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Archive for November, 2009


By Jahangir Alam Akash, It has become very clear that Bangladesh is one of the main Asian countries where, everyday, Islamic militants are cultivated. The government acknowledges that Islamic militancy exists in Bangladesh, saying that “Militancy is a reality.”

On Aug. 4, 2009, State Minister for Home Affairs Shamsul Haque Tuku said that people are not safe these days, whether they travel by foot or by car. “We are all being watched by the militants; this is the reality,” the state minister said, while inaugurating the Sher-e-Bangla Nagar police station. (Source: The Daily Star).

Tuku said, “Militancy is threatening the very existence of the country. Because of the activities of militants, war criminals, and anti-liberation forces, we are at a very high risk. They are moving Bangladesh toward a worse situation.” (Source: The Daily Sangbad)

Tuku called on people to stand united with law enforcement to root out militancy from the country. He also said the government would take every measure to strengthen the position of law enforcement, in order to improve law and order in the country. However, the state minister didn’t mention that Bangladesh is fully Islamized, per the direction of the country’s constitution. And he also didn’t saying anything about when the 1972 constitution might be reestablished.

I believe that, after the father of the nation, Bangabondhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, was killed, militancy became institutionalized in Bangladesh, and that for the last 34 long years, the number of Islamic militants have grown, due to patronage by the state. Under the BNP-Jamaat regime especially, militancy increased dramatically.

That government directly patronized militancy. Many minister and MPs of the BNP-Jamaat government support the militants. The police also provide safety for the militants. Sometimes, militants killed and tortured people right in front of the police. Militancy has become Bangladesh’s biggest problem. Militants are trying to kill the very popular Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, according to some sources.

Since 1999, at least 176 people have been killed and about 1,500 people have been hurt by Islamic militants in Bangladesh, including journalists, famous politicians, lawyers, and judges. Militants have attacked our Bangalee culture and secularism.

The daily newspaper, the Amader Shomoy, wrote, “The banned Islamic militant organization Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) has made plans to kill Home Minister Sahara Khatun, Law Minister Shafiq Ahmed, Education Minister Nurul Islam Nahid, and Foreign Minister Dipu Moni. Sources said that, in connection with this, the director of the office of the prime minister, Mahmudur Rahman, sent a letter to the home ministry on July 27, 2009.”

The JMB has reorganized itself throughout the country; the government has taken measures to deal with this situation. A law for the safety of Bangabondhu’s family has already been passed. Security has increased for VIPs.

Another source said that 125 militant Islamic organizations are still active in Bangladesh, and that war criminals and anti-liberation forces have been working behind these organizations.

An important piece of news is that the former British high commissioner to Bangladesh, Anwar Choudhury, said on Aug. 4, 2009, “As you remember, we supported a free, fair and safe election as soon as possible. The road map published by the interim government showed it couldn’t be done because of the fair amount of time that was required…That is, what we always supported is something we’ve said for 40 years: for Bangladesh to become a democratic, stable and prosperous country.”

He went on to say, “What were happening in Bangladesh were the decisions of Bangladeshi people. It is because of the internal mechanism and politics of Bangladesh. Our position has always been clear, as you will see it time and again. We did not, and we do not, interfere in the internal dynamics of Bangladesh.”

Choudhury also said, “We want to see strong representation and leadership from Bangladesh. We think Bangladesh has a chance to lead the adaptation field and negotiate the deals for the countries that have been affected.” Street violence and killings led to the declaration of the state of emergency, he added.

Actually, Bangladesh has now been identified by the world as a dangerous place plagued by Islamic militancy. So, the state minister told the truth. We believe that without actual democracy, rule of law, good governance, and accountability, peace can’t be established and can’t combat Islamic militancy. So, if the present government really wants to combat militancy, they should go back to using the constitution of 1972. And the government should practice real democracy, rule of law, accountability, and good governance. Otherwise, Bangladesh’s situation will grow even darker in the days to come.

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By Jahangir Alam Akash, Every person has dignity. For an individual’s dignity is a very important component to living in a civilized society. But the individual’s dignity has been hampered in various ways. A lack of democracy and the rule of law is, every day, violating the dignity of the individual around the world. This is especially common in Asia.

Due to human rights violations, terrorism, militancy, poverty, undemocratic attitudes, corruption, discrimination, intolerance and injustice, human dignity has been hampered all over the world. So, every civilized society and state needs to uphold human dignity.

If every state and society respects human dignity, then peace and happiness will come into the world. In spite of the fact that the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights ensures human dignity, most of the countries of the world has been violating it.

We can say that human dignity indicates a person’s basic needs for living. It is a universal responsibility for every government to provide people their basic needs. But we have seen that most of the governments of the world haven’t provided for their peoples’ fundamental needs.

Insecurity, injustice, inequality, poverty and the lack of democracy, accountability and the rule of law are the main barriers to upholding dignity in the world. Many people have no food, clothes, housing, clean water, sanitation, education, health, nutrition and human rights. Asian peoples especially have been facing great challenges regarding human dignity.

During the present global economic crisis, Amnesty International has started a Demand Dignity Campaign with an aim to end global poverty by working to strengthen recognition and protection of the rights of the poor. The campaign will demand the leadership, accountability and transparency, which are essential to end the human rights violations that keep people poor. Thanks to Amnesty International for their activities to reduce poverty.

With gross poverty, inhumanity, inequality, injustice and without other fundamental rights, how can we even imagine human dignity?

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By Jahangir Alam Akash, Another journalist was brutally tortured by the so-called elite force, the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), in Bangladesh. Tortured journalist F.M. Masum is now under treatment in a private hospital in the capital city of Dhaka. Before this, he had been admitted to the Dhaka Medical College Hospital. After being tortured, he can no longer hear with his left ear. Masum is a staff reporter for the national English language daily newspaper, New Age. He was tortured on Oct. 22 in his house in Dhaka.

Different media and human rights organizations demanded a judicial inquiry into the torture of Masum. After every incidence of the torture of journalists, like Masum’s case, journalists and human rights organizations give a condemning the act and demanding an investigation.

But we think that only condemning the torture and demanding an investigation is not enough. To prevent more torture, there needs to be exemplary punishment of those who are responsible for these incidents. The Bangladesh Nationalist Party’s secretary general, Khandaker Delwar Hossain, also condemned the torture of Masum and demanded legal action against the personnel involved in the incident. It is very funny, because their government (the BNP-Jamaat alliance) created the RAB. RAB activities are totally inhuman and unlawful. But our blind media has always covered false statements given by the RAB and the police regarding so-called “crossfire” killings without investigation. So, the RAB knows that journalists are always publishing false reports about their illegal operations. That is why the RAB is gaining the courage to torture journalists. At least 50 journalists have been tortured by the RAB since 2004.

This is not a new history of brutal torture by the RAB. The RAB also illegally arrested, detained and tortured inhumanely with electric shocks myself, the editor of Human Rights Today in 2007. Here are some links to videos about my torture by the RAB:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1xzaCRYCkqs (BIHR part-1)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BthGnl-WEGo (BIHR part-2)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hnyyJHp3ET0 (BIHR part-3)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H1G8BUvZ_mc (“Unbearable Time”)

Here is some background of the torture of Masum: According to a report by New Age, the Rapid Action Battalion, on Oct. 22, 2009, had tortured severely New Age staff correspondent F.M. Masum, keeping him in detention at the RAB-10 headquarters at Dhalpur in Dhaka for about 10 and a half hours.

The battalion men picked Masum up from his rented house at Jatrabari in Dhaka at noon and severely tortured him in public. Masum was, however, released at about 10:30 p.m., reportedly after repeated interventions by the home minister and the home secretary, and he needed to be rushed to the Dhaka Medical College Hospital for treatment.

According to Masum and spot accounts, a battalion team raided the house at 67, Dakshin Jatrabai, where Masum lives as a tenant, at noontime for alleged involvement by the landlord in drug peddling. The battalion personnel also knocked on the door of Masum’s flat. As soon as Masum opened the door, the battalion personnel slapped him, accusing him of being late in opening the door.

They started torturing Masum severely as he told them his identity, according to spot accounts. Torturing him in public on the spot, the battalion men rubbed salt in the wounds and took him to the RAB-10 headquarters at Dhalpur. “At the RAB office, they tortured me inhumanely saying, ‘We are taking our anger at Nurul Kabir [the New Age editor] out on you,’ Masum said in the hospital. Soon after Masum’s detention, different battalion officers came up with different stories as the reason for the detention. Some of them claimed Masum was found in possession of Pethedine, some said it was Phensidyl (codeine) syrup, while others said they found him with prostitutes.

The New Age people were asked earlier to sign an undertaking that declared that Masum had been involved in drug trading for a long time, but his colleagues refused to sign it. Masum also said that the battalion personnel had videoed arranged sequences of the seizure of drug substances from his room. He was also videoed along with the wife of the owner of the house.

Any torture is a violation of UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Constitution of Bangladesh, while torture is a criminal offense. The government should immediately abolish the RAB, and bring to justice all those who were involved with tortures and killings.
Press freedom & human rights in Bangladesh
By Jahangir Alam Akash, Copenhagen is the capital of Denmark. Recently I went there. International human rights organization the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) has organized a conference on ‘Preventing terrorism within the fight against terrorism: tools for journalists’ on 6th November, 2009. The organizers were given me an opportunity to join that conference. Around 30 Journalists and human rights defenders from 16 countries were participated in this conference. The conference was supported by the European Commission.
Sami Al Haj, a cameraman for the Al Jazeera TV station was showed a report about the human rights violation at Guantanamo. And he has described his inhuman torture history. He was spent six years in the Guantanamo detention center. Really it was brutal and horrible. Journalist and writer Tara McKelvey from USA has described on the Abu Ghraib prison’s human rights violation. It was a nice, fruitful and important conference. Now, I want to share on my torture history. How and why I was brutal tortured by Army in Bangladesh? I want to draw a picture on human rights and press freedom in Bangladesh.
Torture is a common feature in Bangladesh. Now torture has become institutionalized. In Bangladesh, it has become common for extrajudicial killings to be sanitized under the names of “crossfire” or “encounter” by law-enforcing agencies. A culture of impunity has also been a common practice by the state since 1975. Here, extrajudicial killings by the joint security forces continue unabated.
I experienced torture firsthand while I was detained at an Army camp during the state of emergency declared by Bangladesh’s military caretaker government from Jan. 2007 to Dec. 2008. I want to share with you some of my experiences. Every day, the suppression of the media and freedom of speech is becoming more apparent in Bangladesh. I would like to draw a picture of the destruction of Bangladeshi media from my own perspective.
The people of Bangladesh struggled for 23 years to establish their rights in different sectors throughout the country, then for provincial autonomy, and finally for independence. They owned their victory through a nine-month-long war, after which they found Bangladesh independent. But it is very troubling that Bangladeshis’ fundamental rights have been restricted through interference by the Army, at different times. The Army autocrats who rule the country have caused the deaths of thousands of civilians and Army people, even the father of the nation, Bangobandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, in 1975, but they have always received impunity.
In recent past regime of army backed caretaker government, it was common Practice for the joint forces, the Army, and the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) to torture university professors, journalists and writer and human rights defenders including famous dramatist columnist Malay Bhoumic, professor Anwar Hossen Neem Chandra Bhoumic, Harun-ur-Rashid, present vice chancellor of Rajshahi University Abdus Sobhan, ex vice chancellor of the same university and present ambassador of UK Saidur Rahman Khan. No action can to be taken against these perpetrators.
Personally, I have also been victimized by the recent past authority for my activities as a journalist, writer and human rights activist. I was tortured for 15 hours. My crime was that I was made several investigative reports about the RAB’s offenses of extrajudicial killings, Islamic militancy and Indigenous and minority torture as well as corruption and political terrorism.
I want to paint a picture of the violation of the rule of law and human rights in Bangladesh. The RAB arrested a terrorist named Benazir on May 2, 2007, on the charges of possession of illegal arms. While arresting him, they shot both of his legs in front of his minor daughter and his wife. Benazir is now crippled with two bullet marks on his feet. He is also detained in the hospital area of the Rajshahi central jail. The RAB did not find any arms in his possession.
Another killing was happened in the name of ‘Encounter’ by RAB-5. RAB murdered a local Workers party leader Maznu Sheikh alias Kamrul Islam at Chotobongram in Rajshahi city on May 18, 2007. I reported about these on CSB News and broadcasted interviews of their relatives (wife, mother, brother and localities). In the same time I was published these report on the daily Sangbad and broadcasted in DW Radio.
When Benazir was shot, it was reported by me on CSB News. None of the RAB personnel who were involved in the alleged operation agreed to give statements in front of a television camera regarding the incident. In the evening, I send the report to our head office in Dhaka from our bureau office in Rajshahi. In a news bulletin broadcasted at 1:00 a.m. the following morning, the report was broadcast.
Then, at 9:33 p.m. that evening, I received a call from RAB officer Major Rashidul Hasan Rashid. Soon as I As soon as I picked up the phone, the caller asked me why the broadcasting of the news piece about the RAB’s operation was stopped after being aired only twice. In reply, I told him that “it is up to the head office.” Major Rashid became annoyed with me and said, “You broadcasted this report intentionally.” I replied, “It is my professional duty, nothing more than that.”
He asked, “Why did you broadcast someone crying and the statements of Benazir’s wife and daughter?” In response, I asked him, “Do you want to know it officially?”
At this stage, Major Rashid became very rude. I cannot mention the words he shouted at me in our language, since the language was very bad. He was outraged and said, “If you fail to give the right answer about why you broadcast the report, then I shall take actions against you.” I said, “I have not committed any crime.”
Major Rashid asked again, “Why did the other TV channels not broadcast the same report? You did it intentionally and your actions belong to ‘anti-state activity’.” He also said, “Make sure that you, any of your colleagues, and the CSB News camera are never seen within the jurisdiction and activities of the RAB. If they are, then the RAB will take action against you.”
After that, he hung up. I complained to the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) and Amnesty International and other human rights and media organizations as well as DW authority regarding this threat. Then AHRC was given a letter to the government. After then, an investigation was commissioned. After giving a detailed report, I signed my written statement, which was received with signature and official chop by the reader to assistant police commissioner in Boalia, Rajshahi on July 3, 2007.
Mr. Golam Mostofa, the field officer of the National Security Intelligence questioned me regarding the said intimidation and threats, on July 15, 2007. Then, at around 6:00 p.m. on July 22, 2007, Mr. Moyeen, an inspector of the Special Branch of the city of Rajshahi visited my office and took my statement. Inspector Moyeen also asked about the threat I felt, and I replied that the RAB is involved in extrajudicial killings and I feared that I could become the victim of such a killing. I reported that I have been continuing my work, but I still worried that the RAB or his men might target me for further harassment or intimidation.
So I became a target. I have been charged multiple times with false and political motivated charges and have been arrested, tortured and detained. I was arrested from my house at midnight and tortured in front of my wife, child and rental house owners. I was taken to the RAB-5 office. I was hung from the ceiling with my hands tied with ropes and was beaten mercilessly on my feet and my back. I was kept hanging from the ceiling with ropes around my hands, with the mask on my face. And also they gave me electric shocks.
When I was being tortured I was being shouted at with words like: “Will you do the Benazir report again…?” “Litchi garden report again…” ‘Khairuzzaman Liton’s family report again…” Now face the consequences; son of a pig… son of a bitch…” etc. The RAB would like to be able to kill me, and officially call the killing a “crossfire” or “encounter.”
RAB sent me to the local police with the charge under the section 16(2) of Emergency Power Rules 2007. I was under medical attention in the Rajshahi central jail for 10 days. As a new detainee, I was sent to the case table in front of the jail house’s trial court on my first day. When I went to case table, two fellow inmates had to hold me on both sides. I had no power to walk. I could not even sit properly, but could only put pressure on one side of my rear, when sitting. I broke into tears. Many cases were lodged against me. I felt I was being prepared to be killed in a “crossfire” or “encounter.”
There is more shocking news I have learned about a key perpetrator, Major Rashidul Hassan Rashid, an RAB military officer who played the leading role in the extrajudicial killings of Ahsan Habib Babu, a student’s league leader; Kamrul Islam, alias Maznu Sheikh, a Workers Party leader; Ali Jafor Babu, a prominent businessman; and about twenty others. Some people like Benazir and a jail guard, Shahebul Islam, were highly affected and disabled by their torture. Major Rashid has been recruited to serving in the U.N. peacekeeping mission in the Ivory Coast; he joined the UN mission on July 10, 2008. This makes it clear how well the Bangladeshi authorities look into human rights abuses and treat the victims and the perpetrators.
In 2007 journalist Tasneem Khalil, who wrote an article criticizing the government, was taken by Army members to the facilities of the Directorate General of Forces Intelligence, Bangladesh’s intelligence agency, and was brutally beaten. Now he has been exiled by the Bangladeshi government and lives in Sweden. Cartoonist Arifur Rahman arrested and sent to the jail for made a cartoon. Though, he was freed from jail later and he was freed from the case by the court ordered. In the regime of BNP-Jammat government journalist Saleem Samad, writer-journalist Shahriar Kabir, professor of Dhaka University and famous writer Muntasir Mamun also brutally tortured and detained illegally. There are so many examples like mentioned above. In Bangladesh still going on extra judicial killings in the name of ‘Crossfire’ ‘Encounter’ or ‘Gunfight’.
Though, the present government is democratic. Recently in Gofforgaon upazilla under Mymensing district journalist Biblop was tortured by the supporters of ruling party lawmakers. In last 16 years almost 29 journalists-writers were murdered in Bangladesh including Manik Saha, Deponkar Chakraborty, Goutam Das, Humayun Kabir Balu, Shamsur Rahman Cable, Harun-ur-Rashid Khokon, Saiful Alam Mukul, and Sheikh Belaluddin. But yet real investigation and trial has not end. Journalist’s community and the relatives of killed journalists are waiting for justice. In last 38 years since independence hundreds journalists brutal tortured including Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury, Atiquallah Khan Masud, Alhaj Zahirul Haque, Probir Shikder, Tipu Sultan. In the present Awami League regime journalist F M Masum, who is working with the New Age was brutally tortured by RAB recently.
On the other hand, In Bangladesh, the brutal persecution of the Christian religious minority and indigenous ethnic minorities is going ahead full steam. Until now, the persecution that both communities faced never saw the light of justice. A culture of the denial of justice in Bangladesh is the root of all the persecution against the ethnic and religious minorities, which isn’t only affecting a part of the country, but is plaguing the entire criminal justice system in Bangladesh. General Zia and his predecessors introduced persecution against the minorities in Bangladesh. Bangladesh became Islamized under the military regime, rather than being a true parliamentarian democracy. Bangladesh was not born with the blessing of being united beyond ethnic and religious differences, but rather has been Islamized, yet with a secular policy.
The attack on the religious minority brings with it the idea of “Islam in the constitution”. The communal spirit began with political motives and ended in mass destruction such as the attack on present Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wazed back in 2001. The victims of the brutal attack are still looking for justice. At that time also, a bomb attack killed 10 and badly injured 20 others at the Baniarhar Catholic church in Maksudpur, in the Gopalganj district.
In 1998, an indigenous leader, Alfred Soren, was brutally killed by those in power. The day of the attack, the perpetrators looted his house, destroyed his belongings, and set the house on fire. Until now, his family members and the public have never seen the light of justice. Cholesh Richil, an indigenous Christian leader, died in custody on March 18, 2007, following brutal torture at the hands of the army. Richil’s civil rights were grossly violated by government agents. It is puzzling why the government has not yet made a proper investigation to unearth the mystery behind this leader’s death. The perpetrators of this crime should not have impunity. The killing of Richil has not been filed as a criminal case to date. From 1979 to 1981, the indigenous people of Bangladesh became cornered by landless people from the mainland in the process of their rehabilitation by the government. An ill-fated ten-year-old indigenous child, Klanto Chiham, was killed by brutal teachers after being tortured at Maymansingh. A dacoit, or robber, killed a Christian school teacher, Mangsang, at Madhupur in Tangail. A member of an even smaller minority, Dr. Goni Gomes, a converted Christian from Islam, was killed by Islamic militants. The constitution does not give proper identity to the indigenous peoples. This is Bangladesh! We demand that these persecutions stop right now and that the government give all rights due to the minority groups and bring the perpetrators to justice. Nonstop minority repression has been going on.
Press Freedom: Day by day journalism in Bangladesh is going on very danger and risk. Press freedom is golden dear in Bangladesh. Actually here is no real press freedom. Journalist’s killings and torture is a common feature in Bangladesh. In Bangladesh press freedom is a golden dear. In this horrible situation journalists are working here.
Though government always says that, journalists and media are free. In practice, media is not free. Media peoples are working hundred percent with self censorship. Because most of the media owners are black money holder or they have other business. Every day, the suppression of the media and freedom of speech is becoming more apparent in Bangladesh. I would like to draw a picture of the destruction of Bangladeshi media from my own perspective.
29 journalists and writer were killed in last 16 years in Bangladesh. Out of these three were killed in this year (2009) including a community young journalist. Yet, not get justice of the journalist’s families as well as journalists community. Still they are waiting for getting justice.
Journalist’s killings and repression is a common phenomenon in here. Many journalists in different places in Bangladesh have been tortured and threatened by the ruling party men including some law makers in this year. These incidents apart, harassment either in the form of physical torture or filing false cases is on the rise in recent days across the country. At least 130 journalists felt prey to various types of harassments in the country since January, 2009.
After my investigating report about Islamic militancy, extra judicial killings, minority oppression and corruption I was tortured with electric shocked by army (RAB) and they also hung me with the ceiling for 15 hours with blind folded and with a black mask in 2007. Still I have been facing two false and political fabricated cases. In the regime of last army backed caretaker government many journalists were tortured. In the regime of BNP-Jammat government journalist Saleem Samad, writer-journalist Shahriar Kabir, professor of Dhaka University and famous writer Muntasir Mamun also brutally tortured and detained illegally.
The killed journalists and writer are 1) Manik Saha (Khulna), 15 January, 2004, 2) Humayun Kabir Balu(Khulna), 27 June, 2005, 3) Shamsur Rahman Cable (Jessore), 16 July, 2000, 4) Harun-ur-Rashid Khokon (Khulna), April, 2003, 5) Saiful Alam Mukul (Jessore), 30 August, 1998, 6) Dipankar Chakrabarty (Bogura), 20 October, 2004, 7) Goutam Das (Faridpur), Sheikh Belaluddin (Khulna), 2005, 9) S.M. Alauddin (Satkhira), 19 June, 1996, 10) Golam Mazed (Jessore), 11) Mir Ilias Hossen Dileep (Jhenidha), 15 January, 2000, 12) Shukur Ali alias Shukur Hossen (Dumuria-Khulna), 5 July, 2002, 13) Nahar Ali (Dumuria-Khulna), 18 April, 2001, 14) Ahsan Ali (Rupgonj-Narayangonj), 20 July, 2001, 15) Kazi Md. Kamruzzaman (Nilfhamari),1996, 16) Syed Faruk Ahamed (Shrimongol-Moulobhi Bazar), May, 2002, 17) Bazlur Rahman (Chuadanga), 18) Kamal Hossen (Khagrachari), 21 August, 2004, 19) Anwar Apolo, 20) Abdul Latif Nabil, 21) Zamaluddin (Rangamati), 5 March, 2007, 22) Nurul Islam Rana (2009, Uttara-Dhaka), 3 July, 2009, 23) M.M.Ahsan Bari (2009, Gagipur-Dhaka), 26 August, 2009, 24) popular writer Dr. Humayun Azad (Dhaka University), 27 February, 2004, 25) Sarwarul Alam Noman (Mymensing), 1995, 26) Faruk Hossen (Jessore), 27) Abdul Gaffar Chowdhury (Jessore), 1994, 28) Rezaul Karim Reza and 29) Abdul Hannan(2009, Demra, Dhaka).
But yet real investigation and trial has not end. Journalist’s community and the relatives of killed journalists are waiting for justice. Another form of journalist’s repression in Bangladesh is defamation. Every year many journalists have been facing criminal defamation. Personally I was grossly suffered with defamation. With a false defamation charged had went to jail for three days in 1992. Still many journalists with editors are facing with defamation charges.
In Bangladesh, justice and press freedom is a golden dear. Those who are involves in corruptions they always controlled by the governments. Presents trends of media are that, black money holders are coming in the ownership of media house. So, journalists are firstly, self censored for their owners. Another media controlled key is advertisement of government.
That is why; media is not playing good role for the peoples. For media freedom, another problem is that in Bangladesh has no definition about contempt to court and defamation. So, always, media has fearing regarding these. Which content will go to contempt to court or defamation for publishing? Media peoples have not known this. Only for this recently famous national daily the Prothom Alo has charged with contempt to court.
There have no national broadcasting rule. Though, we got recently right to information act and community radio rule. Now, we are waiting for see what would come better for media freedom of these two rules. On the other hand, many law including official secrecy act which are big barrier for press freedom.
Journalist’s communities in Bangladesh are waiting for justice of their killed and tortured colleagues. I think, in Bangladesh if society has not changed as qualitative then press freedom is so far from practically. In practice, has no rule of law, good governance in Bangladesh. Whole nation politically, socially divided by two major groups. Journalist’s community has also divided by two groups and also they have lack of professionalism.
Torture has been a familiar and widespread problem in Bangladesh. It is a routine feature of criminal investigations, used by the police to obtain confessions. It is also used for politically motivated purposes against alleged national security suspects, critics of the government, and perceived political opponents, in order to obtain information, to intimidate or to convey more broadly a message of fear. The system of detention is also a kind of human rights violation.
Article 35 (5) of the Constitution of Bangladesh clearly said that, No person shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment or treatment – thus, it is a fundamental right of all Bangladeshis that they are protected by the Constitution against torture. There is a biggest difference between the constitutional provision and the belief of the general people. This experience started on the very day when the nation adopted its constitution as the supreme law of the land immediately after the independence of the country from the colonial regime. That same difference of allowing torture to persist without any credible scope of justice to the victims remains after 38 years of independence. The police, along with its other branches such as Special Branch (SB), the Detective Branch (DB) and the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), are not the only agencies that practice torture. The paramilitary forces the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) the armed forces, especially the Bangladesh Army, and the intelligence agencies like the Directorate General of Forces Intelligence (DGFI) and National Security Intelligence (NSI) of the country, all maintain special torture cells of their own. There are temporarily created cells like the Joint Interrogation Cell (JIC) and the Task Force for Interrogation (TFI) Cell and they are notorious for their brutality.
There is little support for the people they are supposed to be protecting. The law enforcement agencies and the security forces care little for the ordinary people of Bangladesh. The personnel, who serve in the police, armed forces and the paramilitary forces stand face to face before the people treating the commoners as criminals in general and subject them to torture in the name of maintaining law and order in the country. In reality, a country likes Bangladesh where a fair trial is beyond imagination of the justice seekers it is absolutely impossible to get a legal remedy against a perpetrator of torture.
Human rights organization The Asian Human Rights Commission informed us that, in Bangladesh 629 police stations in the country. If a single person is tortured per day in these police stations then an alarming number of 229,585 persons are being tortured in Bangladesh every year. Torture at the hands of the state actors regularly causes permanent and temporary disability of persons and amounts to hundreds of deaths every year. But, despite the recurrence of these grave incidents it repeatedly fails to shake the conscience of the policymakers of the nation. The governments of various regimes do not feel any responsibility to bring to an end this brutal practice. Ironically, the political parties of the country pledge to uphold rule of law and human rights before every general election and then turn a blind eye to abuses by the police once they are elected to power.
Bangladesh’s parliament is in session for the second time after a new government led by the Bangladesh Awami League assumed office this year. A draft Bill urging the need of punishing torture and custodial death as a crime has also been in place since 5 March 2009. The Bill was registered by a Member of the Parliament, Mr. Saber Hossain Chowdhury, of the ruling political party, as a Private Member’s Bill as the government did not clarify its position regarding the issue. A ruling party with more than two thirds majority in the parliament can eliminate torture and allow thousands of victims to get justice from the courts of law in order to fulfill the government s commitment to the people thereby meeting their constitutional obligations.
We general people of Bangladesh urges to the Parliament of Bangladesh to prove its commitment that they want to end the practice of custodial torture and the culture of impunity on their own soil. We also urge the parliamentarians to legislate the draft Bill in order to open the doors of the judiciary for the victims of torture.
The victims should have easy access to the complaint mechanism and protection from threats and intimidation. The burden of proof should be upon the perpetrators of torture with an obligation of compensating the victims for their sufferings if the perpetrators are found guilty. Article 46 of the Constitution must be repealed as it is used to offer impunity to the perpetrators of torture. Sections 132 and 197 of the Code of Criminal Procedure must be repealed immediately. Section 132 allows the state actors to abuse their power in the name of good faith without any checks and balances, and Section 197 denies the independence of the judiciary. The peoples also urge the civil society, including the media and the rights groups of Bangladesh to initiate movements against the practice of custodial torture and impunity by demanding the criminalization of torture.
Freedom of the press should be granted in Bangladesh’s constitution; it is granted in Art. 39 (b), but it is not binding upon the government. Therefore, we should fight to establish the rule of the constitution. The judiciary should be independent in practice, and all kinds of killings by the government machinery should be stopped. No persons should be tortured by law-enforcing agencies. No rule or ordinance that is contradictory to the main theme of constitution should be formed or passed. No accused persons should have impunity. The U.N. charter should be followed strictly and, in this regard, the international organization should act impartially and independently.
I think that, to establish freedom of the press and to protect human rights that are the first and main step to establish the rule of law and to develop a country, the culture of democracy should be practiced continuously and strictly in Bangladesh. In this regard, a forum for regional or global cooperation should be formed, should be active in creating a few rules, and should be strictly maintained. It is necessary to give punish those who are perpetrators and should Bangladesh government stop Impunity for the greater interest of democracy and peace.
Lastly, I want to say I have been giving high price for press freedom and human rights with my whole family. Only for my professional activity my father in law was lost his political carrier. Though, he has been belonging with Bangladesh Awmai League from last 42 years. After my persecution I have been paralyzed socially, economically, mentally and physically. Not only that, I have lost my job, dignity, reputation. How I will recover my dignity, reputation and all other loses?

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By Jahangir Alam Akash, Militant Islamism is a great threat to global peace. Most Asian countries are fertile ground for such militants. People’s happiness has been sabotaged by militant Islamists in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Militant Islamists are also very strong in Bangladesh, they attacked the Twin Towers in the United States, and, more recently, Al-Qaida has been threatening Germany as well. So, militant Islamism is now a global threat and problem.

In Bangladesh, most of the political parties are using religion for political purposes. Almost the whole system in Bangladesh has fallen victim to the burning problems of criminalization, Islamization, corruption, a lack of accountability and responsibility, and a disabled democracy. And Bangladesh has other major problems, such as widespread poverty, natural disasters, climate change, a bad education system, no good planning, and no rule of law.

War criminals, the Jamaat party and militant Islamists in Bangladesh are similar to one another. These three groups are very dangerous for secularism, yet they are still quite active in Bangladesh. You can find dishonesty, immorality, irresponsibility and corruption everywhere in Bangladesh.

The militant Islamist groups are still very active and organized in the country. They have been running arms and explosives training camps. Members of state forces, who are also militant Islamists, are killing and covering up their killings, reporting them as “crossfires”, “encounters” or “gunfights”. And yet, the administration hasn’t taken up these extrajudicial killings with the militant Islamists. So now, a big question in the mind of the public is whether or not the administration is friendly with the militant Islamists. The government has yet to try in court those accused in these incidents. The funding sources of the militants still remain hidden.

On Sept. 25, 2009, a militant training center was seized by law enforcers from Khagrachhari. Law enforcers arrested Abdur Rahim alias Saifullah, second-in-command of the Chittagong division of the Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen (JMB), and seized powdered explosives, 14 grenade casings, 20 detonators, 49 books on jihad, 27 batteries and around 1 kg. of barbed wire. Later, on Sept. 27, law enforcers arrested four JMB cadres – Delwar Hossain alias Sajib, age 32, and Yunus Ali alias Yunus, age 20, at Shantipur of Matiranga; Delwar Hossain Dulal, age 23, in Gazipur; and Monir alias Ripon, age 25, in Comilla.

Government sources said that Moulana Saidur Rahman’s son Bashar plays a key role in running the organization. Seven members of the Shura, the highest policymaking body of the JMB, are Shiblu alias Shishir, Sohel Mahfuz of Kushtia, Mehedi alias Abir of Barguna, Nazmul alias Bhagne Shahid of Natore, Osman alias Shahid of Comilla, Sayeem of Dhaka and Mahmud alias Asad of Panchagarh.

Of them, Shishir is in charge of the military wing, Sohel Mahfuz of the Dawat (invitation) Department, Mehedi of the southern districts, Nazmul of the northern region, Osman of the Chittagong division and Sayeem of the IT wing. The duties assigned to Mahmud are not yet known. Mostafiz alias Siddique of Gazipur has been working as an advisor for the banned outfit. An unnamed government source has said, “The network of the militant Islamists and their organizational activities are still very strong in Bangladesh.”

According to research, around 125 militant Islamist organizations are active in Bangladesh. But the government has banned only five of these organization, to date. The life of the present prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, is under threat by the militants. She is the main target of militant Islamists, sources said.
We believe that if Bangladesh’s government wants to combat militant Islamism, they it should ban the Madrasa (Islamic) system of education. At the same time, it would be necessary to start a one way, combined scientific system of education, to reduce all kinds of discrimination and poverty. Also, there should be an immediate trial for war criminals. We also demand that the influence of religion upon government politics should be banned at once.

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By Jahangir Alam Aash, General Zia and his predecessors introduced persecution against the minorities in Bangladesh. Bangladesh became Islamized under the military regime, rather than being a true parliamentary democracy. Bangladesh was not born with the blessing of being united beyond ethnic and religious differences, but rather has been Islamized, yet with a secular policy.

Why is the repression of minorities and indigenous peoples still going on in Bangladesh? Bangladesh’s Awami League is now in power. They have always gotten the minority and indigenous votes, with some exceptions. And it has been 38 years since Bangladesh became independent. Enemy or vested property is a black law and it’s a gross tool for minority repression. Our demand is that, this black law should be repelled immediately and the ceased property should be returned to real owners or their relatives.

Religious minority oppression is a common phenomenon in Bangladesh. Every day, minority oppression is growing at an alarming rate. Yet our government is not doing its duty to safeguard the minority groups. Why aren’t they doing something to stop minority torture? We don’t know. But we have been seeing that most of the perpetrators are linked with the ruling party. People think that the present government may be turning a blind eye at minority issues. We want to say clearly that the people do not want to see the issue ignored, but rather, that they want to see peace and happiness.

In Bangladesh, the brutal persecution of the Hindu, Christian religious minority and indigenous ethnic minorities is going ahead with full steam. Until now, the persecution that both communities faced never saw the light of justice. A culture of the denial of justice in Bangladesh is the root of all the persecution against the ethnic and religious minorities, which isn’t only affecting a part of the country, but is plaguing the entire criminal justice system in Bangladesh.

Torture of minorities continues as we talk. When will it come to an end, and why doesn’t the government take action against the perpetrators of minority torture? In Bangladesh, every day, there have been cases of murder, attempted murder, torture, and other forms of inhumanity. Is Bangladesh a democratic and civilized country? How can we say that it’s a civilized and democratic country?

In Bangladesh, crimes against humanity have become widespread, especially against minorities. Almost every day, minority people leave for the neighbor country, India. Minority women are constantly afraid for their security. Peace, good governance, rule of law, and democracy are nonexistent in Bangladesh. Perpetrators get impunity from the state. As a result, there is a constant increase in all kinds of criminal activities in our dear Bangladesh. At the same time, sectarianism has increased rapidly. And our religious minorities are suffering.

Majority Muslims are occupying the minorities’ lands, torturing them, and raping their women. It is a common practice. Everything has been happening in front of the eyes of the government. The present ruling party is always telling us that they are nonsectarian. Yet, they are failing to stop minority oppression, and the torture of minorities is still happening in Bangladesh.

We see from the media that ruling party members are taking away land that belongs to minorities. The people of Bangladesh have not forgotten the oppression of minorities that took place after the general election of 2001. It is true that our minority peoples faced grievous trouble under the BNP/Jamaat-E-Islam alliance government that ruled from 2001 to 2006. During that regime, BNP/Jamaat party members were committing murder, rape, and vandalism against minorities.
Bangladesh was born as a nation after nine months of fighting for freedom. With independence, four main components were established for the nation, namely, democracy, nationalism, secularism, and socialism. With an almost good constitution, Bangladesh was beginning to make progress forward. However, the constitution did not recognize our indigenous communities. Even today, indigenous peoples are not recognized by the constitution. The present government has the support of the majority in Bangladesh; if they wanted to reestablish 1972 constitution, it would be no problem for them. But the government has been in power for ten months, and they still haven’t taken any steps in that direction.

Under the force of Islamization, the preamble of Bangladesh’s constitution has been amended to include the words “…pledging that the high ideals of absolute trust and faith in the Almighty Allah…”, and, in the process, the word “secularism” has been dropped. The constitution, in fact, begins with the words “Bismillah-ar-rahman-ar-rahim”, which means “In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful,” which words come from Islam. In Bangladesh, the completion of Islamization is happening everywhere.

In this situation, we demand that the unconstitutional provision concerning a state religion in the Constitution of Bangladesh be repealed. All activities of discrimination, disparity, arrests, torture, detention, and oppression against religious minorities, as well as all people in general, shall have to be stopped. We don’t want a religious state; we want a secular and democratic state, based on Bengali nationalism in the light of the four fundamental principles of the state that motivated the Bangladesh Liberation War and that constituted the dream of the father of the nation, Bangabondhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

Jammat-E-Islam is a communal party in Bangladesh, which was involved with war criminalities. BNP also has been upholding their non-secular attitude, which has introduced ‘Bismilla’ to our secular constitution. BNP-Jammat torture and kill our minority, it’s a natural, because they are fundamentalists. Though, this government is well known as a minority friendly government, but instead, minority repression is going on unabated. It’s very unfortunate to secular peoples.

The Local Influential boycotted & cut the hair of a Hindu-Dalit woman raped victim, because Muslim perpetrator raped her. Ms. Sabita Rani 25 a raped victim, wanted justice against the rapist, Jewel Kha, and as a result the powerful social leaders cut her hair and boycotted her and her family members. The leaders also threatened her mother and younger brother for dire consequence if she continues to stay at the village Nilam Kharida Sadar Taluk within Kaonia Upazila of Rangpur district in Bangladesh. A college girl Koli Goswami (21) was kidnapped and forceful converted to Islam in Ghosai Chandura, Upazila – Nandail district-Mymensingh on 13th June 2009.

According to the oldest Bengali newspaper the daily Sangbad, Properties belonging to minorities in the Sherpur District were occupied by force by a Juba League leader, while shops were demolished and women injured. A group of hoodlums under the leadership of Hafizur Rahman Hafiz and his elder brother, Azizur Rahman Aziz, the cultural secretary of the Juba League occupied by force 283 square meters of land belonging to a Hindu owner, Surjya Kanta Debnath. In connection with this, allegations were made by the victim’s family that two shops were demolished and that their daughter, Ms. Lipi Debnath, was physically assaulted. Twenty minority families from the Sonagazi-Feni district are on the run because of the continuous kidnapping of women and children and the forceful collection of money. More than 20 minority families located in the villages of Kazir Hat and Keramatia, in the Sonagazi Sub district of Feni, fled due to continuous threats and atrocities perpetrated by local Muslims. They left their homes from fear of life. In another report, daily Star wrote: ‘”Rajshahi board boss faces mayor’s fury.” The Mayor of Rajshahi Khairuzzaman Liton. An influential Muslim threatened Rajshahi Board Chairman Dr. Prodeep, a Hindu, because mayor’s daughter was not able to good grade in the school final examination.

We want justice for all kinds of killings, torture, and human rights violations. Under the present government, numerous incidents of minority torture have taken place, including the sensational kidnapping of nine minorities (including women and children) in the Sutrapur area of Dhaka. A gang of criminals attacked three Hindu families in the Dighalkandi Sahapara village of the Puthia Upazila of Rajshahi on the night of Aug. 31, 2009, injuring 12 people. The attackers belong with BNP-Jammat. A Hindu woman Radha Rani Halder (28) in Shoriotpur was gang raped recently. And three minority peoples were killed during this regime.

The patriotic journalist Manik Saha was killed by a bomb attack in 2004. Another honest journalist, Diponker Chakraborty from Bogura, was killed by terrorists. From Faridpur, the promising journalist Goutam Das was killed. Principal Gopal Krishna Muhury was killed. All Bengali people know about the young minority girl named Purnima who was gang raped in Sirajgonj. And these were all preplanned incidents. No investigations have taken place and justice had never been served against killing of indigenous community leaders, including Alfred Soren and Choles Ritchil.

We know Bangladesh has no actual democracy, rule of law or education. Most of the people are living in very poor conditions. The obvious problem is that, constitutionally, Islam is the only religion of Bangladesh. But in Bangladesh, there live Muslims, Hindus, Christians, and Buddhists. We have had a secular constitution since our country’s independence. After the killings of Bongobondhu, two generals ruled Bangladesh and made it a monolithic Islamic country.

We hope that the present government will take immediate action against minority and indigenous persecution. And our demand is that all the perpetrators should be brought under justice. Now there is a democratic government. So, what is the problem in stopping minority torture and extrajudicial killings? Let us be united and fight and pressure the present government to stop minority repression and state torture.

We want the legitimate demands of the aboriginal and tribal communities to be fulfilled, including the preservation of their distinct cultures and heritage, and the implementation of the Chittagong Hill Tracts Peace Treaty. We want the return of vested property, with a provision of inheritance, to be implemented. We want the government to resist sectarianism, fundamentalism, and fanaticism and to put a stop to all kinds of religious discrimination, deprivation, atrocities, persecution, and harassment.

The attack on the religious minority brings with it the idea of “Islam in the constitution”. The communal spirit began with political motives and ended in mass destruction such as the attack on present Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina back in 2001. The victims of the brutal attack are still looking for justice. At that time also, a bomb attack killed 10 and badly injured 20 others at the Baniarhar Catholic church in Maksudpur, in the Gopalganj district.

In 1998, an indigenous leader, Alfred Soren, was brutally killed by those in power. The day of the attack, the perpetrators looted his house, destroyed his belongings, and set the house on fire. Until now, his family members and the public have never seen the light of justice. Cholesh Richil, an indigenous Christian leader, died in custody on March 18, 2007, following brutal torture at the hands of the army. Richil’s civil rights were grossly violated by government agents. It is puzzling why the government has not yet made a proper investigation to unearth the mystery behind this leader’s death. The perpetrators of this crime should not have impunity. The killing of Richil has not been filed as a criminal case to date.

From 1979 to 1981, the indigenous people of Bangladesh became cornered by landless people from the mainland in the process of their rehabilitation by the government. An ill-fated ten-year-old indigenous child, Klanto Chiham, was killed by brutal teachers after being tortured at Maymansingh. A dacoit, or robber, killed a Christian school teacher, Mangsang, at Madhupur in Tangail. A member of an even smaller minority, Dr. Goni Gomes, a converted Christian from Islam, was killed by Islamic militants.

We urge the enlightened citizens of Bangladesh to be united and to do something for minority rights and security. Please forget politics. As human rights defenders, we should be impartial, universal, and dedicated to human rights.

The constitution does not give proper identity to the indigenous peoples. This is Bangladesh! We demand that these persecutions stop right now and that the government give all rights to the minority groups and bring the perpetrators to justice. Without real democracy, rule of law, and good governance, how can anyone have hope that the government will punish the real culprits and masterminds of minority torture and other human rights violations? We are waiting eagerly for the trial of war criminals, for the implementation of the verdict of Bangabondhu killers, and are waiting for the justice to be served to the killers of the four national leaders. We also want to see the current government reestablish the constitution of 1972 and stop mixing politics with religion.

Prime Minister, and daughter of Bangabondhu, Sheikh Hasina, please opens your eyes to the minority community. Don’t you see what is happening? You have power as the prime minister; why don’t you take action against the perpetrators of minority suppression? You still have time to use your power. Please safeguard our minority peoples and their possessions.

Lastly, we want to demand that the government immediately form a public inquiry committee to investigate all cases of minority oppression and human rights violations that have occurred since independence. Again, only investigate is not enough; we think that those involved with minority oppression and human rights violations should be brought under justice. Otherwise, it will never be possible to establish the rule of law. If the government wants to take these actions, then it should, first of all, reestablish 1972 constitution. Secondly, it should immediately bring to trial cases involving war crimes, jail murders, and the Bangabondhu murder case, and should punish the accused. It also needs to take strict action to stop Islamic militants. Otherwise, there will be no peace and happiness.

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By Jahangir Alam Akash, Minority torture and repression have taken a new turn in Bangladesh. But the so-called democratic government hasn’t taken any action against the perpetrators and doesn’t provide any kind of security for minorities in Bangladesh. We are really very angry and very worried about the government’s attitude towards minority oppression.

(See article by The Daily Star on Aug. 31, 2009, “Rajshahi board boss faces mayor’s fury,” http://www.thedailystar.net/newDesign/news-details.php?nid=103772)

We know that Mr. Liton is very close with our honorable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. In the subdistrict’s last general election, Mr. Liton was influenced by Sheikh Hasina about the nominations of party candidates. Recently, Mr. Liton was nominated as a central member of the Bangladesh Awami League. And he is the son of the national leader A.H.M. Kamaruzzaman. Also, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is the president of Awami League.

If the allegation against to the mayor is true, then it is very alarming for the minority community. This kind of situation is a barrier for the rule of law, democracy, the administration, and the people. It is alleged that Mr. Liton helped the militant Islamic terrorist Bangla Bhai in 2004. (Source: The Daily Janakantha, June 2004)

We also know that Mr. Liton demanded the release of Dr. Galib. Galib was arrested for involvement in Islamic militancy in 2005. Mr. Liton was the main mastermind behind the brutal torture of a journalist and human rights defender in 2007. Mr. Liton tried to kill said journalist, collaborating with prominent Army Major Rashahidul Hasan Rashid.

As the head of the party and as prime minister, Sheikh Hasina cannot overlook her moral responsibility for the actions of Mr. Liton. It is our hope that, for the sake of rule of law and human rights, Sheikh Hasina will investigate the allegation against Mr. Liton.

I urge the enlightened citizens of Bangladesh to be united and to do something about minority rights and security. Please forget politics. As human rights defenders, we should be impartial, universal, and dedicated to human rights.

We want justice for all kinds of killings, torture, and human rights violations. Under the present government, at least 42 incidents of minority torture have taken place, including the sensational kidnapping of nine minorities (including women and children) in the Sutrapur area of Dhaka.

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By Jahangir Alam Akash, Climate change is an important issue in the effort for global peace. Average global temperatures and sea levels are changing every day. The whole world is worried about the unnatural changes occurring in global climate. Next month, the United Nations Climate Change Conference, one of the most important conferences this year, will be held in Copenhagen, Denmark, from Dec. 7 to Dec. 18. The issue of global climate change that we are facing is more pressing than ever. Climate change is affecting mankind in various ways.

As a Bangalee, I want to share how climate change is affecting the daily life and economy in Bangladesh. Already, the seasons have experienced unusual changes in Bangladesh. Every year, the country faces unexpected rains, dry spells, temperatures and other symptoms of changes in global weather patterns.

Bangladesh is experiencing frequent severe weather patterns, in the form of floods, cyclones, heavy rains, droughts, river erosion and salinity intrusion due to climate change. Bangladesh’s vulnerability to climate change lies mainly in its dense population and that a large part of its area consists of low-lying coastal areas and expansive floodplains. At present, Bangladesh has a population of 163 million people. While the country’s population has been increasing, on the one hand, its forests are being depleted, on the other.

An increasing world population and harmful industrialization worldwide are the main causes of climate change. The severity of storms, droughts, rainfall, floods and other natural disasters has been increasing in Asian countries, and in Bangladesh in particular, due to climate change. Global warming threatens our agriculture, which is the backbone of Bangladesh. Every year, natural disasters have widespread effects on Bangladesh, touching every corner of the country. Due to limited resources, Bangladesh does not have the capacity to ensure that appropriate measures are taken to mitigate the damage.

Dhaka, the capital city of Bangladesh, is the city most threatened in Asia by climate change. If things continue as they are, in the future, the economy will fail and human life itself will be threatened. At present, there are 10.3 million people living in Dhaka. In 2025, the population will have increased to 20.5 million.

At the same time, every day, Bangladesh is losing ponds, lakes, dams and forestry. National and regional varieties of fish are being lost. Specialists have reported that 54 varieties of fish in Bangladesh have already been lost due to climate change. And forest animals are also being lost. At least 70 percent of people in Bangladesh are living in very poor situations. Many elements of both human society and the environment are sensitive to climate variability and change. Human health, agriculture, natural ecosystems, coastal areas and temperatures are all sensitive to changes in climate.

According to the Water Development Board, there is a total of 11,000 kilometers of embankment that the by Water Development Board developed, of which around 250 kilometers were damaged by water surges during Cyclones Sidr and Aila. The existing embankment at Hatia requires a 4.5-meter height increase to protect against storm surges and sea-level rises due to the effects of climate change. Any future embankments should be designed to be two to four meters higher than the existing ones.

Due to climate change, the weather in Bangladesh has changed. Water levels have fallen, temperatures have risen, and the incidence of floods, dry spells and cyclones have all increased, affecting both people’s lifestyle and the crops. At least 30 rivers, including the the Padma, the Gomti and the Teesta, have dried up. And most of the other rivers in Bangladesh are being lost because they are being filled with soil. Parts of northern Bangladesh are becoming desert. Geological and biological changes in the area are threatening normal life.

People all over the world are hoping that a positive, effective outcome, which is so needed, will result from the UN conference on climate change and that the world’s leaders will figure out a sustainable solution from their discussions there.

Bangladesh needs technological and economic support to survive the effects of a changing climate. Just as important is the proper handling of any foreign funds Bangladesh may get, since we know that corruption is another large barrier to our prosperity.

Bangladesh is an underdeveloped country in Asia. How will this country continue to exist in the face of the challenge of climate change? That is a major question. Now, we will have to see what help for Bangladesh regarding this challenge of climate change comes from the Copenhagen conference.

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