Motorcycles, responsibility and questions about the events of 5/6th May

This still is taken from a video uploaded by the Bangladeshi cyber activist group Basherkella, who run a very resilient Facebook group which had been shut down and revived to grow stronger many times in the course of  the government clampdown. They are closer to the ground than any media, but their lack of editorial process can cause problems. Tough work for young men, probably boys, who have been hounded for the past 4 years and are probably on the run.

The image's time stamp is 2:42 on the video. I believe its of a scene from the national mosque in Dhaka, Baitul Mukkarram, which means  House of the Honoured. Here the camera(phone) sweeps sadly through the aftermath of the brutal attack of government security forces and ruling party militia on religious demonstrators on 5th and 6th of May.

You can feel the past lingering in the space, the desperate escape of terrified people brutalised by their government. Many people breathed their last here. I know this mosque, I have prayed in it, bought books from it got lost around it and gazed at it in the way that a Musalman approaches a place of prostration.

Allahumma grant them the highest places in Your Garden, accept them as those who have bourne witness and console there grieving loved ones.

Still bodies, some wet with blood, others mangled on the steps surrounded by sandals strewn across the mosque along with piles of bamboo canes, the odd prayer hat and a gaggle members of the stone hearted Rapid Action Battalion.  Then an adidas bag...... and a motorcycle.

This confirms eyewitness reports that speak of motorcycle attacks by pro government militias on demonstrators seeking refuge in the House of the Honoured.  This isn't the first time the Mosque has been attacked, but perhaps the worst time so far. I know that the terrified stories of that day may never make it into the international news media, which  will normally be guided by  Bangladeshi gatekeepers who feel in their hearts of hearts that these men young and old 'deserved it'.


Responsibility for these killings and the whole disaster  lie in a few different places.

  1. The Awami League Government, and those who planned this
  2. Those who pulled triggers and executed this
  3. The media and NGO actors that helped to create the mood music for this, from Mahfuz Anam and Zafar Sobhan of the Daily Star and the Dhaka Tribune, to Sultana Kamal, of Aino Salish Kendro, who only believe human rights are due to people like them.
  4. The Shahbag warriors who wound them up the Islamic Establishment, framed them as extremists, and spat on them as they died. I have been blogging on Bangladesh and other matters for about 9 years now, and never thought I would see the time where voices like @rezwan would be serving as government mouth pieces, apologists for crimes so horrific and a vindictiveness unbecoming of one who has authority in the GlobalVoices space. Shahbag has been corrosive on an already corroded set of people.
  5. The Bangladeshi gatekeepers in international organisations who are covering things up, Sabir Mustafa at thd BBC and Anushey Hussein of Aljazeera, daughter of Anwar Hussein Manju, leaders of a faction of a nationalist party himself.
  6. Those who used them as lambs to the slaughter.


There are tough self-ward questions to ask of those who  marketed the Hefazot action as an opportunity to bring down the government, and those who persuaded them to stay. Who could have known that this level of ultra violence would be meted out to them?

Rewind a few days to the hype and there were stupid promotional videos that were definitely not hefazots. Hefazot didn't even have the english language infrastructure in place to  properly explain their points to the world. Simultaneously KONYing Occupy and Springtime must have taken little thought for the do gooder neoliberal musalmaniacs, who were say thousands of miles away.

Another tough question that springs to mind thinking about the bamboo sticks that Hefazot brought for protection. Has Basherkella become a self fulfilling prophesy? Due to political inexperience in dealing with the power holder Titu Mir's original bamboo fort was destroyed in a hail of colonial gunfire. Darwing on that cultural resource


  • Why hasn't the Prime Minister addressed the nation on this important matter? Has she shat in her sari?
  • What are the names of the dead, and what are their stories?
  • What did they do with all the bodies?
  • How will the perpetrators be brought to trial?
  • Will the Bangladeshi people just sit and take this lying down?
  • Why are foreign governments providing cover?
  • How were the 13 points arrived at?
  • Will international, independent investigators be dispatched to Bangladesh?
  • What will unfold in Dhaka tomorrow? 
  • Who cares about these generally poor people and poor people's sons?
  • Who will rise to the challenge of putting this fucked up country back together again?
  • Will we make the same mistakes as the 1971 exploiters, or will we honour the martyrs with another, deeper and wider kind of justice?
  • Is a place where the religious are denigrated, their scholars killed like flies, and their national mosque stormed by gangsters on motorcycles backed by police, in anyway 'Muslim'.
  • Isn't there a word for people who deliberately cover up the truth?

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