Fear and retribution in Bangladesh

Mashuqur Rahman

Mashuqur Rahman

The symbol of revolution. This photo has spread across the world like fire.

  • Also read “Regarding the ‘apology’ made by my father Dr. M Anwar Hossain.”
  • [Mashuqur Rahman, USA.]

    During last week’s mass protests in Bangladesh a demonstrator, possibly a student, lunged toward a Bangladesh army man with his feet raised in anger. The army man was running in fear to escape the fury all around him. A photographer from the Daily Star newspaper captured the moment in a dramatic photograph that has stripped bare the iron fist of the Bangladesh military. The man flying through the air is Bangladesh’s “Tank Man.” Just like “Tank Man” today his whereabouts are unknown. The Bangladesh military hunts him.

    The BBC has labeled the image the “photo the Bangladesh military cannot stand.” To the army the image represents humiliation. So the army struck back in revenge. Students were pulled out of apartments and beaten publicly, journalists were detained and beaten mercilessly, and five prominent university professors were detained and tortured.

    Thursday two of the professors, Dr. M Anwar Hossain and Dr. Harun-or-Rashid, were brought back to court to extend their interrogation (torture) period by another four days. Under the military’s watchful eye, the judge ordered them returned to custody for further interrogation. In court the two professors protested of torture, which the judge refused to enter into the record:

    The two teachers of Dhaka University, detained in the wake of last week


    25 Responses to “Fear and retribution in Bangladesh”

    1. Imran

      Similar scenarios will repeat all over the soil of Bangladesh soon. This was just a rehearsal. Jawans and officers who really care for our people, reestablish your image as a people’s army, not as an aggressor. Stop the repression and help our journey towards democracy by withdrawing the guns pointed on the Bangladeshi people. We want freedom, we want democracy. We don’t want to be ruled under the barrel of guns.

    2. Nazzina

      This picture actually makes me very sad… It’s the result of only handful of people’s arrogance and uncaring attitude towards students and respectable professors and the people of this country. This man in uniform is just a staff car (officer’s sedan) driver. People like him had been with me and family since I was in 7th Grade. They are mostly good, honest and hard working people. I personally think this man is absolutely a victim but at the same time, this picture says how much people started disliking army now and how powerful it was to create further division between army and rest of the country’s population. Since DU incident, I feel ashamed to even say I had been related to army. But this picture just makes me sad. What did this driver had to do?

    3. Zafa

      bdnews24 reports:

      The head of the judicial commission investigating the violence at Dhaka University has said he has found no evidence of any teacher instigating the incidents, in the accounts of the seven witnesses examined so far.

    4. Only Three Notes

      Someone, we cannot expect any kind of neutral and gentle behaviour from the army. In Bangladesh, people look at army in a very negative view for being stupid and illiterate. Now, I can see they do that for obvious reasons. Since they do not have any proper education, they are attacking our educational institutes. They have no value for education. Only thing they know is to run around like crazy in the morning and drink ridiculous salt water. Funny thing is that these army people are so stupid that they do not even know how to learn from past mistakes.

    5. Iconus Clustus

      Only Three Notes: I find your analysis grossly inadequate and overly sipmlistic. Please, do not be angry with me… since I basically agree with your anti-Army stance… but to suggest they do not know what they are doing is wrong… I also call them hatu-buddhi morons, but that is only to curse at them, nothing serious, because the fact is – they play a key role in executing any and every sinister plan of the big brothers and that too quite deligently. If we rule them out as dimwit, pea-brain idiots, we will be missing out on the greater significance of their involvedment and and also how others, especially the right-winged-religionists and the West is conspiring against this poor nation from even before it was born….

      We need concerted efforts to bring awreness to the people about the REAL issues that lie underneath the surface of all that we see being done in the name of reforming the government… we need to be able to see the plan of the Imperialistic West, with their IMF and WB, and stop it proceeding any further… but we wont be able to do that until and unless we are really organized… which is not an easy task…

    6. Only Three Notes

      Iconus Clustus, very nice analysis! The money of the taxpayers were used to train these army and buy them expensive weapons. Now, they are backstabbing us.

    7. Iconus Clustus

      Only three notes: It is the legacy of a world that the West calls “The THIRD.” Any student of history would know how the FIRST was created out of the RUINS of the THIRD… but, yes, the army gets used to establish the wants and desires of the big corporations, though they themselves do not have the faintest clue how?!

      The combination that we have now – educated elites with a brilliant WB banker as its chief and their best friend the Army, is a match made in heaven… lord, they are a STRONG opponent…

    8. Nazzina

      #8 Only Three Notes, your comments offends me a lot. I dont believe my father is a dimwit idiot. Contrary to what you’re saying, many officers and even troops are now quite qualified (with bachelors, masters, MBA from IBA etc). Dont generalise everyone for things done by only few you can count with your ten fingers. My cousin resigned just few days ago. I know how people are feeling in army. You could also ask Zulfiker Ali, (http://bdpolitics.blogspot.com) he’ll tell you the same.

      Iconus Clustus at #9 and #11, good explanation.

    9. Mash

      Nazzina et. al., I think it would be wrong for Bangladeshis to be against the Bangladesh army. I understand people are frustrated and sometimes emotions get the best of the argument. After all, the reason Bangladeshi taxes go to fund the Bangladesh army is for that very army to protect the citizens from external threats. For that service, the Bangladesh army should be lauded and celebrated. We can debate whether a country like Bangladesh needs such a large standing army, but I think that is another discussion.

      I think what people object to, and certainly I object to, is when the army is no longer under civilian control (as is the case now). An army that is not under civilian control is really a rogue force that has turned on its own people – and is certainly unconstitutional. I wrote a fairly long comment about civilian control of the army on Zafa’s blog, so I wont repeat it here.

      The picture in the post is sad and powerful at the same time. The army man is not being kicked because he is a bad man; he is being kicked because of what he represents in the current context. He represents an army that is forcing its will on the people of Bangladesh at the point of a gun, and at the expense of the hard earned, and hard fought, rights of the Bangladeshi people.

      There is a famous quote from an American western movie called “Shane”. It goes like this: “A gun is a tool, Marion, like a shovel, an ax, anything. A gun is as good or as bad as the man using it.” The same is very much true of the army. Under civilian control, an army is usually a net benefit for the citizens. However, when the army generals usurp power for themselves, they are using this tool to suppress the citizens – that is not at all a good thing.

    10. Toricelli

      I remember how “excited” E-Bangladesh was when Sheikh Hasina (who has recently submitted her wealth statement equivalent to 3+crores of takas) was arrested. How come the silence when Khaleda Zia is arrested? I don’t want to point fingers, but I wonder whether this may be tantamount to double standards.

    11. Iconus Clustus

      I don’t know about E-Bangladesh, but I do know about myself… I don’t think it is necessary to “balance” things just to balance things… that is what the CTG is doing — yes, Mr. Moinul Hosein made it amply clear what it was all about… now that both of the former premiers are behind bars, this goes to show that there is no “partisanship” in their actions! Boloney… this is all a stunt man-ship sir, just like breaking down the buildings, it is a PR effort… nothing has or will change in terms of what they are after… Not that I know exactly what they are after — I do believe I have a hunch… and that hunch is spelled out in some of my other posts… big brothers, elites, religionists, capitalistic ventures… net result: the force that brought this country into being completely wasted and an unstable subcontinent… something like that of the Middle East…

    12. ZaFa

      By the way, have you heard what the retired judge Habibur Rahman Khan said to reporters yesterday? While visiting the DU gymnasium, Khan who

    13. Anon

      Well, another point- did anyone see the difference in how Khaleda Zia and Sk Hasina carried themselves after the arrest? It seems to be Khaelda Zia was much more graceful, came out much more dignified, smiling, and leader-like unlike Hasina. In fact, she seemed much more confient than Hasina too. Does this refer to the courage of her convictions/conscience compared to her counterpart?

    14. Anonymous

      Anon (#19), according to foreign media, when Khaleda Zia arrived at court after her arrest, she behaved (and waved to the public) like a film-star! I am sure her behaviour has nothing to do with her ‘conscience’ (!) as you said, but it might have some connections with her beauty-consciousness!

    15. Liberattus C. Grammaticus

      The military junta now ruling Bangladesh firmly believe that they form the only truly patriotic institution of the country. All others: politicians, academics, civil servants, the judiciary, the medical profession, etc, are simply “bloody civilians” who have destroyed the country.

      The junta feel that the military is capable of solving all problems that Bangladesh suffer from. As for Professors, they think “the bastards are aethists and enemy of the people.”

      No wonders Professors in this country ruled by the military for twenty of its thirty-six year existence can expect nothing better by a military trained after the Pakistani model.

    16. General Rommel

      Mash, Bangladesh army protects Bangladeshis? If India attacks Bangladesh it has to be the civilian public to keep Bangladesh independent at least 7 days. Bangladesh army is a show, as much as the 5 Mig 29s in an Airforce! Bangladesh army has gone too far, specially after arresting and harassing the University professors and humiliating the students. OK 7/7 of our Bir Shreshtho were involved with the military but it wasn’t any Bangladesh army that liberated Bangladesh from Pakistan. It was civilians, like the student who’s fly-kicking the army personnel in the picture.

    17. Cheated

      Nazzina, you said “I don’t believe my father is a dimwit idiot. Contrary to what you’re saying, many officers and even troops are now quite qualified (with bachelors, masters, MBA from IBA etc).” Nazzina, you are taking things personally!

      Troops are now quite qualified?! Oh yes, they are… but only when there are special institutes for them to issue the certificates and special quotas for them in educational institutes outside the cantonment! Ask them to take part in open competitive exams, admission tests of institutes like BUET, IBA and the likes… or just take normal IQ tests, and you know why people say that they keep their brain at knee 🙂

    18. Corporal Shihab

      Dear Cheated,
      Perhaps you did not notice that most of the leading posts in multinational companies/Business house in Bangladesh are retired soldier. And BUET, perhaps other than one or two drop out, most of them passed out securing first class. Our soldiers adjudged Best Foreign Student in courses abroad.(Me? 98% in a course related to physics).
      Leave everything. Ask your any relative studying in any university, how the soldiers are doing.You will get the answer.
      Out of 11,000 aspirant,only 60-90 could join this profession. Yet we consider that our brain is at knee
      Cheers
      Corporal Shihab

    Comments are closed.