Wind-Cowie and Jeory's Final Solution to Bangladeshis holding Power: The Abolition of Tower Hamlets

In a recent publication from the think tank Demos on 'Mapping Integration', Max Wind-Cowie, Demos Associate and former head of their integration programme, argues
And what about Tower Hamlets? Frankly, I think we should abolish it. It is a borough that has, in part because of demographics, descended into a poisonous and unhealthy politics of ethnic division. It doesn’t need to be that way. We should break up the borough and incorporate elements of it into the surrounding boroughs so that the particular demographics of Tower Hamlets are watered down and so that real democratic participation and integration are possible. This would be a radical step. But it is better than simply hoping to play Rahman at his own game and win back power for mainstream politics. The divide is real and it is intractable. The answer is to start afresh. (p103)
This was written before last weekend's reelection of Lutfur Rahman as the Mayor of Tower Hamlets, and highlighted, recommended, yesterday by the blogger Ted Jeory.


What happened to that deaf mute gravedigger who pointed out graves after the Dhaka Massacre?

Last year many terrible things happened in Bangladesh, and they will continue to until we figure and enact superior modes of collective mobilisation.

Last week marked a mourniversary of the biggest catastrophe, that of the Dhaka Massacre where scores (confirmed) or even hundreds (fearfully likely) lost their lives to government brutality unleashed on protesters from the 5th May into the 6th and beyond the confines of the city as the protesters made their way home.

A recently released eyewitness interview aside, information is difficult to come by, because Bangladesh is full of liars, lying for their lives.

Al Jazeera did feature the incident for a short while, calling out the government's number for the dead. One  witness was a deaf, mute gravedigger pictured below. We thought him the bravest man in all of Dhaka when we saw him, innocent of the shit that those endowed with greater 'intellects' were spouting. But we had failed to realise how cowered the people of Dhaka are and how incompetent Al Jazeera is proving over Bangladesh.

Later, a government aligned TV station Ekattur screened a Fox-news style Shomikoron documentary fronted by Farzana Rupa challenging claims of government wrongdoing. This heartless, manipulative work, had full social media promotion from the UK-based ICSF and Swadinota Trust, not to mention much of the Shahbag International. It spent a lot of effort trying to discredit the Aljazeera and Odhikar reports and  featured Police Commissioner Benazir Ahmed congratulating himself on avoiding a stampede and his zero casualty strategy.

Willful mistranslations of the protest aside, I was surprised that they got away with pulling out a Luqman Hujur from Odhikar's report, then setting off on an elaborate mission to find him still alive. If you try and search for any spelling of the name in the document (CNTRL + F), you come up with nothing.  The repeated refrain to the audience to trust the TV crew  because they were journalists was sickening, and I really do hope nobody was foolish enough to get caught by it.

I write this post to highlight their visit to the graveyard where the brother above worked, and the sight of him on crutches.Knowing what we do of the brutality of the Awami League directed cadres and security forces, a lynching is highly likely to have occurred here. Knowing what we do about how easy it is to buy people's voices Ekattur TV, Shomikoron and Farzana Rupa will be remembered here.

May the martyrs of Motijheel

Be granted high station
And spared the indignity
Of being whitened up
For the anglo-liberal gaze
Only to shift
When someone strips.

May they be spared

Political exploitation from home and abroad
From the frames of foolish friends and enemies.
Selling “Talibanisation or Secularization”
“We are the bulwarks against fundamentalism”, or
Some teenager’s notion of “Bangla Spring”
May the terrified
Reach safety
Wise counsel
And witness the facts
If they wish
Without intimidation, or
Fear of recrimination

As for those

Who cover up or dismiss
There is a word, in Arabic
Whose literal meaning
Has you down to a kaaf


A (good) thought about Halalgate Hysteria

The politics of attention
Is a wonderful thing
Who would have thought
That in this #Halalgate onslaught
The Muslim leader class
Would be invoking tayyib on such bakwas?


Remembering Shapla Chottor and the Dhaka Massacre of 5/6 May 2013

Its been a year since the the Bangladesh Government committed probably its most devastating acts of brutality in its 43 year life, upon its own people. They were committed against protesters who supported Hefazot e Islam's May 5th Dhaka Siege protest programme.

The government of the time was in its final year and had presided over a series of bloody disasters  and was at the time leading the country to an ultranationalist frenzy in which fascistic practices and patterns had reached a historical peak. Russian and Indian backing for the government, and weak suppressed opposition meant that this kind of outrage could be carried out and nobody outside the country would to anything.  The Awami League had filled the security agencies with loyalists, often from the PM's home district of Gopalganj, loyalists of simplistic brutalism, aided by party cadres of a more psychotic character.

We saw their violence on the people, and the opposition, perceived or real, for months. The Hindu tailor mistaken for a Jamaat activist, or the kid shot point blank in the head by the police.  The officers of the border guards cut to pieces and buried in their own compound. We saw all the violence and subterfuge earlier, helplessly. We knew a little about the crossdressing attack tactics of burn and blame, used against jamaatis, and human rights make up artists at Ain o Salish Kendra too

The massacre of the protesters on the 5th and 6th May brought these tools of power to a focus, and innovated new means and scales of disposal and cover up.  After all, if there was a proper reaction by the people, imagine....

A massacre had many parts. It began as protesters were attacked during the day as they streamed into Dhaka from 6 directions, by  Awami League cadres working in close collaboration with the Dhaka Metropolitan Police. People seeking shelter in the national mosque were attacked by gunmen on motorcycles, a signature many will recognise from over the past 5 years.

Police-cadre violence continued upon the protesters at various points of the city well into the night. However the main killing is believed to have occurred as joint forces 'evicted' tens of thousands of men sleeping and praying in darkness around the Shapla Chottor monument in Motijheel, the focal point of the demonstration. Some of the video eyewitness testimony, analysis, reports, imagery and critical social media are collated here.

The next day the state violence took on a more distributed form as the government suppression went nationwide. The deeper truths will take years to emerge, as social and intellectual conditions change.

Why did the government do it?

Its hard to get inside such minds but we have to try. Perhaps they did it because they could get away with it? Perhaps they believed their own paranoid bullshit and rhetoric and thought they were saving Sonar Secular Bangla? Perhaps the they aren't a singular but a variegated assemblage, but the Sonar Bangla self image is the key.

The Awami League isn't composed of a majority of people who hate the islamic traditions, this has been an act of profound self harm which will have generational impacts on supporters trying to reconcile their pro islam sensibilities with their massacre of Hefazot.

So I was doing some sums.

(Sonar Bangla Narrative + Weakened oppositions + state power + War on terror industry + Islamophobic tendancy of Bengal Reinassaince + Hasinas Son Joy is thick + Information Minister Inu is evil + Home Minister Mokha Alamgir is a known psychopath + PM is crazy + infiltration of security services) * General Sycophancy  + irresponsible opposition plaster boarding of the demonstration as a statebreaker .... = Events

How many died?
Hard to know as sustained research and coordination are suppressed. Preliminary work found 61 and 51 protesters dead from Odhikar and HRW respectively. Unofficial image analysis based estimates suggest hundreds, however the demand for lists of names and numbers from the government is pretty sick considering that these murders were state perpetrated. This will take years. We haven't even been able to hear from BUET student Rehan Ahsan's parents, yet. They must be very much in a bad way, and all the families of the wounded, detained and murdered.

Why didn't I hear more about it?
It was covered up by Bangladeshis of an establishment bent who either found it easy to dismiss and were complicit in its production and justification. This was in turn supported by development partners and strategic allies. Not a conspiracy, just a by product of how the chips are aligned. Underlying this is that life is worthless in Bangladesh, especially if the cumulative white power of the victims is low. If somebody had had the foresight to teach English to the protesters, or make them gay, or white, we would not be having this conversation. Human rights organisations only record for their own purposes of position play and blackmail. This is what I learn this year.

What can we do about this?
To prevent this kind of thing happening in future its important to keep raising awkward questions and finding out more thoroughly about the massacre. We must avoid messing things up like the Nirmuls and the Shahbag. This isnt about Islam loving people, but citizens of the country as a whole. This isnt about worshipping a naff statue or particular ideology, but creatively transforming our society so it can thrive and bring the best out of itself.

At present Bangladeshi Inc. is turning into a submergable NGO, with gundas with machetes on the decks.

See #may5massacre and The Motijheel Massacre Archives for more.

Pray for the sincerity of His servants intentions to be accepted and for them to be guided with best wisdom and courage.