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La Semaine Dernière A Mes Yeux

(12 janvier — 19 janvier)

Le gouvernement a interdit China Harbour Engineering Company Limited au Bangladesh après la société chinoise avait donné pot de vin à un fonctionnaire , selon un reportage.

Selon un reportage, une incendie dans un campe à Cox’s Bazar a tué une famille de Rohingya dont des enfants. Le  gouvernement a expulsé le chef de la Croix rouge de Kutupalang campe après la Australienne n’avait pas laissé entrer un dirigeant du parti en exercice dans le campe pour  voir les Rohingyas blessés.

Selon un reportage, gouvernement a finalisé la politique sur les services de vélo-partage et de véhicule-partage. Le ride-sharing service devient très populaire dans la capitale dans les mois récents.
Selon un blog militaire, Bangladesh entame un projet conjoint avec la Chine pour développer un missile sol à sol.

Selon un  autre reportage, 4 membres d’ une famille se sont trouvés morts chez eux à Cox’s Bazar.

Luttes intestines de l’ Awami League ont laissé plusieurs personnes blessées dont un dirigeant des journalistes et la maire de la ville Narayanganj. Selon un reportage, une partie du parti en exercice opère marché clandestin sur les trottoirs au sein de la ville. La maire a essayé de l’ évincer.  La partie pour le marché s’est précipitée vers l’ équipe de la mairie. La maire est tombé malade à cause de cette querelle et a été hospitalisée à Dacca.

La Birmanie et le Bangladesh ont finalisé un instrument pour le rapatriement des Rohingyas. Selon l’ accord, tous les Rohingyas reviendront en Birmanie en deux ans.
Le groupe rebelle ARSA dans un communiqué a dit sa bataille continuait contre Tatmadaw.


While Democracy Recedes

Freedom House in its annual report painted a sombre picture of democracy around the world in 2017.

Freedom House observes that the idea of democracy was in risk in decades as its fundamental building blocs like free press, mechanism to hold free elections, minority rights and rule of law were targeted by vested groups.

More and more countries fall into the clutches of authoritarian rule. Freedom House president Michael J Abramowitz in his column “Democracy In Crisis” notes that while democracy recedes autocracies are offering a new ” path that includes politicized courts, intolerance for dissent, and predetermined elections.” Freedom House notes net decline in political rights and civil liberties in seventy one countries.

The flagship report” Freedom In The World” dubs Bangladesh ” partly free” as the country scored 47 out of 100.

Bangladesh is still carrying the stigma of opposition boycotted election of 2014. Its image is further tarnished by systematic detention and oppression of opposition activists, gruesome murder of bloggers, politicizing independent judiciary , continuous attack on minority community and creating obstacles to free flow of information.

Recently, Appellate division of the High Court stayed the decision to hold Dhaka North City Corporation by poll. Opposition parties alleged that government played a nefarious role behind postponing the by-poll.
Any opposition win could boost the opposition moral. At the same time, govt does not want its archrival to  warm up its supporters ahead of  the next general election.

Similarly, High Court order to hold Dhaka University Central Students Union election within six months  left many people flabbergasted.

The Dhaka University campus remains a bastion of ruling party student wing. Opposition student wing has no presence there.

On top of that, ruling party supporters hold sway over university administration and teachers’ representative body.

In this backdrop, how could a DUCSU election become representative and fair?

The only political institution that has emerged strong over the last few years is the Army. It has pocketed lucrative businesses and managed to increase its expenditure manifolds while the government was busy subduing the opposition.

The current COAS made trip to China and heralded beginning of an “state-to-state” relationship.  China pledged billions of dollars of credit and investment during the official trip of President Xi.

Meanwhile, both the civilian and military bureaucrats witness their salaries increase by manifolds.

The repressive ruling party was rebuked by international community for unlawful detentions and disappearance of political activists and dissidents. Influx of Rohingya refugees from  neighboring Myanmar came as a savior. Though the govt was reluctant to let them enter, providing shelter to the stateless people was appreciated by all.

It also raised the risk of government becoming more authoritarian,as noted by international observers and the press.

The opposition is not very optimistic that the government will create a level-playing turf for them.
Moreover several Islamist parties abandon the opposition alliance. The key Islamist party Jamaat-i-Islami is preparing for contending the DNCC by-poll all its own.

Opposition chief is kept busy appearing before court in conformity with court ruling and faces several graft charges.

The press and the presspeople also faced risks in doing their activities. Media outlets are owned or operated by political men. Owner,   editor and chief news reporter—-crucial positions in the media industry and who control the flow of information —of a media outlet either hold by former ruling party student wing leaders or former student leaders of the communist party who also shares power with the ruling regime and enjoys monopoly of political activism in public educational institutions.

Media reports are often biased or contain twisted truth. Sometimes, they suppress news of  oppression of journalists and activists in autocratic countries unless they made international headlines.

And those deemed critical of these autocracies, faced the wrath of these countries and likeminded media outlets. For instance, owner of a local art gallery suffered ordeal for displaying works of Tibetan protesters at an international exhibition.

In addition, draconian laws are used to journalists behind bars.

Sometimes disappearance and spurious charges frighten them to discharge their duties.

Foreign media outlets critical to government are barred from diffusing information. For instance, Indian online news site The Wire is blocked in Bangladesh after it carried a report by a freelancer who alleged that a powerful Bangladeshi spy agency was behind the abduction of terrorism expert and professor Mobashar Hasan.

For some unknown reasons, viewers of Mirpur have been deprived of watching peak hour programs of Indian news channel NDTV.

More than dozens of foreign journalists faced government created obstruction in doing their duties. Two journalists working for a German news agencies were detained for spying for Myanmar. They were later released. A group of Australian journalists were expelled after they had call into question government made forensic report on dead Maldivian medical student Raudha Athif.

In a dysfunctional democracy where opposition is weak, a brow-beaten  media cannot effectively safeguard the checks and balances of democracy.
The crux of the matter is whether the main opposition can survive the twists and turns of ruling party political manoeuvring ahead of next general election.

Otherwise with another questionable election , Bangladesh will fall from the perch of “partly free” democracy to an authoritarian regime.

La Semaine Dernière A Mes Yeux

(5 janvier — 12 janvier)

L’ONG «Save The Children» a mis en garde que des Rohingyas enceintes allaient accoucher 48.000 bébés en 2018 dans les campes à Cox’s Bazar.

Le ministère de Transport de la Chine a affirmé que 32 marins iraniens et deux Bangladais restaient disparus après un cargo était entré en collision avec un tanker iranien au large de l’ est de la Chine.

Selon un reportage, 12 policiers ont été accusés d’avoir harcelés des étudiantes à Khulna.

Trois ouvriers ont été blessés par une explosion de bouteille de gaz à SS Rupantor Factory à Chittagong, selon un reportage.

Une partie de Hefazet-i-Islam s’est insurgé contre l’ arrivée d’ un prêtre musulman Maolana Saad à Dacca. Ils pensent que sa pensée et  œuvres sont hérétiques. Le Maolana est arrivé pour assister à la deuxième grande congrégation du monde musulman. La manifestation a asphyxié les rues principales à la proximité de l’ aéroport de Dacca.

Le chef de l’armée birmane a corroboré que l’ armée birmane et des villageois avaient tué 10 Rohingyas le 18 décembre l’ année dernière.

Selon un reportage, luttes intestines du Chhatra League ont provoqué fermeture de Pabna Medical College Hospital.

Bangladesh connaît une période de froid. Le mauvais temps a tué 34 personnes, la plupart sont les enfants.

Selon un reportage, la société chinoise Zhejiang Jindun va investir $5 milliards à Mirasarai Special Economic Zone afin de mettre en place une centrale électrique.

1/11: In Light Of Asabiyyah

The 11th anniversary of 1/11 govt  was observed quietly. The heavy handed approach of army backed – caretaker government and indiscriminate arrest of businessmen and politicians still rankle with all sections of our business and political community.

The fanfare of correcting Bangladesh politics and business did not last long. Within 7 months, the reformist dropped plan A and picked up plan B of exit strategy.

Politicians and businessmen of all hues irrespective of their creed and status felt the heat of anti corruption drive. The horror of that 2-year-long rule still haunts them and they still think there may be another one like that in the future.

This fear partly explains the unwarranted and unchecked corruption in every sphere of our lives.
Instead of focusing on the areas to clean, they went after everyone and touched every segment of the society without having a correct course of action.

The job of cleaning the dirt turned into a damp squib. Instead, they found themselves in the dirt.

Later, a court ordered government to bring back billions of Taka laundered abroad by that caretaker government.

Many key people of that regime escaped abroad unscathed including the former COAS and military spy chief, who now earns his bread there by delivering pizza.

Another celebrity corruption buster officer later joined the club of “hunter-gatherers”. He drew  media attention after having feud with a veteran journalist, who posted on Facebook that he jointly owned a restaurant with a rapist’s father at the abandoned industrial zone of Tejgaon.

He sued the journalist. But the debate exposed the truth that the reformers-in-fatigue were no saints. No ordinary citizen can possess land in that ghost industrial zone. So how did he manage to become the co-owner of that restaurant in Tejgaon?

Later, two more advisers were accused of land grabbing.

But there is no denying that unbridgeable divide between key political parties, compounded by reckless politics and widespread corruption, led to the intervention of army-backed caretaker government.

It  however kept its word and held the freest  election till today.

Biggest fallout of that rule was that the government instilled a deep fear among the politicians and the cronies. Unintended consequences were felt in somewhere else. Stock market scam ruined millions , public and specialized banks were plundered mercilessly. Moreover, billions of dollars are being laundered abroad.

The 2-year-long rule did play a contributing role in all of them.

Bangladesh’s “tribal political culture” wrote the prelude to its intervention. Failure to hammer out  a political solution and anarchist politics brought the whole country to a dead end.

The arrival and departure of the Caretaker government can be viewed in light of Ibn Khaldun’s “Assabiyyah”, which is the bond among people in a group. This bond is most strong during the nomadic phase of civilization and weakens as civilization advances.

Khaldun notes that this  social cohesion or tribalism brings groups to power but has some built-in elements of the group’s downfall and eventually  a new group,knitted by another “asabiyyah”, replaces the weaker one. Deviation from group’s interests, corruption, internal feud etc are identified as the elements. So, one asabiyyah falls, another strong asabiyyah steps in.

For the convenience of the discussion, here asabiyyah means “tribal feeling” and is used in the context of rise and departure of a ruling party.

The spirit of rooting out corruption and bringing the corrupts to the book was pretty high during the initial months of the 2-year-long caretaker government and lasted only six months. There had even been a list.  Later they did not manage to stay on the predesigned course.

Mired in overwhelming tasks of governing the country and facing increasing external pressure, they gave up. Lack of cohesion among them held back the ambitious quarter from assuming full control of the govt and thereby prolonging the status quo.

The price they paid was heavy. Within a month after transferring power to an elected civilian govt, a bloody mutiny at the headquarter of border guards killed 57 army officers. Pay row and mismanagement of operation Daal-Bhat were reported to be the causes behind the mayhem.

As the Awami “asabiyyah” (group feeling) swept across Bangladesh. The reformists’ asabiyyah came under from severe attack from all the corners. The BNP-led group feeling also took a hit.

The “common purpose” of altering politics to the core gave in to that of reestablishing the spirit of liberation war. Collective action, driven by this new purpose, started a backlash with older power group, ruled the country most of the time since the regime change in 1975.

One institution that presents visible example of dramatic changes of competing asabiyyahs is the UNDP Bangladesh. During the caretaker government, daughter of a killer of founding father of the nation held a position there. She was harassed continuously by the then spy chief and now pizza-delivery-man in the USA. She turned repeatedly down  his proposal of marrying her. In the same UNDP , now one of the grandsons of Bangabandhu held a position.

In one line, Awami asabiyyah can be described as a tradeoff between misgovernance and meting out chastisement to the collaborators of liberation war and their political sympathizers.

Financial scams , corruption and deteriorating law and order situation made a heavy blow to Awami asabiyyah.

As the old asabiyyah fades away and the new one gains its ground, a new group of people emerges based on another common purpose of safeguarding the belief of the majority.

Though initially the two groups of people were in collusion course, the ruling asabiyyah shared some of the common purposes of the new asabiyyah.

Could this ruling asabiyyah last for another 5 years? Could another more powerful asabiyyah rise and offer a purpose drawing majority of the people? Could good governance,individualism, an end to the inequality and giving more power to the have-nots be the deciding factors of the new asabiyyah?

La Semaine Dernière A Mes Yeux

(30 décembre — 05 janvier)

De plus en plus de nouvelles sur accident de l’ incendie apparuent dans la presse.

Dans le premier jour de l’année, incendie a détruit une bidonville à Karwan Bazar.

A Chittagong, l’ incendie a fait des dégâts au atelier de confection Unity Fashions Ltd.

A Gazipur, un atelier de jute a subi des dégâts à cause de l’ incendie.

A Pirojpur, l’ incendie a ravagé 16 magasins, faisant un bilan de Tk 5 millions.

A Gulistan, un marché d’ appareil électronique a été ciblé par incendie.

Dans plusieurs cas, l’ origine de l’ incendie reste inconnue.

Selon une étude par «Nirapod Sarak Chai», un mouvement pour les rues sans accident, environ 15 personnes perdent leur vies chaque jour au Bangladesh. Le nombre de personnes tuées en 2017 dans les  a  a augmenté 27% pourcents  que celui de 2016.

Un hélicoptère de l’ armée de l’air a fait un atterrissage d’urgence à Sylhet à cause de mauvais temps. Pendant l’atterrissage l’hélicoptère s’est heurté sévèrement, blessant sévèrement des passagers dont le chef de l’armée koweïtienne. L’hélicoptère était Mi171sh.

Selon un blog militaire, BAF entre en pourparlers avec Airbus Military afin d’ acheter un avion pour jouer le rôle de système de détection et commandement aéroporté. Peut-être ça sera CASA C-295 AEW.

BAF a aussi envie d’acheter plusieurs exemplaires de AW139 hélicoptères.

Selon un reportage les Rohingyas au Bangladesh manquent les médecins et médicaments contre la diphtérie. Dans un mois, la maladie a tué 27 enfants.

Un footballeur libérien s’est trouvé mort dans sa chambre à une maison de Mahanagar Project. Il y a six mois qu’il était malade. Il ne jouait plus pour les clubs à cause de maladie. Comme il était épuisé financièrement, il n’est pas retourné au Liberia.

Lessons From Tajrin and Tampaco

Ours is a  disaster-prone country. Sometimes man-made disasters strike us, sometimes life comes to a halt due to a pure act of god.

Winter is the season when fire accident crops up every now and then. Newspapers are filled with reports on fire accidents. This is a disaster that can easily be thwarted by taking precautionary measures.
The issue however bothers little responsible authority. Awareness  may be begun as soon as the winter draws in.

Unlike other disasters, fire accident leaves its victims traumatized. It takes a long time to overcome the trauma.

Since the recovery takes a long time and is a painful process, victims also incur considerable amount of financial losses. For the lower rung of the society, it makes a heavy dent in their savings and livelihoods.

When I was a reporter , I did cover news of some fire accidents. From my first hand experience, I knew it was an uphill task for the poor and working class to bear the cost of treatment. Some medicaments are imported from abroad and cost so much that a lower-income family barely affords those medicines.
Nowadays, the raging inferno strikes the poor and occurs mostly in densely populated areas and in hazardous industrial zones.

More recently a gas balloon caused a fire inside a bus,heading for joining the foundation anniversary celebration of the Chhatra League , and injured dozens of party activists.

From the first day of this year till Friday, I have noticed at least five news report related to fire accident.
First inferno incident of the year occurred at Karwan Bazar slum consuming at least 30 houses.

The second fire accident took place at RK Jute Mills in Kaliganj of Gazipur, causing a great deal of damage to the  unit housing machinery.

In Dewanhat of Chittagong,  fire gutted down two units of Unity Fashions. Fire-fighters assumed that electrical short circuit might cause the fire.

In Mirasarai of Chittagong, gas cylinder triggered a fire that ravaged three shops, causing a total loss of Tk 1 million.

In Gulistan, fire also hit underground electronics market on Friday. Since the market was closed, fire did a lot of damage to the shop owners.

In Najirpur Upazila of Pirojpur, fire decimated 16 shops, leaving a damage toll of Tk 50 lakh.

Since news were reported at the early stage of the accidents, the reports could not draw a firm conclusion on the cause of fire accidents or sketched a hazy picture.

These are just the reported news. There are however many minor unreported fire incidents, which failed to draw media attention.

There is lack of follow up news on major fire incidents,  highlighting the probe report on causes of those accidents.

Sometimes news reports overlooked incidents of willful negligence and mysterious fire accidents that did great deal of damages to property.
Last year, a mysterious fire ruined the shop owners of DNCC Gulshan market. After a lot of negotiations, late mayor’s intervention hammered out a temporary solution to their grievances. However, they are yet to recuperate their losses. And 26 of the victims have not managed to get temporary possession at the destroyed market yard.

Tampaco Foils Limited’s boiler blast is an apt example of willful negligence. As soon as the news broke out, I went to the spot to see the scale of disaster. It was the last working day before Eid vacation and the workers were about to receive their dues and bonuses. The boiler was expired and was put into work beyond its usual working hours. Before the deadly blast, it gave two warning calls. But they fell into the deaf years of boiler operator. Instead of telling the workers to vacate the factory premises, he kept insisting to continue their work.

The result was obvious: nearly 100 workers lost their lives and complete collapse of the factory building. Damage was severe because the factory was packed with highly inflammable chemical materials.

The first impression one got from having a glance on ruined  Tampaco Foils Ltd was that it was  deliberately mined. Workers were forced to work in that minefield.

Since the cronies started to operate in export industries, industrial disasters start to take place more than often.

Tajrin Fashions for and Rana Plaza debacle teach us this crucial lessons.

But not all entrepreneurs are cronies.Unfortunately only some negligible few with their political influence poisoning the business climate.

The owners of Tajrin and Rana Plaza viewed their workers as money making agents and did care little about their safety and lives.

But in most of our factories, the owner-employee relationship is more like an extended family. The workers are ready to go extra mile to help their bosses who are in serious business trouble.

Owners like Rana do not represent our RMG bosses. But unfortunately this image  drew more and more attention at the world stage and did a great damage to our RMG industry.

When the non professional and party blessed people are placed in the driving seat of such a crucial industry, then industrial disasters are about to happen. They hardly care about workers’ safety and are unlikely to put in place a production stimulating salary package.

The only thing they care is to make money by hook or by crook till their party bosses stay in power.

In their quest for making quick bucks, the causes of these accidents often remain unsolved riddle to the press.

Firefighters usually do their own investigation and come out with explanations what really caused the fire.

But too many industrial fire accidents in a season when such disaster is likely to happen raises eyebrows.

I recently heard this conversation in a tea stall. A man was sharing a story of a  party stalwart with his friends. The stalwart got a permission to set up a pharmaceutical company in a mofussil district. He borrowed heavily from the banks to realize it. The company however failed to grab a market share and did not yield the expected return. In the end he set fire on his own factory and made it look like an accident. He was trying to get compensations from insurance companies.

People like the party stalwart partly help to crack the mysteries surrounding the dilapidated conditions of our banks and unsafe work place.

Awareness campaign can only prevent an unanticipated disaster.  But we have to formulate  policies  to fight against willful negligence and deliberate act of sabotage.

Until that happens and we separate business from politics, business as usual only sets precedent for more Tampaco Foils Limited and Tajrin Fashions fire like disasters.

La Semaine Dernière A Mes Yeux

(23 décembre — 30 décembre)

Dans un communiqué, la Banque centrale a interdit les comptes et les échanges anonymes de cryptomonnaies au Bangladesh.

Bangladesh Food Safety Authority a mis en garde tout le monde sur les produits laitiers, fabriqués par Lactalis. Il a aussi ordonné l’ importateur d’ enlever tous les exemplaires de Baby Care I et Baby Care II depuis les marchés bangladais. Il y a un mois que Lactalis a détecté bactérie salmonelle dans ses produits laitiers.

Les enseignants d’ écoles secondaires ont fait la grève de la faim pour augmenter leur salaire et reconnaître leur boulot par gouvernement. Ils affirment qu’ils continueront leur grève jusqu’à la mort si le gouvernement ne respecte pas à la demande.

Deux appareils d’ entrainement se sont écrasés au large de Cox’s Bazar. Les deux appareils sont identités comme Yak-130, achetés en utilisant le crédit russe. Avant, l’armée de l’air avait perdu un autre Yak 130 à Khagrachhari.

Selon blog militaire Quwa, Bangladesh Air Force a publié un offre d’achat pour inducter des drones.

Police a appréhendé un policier pour avoir volé une moto d’un journaliste, selon un reportage.

Un Prof de l’Université de Chittagong a arrêté à y enseigner. Selon un reportage, un dirigeant du Chhatra League l’ a menacé en montrant un revolver parce qu’il y manifestait contre le gouvernement.

Selon un reportage, les fidèles du parti en exercice à Natore se sont emparés des viandes, destinées pour les pauvres. Les viandes ont été données au maire de la mairie de Natore par un pays de Moyen Orient.