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বেঁচে আছে, বেঁচে আছে… শুনেই সবাই একসাথে উল্লাসে ফেটে পড়ছে। হ্যাঁ, সে বেঁচে আছে, অবহেলায়, নিপীড়নে, দমনে ও করুনায় সে বেঁচে আছে। জীবনের তাগিদে, বাবার ওষুধে, মার আশায়, ছেলের খেলনায় বা বউয়ের শাড়িতে তাকে বেঁচে থাকতেই হচ্ছে। কিন্তু এ কেমন বেঁচে থাকা? এ কেমন জীবন? বাবা মার একমাত্র ছেলে সুজন। সুজনের মানে, সুন্দর যেইজন। মার চোখের মনি, বৃদ্ধ বাবার সম্বল, স্ত্রীর প্রেম ও সন্তানের রক্ষক সে। গরিব পরিবারের একমাত্র অবলম্বন। ফিরে পাওয়া ছেলের মাথা বুকে গুঁজে মা, ক্রমাগত সৃষ্টীকর্তাকে ধন্যবাদ দিয়ে যাচ্ছেন।

নিউ ওয়েভ পোষাক তৈরী কারখানায় কাজ করতেন, ২৪ এপ্রিল সকাল বেলায় ঘুম ভাঙে রোজকার মত। আজ কাজ নেই, ভবনে ফাটল দেখা গেছে। কালও কাজ হয়নি। তবু তৈরী হয়ে বাড়ি থেকে বের হলেন। যেখানে চাকরি করেন তিনি, সেই প্রতিষ্ঠান আজকে বিপদে আছে। যদি ভেঙ্গে পড়ে? তবে তাদের এমাসের বেতনের কি হবে? কিন্তু, কাজে যেতেই ধরে বেঁধে ভবনে তুলে দেয়া হল। ভবনের ফাটা, ইঞ্জিনিয়ার সাহেব দেখে গেছেন। আজ আর ভয় নেই। কাজ করা যাবে। তার মন বলছিল, উচিৎ হচ্ছে না। আপত্তি জানাতেই ম্যানেজার বললেন, বেতন পাবে না আগামী মাসে। ভয়ে ভয়ে কাজ শুরু করে সে। প্রথম আঊটপুট রেডি, ফ্লোর ইন-চার্জ দেখতে আসবেন। হঠাত বিদ্যুৎ চলে যায়। জেনেরেটর চালু করার পরপরই বিকট শব্দে ফেটে পড়ল চারদিক। ধ্বসে পড়ল সম্পুর্ন ভবন। ৯ তলা ভবন পাউরুটির মত ২ তলা হয়ে গেল নিমিষেই। ভেতরে আটকা পড়ল ৩২০০ জন মানুষ।

কাঁদতে কাঁদতে জীবিত ফিরে আসা রোকেয়া বলেন, “১৫ মিনিট ধরে ভবন কাঁপছে। কিন্তু মালিক এত নির্মম তা তো জানা ছিল না। শিফট ম্যানেজার চাইলেও আমরা বেরোতে পারতাম। সিড়ি দিয়ে বের হওয়ার সময়ই অধিকাংশ লোক মরেছে। মালিক একটা জানোয়ারের বাচ্চা। সেই জোর করে সবাইকে ভবনে এনেছে।” মালিকের দৃষ্টান্তমূলক শাস্তি দাবি করেই অঝোরে কাঁদতে শুরু করলেন স্বামীর জন্য। সে কি বেঁচে আছে, নাকি মরে গেছে? আমি একটু আগে এটিএন নিউজে সাভারের মৃত্যুকূপ থেকে বেঁচে যাওয়া দুই গার্মেন্টস শ্রমিকের মর্মস্পর্শী বর্ণনা শুনছিলাম! দু’জনেই বলছিলেন জীবনে বেঁচে থাকলে আর গার্মেন্টেসে কাজ করবেন না! ইয়াসমিন বলেন, আজ এটা ভেঙ্গে পড়ে, তো কাল ওটা, আরেকদিন সেটাতে আগুন লাগে, এভাবে আর না! অন্য যেকোনো কাজ করবেন যদি সুস্থ হন, তবে মরার পোশাক শিল্পে আর কখনই না।

ক্রিকেট স্কোর কার্ডের মত জীবিত, মৃত বা আটকে পড়া মানুষের হিসাব চলছে। কেউ বলছে আর পাঁচ – সাত’শ মানুষ বাকি আছে। পাঁচ – সাত’শ? এই নম্বরের ব্যাবধানে দুইশ মানুষের জীবন প্রশ্নের মুখে। অথচ আমরা কত অবলীলায় ২০০ জীবনের ব্যাপারে অজ্ঞ্যাত। যদি একটি পরিবারের একজনকেও খুঁজে বের করা না হয় তবে বাকি ৩৪৯৯ জন মানুষে তাদের কি আসে যায়? আজকে সারাদিন ভেবেছি, আসল সংখ্যা কত? আসলে ভেতরে ঠিক কত মানুষ ছিল? ঠিক কতজন জীবিত আছে ওই মৃত্যুকূপে? আর কতজন আটকা আছে লাশ হয়ে? কতজন উদ্ধার কর্মী ভেতরে আটকা পড়ে গেছে? আর কতজন এখনো আশায় আছে, টিম টিম করে জ্বলছে তাদের জীবন বাতি, কখন তাঁরা ঘরে ফিরবে?

গার্মেন্টস মালিকরা আপনারা সবকিছু দেখছেন তো? একটুও কি জেগেছে আপনাদের বিবেক? একটুও কি মনে হচ্ছে, যাদের রক্তের দামে দামি গাড়ি হাকাচ্ছেন, বিদেশ ভ্রমন করছেন বা সন্তানকে পড়াচ্ছেন বিদেশে তাদের রক্তের দাম কত? আপনাদের জীবনের নিরাপত্তা বিধানে তাদের আত্মত্যাগ, আপনাদের কি নাড়া দেয় আদৌ?

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Women in Shahbag: Building a New Bangladesh

First published on: Tehelka Blog, 18 April, 2013. http://blog.tehelka.com/women-in-shahbag-building-a-new-bangladesh/

In the last two and a half months, Shahbag Movement has been through many highs and lows. The movement started as a youth uprising – inspired by the primary teaching of our constitution – demanding justice for the bloodshed that happened 42 years back. Activists and general people want the highest punishment for the war criminals and banning of Jamaat-e-Islami from politics. These demands remain the main focus of the movement despite turmoil over the last few weeks.

Jamaat has always portrayed any action against them as “anti-Islamic”. This has been easy for them, thanks to their party’s name, but whatever action they take has very limited relationship with the proper teachings of the religion. Since the 10th day of the movement, when blogger Rajiv was murdered, Jamaat-e-Islami has been labelling the movement as anti-Islamic. Though this has caused few people to move away from the movement, most of the activists and protestors are staying true to the cause and are still steadfast in their demands for justice.

The movement is in full swing all over the country and abroad. Shahbag movement has been successful in creating a Gonojagaran Mancha in every district. There are various kinds of programmes and activities going on to keep the pressure on the administration to take all necessary steps to hold fair trials of the war criminals. The movement took a very interesting turn on 6 April when Hefazat-e-Islam, an Islamic organisation, held a rally and huge gathering in Dhaka. Though Hefazat wanted to establish it has no link with Jamaat-e-Islami, many of the Hefazat’s top leaders are associated with Jamaat. Hefazat’s demands would directly benefit Jamaat and its allies.

Hefazat has presented a 13-point demand, which goes against the spirit of the Liberation War and women’s empowerment in Bangladesh. Their demands clearly stand against secularism and social justice, as per the constitution. Hefazat also wants to put a stop to what it believes to be “foreign” or “un-Islamic” cultural practices, and mingling of boys and girls in public. Also, among the demands are: abolishment of the “anti-Islamic” inheritance law, modern education policy, and development policies benefiting women. This would mean women won’t be allowed to get equal share of property as their male siblings, women have to cover themselves according to Sharia (Islamic law), and their mobility will be restricted. Hefazat is also demanding to make Islamic education compulsory at all levels – from primary to higher secondary.

Fortunately, women of Bangladesh have boldly stood against these demands, and so did the government. Unfortunately, however, Hefazat is holding violent protests to establish its demands. They have beaten a female journalist on the day of their rally in Dhaka for “being a woman and covering their activities for the TV station she works for”.

It should be mentioned that Shagbag movement was successful from various ends but the outstanding female participation has earned a loud applause from around the world – marking themselves as equal progressive stakeholders of the development happening in Bangladesh. This has a major role in the upcoming general election as well. The working women will be crucial players as vote banks for the next election.

We are expecting the general election in 8 months. This will be one of the most crucial elections in terms of the present context and for the future too. If the current Opposition party BNP wins the election, it will be interesting to see their actions as Jamaat’s ally.

On 17 April, an article in the daily Prothom Alo caught my eye. It says that the Pakistan election commission has given a ruling against using religion as a tool in the upcoming election. For a country like Pakistan, and also for any other nation for that matter, it is important to go beyond religion when it comes to politics. Politics and religion should not be allowed to mix. We too hope for a similar ruling from our election commission.

International Crimes Tribunal Bangladesh has concluded the proceedings for Ghulam Kamaruzzaman and Ghulam Azam – war criminals and Jamaat leaders. The country is eagerly waiting for the verdict. We anticipate that Jamaat will again break into violent protests nationwide if the verdict goes against their interest. The government and law enforcing agencies are required to plan security checklists to avoid further violence against the people of the country. Shahbag movement has various programmes in the upcoming days to reinforce the primary demands of the movement. The coming days might be harder for Bangladesh; however, unity will decide our fate.

No wonder why Bangladesh has the most competitive manufacturers

No wonder why Bangladesh has the most competitive manufacturers

I went to Savar this morning. What I saw I dont know how to describe. I got some images to let you know what is going on. It is the people who are rescuing. Our fire service people, army are either incapable or have been asked to step back and slow down the process. So the bodies inside cant be saved and no further agenda is created.

Still around 500 – 700 people are trapped/dead. Mango people are again united saving each other. I see few corporate houses also extending service. I saw protests going on from BNP “jalo jalo agun jalo” and breaking other factories and vandalizing… Khaleda Zia is going to visit the place in few minutes the place is again politicized and paranoid.

The helpless hopeless dead bodies are peeping through concretes, shouting their existence in the worst possible way. Young people, volunteers are working relentlessly, risking their lives without any facilities.

One another thing I cant resist to write: I know religion doesn’t live in clothes or beard so, it was good to see no Islamic uniforms there, people who have their faiths deep inside their heart are all over the place.
People on the road watching

Rescue work

IMG_2606

rescue

rescue going on

disaster to the core

collapsed building

collapsed building

No wonder why Bangladesh has the most competitive manufacturers

Looking for brothers, sisters, daughters, sons, fathers and mothers...

are we listening to her?

A barefoot morning walk
on the wet green grass
early summer days!

Change in the season
summer sets in
warmth and pearl drops

Kalboishakhi – a delicacy
fierce, force and phenomenon
only in Boishakhi days!!

Wet rainy summer morning
dark clouds hanging from above
sun tries to peep through!

First published: 18.04.2013
http://blogs.dw.de/womentalkonline/2013/04/18/hefazat-e-islams-fear-of-women/

The recent political turmoil in Bangladesh has taken various turns and twists in the last two months. I have spoken about the spirit of Shahbag, war criminals, atheism and so many other issues. I always think, talk and write as a human being. The joys I experience, the disappointments I face, successes that I achieve all are above any gender issues. I hardly consider myself to be different as a female. I am glad simply to have been born. It doesn’t give me extra pride nor doesn’t make me insecure about being a woman.

Growing up in Bangladesh was never a threat to me, being a member of the “second sex.” Our cultural history shows that our part of the world gave women utmost respect, love and affection. I have seen my female family members always rise and shine in their own grounds and how their male counterparts support them. I have been brought up just like any other boy in my family and, in many cases, I have enjoyed more or demanded more freedom than my brothers. However at the age of 34, after I became a mother, I thought about being a woman in my country.

The Jamat E Islam very tactfully termed the Shahbag movement an atheist movement, since all the war criminals are the leaders of Jamat, the political party based on the Islamic Revolution. Hefazat E Islam launched a major showdown in Dhaka on April 6. It is assumed that over five hundred thousand Islamic activists came to the capital to protest against the Anti-Islamic opinions in blogs. They have given 13 points charter for the government to approve and immediately execute or else they will create anarchy in the country and cause a system shutdown.

The thirteen-point demands are real threats to the primary spirit of the Bangladeshi constitution. Secularism and social justice are being questioned and there are demands for change according to Islamic law. The Hefazat also wants to end all “alien” cultural practices such as immodesty, lewdness, misconduct, the culture of free mixing of the sexes, candle lighting in the name of personal freedom and free speech. They also demand the abolishment of the anti-Islamic inheritance law and women’s development policy. They want to make Islamic education compulsory in all levels from primary to higher secondary schools.

A 1971 war poster saying, “Women and daughters of Bangladesh are freedom fighters.”

The demands are extremely gender-biased and unacceptable in the present context of the world. Presently Bangladesh is a country where both the government and opposition is led by female leaders, 32 million women are working in the garment industry (the “bread earner” for Bangladesh). Female students fare better than their male counterparts in schools and the paramilitary also boasts of women troopers. If the demands of the Hefazat are to be met, they will stall the development of half of the nation.

In a news report published on April 6 in the website BDNEWS24, a garment worker said “Who will feed our families, if we stay home?” She feels insecure about the well-being of her family since she knows if female members don’t earn, the entire family will starve.

Hefazat activists, on their end, have resorted to cruel means. Nadia Sharmin, a TV reporter was brutally beaten by them while she was reporting on their meeting on April 6. They did not like the fact that a woman was reporting about them. The Hefazat believe that women should not venture outside without being accompanied by a male member. She has to cover herself in a proper manner. The Hefazat’s attitude is absolutely unacceptable; people from all walks of society have protested and demanded punishment. No one has been arrested yet. Islam doesn’t teach violence or disrespecting women. However these pseudo Islamists are violating the rules of Quran, as well as the laws of the state.

Bangladesh has achieved the United Nation’s millennium goalsin female empowerment in the past decade. The progress is highly commendable and higher than neighboring countries. To achieve the economical stability and development goals such illogical demands cannot be entertained. The government has rightly ignored these demands; however the upcoming election is the most crucial elections Bangladesh has ever faced. The vote war has put the nation divided into many opinions. I strongly pray and hope that the people who use religion as a product to abuse the power do not win, the female voters of 18-40 years will turn out to be critical for the winner.

Author: Aziza Ahmed

Editor: Manasi Gopalakrishnan

You have heard of Tahiri Square, Arab Spring or Occupy Wall Street, but recently a similar movement happened in Bangladesh, that went unnoticed or comfortably ignored by the western media – Shahbag movement. I am going back 40 days, to a day which has a two-fold importance in the history of contemporary Bangladesh. It was a day when people of Bangladesh felt betrayed immensely, and at the same time it inspired the youth of Bangladesh like never before. I am going back to a day when I felt I would die on the streets if I have to, but will not leave until justice is served.

I remember I was speechless in shock that afternoon when Qader Molla the war criminal and leader of Jamat E Islam was given life imprisonment and not death sentence after proven guilty. I turned my laptop on to share my anger and frustration on face book, and noticed immediately that everyone else was also fuming in protest. Within minutes, Dr Imran H Sarkar, a member of Blogger Online Activist Network, created a face book event, calling us all to unite and form a human chain at Shahbagh to raise our voices against the unjust verdict. Usually, human chains don’t last more than an hour, but this one expanded like wildfire!

A question may arise, what took us 42 years to finally unite. This is due to the spread of education, economic empowerment and availability of information. However, for the past few years due to the mass usage of social media the youth of Bangladesh are coming to each other’s contact and getting to know various aspects of the history that was previously not there. This constant contact and discussion forums on social media enabled the youth to finally unite. In 1991, under the leadership of Jahanara Imam, mother of a martyred freedom fighter, a social movement was initiated by Ghatak Dalal Nirmul Comittee. Jahanara Imam wanted to re-establish the values of the Liberation War among the people of the country. She also staged a mock trial for the war criminals in 1992; it was called People’s Court. We have been trying to re-popularise that spirit through blogging for more than 6 years now; finally it emerged as a mass movement on February 5.

The total number of Facebook users in Bangladesh now stands at 3.2 million. It is no surprise therefore, that Shahbagh began as a movement for social, personal and national justice, aptly aided and propelled forward by social media like facebook, twitter and blogs. Although the movement took shape in the hands of tech savvy youth, Shahbagh is now home to millions of Bangladeshis from all over the country.

With the passing of each day the numbers began to grow, and the rage began to intensify. From Dhaka it spread to numerous parts of the country and abroad. Shahbagh, now known as Projonmo Chottor or Generation Square. Shahbag is no more a name of a place – Shahbag now stands for national conscience. Started as a facebook event, the mass movement evolved and two very specific and clear demands from the people emerged: all war criminals are hanged, and Jamat-e-Islami as a political party be banned.

At this point, I must also inform you that Bangladesh has over 31 million internet subscribers, while
tele density is 65.77% and internet density is 20.65%. Over the last month there were so many contents created and shared that is new in the social network history in Bangladesh. We haven’t lately uploaded any content in last one month that is not on shahbag.

Thanks to social media, Shahbag has become the biggest youth movement in Bangladesh. What is more amazing is that despite the overwhelming burst of emotions among each of us screaming for justice, till date, it has been an absolutely non-violent movement inspired by the fundamental values of our first constitution: democracy, nationalism, secularism or equal status for all religions, and socialism in the sense of social justice. At Shahbag we sang together; we talked; watched documentaries on the liberation war; listened to poems on the heroics of our freedom fighters; and peacefully re-enacted the spirit of 1971, disseminating the values to every corner of the country.

We are also fighting a cyber war against Islamic militancy & fundamentalism. We are fighting for peaceful and harmonious co-existence of all religions and ethnicities in Bangladesh. Jamat E Islami & its global network, created a well funded force working from different countries in the world, to spread propaganda through international and social media. They are getting support from international fundamentalist organizations. In order to fight back religious extremism or terrorism in the name of religion, we have to develop a global network with the support of humanists around the world.

Shibir has transferred their cyber war into cyber crime since Shahbagh. They have been creating myths and putting it on social sites. Thus creating deep divisions and confusion among general public. For instance, they targeted and hacked to death a blogger, who is known as an atheist. Immediately after the murder, shibir published a host of fake blogs in the name of that blogger, containing controversial comments against islam and prophet. They have then spread a myth about sighting of Sayedee, a convicted war criminal, on the moon. There have been numerous posts tempering pictures by photoshop. Shibir has taken the path of crime, both on the ground and off the ground. The discussion and demands that starts in Shahbag, however it continues to social media in several contents as status, images, notes, tweets and blogs. Till the movement only few hundred bloggers were actively fighting Jamat’s propagands. Since the movement began there are thousands of online activists and bloggers who are debating and fighting relentlessly against heinous attempts by Jamat Shibir.

The movement is mainly led by the online activists. An organization named Blogger and online activist network has began the movement and since Jamaat calls Shahbag an anti Islamic movement, but it is important to consider, in a country of 90% muslim population, Jamat got only 3 seats out of 300 constituencies. Jamaat doesn’t represent Islam. The Islam we understand and value, teaches us to be peaceful, not violent. In our hearts and minds they are criminals who have infiltrated our society, making money exploiting religion, and have been using these profits to continuously implement plots that are highly detrimental to national interest.

We must also bring to light the fact that demanding death penalty does not make us a blood-thirsty generation, as some have called us. The world needs to understand that for 42 years we have been denied justice. These war criminals did not just accidentally kill individuals, they had killed humanity.
Jamaat was the mastermind behind the killings of the most brilliant Bengali intellectuals right before Bangladesh was liberated, with the intention of leaving the nation crippled. It is evident that, Jamaat is a criminal organization that is infamous for politics of violence and distortion of Islam. This party and its student wing Shibir, have in recent times desecrated memorials for martyrs and burned the national flag of Bangladesh. They have hacked to death a blogger and organizer of the movement; have murdered two eyewitnesses of the war crimes tribunal. Shibir and its allies have been burning trains, uprooting railway tracks, attacking and firing upon the police, vandalizing temples, terrorizing Hindu and Buddhist families and destroying their settlements, and have stooped as low as actually burning the Holy Qu’ran and setting fire inside the National Mosque! Recent escalations of violence in Bangladesh, systematically initiated by Jamaat, have now claimed about 200 lives roughly.

Amidst all this conspiracy to prevent the legal process to bring war criminals to justice, Shahbag movement has grown stronger and more headstrong in resolve. We remain determined to re-popularize the spirit of the Liberation War and ensure the country’s progress by taking her enemies head-on.

Wael Ghonim, one of the key protestors at Tahrir Square during the Egyptian Revolution, once told a US news show: ‘Our revolution is like Wikipedia, okay? Everyone is contributing content’. That’s how Shahbagh is evolving too. Each of us; every single one of my people who has for years dreamt of a nation proudly upholding the values that brought about our existence, is contributing whole-heartedly to the growth of Shahbagh, and its prowess to serve as a towering symbol of Bangladeshi Secularism, Socialism, Nationalism, and Democracy. Truth lies within the people.

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Hiking Photography

Beautiful photos of hiking and other outdoor adventures.

Art of Appreciation Gourmet Gift Baskets

Luxury touches, affordable prices.

Rosewode

Holistics, Skin, Beauty

dollop natural bodycare

Paraben free aromatherapy skin care

Ariston Organic

"The Best of the Best"

Bloom Room SF Blog

www.BloomRoomSF.com

jodyvein26

A fine WordPress.com site

sphereheals

Where reality bends to Wholeness

saunglestreats.com Wonder of the Week

Natural treats just for you!

The Honey Cottage

Do You Know Where Your Honey Comes From? We Do!

Herbal Living

live~love~herbs

My Digital Kitchen

Healthy choices that your palate will savour but your tummy won't regret.

Ironwoman Dreams

If I can do this, anyone can.