There was a massacre of religious protesters at 245am Sunday 5th May around the Water Lily statue in Motijeel, Dhaka's business district. Massive force was used, 10 000 personnel, a whole range of weaponry and darkness.
The deed was committed by a mixture of armed forces: the Bangladesh Police, the Bangladesh Border Guards and the Rapid Action Battalion, which is notorious for 'crossfire'. For the record, the Border Guards have a grisly history, they mutinied a few years ago killing many officers and their families. There will also have been involvement from armed Awami League aligned thugs, like Sohel Rana, whose building collapse killed more than 600 people so recently.
Here is an article from The Khichuri contextualising the massacre, an alert from the Asian Human Rights Commission and a report from Bangladesh Human Rights organisation Odhikar that details the press control and carting away of bodies.
These articles probably appeal to those with time and inclination to read. They may have appeal to nerds like me, and hopefully institutions out there in the world, but in these fast times of facebook timelines and skepticism documentary images have a grounding role to play.
Like. Share. RT. Forward.
If you have a Flickr account Feb28.com have a picture library here. This group came into being following an earlier government killing spree. Know that there is danger in looking at these with a heart that yearns for The Spectacle, The Numbers Game and The Competition of Cruelties. These are humans, and what remains, they are sacred and having a sense of the sacred resists the commodification of suffering that neo-liberal capitalism drives. I believe these are innocent men killed in the act of protest against a hegemonic and morally bankrupt regime. It is staggering, that many Bangladeshis, like those on the Blogger and Online Activist Network are still at the point of arguing that these kinds images are all photo shopped, fake and conspiratorial. But think about the dominant national indoctrination processes and narrow historical spoon feeds and it makes more sense.
Pictures tell us a frozen snapshot, whereas human stories go right into us.
In the video below, a taxi driver secretly films a policeman involved in the massacre, the policeman describes his view and when the driver asks him if he feels bad, he expresses no remorse. I pray for the safety of this taxi driver.
Sometimes people want to hear someone like them tell them the story. In this video log from Dhaka Medical Hospital, A north American development worker, not known for holding sympathies with 'Muslim extremists' bravely puts his life on the line to report on the dead and the dying.
In the last video there are no people, just their blood stains. Lord grant them healing, high station and forgiveness, make us better protection for each other.
So, why is this happening and why isn't anybody doing reporting anything?
This didn't come out of the blue, we saw it coming but the Shahbag spectacle over the past few months was a successful diversion of energy. The government has been arresting non compliant media heads for some time. (Mir Quasem, Mahmudur RAhman). Shortly after the killing spree, the UK-trained Rapid Action Battalion seized the transmitters and shut down Diganta TV and Islamic TV.
The international media is appalling, and embarrassingly it is secular liberal gatekeepers of Bangladeshi origin are falsely spinning this story in the BBC (Sabir Mustafa) and Aljazeera (@ShamiminLondon). Just enough to secure indifference for brown men with beards far away who dont play liberal.
From facebook I learn that much of the Dhaka urban middle class is in denial. There is a tendency to turn this into a commodified spectacle of numbers and heart crushing imagery of human savagery. The Shahbag aligned have decided that the massacre is all about denying their movement and are acting accordingly. The most prominent facebook group detailing the atrocity, Basher Kellah, is inspired by the Bamboo Fort of Titu Mir, the political-religious reformer who battled landlords and colonialism. It is in dire need of an editorial policy. To be a foolish friend is sometimes worse than being an enemy.
From my point of view I find confirmation that the secular liberal intelligentsia's hegemony is a big, deadly problem. I hope others can see this. Some say they want evidence and without evidence they can't do anything. Sadly, they do not require such evidence when accusing Islamists of heinous crimes with no proper investigation. Crookery, like selective humanitarianism, is rife, especially in the Daily Star, the new Dhaka Tribune, and the Ain o Salish Kendro human rights group.
I call on junior journalists to revolt and leak like Bradley Manning did.
What saddens me even more is how these alien powers in the capital do not regard the religious protesters as proper human beings, have misframed them and their demands, dehumanised them and made it possible for the government to brush-fire them while they prayed and slept in the dark
Some say that Hasina Wajed's government could not have done this without outside approval, and maybe India, USA and/or the UK had some role in this murderous foolishness. After the last coup I wouldn't be surprised. Yet the fact remains that the primary political control rod rests with us, the Bangladeshis, whatever that means anymore.
What shall be done?
- Learn how to argue uphill against both brown and white prejudices
- Help spread the story, out of respect those who wont be returning to their homes and families and people in future
- Engage Awami League School forces in principled debate with superior information and argument.
- Lobby elected representatives
- Contest unfair reporting
- Call out intellectual crooks who infantalise and mislead our people.
- Think carefully and creatively about what to do next
- Do not allow Hasina, Foreign Minister Dipu Moni, Home Minister Alamgir and company to travel the world without meeting protest.
- Prevent desperate Bangladeshi MPs from looting public resources in the last days of their government through their diplomatic privileges.