks why the MP’s plan should not be declared unconstitutional.[The same day the High Court called on the Jatiya Party to produce the SSC and HSC certifications of one of their MPs to prove his academic qualification for office. This is this one of the Tk 15 crore “development experts.”] DS 17.08.10
9-yr old handicapped girl raped
A young handicapped girl of nine years was raped by a man on August 2, 2010. The incident occurred at an abandoned building of Baluwa Hospital in Bhagawanpur Village, under the jurisdiction of Gaibandha Sadar P.S.of Gaibandha District. Despite a human chain of hundreds of villagers who demanded inquiry into the incident and the arrest of the suspect who has been named in the complaint, the police are refusing to investigate the matter due to pressure from the ruling party (Awami League).
The local AL woman Member of Parliament, Mahabub Ara Gini, intervened on behalf of the suspect. Initially, the police had recorded a complaint made by a relative of the girl. When the father, a party supporter, spoke to her she told him this man was a party supporter whom she had to protect. Meanwhile, the family members have received threats from various groups pressuring them to abandon the complaint or face dire consequences. Several of the relatives and witnesses of the complainant have been threatened with death and of being expelled from their residence locations. They now live in fear.
The Asian Human Rights Commission urges the authorities of Bangladesh to protect the victim, her family and relatives and to ensure credible investigation into this incident.
Mugger shot by private citizen
A mugger named Badal (32) was killed in a shootout with the official gunman of a former minister and M.P. Abdur Razzak on Aug. 18. Muggers had snatched a pair of gold bangles and a purse at gunpoint from a woman near Lake View Hospital in Gulshan and fled on a motorcycle. They thought the MP’s vehicle was blocking their way and fired three rounds of bullets, smashing the right front window. Gunman Hemayetuddin fired back and killed one mugger and held the other, Md Sultan, until police arrived. He confessed to 100 crimes over the past six years.
Koko ordered to appear in court
Arafat Rahman Koko, son of BNP Chair Kheleda Zia, had his parole revoked and he was ordered to appear before a court by Aug. 31. He cleared violated the terms of the parole by not informing his whereabouts to the Bangladesh Embassy in Bangkok every three days and he submitted an outdated medical certificate (Nov. 17. 2009)
in his recent application for parole extension. His lawyer submitted a fresh plea on Aug. 22 with a certificate dated Aug. 22 and a pledge to follow parole conditions.On Aug. 26 the High Court stayed the govt. order for 40 days. The BNP Secretary General said he is still under treatment in a hospital in Bangkok. [The bills must be gigantic for a hospital confinement of more than two years!]
The main opposition had organised a 2-day protest program but decided to observe it anyway to demand cancellation of all charges against Khaleda’s two sons.
HC rules: No forced veil
On Aug. 22 the High Court gave a suo moto order to Govt. to ensure that no woman was forced to wear the burqa or other religious attire at educational institutions and offices and that cultural activities and sports should not be restricted for them. The HC was moved by the news that the new principal of a women’s college in Natore has banned women without veils from entering the college and has restricted their cultural activities and sports. The HC ordered him to appear before them on Aug. 26 to explain his action.
Love marriage sours, wife dies
A 21-year old womn, Salma Akhter, of Kalapani, Dhaka, married Abdus Salam in March in a love marriage. She was 3-months pregnant when her husband asked her on Aug. 20 to get Tk 15,000 dowry from her parents, threatening to leave her if she did not. She had previously gotten Tk 8,000 on two occasions. When she said her parents could not give any more money Salam said he would deny the child’s paternity. Salma poured kerosene on her body and set it ablaze. With 90% burnas she died in the DMCH. Police arrested her husband on Aug. 22 after her father filed a case against him. DS 22.08.10
Bangladesh and death penalty
Bangladesh “has acceded to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) on September 6, 2000, but has not yet ratified the Optional Protocols to the ICCPR and also does not comply with the international law aiming to the abolition of death penalty. The country has not only executed its citizens for decades, but officials, including Ministers, Parliamentarians and Judges also advocate publicly in favour of this practice, which denies people’s right to life, often as the result of trials that do not meet the internationally recognized standards of fair trial.” AHRC
Ahmadis fear due to threats
Members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community at Chandtara Village. Ghatail Upazila, Tangail are afraid to go back in their houses following continuous threats.Women and children of some 32 Ahmadiyya families of the village are panic-stricken and living with food crisis and insecurity. Religious bigots allegedly patronised by local BNP and Jamaat leaders vandalised and looted almost all houses of the Ahmadiyyas in a series of attacks on June 17, August 7 and 8, leaving 20 people of the community injured.
Abu Taher Akanda, a member of the community told The Daily Star, “Local bigots hanged sign boards at different places in the village saying Kadianis [Ahmadiyyas] have no iman [faith]. They are infidel. No rickshaw puller should carry them and no shopkeeper should sell any items to them.”
“They [attackers] are giving us threats on phone that they will abduct us,” she said, adding, “We are also passing sleepless nights because of fear.”
The Ahmadi leaders sought permanent security for the males so that they can return home and live normal lives. The district administration has assured them that necessary security measures will be taken in this regard.
7th amendment also illegal
The High Court on Aug. 26 declared illegal the constitutional amendment that brought in martial law and its regulations and orders under HM Ershad between Mar. 23, 1982 and Nov. 10, 1986. However, it provision- ally condoned all acts and deeds Ershad had done in the public interest, in order to avoid confusion. The court also suggested that Ershad be prosecuted and punished for his illegal actions to avoid future adventurism and defiance of law. The HC mentioned that he hd followed the path showed by Ziaur Rahman in usurping power. It further stated: “all trials under martial law were illegal and void because their tribunals were the product of martial law and its proclamations. The petitioner, Siddique Ahmed of Chittagong, unjustly accused of murder, was not freed from his conviction of 1986. The Supreme Court will give the final judgment on his case. DS 27.08.10
RAB getting bolder
In spite of condemnation of Bangladesh by the global human rights community for its huge number of extrajudicial killings, according to its own transparently trumped-up stories, RAB is getting ever bolder in its extermination of suspected criminals. Perhaps it is due to the steadfast support of government.
Shahidul Islam Chanchol, a nephew of top criminal Sweden Aslam, now in jail for life, was killed on Aug. 27, allegedly in a gunfight with RAB about 1:30 a.m. in Tejgaon Industrial Area. A top official of RAB said he had extorted tolls from businessmen in Karwan Bazar. His family said he is a first class contractor, owner of Janata Builders, and that a group of plainclothes men calling themselves law enforcers took him in a microbus about 12:30 .m. They learned the next day he was dead. RAB-2 claimed that Chanchol fired twice at their patrol car and they fired back, killing him. The recovered a foreign pistol. DS 28.08.10
[As in all cases, reporters never get to see the body or the autopsy or the fingerprints on the suspect’s pistol.]
Boy beaten for Tk 100 theft
Md Shahjalal, a 10-year old madrasa student in Parbati Upazila, Dinajpur picked up a Tk 100 note which a farmer had left to dry in the sun. A madrasa teacher, Md Ashraful Alam, saw him, accused him of stealing and beat him with a whip. He kept him in a secret place for over a month and tortured him. The president of the madrasa managing committee on hearing the news rushed him to LAMB Hospital, Parbatipur. At admission on Aug. 30 he had high fever and infections all over his body and was fighting for his life. DS 02.09.10
Another two-story killing
Nurul Islam was shot in the thigh in his Alinagar village home around 12:30 a.m. and bled to death. Villagers say the Detective Bureau police arrested him as an alleged drug dealer. The police and family members were locked in a room and after Nurul asked the cause of his son’s arrest police shot him in the thigh. An ex-army neighbour begged them not to arrest Zebu as there was no case against him. Villagers surrounded the police and they left the scene.
The Superintendent of Police, Habiganj said that five DB police arrested Zebu but villagers attacked them and some police were injured so they fired three bullets in retaliation, one of which killed his father. The family claim that the police threatened to arrest Zebu because his brother had returned from the Middle East a few days before. A 3-member committee led by an Additional Inspector of Police was to report in 24 hours. DS 31,08.10
Buriganga dredge project stinks?
The Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority has given a Tk 6 crore project for dredging parts of the Buriganga River to a private contractor, though some sand traders offered to do it free and they would pay market rate for the dredged sand as well. (There is a big demand for construction sand.) The Chief Engineer said they would turn in the money if they could sell the sand, but in the detailed project proposal there is no mention about sale of this valuable commodity or its return to the exchequer. Moreover, the proposal envisages using only conventional cutter section dredges, whereas grab crane dredges are needed for “sludge and solid wastes.” A source at the shipping ministry said the project was “cooked up” to steal money. DS 03.09.10
RMG workers block Eid traffic
Garment workers of two factories blocked two important highways on Sept. 8 as thousands of vehicles were carrying people to their ancestral homes before Eid-ul-Fitr. They were agitating for payment of back wages and Eid bonus. The Kaliakoir-Nabinagar highway was blocked for only a hour but there was a 10-km long traffic jam created. The Aricha-Dhaka highway was blocked for an hour because their management asked them to work for more hours without any break.
4-lane Ctg highway project stuck
The AL govt. revived the Tk 1,655 crore project initiated in 2006 on an urgent basis to widen the present 2-lane Dhaka-Chittagong highway to a four-lane road within three years. It may now be delayed a year due to frequent changes (7) of the director and the departure of the Pakistani monitor of the project, who quit in June because his demand for higher fees was turned down. Meanwhile, selected firms have built site offices and worker accommodations and are now idle because of the delay.
Parties prepare for battle
Khalida Zia announced at an iftar party on Aug. 24 that the BNP would hold street demonstrations soon to protect the country and its people from the “existing intolerable situation.” After Eid on Sept. 14 the BNP Secretary General Khandaker Delwar Hossain declared: “This government will be ousted through a people’s movement, for its anti-people and anti-nation activities.” [This seems to be tantamount to treason or revolution, since a non-elected group is declaring open warfare on the elected government and determining for itself what is the “will of the people.”]
Awami League sources say that the party will come down heavy on the opposition if it tries to obstruct the upcoming trials of war criminals in the name of an anti-government movement.
Govt. cancels bridge contract
A Chinese firm which had been awarded the contract for repairing the cracks in the Bangabondhu Multi-purpose Bridge was rejected on Sept. 17 by the cabinet committee on purchase. It had given a false certificate, not revealing that it had been blacklisted in 2006 for five years for fraud in the construction of the bridge. About 10 km. of road was damaged because the firm used lesser amounts of bitumen and asphalt mix. DS 16.09.21
Stupidity kills two on bridge
After a girl was injured in an accident on the new Karnaphuli bridge opened on Sept. 8, locals built big speed breakers across the lanes, apparently thinking they would reduce accidents, but instead they caused big tailbacks. What is worse, a bus that went over one breaker too fast (perhaps not realising what the unpainted bump was) overturned, leaving two people dead. Too late, the Roads and Highways Dept. removed the speed bumps.
Ahmadi girl molested
An Ahmadi girl named Momota (12), of Chantara village, under Ghatail Upazilla, Tangail was abducted and sexually molested Sept. 19 by the son of Abdul Gani, of anti-Ahmadiyya group.The victim Momota was living with her maternal Grandfather (Nana), Iman Ali, who is also an Ahmadi Muslim of that village, where Ahmadis were attacked several times during the last three months. They were beaten, injured, their mosque and houses were destroyed/vandalized/looted. Local Ahmadis lodged FIRs against the miscreants, but nobody has been arrested so far. Govt. took quick action to have the girl moved from the local PS to the district level, where the physician said she had been molested but not raped.
Daily Star sees, Govt. doesn’t
On Sept. 20 The Daily Star exposed masssive corruption on three chars of the Padma River. Abut 15,000 trees of the government’s social forestry program have been illegally cut in six months in connivance with some of the forest staff and sold to brick kilns as firewood.The tree felling did not follow any tender or approval.Timber traders say the value of the plundered wood was at least Tk. 30 crores. [Govt. should appoint one of the better newspaper investigators as corruption ombudsman.]
On Sept. 23 the forestry department suspended the nursery attendant for misconduct and negligence of duty in the above program.
2 launches crush boat; two die
A family of two parents and five children came from Barisal after Eid and were boarding a small boat at the Dhaka terminal for the safety of the children. But suddenly another launch came pushing in to the dock and smashed the boat before two of the children could scramble back onto the launch. Nasima (12) and Al Amin (9) were too small to climb out in time and were crushed to death.
Equal opportunity employer?
The health adviser to the prime minister, Dr. Syed Modasser Ali, stirred up a furor Sept. 20 when he told a conference on anthrax that “some 13,356 employees will be recruited shortly for community clinics. We have decided that none outside the party [Awami League] will be recruited.” [A liberal interpretation of the law on equal opportunity – equal for party members.]
He also stated that the Health Dept. had been directed not to give any information to journalists. He was almost immediately blasted by policy leaders of the Al, saying that his remarks contradicted existing govt. policies.
Owner ordered: demolish bldg.
On Sept. 22 at least 50 were treated in hospitals from inhaling toxic fumes for a dyeing factory on the ground floor of a six-storey building. The next day RAJUK condemned the building and ordered the owner, Md Jahiruddin, to demolish it immediately. The top four floors were added within this year, built of metal pipes, wood and CI sheets. The five residential floors accommodated more than 1,200 people. It was built without Rajuk permission and housing a chemical factory in a residential building is also illegal. DS 24.09.10
Rape of tribal woman protested
Several hundred tribal people demonstrated at Tangail Shaheed Minar on Sept.23 demanding punishment for Helal Hossen (35) of Buayid Village, Sakhipur Upazila, who raped a tribal woman on July 17. A cell phone and sandal of the rapist were found in the victim’s house and his family admitted his involvement, yet when the victim filed a case on July 18 police did not arrest the culprit. Rather, he got bail from the High Court on Aug. 12 and his elder brother filed a false case of abduction against three relatives of the victim on July 25. When they went for bail they were arrested and put in jail for 15 days before getting bail.
Tribal leaders alleged that in the medical enquiry team report it was mentioned that the woman herself had allowed the rape! DS 24.09.10
Four BCL sued for threats
Water Development Board officials field a case on Sept. 23 against four Chhatra League leaders and activists who threatened the WDB executive engineer for Chapainawabganj and broke his table glass for not allowing them to submit tenders for a Tk 35 crore job after the deadline. Police arrested one immediately. [Congratu- lations to the police for not fearing to take action out of fear of political backing for the BCL.]
BNP-led MPs skip 3 sessions
The BNP-led oppposition lawmakers continued to absent themselves from parliament, though they drew all their allowances for residence on duty and conveyance for at least 158 days for the three sessions they have missed. Moreover, all the allowances have recently been raised substantially. Noted jurist Shadeen Malik commented that extra pay or benefits can be drawn only on performance of the duties they are meant for. Otherwise, it is gross misconduct.
[They cannot be excused on the basis of their own political interests or policies, since their first duty is to the ones who elected them to the parliament.]
On Sept. 24 the Joint General Secretary of the AL Mahbubul Alam Hanif stated that the BNP did not join in order to hinder the trial of the war criminals [including their partner, the Jamaat-i-Islami] and to cover up the corruption of the two sons of Khaleda Zia.
Massive corruption in law jobs
Last year the law ministry appointed 190 sub-registrars, all of whom had certificates to prove they were staff of the Mujuibnagar govt.-in-exile in 1971. But an enquiry showed that 107 of them would have been below the age of 10 in l971 and only one was the above 18. The probe body recommended legal action against 189 of them (one had died).By suppressing facts about them colluding high officials got a Supreme Court order in favour of them. DS 26.09.10
21 AL men jailed on surrender
Twenty-one Awami League, Jubo League and Chhatra League men surrendered as a group before the court Sept. 26 and were refused bail. They are accused of attacking govt. officers in Pabna Sept.17 during recruitment of Class-III govt. employees. They surrendered on instructions from top AL officials. Leaders said that five more on the run will also surrender. One local AL group supports the attackers and demands the removal of the DC. The attack is said to be a naked demonstration of how good governance can be suborned by party goons backed by an MP. DS 27.09.10
The DC, SP and UNO were with- drawn on Sept. 8 by the ministries of establishment and home on directives from on high, even though the DC’s office was attacked and his officers assaulted because the ruling party tried its best to prevent a recruitment they did not like. The DC is facing departmental action for violating the service rule of “discharging duties with courage.’
47 tribal families attached
A land grabber with 60 armed men attacked the houses of 47 mostly tribal families in Niamatpur Upazila, Naogaon on Sept. 23, breaking down the doors and injuring eight people One 3-year old boy was whirled in a circle and thrown out of his house. Although they filed two cases with the police no one was arrested yet. The land grabbers, rather, are threatening them. They had tried once before in July 12 to capture their land. Many organisations have visited and strongly backed the cause of the tribals. DS 30.09.10
Published by Rosaline Costa for Hotline Human Rights Bangladesh
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