What the f£ck is going on in Bangladesh?

A freind of mine saw the video footage of the Police beating then shooting a young bangladeshi in his 20s in the head and asked me this question. Its hard to answer in a sound bite and from my location but that wont stop me trying to.

Today as the Internationally Discredited War Crimes Tribunals handed a death  penalty to Allama Sayeedi, the government tried switching off social media and unleashed violence of striking Islamists, its important to spend some time thinking and reflecting.

I recommend the following article by William Gomes, a Bangladesh Christian http://www.opendemocracy.net/opensecurity/william-gomes/shahbagh-what-revolution-whose-revolution#.US2thTO4AP0.twitter .

Naeem Mohaimen's piece in Kafila is the closest that a Bangla nationalist activist will come to admitting that their case rests on a sea of BS http://kafila.org/2013/02/22/shahbagh-the-forest-of-symbols-naeem-mohaiemen/

In the absense of decent press and in the interests of self promotion, I'm self referencing previous posts here.

Last Fridays jumma firings


Shabagh protest

As it became clearer http://fugstar.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/shahbagan-garden-of-hate-and-fear.html

As it kicked off http://fugstar.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/only-bangladeshis-could-demonstrate-in.html

War crimes tribunals and the leaks

After the Economist published the leaks http://fugstar.blogspot.co.uk/2012/12/i-am-justifiably-in-contempt-of-this.html

Before the Economist published the leaks http://fugstar.blogspot.co.uk/2012/12/war-crimes-tribunal-judge-tells.html


Baishe February: Awami government guns roar at post jummah demonstrations

This is hard to explain, but important that you understand, at least slightly.

Today (friday) after Jummah in Bangladesh there were a lot of demonstrations flowing out of mosques in Bangladesh.  A day after the exploitative commemoration of students shot and killed by government forces in 1952, four people are reportedly killed by the police and scores if not hundreds injured.

Protestors were objecting to insulting antiIslamic writings on the web somewhere, from authors quite close to the centre of the Shahbag movement. The Shahbag movement consists of a large trendy mob demanding executions of prominent leaders of political Islam accused of war crimes, and the exclusion of political Islam from the body politic. The Awami League government is broadly aligned and supportive of this movement. One of its student leaders, Dr Imran H Sarkar in fact is one of Shahbag's defacto spokesperson.

The picture below shows police firing at people in Baitul Mukkarram, the national mosque. Maybe you've prayed there or seen it in your namaz time calenders, or visited the Islamic Foundation on a trip to Dhaka. There are other pictures, of brothers bloodied and lying motionless, other cowering as police fired indiscriminantly at them.

It is the kind of image we are used to seeing coming out of Palestine or Chechnya, not an independant Muslim majority country.

My thinking is now that the wheels are starting to come of the Shahbag Bandwagon more sensible heads will prevail. We hear this as more reasonable figures for fromm inside the awami camp distance themselves from the offending bloggers and Shahbag. 

The religious establishment is a lot larger than jamat, and the party has pissed a lot of people off in its history.The processions across the country today were not pro jamat but more an alliance against a common threat, the autocratic awami league. 

Decolonial duas for all who live and die.


Shahbagan: Garden of Hate and Fear

For the last week or so, the spectacle at Shahbag has continued to drive and distract political attentions in Bangladesh. This gathering calls for the execution of people it designates 1971 war criminals and the banning of religion based political parties, namely Jamat e Islami. Meanwhile the government has been busy passing legislation to allow itself the facility to hang people that its courts decide not to.

Without being a member of the party, standing for fair trials for the accused and non-secular political rights should be a no-brainer position. However, it requires a lot of people to argue uphill against their received wisdom and against a secular liberal establishment that has raised a blinded generation over some years. It doesn't help that Jamaat's own leaders have failed to address these issues directly, introspectively and convincingly enough.

Sentiment built over decades.
Into the mouths of babes:
"They are war criminals. We want them hanged."
The Shahbag demo is the descendant of a collective that rose to prominence in March of 1992 by holding mock trials of its designated war criminals. The demands and narrative of this Nirmul Committee match Shahbag, which builds on its emotional, organisational and (mis)informational foundations. The younger generation will have had less contact with people lived through enough of our political history to know history started well before 1971.

There has been a disappointing but predictable cover-up of the negative nature of the protest, a cover-up which shows not just me, but a wider audience how superficial so many of Bangalee Nationalists are with their oft-advertised liberal values.  From the naff novelist daughter of the Dhaka press baron, to the BRAC PR man, who used to run a human rights blog, and the trendy lefty anthropologist.  It's just quite sad.

Playground politics learnt from an earlier generation.
Nothing new here.
The twitter behaviour has been interesting to participate in. The intolerance of the proShahbag twitterati really is something of a liability to the liberal's projection of a new political horizon.  Detractors are put onto hit-lists and functionaries ordered to report them as spam (see left).

Such silencing of dissent is not confined to social media, but extends to print media, with Jamaat's newspaper Naya Diganta's building burnt by the ruling party student thugs. These are messy, dirty and greasy times. Mess has taken on new forms, for example, one of the things that Shahbag has prompted is a wider spread adoption of twitter amongst the different political camps in Bangladesh.

Shibir, Jamaat's student front, are not responding to violence against them in an angelic or cheek turning fashion. Accusations abound regarding their violence, from the usual quarters and usually without too much context. It appears that they have not, as yet, decided to go ape shit. It is difficult to know whether they have a creative way out of this. What would I do if I were them? Either way looks deadly and oppressive. Desh watchers have their work cut out for them establishing the truth of the violence these days.

Starting to unwind
Yesterday was Friday, the day of Jumma prayers. In the coastal areas of Cox's Bazaar, police fired on a post Jumma procession of Jamaat activists, killing between 4 and 7 individuals including a child and a random female bystander. Later at night, a young pro-Shahbag blogger was murdered in a grisly fashion in Dhaka.

All loss of life is to be mourned, and as we know, some loss of life is mourned and politically mobilised more powerfully than others. Late Rajib Haidar's death has unjustly and prematurely been attributed to Jamaat by co-protesters and now it seems the Prime Minster.  It looks set to fuel a new level of paranoia, fear and venom. Today many protesters were scratching their heads over the role of the janaza as funeral rites for someone who apparently didn't self identify with the faith any longer.

Watching the Shahbag nonsense engine deploy its master narrative on the loss of their comrade demonstrates just how a falsity, unchecked and unproven can be generated and spread in very little time. Within minutes of news being broken, the link was made to the Jamat and by morning it was well embedded into common sense.

You might be interested to know who isn't joining on the bandwagon. An Indian writer mused on the similar sadisms of Indians and Bangladeshis.
...no matter how much we claim ourselves as democracies, at the end of the day we are nothing but a poor people who vent their frustration through sadistic instincts
At the start of the week it looked as in the Bangladeshi Nationalists (BNP) had started to wake up and recognise their irrelevance to an important public issue. The Weekly Holiday featured some less emotional thinking, and the ever challenging MBI Munshi cast a penetrating gaze on Shahbag's imagery, rhetoric and context. In the near future, Mahmudur Rahman's Amar Desh will continue to be one of the few major papers with the balls to face down our politics of hate and the sold-out nature of the main opposition BNP.

The BNP party seems to have left one of its senior member out to dry, Salahuddin Quader Choudhury was Parliamentary Special Adviser during the last BNP-Jamaat alliance government. Not particularly known for their balls-of-steel these days, they might sort their lives out nearer to the elections, but I am not holding my breath. They feed of the same master narrative as the Awami League, but with more militaristic, centre right, General Zia focussed trimmings.

What's a Razakar?
In the context of the 1971 Bangladesh War, the razakars were a paramilitary force raised to counter the Mukti Bahini.  In the context of Shahbag, a razakar, sometimes spelt with a 'j', denotes a person to be eliminated. It is a form of takfir, exclusion and casting out, applied selectively to political enemies of the regime in power.

Not only is this a historical lobotomy of the complex truths of how people tried to protect an established state from disintegration, but it is mighty convenient who isn't labelled a razakar and who overcompensates to distract attention.  HINT: There is a Minister in the Bangladesh Government, the ministry of Law to be precise, who is acting funny. More on him later.

These past days have taught me how little our people have moved on from 1971 thinking. Narrow racial thinking, autotakfir, very bad leadership, and the inability to see anyone else's pain or story.

What now?
  • Keep in dialogue with friends and relations in desh.
  • Do not feed this monster.
  • Encourage press to pay attention to seculib head spinners and less articulate islamists.
  • Duas for a Sakina (Tranquility) storm to enter the hearts of the restless.


[New Word] Executioneering

Seems to describe the meaning of the Shahbag demonstrations in Dhaka, Bangladesh quite well. The Indian Government is at it too.

Come curdle my blood,
Drag names through the mud.
Bewitch impressionable youths.

Distract my attention
With precise aforemention
Of Tahririan political mood.

State at disposal,
Lets make mob approval,
With old and new media goons.


[New Word] Ventrolloquism

The practice of putting words in the mouths of masses while dismissing contestation as trolling.

This is commonly found amongst practice in the world today, facilitated by the silence, fear and inarticulacy of the intellectually oppressed.

Recent pro-execution demonstrators in Bangladesh (see #Shahbag ) ventrolloquise the dead of the 1971 Bangladesh War by projecting their narrow, vengeful programme to be on behalf of the deceased, the bereaved, the living and the yet to come.

On social media, counter factuals to their hegemony of angry nonsense become the acts of 'neo rajakars', 'trolls' and 'apologists for mass killing and rape'. Individuals deemed counter to The Spirit of Liberation are placed on special lists and electronic orderlies instructed to mark them as spam.


Only Bangladeshis could demonstrate in favour of judicial murders and feign some kind of Tahrir theatre.

There are groups of 'progressive' angry and youngish Bangladeshis running around London and Dhaka demanding the executions of accused war criminals.  It is a reprise of the Nirmul Committee's controversial public mock trials of 1992, a similar set of actants.  The social guilt of these individuals is framed by the Awami League's lobotomy of history, and their legal guilt has been contrived with the help of a rather pathetic show trial.

"We want execution of the Razakars." [Source]
The lobotomy of history sees the dawn of homo bangalee on 25th March 1971 with a radio announcement and a glorious Liberation struggle against an occupying Pakistani army. This army could harm only through collaborating volunteer partners The Razakars, who are responsible for the deaths of everybody, especially intellectuals, and rapes, genocide, and crimes against humanity. Thus for the lobotomised homo bangalee, any departure from the script makes you a pariah  and increasingly an enemy of the state. War crimes tribunals to this mindset are an existential issue, and the judicial executions of the targets are the secular liberals very own honour killing. 

The running Awami League government's tribunals to try selected accused, political enemies for crimes against #Liberation1971 were always problematic: from their targets and framing, to the abduction of prosecution-turned-defence witness Shokron Ranjan Bali, to the Skype conversation leaks in December 2012.  I wrote about theme here.

Its is quite easy to politically neutralise a generation or two with false liberation warlore. This has been successful in desh to a significant degree to get worked up about. There is something here to learn for Syria, Libya, Iraq and other cases of extremely developmented national transition. 

What can be done?

On the plane of knowledge acquisition, the seculib establishment has authored most of the thought objects in the area. These are not too difficult to personally surpass if you give it some time. Never has it been easier to know better. [See:  ReclaimBangladesh]

On the plane of islah, or socio-spiritual transformation, NGOs increasingly act as an interface between us and desh, which they shouldn't. In countries like Bangladesh, NGOs are part of the problem as they sap talent, lack intellectual/financial autonomy and depoliticise problems into little manageable problems. New and old forms of political and economic solidarity must be explored as well as more dignifying, generative ways of making sense of and being the dyeshpora.

A motanarrative is a story that possesses you so much that it gives you brain damage, like jinn possession.  I for one will refuse to play along with homo bangalee's calender of misremembrance as current level of 71ster dustbin politics need to be booted of the community, just like woman-to-man dowry and The Line System.


[New Word] Subalternating Current

An intellectual electricity that takes hold of developmentees convinced they are voicing the unvoiced, somehow serving them with their advocacy, political projection and all to often their paycheck.

A Decolonial Dua

Owner of Judgement, Everlasting, Protecting Friend
forgive us those foolish decisions,
which enclose noble futures,
as we make our way to the minbar.
Guide us in our knowledge adventures,
beyond the accumulation of certification
to generation, political epistemic emancipation.
Protect us from developmentors on the watchtower,
and their developmentees,,,,
Preventing us, from helping us
Selling poverty pornography and non answers.

A Bangla rendering by N N

[New Word] Blunderwear

Mistaken threads