Friday, October 13, 2017 FRONT PAGE

Skip Navigation Links
 
link
 
link
SUPPLEMENT

Visitor Login










TOXIC WASTE IN HAOR: TK 5,081 CRORE DAMAGE
Dhaka experts conceal truth, Indians confirm hazardous pollution

 Karar M Hasan, Iqbal Siddiquee, H R Chowdhury and MM Ali

 
IRONICALLY the so-called Bangladeshi experts/scientists – who are prone at times to dancing to their master’s tune – have seemingly concealed the facts about toxic waste from Indian coal mines in trans-boundary rivers that severely damaged agriculture of this country this year in the north-eastern districts; on the contrary Indian scientists revealed the truth two years ago. In 2015, the report of the Indian Central Pollution Control Board identified water of 38 rivers of Meghalaya and Assam hazardous.
Full Story

 Karar M Hasan, Iqbal Siddiquee, H R Chowdhury and MM Ali

 
IRONICALLY the so-called Bangladeshi experts/scientists – who are prone at times to dancing to their master’s tune – have seemingly concealed the facts about toxic waste from Indian coal mines in trans-boundary rivers that severely damaged agriculture of this country this year in the north-eastern districts; on the contrary Indian scientists revealed the truth two years ago. In 2015, the report of the Indian Central Pollution Control Board identified water of 38 rivers of Meghalaya and Assam hazardous.
The formation of ammonia gas from ‘rotten green paddy’ was identified as the reason for ‘depletion of oxygen level in the water’ and subsequent deaths of fishes, livestock and cattle in the ‘haor’ (wetland ecosystem) regions of Bangladesh, that started on March 27, at least two weeks ahead of its expected time.
Hundreds of tons of fishes died and thousands of tons of paddy were destroyed and cattle and livestock were lost in the haor region as ‘oxygen level in water fell due to formation of ammonia gas’, created by ‘rotten green paddy’, the government said. Since the paddy was not ripe and had remained submerged under water so it started rotting, the officials justified.
A careful examination of the government statement reveals that the green paddy remained under water for a longer period so it started rotting on its own and led to ‘formation of ammonia’ and ‘depletion of oxygen’, and caused the havoc, i.e., loss of crop, death of livestock, cattle and fish. Livestock and cattle die in floods, but the death of fish in such huge volume was never heard of earlier. According to a survey the damage caused to Bangladesh agriculture is to the tune of Taka 5,081 crore (US $620 million).
 
The theory negated
The theory of ‘formation of ammonia’ from ‘rotten green paddy’ and ‘depletion of oxygen’, as the reason for the devastation, however, does not fit in all the haor districts since no death of fishes was reported from the two haor districts—-Kishorganj and Habiganj.
Is the flash flood this year different from those in the past? Before we probe into it further let us first take a general view of people who live on the banks of haors for generations. Suffering loss of crop from flash flood almost every year is not new for them, but loss of crop this year does not match their past experiences. Loss of fish in flood was never heard of, even to those who are now octogenarian.
A bad smell began  floating in the air within a few days of the onrush of flood water and the stink persisted for a few weeks, which added a different dimension to it. The flood came earlier this year and the colour of its water this year was also different from those in the past, some victims living around the haors observed.
Considering the views of haor dwellers on one side and official theory that propounds - ‘formation of ammonia’ from ‘rotten green paddy’ and ‘depletion of oxygen’ as the reason for loss of crop, death of livestock, cattle and fish - on the other, one may ask the following questions.
Did the government receive any early flood warning forecast from India? Assuming that ‘formation of ammonia’ from ‘rotten green paddy’ and ‘depletion of oxygen’ caused huge loss of crop and fish in the haor region, one may ask why did not a single fish die in Kishorganj and Habiganj the two other haor districts that also lost ‘green paddy’?
 
When scientists dance totheir master’s tune
The highest losses of 119 MT of fish were reported in Netrokona, while fish losses in Sunamganj, Moulvi Bazar and Sylhet were respectively 49.75 MT, 25 MT and 21 MT. Netrokona’s loss of fish was more than the losses suffered in all other districts put together.
Question arises why officials and scientists flocked to Sunamganj and Sylhet instead of Netrokona, which suffered the highest fish casualties?
Was the government unnerved following a report in an English language newspaper that linked the death of fishes in Sunamganj to those from across the border allegedly caused by uranium poisoning? Whether the government was unnerved or panic stricken may be assessed from the visits of officials and coverage on flash floods prior to the daily’s report and in its aftermath.
The way scientists and academics were posing before camera lenses and talking about the test results of water samples of the affected haors gives rise to another question whether the government at all has any mechanism to assess the water quality of trans-boundary rivers to identify potential problems before it poses serious adverse health effects.
The parameters for water quality assessment and monitoring include:
pH, temperature, conductivity, salinity and dissolved oxygen. Further tests may also be done for nitrates, iron, hardness, bacteria and benthic organism.
Had there been any facility for water quality test of trans-boundary rivers at entry points then the government could have released its findings when the English language daily published its report.
Academics and scientists who flocked to Sylhet and Sunamganj also could have asked for water quality reports of trans-boundary rivers at their entry points.
Water quality reports of trans-boundary rivers at entry points and those of water bodies inside Bangladesh prior to the death of fishes and after the deaths should be compared and made public. Otherwise the theory of ‘formation of ammonia’ from ‘rotten green paddy’ and ‘depletion of oxygen’ – causing huge loss of crop and fish in the haor region will be challenged not on grounds of its authenticity only but also regarding the intention of those who propounded it.
 
AMD carried by trans-boundary rivers
Earlier it was pointed out that the above mentioned theory does not fit in in case of Habiganj and Kishorganj —-the  two haor districts that lost crops but reported no fish casualty.
In case of Habiganj, its three trans-boundary rivers —- Khowai, Sonai and Sutang—-neither originate nor flow through any coal mining region. There is no report of direct discharge of mine effluent AMD (Acid Mine Drainage) in any of those rivers. Besides, Kishorganj does not receive water directly from any trans-boundary river.
Volumes of researches conducted in Europe, America, Australia, Africa and in parts of Asia reveal that acidity of AMD contaminated water weakens, when acidic water starts mixing with fresh water and crosses longer distance from its source. This again depends on a number of factors like – the level of AMD contamination at the source, the speed at which it crosses a certain distance, the volume of fresh water it mixes with and so on. In case of Kishorganj and Habiganj, the AMD contaminated water of trans-boundary rivers crossed a longer distance before entering the districts. Acidity in the water reduced as it moved further downstream. Devastating other districts, the AMD water when entered Kishorganj and Habiganj it could destroy crop only but lost its strength to harm the fish population.
 
Were the facts concealed?
Handling of the AMD issue and its direct discharge into the trans-boundary rivers that resulted in the devastation of the haor basin brings into light two questions :–
(i) Was not the government at all aware of the matter|?
(ii) Was it an attempt from any quarter to conceal facts related to direct discharge of AMD into trans-boundary rivers from people of Bangladesh who have been bearing its brunt for almost a decade?
Loss of homestead and cultivable land in Sunamganj under the effluent of ‘mine drainage’ and filling up of haors with ‘voluminous amount of granules and sediments from across the border’ were reported in the newspapers during the past several years.
Reports also claim ‘government is aware’ of the ‘environmental threats’ the country faces due to ‘unplanned mining activities across the border’. ‘Filling of cultivable land by the mine discharge’ was raised between the two countries reports reveal quoting official documents. According to these reports Bangladesh also urged its neighbour ‘to stop such activity detrimental to the interest of its people, environment and ecology’.

Indians confirm AMD pollution
What was more surprising in the event of flash floods in the haor region was the approach of the Bangladeshi scientists and scholars who were shying away from admitting facts which their Indian counterparts had conceded to long ago. In their articles and scientific papers published in journals and discussed in seminars, the Indian scientists and scholars admitted the fact that most of the ‘rivers and streams’ from Meghalaya that flow towards ‘‘south-east into the flood plains of Bangladesh is badly affected by contamination of Acid Mines Drainage (AMD)’’.
Even the 2015 report of central pollution control board of the Indian government under the ministry of environment, forest and climate change identified ‘water quality criteria limit’ for 10 out of 19 rivers of Meghalaya and 28 rivers of Assam ‘exceeds’ the permissible limit.
We feel, direct discharge of AMD into the trans-boundary rivers of whole coal mining’ in the north eastern state of Meghalaya for over Northeast India and Bangladesh as pointed out by Indian researchers and academics contributed to the huge losses of fish and crops in some haor districts during the flash floods of 2017. Indian scientists identified ‘certain stretches’ of some trans -boundary rivers had been ‘devoid of fish’ due to ‘high toxicity’ of its water, resulting from direct discharge of AMD into water bodies in coal mining areas.
Studying the ‘unscientific’ and ‘illegal’ mining, particularly ‘atleast three decades, they also documented its fall out on environment and ecology. As a result media personnel, environmentalist groups and student organizations also have been raising their concern over these issues for the past several years.
 
AMD dumping: No fish in Meghalay
Netrokona river Someshwari is known as Simsang River in Meghalaya.  Simsang, a major river in the coal mining areas of Garo Hills, poses ‘severe threats to the aquatic biota’ owing to ‘discharge of AMD directly into the river’ and ‘dumping of coal for auction on its bank’, according to a study conducted over a period of six years period.
Due to ‘excessive accumulation of AMD’, the Simsang that divides the Garo Hills into two parts – East Garo Hills district and South Garo Hills district before entering Bangladesh – ‘is devoid of any aquatic organism in some areas of the river,’ the report said.
The Simsang, an important tourist mark, ‘‘is under severe pollution threat’’, said the study titled Impact of Open Cast Coal Mining on Fish and Fisheries of the Simsang River, Meghalaya, India. The study conducted over a period of six years prepared by Bandita Talukdar, Jugabrat Das et al pointed out that there has neither been any ‘‘systematic study on the coal mine pollution load’’ on the river nor has there been any impact analysis on its ‘‘aquatic species’’.
The study conducted during 2009 and 2015 along the ‘entire stretch’ of Simsang River covered ‘an area of about 290 km2’. Six study sites selected along its banks were: ‘Nokrek Biosphere Reserve’ and ‘Romagre’, away from coal mining activities; Williamnagar, a regular coal dumping site; Nangalbibra, having most of the coal mining activity in the vicinity of its hills; Siju, has coal mining around it too; and Baghmara, transports coal by boats regularly.
Another study entitled “Acid Mine Drainage, a potential threat to fish fauna of the Simsang River, Meghalaya, reveals more than 100km stretch’’ of the Simsang is ‘severely affected due to coal mining’.
‘While passing through Nongal Bibra, a small town in the East Garo Hill’, the river, according to the study ‘receives a large amount of AMD’. Pointing out the ‘fish faunal diversity; the river was ‘once well known for’ has now ‘declined over the years due to indiscriminate coal mining’.
The study jointly conducted by Sumanta Kumar Mallik, Debajit Sarma, Dandadhar Sarma and Neetu Shahi was published in the Current Science, Vol. 109, No. 6884, 25 August 2015.
Of the four sampling sites of the study ‘William Nagar’, in the upstream of river simsang, ‘is away from the coal-mining areas’ while the other sites - ‘Bagmora’, “Nongla Bibra and Sijue’ - were used as ‘AMD receiving points’ the study said noting, ‘coal excavation’ was also carried out in the last two river banks in the downstream.
Samples of the study were collected during august 2013 to December 2014, the research said adding ‘at Nongal Bibra the fish fauna was completely absent’. At this site the ‘pH was very low (<3.0)’, the study said adding that at ‘Nongal Bibra, the metal concentrations were equal to or greater than the levels usually considered toxic to most of the fish species’.
Findings of the study reveal ‘low species diversity’ in Simsang River that provides evidence of its conditions to be ‘stressful and toxic’.
 
Karar M Hasan, a former secretary to the government, Iqbal  Siddiquee, HR Chowdhury are Sylhet-based and MM Ali is a freelance journalist

Login to post comments


(0)



Bangladesh politics gets a shake up

Abdur Rahman Khan
 
Bangladesh politics suddenly was shaken up this week rather rudely with the issuance of double warrants of arrest against the main opposition BNP’s Chairperson Begum Khaleda Zia and the arrest of eight top leaders of her alliance partner Bangladesh Jamate Islami.
A Dhaka court on Thursday issued an arrest warrant against BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia in a case filed some time ago for allegedly undermining the country’s map and national flag. According to the case summery, Khaled Zia formed a coalition government with Jamaat-e-Islami in 2001 and she appointed Motiur Rahman Nazami and Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid of Jamaat as ministers and handed them over the map and the national flag of independent Bangladesh. The two JI leaders had fought against the country during the Liberation War in 1971 and thereby, Khaleza Zia had committed the offense, the complainant said.
Full Story
Abdur Rahman Khan
 
Bangladesh politics suddenly was shaken up this week rather rudely with the issuance of double warrants of arrest against the main opposition BNP’s Chairperson Begum Khaleda Zia and the arrest of eight top leaders of her alliance partner Bangladesh Jamate Islami.
A Dhaka court on Thursday issued an arrest warrant against BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia in a case filed some time ago for allegedly undermining the country’s map and national flag. According to the case summery, Khaled Zia formed a coalition government with Jamaat-e-Islami in 2001 and she appointed Motiur Rahman Nazami and Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid of Jamaat as ministers and handed them over the map and the national flag of independent Bangladesh. The two JI leaders had fought against the country during the Liberation War in 1971 and thereby, Khaleza Zia had committed the offense, the complainant said.
Warrant against late Zia dropped
Metropolitan Magistrate Nur Nabi passed the order on Thursday as Khaleda Zia failed to appear before the court even after the court repeatedly asked her to attend the hearing on the scheduled date. But she could not comply with the court order as she was out of the country for medical treatment. The court also directed the officer-in-charge of Gulshan Police Station to submit a report by November 12 on the execution of the arrest warrant.
On November 3, 2016, the case was filed with Dhaka Chief Metropolitan Magistrate’s Court against Khaleda Zia and her late husband Ziaur Rahman, also a former president. After recording statement of the complainant, Magistrate Raihanul Islam directed the officer-in-charge (OC) of Tejgaon police station to investigate the matter. On February 25 this year, Tejgaon OC ABM Moshiur Rahman submitted a probe report to the court mentioning that he found the allegations to be true. However, the name of Ziaur Rahman was dropped from the case as he was dead by this time.
According to the case, Ziaur Rahman on August 15, 1975, had taken over as the country’s president after the killing of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman along with most of his family members. Ziaur Rahman had also threatened Sheikh Hasina, now prime minister, and confined her after her arrival in the country from abroad on May 17, 1981, the case statement said.
Khaleda Zia appointed Jamaat leaders Motiur Rahman Nazami and Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid as ministers and handed over the map and the national flag of independent Bangladesh to them even though they fought against the country during the country’s Liberation War in 1971, the complainant said. The move was tantamount to undermining Bangladesh’s map and the national flag, he alleged.
 
More warrants on Khaleda, others
Earlier on Sunday a Comilla court has issued arrest warrant against BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia and other ‘absconding’ suspects over a 2015 case for their involvement in setting fire on a public bus. Judge Jesmeen Begum of District and Sessions Judges Court in Comilla passed the order after police submitted a chargesheet against 78 people in the case.
The court also issued arrest warrants against BNP standing Committee members Rafiqul Islam Mia, MK Anwar, Vice Chairman Shawkat Mahmud and Senior Joint Secretary Rizvi Ahmed.
On 3 February, 2015, eight people were killed in a crude bomb attack on a Unique Paribahan bus at Noabazar area of Chauddagram on the Dhaka-Chittagong Highway during the countrywide blockade programme enforced by the BNP-led 20-party alliance.
Later, Chauddagram police Sub-inspector (SI) Nuruzzaman Hawladar filed a case mentioning 56 names including Begum Khaleda as the suspected provocateur.
Meanwhile, to protest against the arrest of warrant against the BNP chairperson, the party staged countrywide demonstrations amidst widespread police actions on Wednesday. At least 20 people were injured as BNP activists clashed with police in Maijdee town on Wednesday during their demonstration against the arrest warrant for BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia.
Police also arrested dozens of BNP activists and local leaders in different districts as they tried to bring out processions to demonstrate their protests.
In addition, on Monday, a Dhaka court issued warrants for the arrest of 23 BNP leaders and activists in two cases filed on charges of torching vehicles in the capital’s Mirpur area in March 2015.
Judge Kamrul Hossain Mollah of Dhaka Metropolitan Sessions Judges’ Court passed the order after taking a charge sheet into cognizance against 41 accused including the 23 BNP men charged in the cases.
The court has also asked the concerned police stations for submission of their reports on the execution of the arrest of warrant in the cases by November 19.
 
More cases against opposition
The 23 accused include BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia’s press secretary Maruf Kamal Khan and her personal assistant Shimul Biswas, BNP leaders Azizul Bari Helal, Sultan Salauddin Tuku, and Saiful Alam Nirob.
However, 18 others BNP leaders including Barrister Rafiqul Islam Miah, Amanullah Aman, Habibunnabi Khan Sohel, who are now on bail, were also present at the court during the hearing.
Meanwhile, Jamaat-e-Islami Ameer Maqbul Ahmad, its Secretary General Dr Shafiqur Rahman, Nayeb-e-Ameer Mia Golam Parwar and six other party leaders were also arrested from the city’s Uttara area on Monday night.
A team of Detective Branch (DB) of Dhaka Metropolitan Police arrested them on charges of holding a ‘secret’ meeting at the house.
They were later implicated in cases of subversion and put on police remand. The party reacted to the arrests by announcing a slew of street protests on Wednesday and a general strike on Thursday. BNP also extended support to Jamaat harlal that passed off almost peacefully on Thursday.
The government in recent times has been increasingly taking a hard line against both the major political parties with law enforcement agencies cracking down heavily on their meetings and other political programmes.
In addition, several thousand leaders and activists of both the parties have been put behind bars on various trumpeted charges, mostly violence-related during political campaigns.
Both BNP and Jamaat-e-Islami have alleged that the government has been increasingly harassing them by implicating them in multiple false cases with a view to driving them away from politics and making it difficult for them to take party any lawful activities of their parties.

Login to post comments


(0)



WHAT’S TATMADAW’S PLAN FOR ROHINGYA
Myanmar’s military spent decades engineering a genocide

Austin Bodetti
The Diplomat

Despite taking years to plan, history’s worst crimes against humanity appeared to the world as clumsy, hasty, and reactive. The Ottoman Empire organized the Armenian Genocide amid fears of Russian spies during World War I. Nazi Germany raced to implement the Final Solution, the bloodiest phase of the Holocaust, as the Soviet Union and the Western Allies punched through its defenses during World War II.

Full Story

Austin Bodetti
The Diplomat

Despite taking years to plan, history’s worst crimes against humanity appeared to the world as clumsy, hasty, and reactive. The Ottoman Empire organized the Armenian Genocide amid fears of Russian spies during World War I. Nazi Germany raced to implement the Final Solution, the bloodiest phase of the Holocaust, as the Soviet Union and the Western Allies punched through its defenses during World War II.

Newcomers to genocide studies might see historic recurrence in Myanmar, whose military, the Tatmadaw, claims that it only started battling the Rohingya, a Muslim minority, after insurgents fighting under the banner of the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) conducted operations against security forces in October 2016 and August 2017. However, the Tatmadaw has spent decades engineering the genocide of the Rohingya, a conspiracy that is now coming to fruition and that, in the face of the Western world’s growing complacence and Islamophobia, will likely succeed.

Brutality with patience
When the British Empire granted independence to Burma, Myanmar’s predecessor, in 1948, some Rohingya pushed for their own Islamic state separate from the Buddhist-dominated sovereign state in which they found themselves. They referred to the territory that would become Rakhine State — named after the Rakhine, the Buddhist people who live there alongside the Rohingya — as “Arakan.” The Tatmadaw had other plans though, expelling thousands of those secessionists to Bangladesh.
Unlike the Ottomans or the Nazis, who tried to crush minority religions in just a few years, the Tatmadaw exercised not only brutality but also patience and restraint. In the early 1990s, soon after the military government had renamed the country “Myanmar” to promote its nationalist agenda, 250,000 Rohingya fled rape, religious persecution, and slavery to Bangladesh. The Tatmadaw nevertheless allowed many to return, likely appreciating how cruel the instantaneous erasure of a minority could look to the international community. The Tatmadaw understood what the Hutus and Serbs failed to.  Most often, Rohingya refugees would return from Bangladesh after the Tatmadaw decided that it had wrought enough destruction, adding to a growing Rohingya population. The Rakhine feared that the Rohingya might soon outnumber them, so Burma’s then-military government legislated a solution: the 1982 Citizenship Law, which required Burmese to prove their ancestry prior to 1823, when Britain colonized Burma and permitted Muslims from the British Raj to immigrate there.  The Tatmadaw thus rendered the Rohingya stateless, classifying them as illegal “Bengali” immigrants.
The War on Terror presented Myanmar the opportunity to build its anti-Rohingya narrative: the Tatmadaw was fighting Islamist terrorism, not pursuing an Islamophobic genocide. When sectarian riots erupted in Sittwe, the capital of Rakhine State, in summer 2012, the Tatmadaw imprisoned tens of thousands of Rohingya in concentration camps for what it described as their own safety. According to the Myanmar government, the camps protected the Rohingya from Rakhine rioters while the Tatmadaw pursued the alleged terrorists of the Rohingya Solidarity Organization (RSO), a defunct resistance movement.

Passive to active genocide
Choosing to confine the Rohingya, instead of killing them, allowed the Tatmadaw to define the story. Even if Human Rights Watch and the United Nations protested, what happened in 2012 proved ambiguous enough that most observers refrained from labeling the detentions genocide. The Tatmadaw was pressuring the Rohingya to leave through oppression rather than making them leave through violence.
In 2016 and 2017, the Tatmadaw has found the opportunity to finish what it started in 1948. The existence of ARSA, the Rohingya’s reaction to decades of passive genocide, gave the Tatmadaw the excuse to switch to active genocide. It combated the insurgents, whom it described as “terrorists” even though they killed no civilians, by arresting, burning, displacing, executing, raping, and torturing Rohingya civilians. These war crimes fell under the labels of counterinsurgency and counterterrorism so popular with Western militaries. The Tatmadaw reproduced what it saw at work in the Western world.
Nothing from 1948 to now suggests that the Tatmadaw is reviving the War on Terror with sincerity. Instead, the military that governs Myanmar to this day while hiding behind Aung San Suu Kyi, as a figurehead, has likewise used the War on Terror as cover for the War against Islam. The last two historical attempts at genocide against Muslims, in Bosnia and Kosovo in the 1990s, had to contend with American humanitarian intervention. Today, however, Americans sound reluctant to intervene (more) even in Afghanistan and Iraq, the countries that they proved so eager to invade in the early 2000s.
The Tatmadaw has gone further than its counterparts in the Philippines and Thailand, the other two countries in Southeast Asia confronting Islamist insurgencies. The Filipinos and the Thais, on the one hand, have at least spoken of conflict resolution and peace building. The Tatmadaw, on the other, refuses to negotiate with ARSA, a revolutionary movement far worse armed and organized than the Malays in Patani and the Moros in Mindanao. The Tatmadaw wants to destroy an ethnicity, not end an insurgency. ARSA and the RSO, resistance movements capable of little real resistance, seem the perfect excuse.

UN troops only answer
“The only resolution to the Rohingya crisis is to send UN troops to Arakan and create a safe space for our people,” Sham Shu Anwar, one of the few Rohingya to stay in Myanmar after half a million have escaped, told The Diplomat. “All other efforts to rescue our people will be in vain.” He recounted the Tatmadaw’s attempts at ethnic cleansing as “adamant and inhuman.”
The Rohingya once hoped that Myanmar’s democratization would return to them the rights that the Tatmadaw had stolen. They praised the National League for Democracy (NLD), Suu Kyi’s political party, for its potential to bring peace to Myanmar. Now, neither the NLD nor the international community have met the Rohingya’s already-wavering expectations of protection and salvation. “The international community just provides us food,” Anwar observed. “We need protection, not food.”
One of the world’s most persecuted minorities has convinced itself of the need for warfare, whether in the form of humanitarian intervention or rebellion. “There are two ways to save the Rohingya: one is intervention by the UN Security Council and the other is arming Rohingya fighters,” Anwar argued, noting that his compatriots saw few options against the Tatmadaw. “Every moment, we are scared of the Burmese. Everyone here is scared of them. Yesterday, they set fire to a village near us.”
ARSA might have miscalculated in attacking the Tatmadaw, which can now claim to be acting in self-defense. The longer ARSA resists, the longer soldiers can slaughter the Rohingya who remain in Myanmar.  Anwar told The Diplomat that he nevertheless refuses to leave Myanmar, his homeland, for Bangladesh: “We worry about living in refugee camps.  If the Burmese kill us, we will die here.”

Austin Bodetti is a freelance journalist focusing on conflict in the Muslim world. His writing has appeared in AskMen, The Daily Beast, The Daily Dot, Vox, and Wired UK.


Login to post comments


(0)



Another warrant against Khaleda

Special Correspondent

A Dhaka court has issued arrest warrant against BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia in Zia Orphanage Trust corruption case.
The court also cancelled the bails of other accused Sharfuddin Ahmed and Kazi Salimullah and sent them to jail.
Judge Dr Akhtaruzzaman of Dhaka Special Judges Court 5 issued the arrest warrant on Thursday, in response to a petition filed seeking an arrest warrant against Khaleda.

Full Story

Special Correspondent

A Dhaka court has issued arrest warrant against BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia in Zia Orphanage Trust corruption case.
The court also cancelled the bails of other accused Sharfuddin Ahmed and Kazi Salimullah and sent them to jail.
Judge Dr Akhtaruzzaman of Dhaka Special Judges Court 5 issued the arrest warrant on Thursday, in response to a petition filed seeking an arrest warrant against Khaleda.

ACC lawyer Mosharaf Hossain Kajal had filed a petition with the court lower court stating that Khaleda Zia had left the country without informing the court.
In 2008, the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) filed the case against six people, including Khaleda Zia and her eldest son Tarique Rahman, for allegedly misusing Tk2.1 crore from the funds of the Zia Orphanage Trust.
In 2011, the ACC accused the BNP chief and three others of misappropriating Tk3.15 crore from the Zia Charitable Trust fund.
Meanwhile Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has warned that  BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia will certainly be punished if she is convicted by the court in Zia Orphanage Trust graft case.


Login to post comments


(0)



Why Washington’s clients are getting cozy with Moscow?

Nauman Sadiq

Turkey, which has the second largest army in NATO, has been cooperating with Russia in Syria against Washington’s interests since last year and has recently placed an order for the Russian-made S-400 missile system.
Similarly, the Saudi King Salman, who is on a landmark state visit to Moscow, has signed several cooperation agreements with Kremlin and has also expressed his willingness to buy S-400 missile system.

Full Story

Nauman Sadiq

Turkey, which has the second largest army in NATO, has been cooperating with Russia in Syria against Washington’s interests since last year and has recently placed an order for the Russian-made S-400 missile system.
Similarly, the Saudi King Salman, who is on a landmark state visit to Moscow, has signed several cooperation agreements with Kremlin and has also expressed his willingness to buy S-400 missile system.

Another traditional ally of Washington in the region, Pakistan, has agreed to build a 600 mega-watt power project with Moscow’s assistance, has bought Russian helicopters and defence equipment and has held joint military exercises with Kremlin.

U.S. losing trusted friends
All three countries have been steadfast US allies since the times of the Cold War, or rather, to put it bluntly, the political establishments of these countries have acted as virtual proxies of Washington in the region and had played an important role in the collapse of the former Soviet Union in 1991.
In order to understand the significance of relationship between Washington and Ankara, which is a NATO member, bear in mind that the United States has been conducting air strikes against targets in Syria from the Incirlik airbase and around fifty American B-61 hydrogen bombs have also been deployed there, whose safety became a matter of real concern during the failed July 2016 coup plot against the Erdogan administration; when the commander of the Incirlik airbase, General Bekir Ercan Van, along with nine other officers were arrested for supporting the coup; movement in and out of the base was denied, power supply was cut off and the security threat level was raised to the highest state of alert, according to a report by Eric Schlosser for the New Yorker.
Similarly, in order to grasp the nature of principal-agent relationship between the United States on the one hand and Saudi Arabia and Pakistan on the other, keep in mind that Washington used Gulf’s petro-dollars and Islamabad’s intelligence agencies to nurture jihadists against the former Soviet Union during the Cold War.
It is an irrefutable fact that the United States sponsors militants, but only for a limited period of time in order to achieve certain policy objectives. For instance: the United States nurtured the Afghan jihadists during the Cold War against the former Soviet Union from 1979 to 1988, but after the signing of the Geneva Accords and consequent withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan, the United States withdrew its support to the Afghan jihadists.

Washington’s Machiavellian policies
Similarly, the United States lent its support to the militants during the Libyan and Syrian civil wars, but after achieving the policy objectives of toppling the Arab nationalist Gaddafi regime in Libya and weakening the anti-Israel Assad regime in Syria, the United States relinquished its blanket support to the militants and eventually declared a war against a faction of Sunni militants battling the Syrian government, the Islamic State, when the latter transgressed its mandate in Syria and dared to occupy Mosul and Anbar in Iraq in early 2014.
The United States regional allies in the Middle East, however, are not as subtle and experienced in Machiavellian geopolitics. Under the misconception that alliances and enmities in international politics are permanent, the Middle Eastern autocrats keep on pursuing the same belligerent policy indefinitely as laid down by the hawks in Washington for a brief period of time in order to achieve certain strategic objectives.
For example: the security establishment of Pakistan kept pursuing the policy of training and arming the Afghan and Kashmiri jihadists throughout the eighties and nineties and right up to September 2001, even after the United States withdrew its support to the jihadists’ cause in Afghanistan during the nineties after the collapse of its erstwhile arch rival, the Soviet Union.
Similarly, the Muslim Brotherhood-led government of Turkey has made the same mistake of lending indiscriminate support to the Syrian militants even after the United States partial reversal of policy in Syria and the declaration of war against the Islamic State in August 2014 in order to placate the international public opinion when the graphic images and videos of Islamic State’s brutality surfaced on the social media.
Keeping up appearances in order to maintain the façade of justice and morality is indispensable in international politics and the Western powers strictly abide by this code of conduct. Their medieval client states in the Middle East, however, are not as experienced and they often keep on pursuing the same militarist policies of training and arming the militants against their regional rivals, which are untenable in the long run in a world where pacifism has generally been accepted as one of the fundamental axioms of the modern worldview.

The Gulen factor
Regarding the recent cooperation between Moscow and Ankara in the Syrian civil war, although the proximate cause of this détente seems to be the attempted coup plot against the Erdogan administration in July last year by the supporters of the US-based preacher, Fethullah Gulen, but this surprising development also sheds light on the deeper divisions between the United States and Turkey over their respective Syria policy.
After the United States reversal of “regime change” policy in Syria in August 2014 when the Islamic State overran Mosul and Anbar in Iraq in early 2014 and threatened the capital of another steadfast American ally, Masoud Barzani’s Erbil in the oil-rich Iraqi Kurdistan, Washington has made the Kurds the centerpiece of its policy in Syria and Iraq.
Bear in mind that the conflict in Syria and Iraq is actually a three-way conflict between the Sunni Arabs, the Shi’a Arabs and the Sunni Kurds. Although after the declaration of war against a faction of Sunni Arab militants, the Islamic State, Washington has also lent its support to the Shi’a-led government in Iraq, but the Shi’a Arabs of Iraq are not the trustworthy allies of the United States because they are under the influence of Iran.
Therefore, Washington was left with no other choice than to make the Kurds the centerpiece of its policy in Syria and Iraq after a group of Sunni Arab jihadists transgressed its mandate in Syria and overran Mosul and Anbar in Iraq in early 2014 from where the United States had withdrawn its troops only a couple of years ago in December 2011.
The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, which are on the verge of liberating the Islamic State’s de facto capital, Raqqa, and are currently battling the jihadist group in a small pocket of the city between the stadium and a hospital, are nothing more than the Kurdish militias with a symbolic presence of mercenary Arab tribesmen in order to make them appear more representative and inclusive in outlook.

The shifting sands
As far as the regional parties to the Syrian civil war are concerned, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the rest of the Gulf Arab States may not have serious reservations against this close cooperation between the United States and the Kurds in Syria and Iraq, because the Gulf Arab States tend to look at the regional conflicts from the lens of the Iranian Shi’a threat.
Turkey, on the other hand, has been more wary of the separatist Kurdish tendencies in its southeast than the Iranian Shi’a threat, and particularly now after the Kurds have held a referendum for independence in Iraq despite the international pressure against such an ill-advised move.
Finally, any radical departure from the longstanding policy of providing unequivocal support to Washington’s policy in the region by the political establishment of Turkey since the times of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk is highly unlikely. But after this perfidy by Washington of lending its support to the Kurds against the Turkish proxies in Syria, it is quite plausible that the Muslim Brotherhood-led government in Turkey might try to strike a balance in its relations with the Cold War-era rivals.

Nauman Sadiq is an Islamabad-based attorney, columnist and geopolitical analyst focused on the politics of Af-Pak and Middle East regions, neocolonialism and petro-imperialism.


Login to post comments


(0)



BEEF BAN AND HINDUTVA
Indian fascism: Radicalisation or entropy?

Binu Mathew
Countercurrents.Org

A PALL OF GLOOM has descended upon India. An all pervasive fear grips the nation. When the state puts its nose into your food plates you know that fascism is here. When vigilante squads roam the streets lynching people you know that fascism is here.
Robert O Paxton in his classic book “The Anatomy of Fascism” writes “I propose to examine fascism in a cycle of five stages: (1) the creation of movements; (2) their rooting in the political system; (3) their seizure of power; (4) the exercise of power; (5) and, finally, the long duration, during which the fascist regime chooses either radicalization or entropy.” It seems to me that India is at the fifth stage – the radicalization of Hindutva, which is the Indian version of fascism.

Full Story

Binu Mathew
Countercurrents.Org

A PALL OF GLOOM has descended upon India. An all pervasive fear grips the nation. When the state puts its nose into your food plates you know that fascism is here. When vigilante squads roam the streets lynching people you know that fascism is here.
Robert O Paxton in his classic book “The Anatomy of Fascism” writes “I propose to examine fascism in a cycle of five stages: (1) the creation of movements; (2) their rooting in the political system; (3) their seizure of power; (4) the exercise of power; (5) and, finally, the long duration, during which the fascist regime chooses either radicalization or entropy.” It seems to me that India is at the fifth stage – the radicalization of Hindutva, which is the Indian version of fascism.

Did Hindus never eat beef?
This radicalization of Hindutva is taking place at different levels.  Through engineered riots or low level skirmishes that divide society vertically to massive social engineering programmes like the ‘beef ban’. Beef ban gives blanket license to Gau Rakshaks to lynch people.  It is also not just an incursion into our food rights but also will affect the livelihood of millions of already stressed farmers. This beef ban will wreck the cattle sector and also will break the backbone of the farmers, driving them to suicide.
This book contains articles that Countercurrents.org published on the topic of beef, the oldest of which is  Dr Ambedkar’s seminal essay “Did Hindus Never Eat Beef?” which we republished to the lynching of 16-year old Junaid in a train on 22 June, 2017.
When fascism knocks on our door we have only two choices. 1: To succumb to our fate and surrender meekly. 2: To fight back with all our means. It’s time India took a decision. To surrender or fight back is the question. Surrender is not an option and it is also against human nature. Our reflexive action is to fight back. We’ve to go back to the basic nature of the Republic and fight to win back the Idea of India that the founders of this nation imagined.  Let’s stand up for the idea of India we learnt to love as children and we want to pass on to our children. Let’s do it by holding the constitution of India in one hand and the tricolour in the other hand.

If we rise up as one, this emerging fascism will, as Robert O Paxton said, dissipate into entropy. I hope that this book will help in our fight for the idea of India we all stand for.

Rescue India from fascism
It’s time everyone came out of their comfort zones and did something to rescue India from the fascist pall of gloom that has permeated the body politic of India. Countercurrents. org  has proposed a campaign “An Hour For Communal Harmony” in which everyone from a 5-year old child to 90-year old elder citizen can take part. This is a set of easy to do tasks everyone can do that can restore faith in our humanity and bring communal harmony to India. Come, join this campaign and let’s make sure that we collectively prevent the radicalization of Indian fascism. If we work together collectively Indian fascism will be engulfed by the collective humanity of Indian citizens. This is not easy. This is a long drawn struggle.
Countercurrents.org’s second book “The Political Economy of Beef Ban” is on the cow politics in India and the resultant lynchings that’s happening around the country. This volume contains 57 articles on beef and the politics around it, how it has affected the social fabric of India and the people, their lives and economy. It highlights the idea of India, the constitutional India and how the nation is turning to a fascist regime.
The book contains articles by Mahatma Gandhi, Dr. B R Ambedkar, along with contempory writers  Afroz Alam, Aftab Alam, B.F.Firos, Binu Mathew, Cynthia Stephen, Dr Akhileshwari Ramagoud,  Gaurav Jain, George Abraham, Imran Khan, K.P. Sasi, Kavita Srivastava, Manali Chakrabarti, Megha Bahl, Sharmila Purkayastha, Mohammad Ashraf, Neha Saigal, Oliver Dsouza, Parul Verma, Parvez Alam, Prof. Shah Alam Khan, Ram Puniyani, Sally Dugman, Samar, Satya Sagar, Shamsul Islam, Sheshu Babu, Subhash Gatade, Suhail Qasim Mir, Sukumaran C V, Susmit Isfaq, T Navin & Vidya Bhushan Rawat and others I sincerely hope that this book will equip everyone in their struggle to win back the India we all came to love as children.

Binu Mathew is Editor of www.countercurrents.org. He can be reached at editor@countercurrents.org


Login to post comments


(0)



METROPOLITAN
EDITORIAL
COMMENTS
INTERNATIONAL
BUSINESS
INFOTECH
CULTURE
MISCELLANY
AVIATOUR
LETTERS
LAST WORD
FOUNDING EDITOR: ENAYETULLAH KHAN; EDITOR: SAYED KAMALUDDIN
Contents Copyrighted © by Holiday Publication Limited
Mailing address 30, Tejgaon Industrial Area, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh.
Phone 880-2-8170462, 8170463, 8170464 Fax 880-2-9127927 Email holiday@bangla.net
Site Managed By: Southtech Limited
Southtech Limited does not take any responsibility for any news content of this site