Reading and reflecting on Odhikar's report on the Motijheel Massacre in Bangladesh

On Monday of this week, the 19 year old human rights group Odhikar published a fact finding report in English and Bangla on the terrible events of 5th and 6th May in Dhaka, Bangladesh. They have also compiled some video footage. They are not as well resourced as the 300 strong Ain-o-Salish Kendra which have been supporting the government.

The significance of this report, speaking up and encouraging
This is an important document for growing our understandings and inquiries into the worst incident of government and police brutality in Bangladesh since the  slaughter of Biharis in the Khulna Jute Mills in early 1972. People who know a lot are afraid to speak up and bear witness to what has happened. In the words of Glenn Greenwald on the whistle-blowing intelligence worker Edward Snowden and his leaking of the CIAs plans to snoop on everybody, lets hope his courage is contagious.

So what is in this report and who have they been talking to?
As well as an analytical account, the report includes real-life and informative contributions from many of the people (and non humans ) that have become part of the Motijheel assemblage. The people featured are diverse, and realistically contradictory voices are included for the reader to engage with and puzzle through.

Four relatives of four difference victims who did not survive , a manager of a hospital that tried to treat the injured, a nurse, the organising secretary of Hefazot, the commander of the fire services, the Dhaka City Corporation's Waste Disposal Unit, its Transport Unit, the Director of the illegally shut down Diganta TV, the Public Relations Officer of the Border Guards, the Director of Rapid Action Battalion-1, a Media guy from the Dhaka Metropolitan Police, the guard of an ATM booth nearby, a madrassa teacher injured during the massacre, an anonymous journalist , a young boy working on a ward, a morgue official....

We learn a lot that we did not know already, that we weren't allowed to know by a corrupt, inbred press and largely self-serving political parties. It challenges the government's own disinformation campaign on multiple counts and expresses dismay at the silence of the 'educated sector of society.

Cruelty Layercake

I know how cruel our deshis can be, whether they wear secular or non-secular underpants. You might not however. Here's a narration of a part of the experience of an 18 year old student who was sleeping by the Water lilly monument to the 1971 victims, when the firing started.
"...while running, he saw 10-12 men lying still on the ground. He was found by two policemen and hit with sticks. He was then shot by the police in his right thigh and immediately lost consciousness. After a while, a splash of water on his face by a person wearing jeans and a shirt made him gain consciousness. The man then said to him ‘you did not die yet’, and kept hitting him. Majedul Islam then grabbed his leg requesting him to stop; however he was hit even more after that. At one point the police asked him to stand up and run. He was physically unable to run and was hobbling away when the police hit him from behind and he then tried his best to run away and managed to enter a nearby street."
The report is like an exhibition. Its strength is not in visual glam, but in the human accounts and the resourcefulness of the authors who have been speaking to participants in an atmosphere of extreme fear and silence. It closes off with a demand for a credible investigation led by a retired supreme court judge and 5 starting points.

Will this document render this injustice legible, or will it be disinterest or terrorism marketing as usual?
Its a shame that after three days there is little acknowledgement in the local press, other than one dismissive presence in the new Dhaka Tribune which employs the Double Standards of Evidence of expecting methods to be shared (and no doubt authenticated by its corporate masters). Dismissal is one of the characteristic bumprints of the Bangladeshi establishment's  Liararchy*.

So many question remain despite and because of this document, which is a beginning to 'unfold the truth'.

*They are not the only ones with characteristic bumprints however, another political segments mimicry of mediocrity leaves a lot to be desired.

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