Monday, March 30, 2009

Why the tanks arrived 32 hours late

I have repeatedly queried why the tanks arrived 32 hours late – the mere sight of them (or news of their arrival) was sufficient to strike terror into the hearts of the 'mutineers' at Bangladesh Rifles in Pilkhana on 26th February.

Now, we have the answer.

It appears that the commanding officer of Savar cantonment – where the tanks came from – has been 'punished' with a transfer to a lesser posting. His offense? That he sent the tanks without the army chief's say-so.

Of course, that won't wash. Without the army chief, General Moeen's, command the officer would not have been rash enough to send in the tanks and risk court martial.

It seems, then, at the eleventh hour, General Moeen tried to redeem his honour and humanity by not consulting the prime minister, and sent in the tanks off his own bat.

An irate prime minister – who, in keeping with her psychopathic personality – became furious with the general, and the general appeased the lunatic by transferring the officer he had commanded to send the tanks.

And to think that all his could have happened 32 hours earlier – if the general hadn't listened to the maniacal prime minister, whose agenda appears to have been to draw the whole sordid tragedy out as long as possible: and then blame it on Islamic extremists.

And with the American ambassador breathing down the general's back to protect 'democracy', there was scant room for manoeuvre for General Moeen.

Another horror made in Washington, DC.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

A Tale of Two Psychos

Several years ago, I spent an unfortunate evening with a very – very – senior police officer. I say unfortunate because anyone who has spent a few minutes with a police officer comes to regret the experience – for some reason, their ranks are not chosen from those of gentlemen.

Nevertheless, tolerating the chap paid off.

We got around to discussing our two banshees – otherwise known as our two begums. Now, he was, as I observed, a very – very – senior officer; yet something made him voluble that evening (no, we weren't boozing).

He said that our two leaders were insane.

He didn't exactly use that word; the words he used were "not normal". And why were they not normal?

"They have both lost someone close in bloody murders," he explained. "That has affected them. We know: we have to deal with them, and there are things they do that we cannot communicate to anyone else."

He certainly didn't communicate them to me.

But it stands to reason. Sheikh Hasina lost almost her entire family in a hail of bullets, and Khaleda Zia's husband was gunned down in machine-gun fire.

Now, most politicians are abnormal to start with (no one in his or her right mind would choose such a profession: "all political careers end in failure" observed a failed politician; and some, fortunately, end in assassination).

Therefore, we are ruled alternately by two psychopaths. During the resent massacre at BDR, neither psycho evinced the slightest sense of regret at the loss of lives and, in the case of some ladies, of honour as well.

They are unable to empathise with human sorrow (maybe they have soft spots, like Europeans, for lower forms of life, but none for humans). Yet we are at their mercy: at the mercy of psychopaths.

Many of us have seen the films SAW I, II, III, IV, V....Imagine yourself locked up in a tiny cell and Hasina or Khaleda looking on to see how painfully you are going to die or hurt yourself. Well, Bangladesh is that cell, and each of us is alone, and anything may befall us at anytime.

Unlike a psycho, they have a major advantage: they cannot be held accountable. They are irreplaceable; one is the daughter, the other the wife, of national heroes. And they know that they can never be replaced, and are above all law and all morality.

Could any despotism be worse than our predicament?

Friday, March 13, 2009

It wasn't the butler...

Well, it wasn't the butler - ie, the JMB.

Suppose the JMB did it: why then didn't the prime minister send the army right after the first call from General Shakil, when he sensed a mutiny in the ranks?

Second, why did it take the tanks 32 hours to get from Savar to Dhaka?

Third, how did 7,000 people escape the precincts of the BDR?

Fourth, who turned off the lights so they could escape?

Fifth, when the officers grilled the PM, they said nothing about the JMB - they are not fools, you know.

They blamed only one person - the prime minister (and General Moeen the previous day).

Sixth, Director General of RAB, Hasan Mahmud Khondoker, when asked about possible militant involvement firmly dismissed the idea: "Religious militancy in Bangladesh is under control of law-enforcing agencies at the moment (Bangladesh Observer, 12 March 2008, p 8).

However, a Daily Star report of the same day, by its journalist Anwar Ali ("back from Bagmara, Rajshahi") says: "At least four of the mutineers of the Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) are believed to have been active members of Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) before they joined the paramilitary force."

And according to the Hindustan Times, Commerce Minister Lt Col (Retd) Faruq Khan said: "...some JMB connections have been found.("

And the Daily Star, in the same issue, was quick to confirm the militant's hand in the article: "Terror struck back at its buster" (the Star covers up its poor syntax and grammar with exuberantly mysterious headlines). Translation: Colonel Gulzar, who had been instrumental in subjugating the JMB, was among the officers dead and so mutilated that it took a DNA test to identify his body; ergo, the JMB did it.

Yet in the 4th March issue, the Star had already said: " 4 more bodies identified
3 others await DNA test; 5 army officers still missing; investigators rummage through BDR HQ for evidence."

Indeed, in the 12th March issue, after describing how Colonel Gulzar's father had been killed in 1971 by the Pakistan army, the report goes on to say: " There were five unidentified bodies rescued from mass graves or sewers. These bodies bear the marks of severe brutality. Only a DNA test could confirm who is who. Gulzar's family could not say if one of those bodies was his.

"Organic samples from these bodies were collected and close relatives of the missing army officers also gave blood samples for the DNA testing. Samples were cross-checked with Gulzar's 14-year-old daughter Zahin Tasnia's genetic imprint.

"On Tuesday, two of the DNA test results popped up, one identifying Lt Col Elahi Monjur Chowdhury and the other Gulzar."

Therefore, Colonel Gulzar's body wasn't the only mutilated body found – therefore, the killers did not single him out for special mutilation.

To sum up: we have the DG Rapid Action Battalion categorically denying any militant involvement (Observer, March 12, p8); the Daily Star observed: " When asked about the involvement of Islamist militant outfits and the United Liberation Front of Assam (Ulfa) in the mutiny Rab DG averted the query and said the Islamist militants are now under complete control of the law-enforcement agencies.(12th March, p1)."

But, the Commerce Minister insinuates that there were "some" JMB links. Why was he speaking about a pending investigation in the first place?

As to intelligence failure, that's no surprise. A few years ago I was speaking to a government officer, and I was told that the intelligence branches were now totally occupied in assessing the loyalty, not only of army officers but even junior level government officers, to the two political parties.

"When would they get the time to do any intelligence work?" he asked me, rhetorically.

Many of the army's top brass are Awami League loyalists: they are leaning hard on the investigators to cover things up and lead the inquiry into another direction. Like every institution, the army is highly politicized: those loyal to Sheikh Hasina will never allow an open investigation, so it is alleged. Hence the JMB red herring, which, in fact, started off in the Indian newspapers.

"The Jamaat-e-Islami, which would suffer the most in any 1971 war crimes trial, is believed to be the main conspirator with the shadow of Pakistan, whose president has appealed to Hasina to defer the trials, lurking. ...

"If Jamaat's role in the massacre is conclusively established, Islamic radicals will risk the army's wrath. That's not bad for Hasina. Hopefully, the mutiny won't make her back out on the war crimes trials and cases related to the Sheikh Mujib murder and Chittagong arms seizure. If she doesn't go all out to decimate her Islamist rivals politically, she could be looking at another conspiracy." This was published in – of all papers – the Times of India (TOP ARTICLE Clear and Present Danger, 10 March 2009

So, the JMB-militant-Jamaat theory emanated from – where else? – India, and that's the direction the Awami League, aided by its generals and newspapers like the Daily Star, in turn backed by the western donor community, will take us – up the garden path (or is it down?).

Meanwhile, the army so despises General Moeen that even majors are reluctant to salute him. If he resigns in the next few days, he will retire with a modicum of honour. Otherwise he'll go down in ignominy in the sorry annals of this sorry nation.

It wasn't the butler that did it, though – it was the maidservant.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Dual Dictatorship

(click link above for article)

Western donor governments, especially America, have created civil wars in several Muslim countries by imposing democracy: in the next few months, Bangladesh will probably be added to the list.


" But the unholy alliance between the army and the two politicians has been forged under the watchful eyes of the western donors. They saw it happening: true, they tried to get rid of the two 'begums' (banshees, rather) in a minus-two formula (exile or jail), but such was the tenacious loyalty of the followers (especially of Hasina's), that it proved impossible. Where, prior to 1991, we had one dictator, now we were destined to be blessed with two."

Sunday, March 8, 2009

the lying media of Bangladesh exposed by the internet

(The lying document can found above)

The Daily Star lies like Pinocchio - and something worse!

"Eye witness testimony said the DG Major General Shakil spoke to the Prime Minister by phone immediately after the first shots were fired outside the Darbar hall." This according to the Star Weekend Magazine.

Now, thanks to the MP3 files circulating throughout the net, we know that General Shakil had contacted the army long before a single shot was fired. In fact, he had told the PM that a section of his soldiers were mutinous. She had said that she was sending the army.

She didn't send them.

The trouble with lying is that you become incoherent.

Tanya Yafta Chowdhury, wife of the late Colonel Elahi Manzoor, is quoted as saying: "I was told that help was on its way. I kept praying for the sound of the army rolling in. But nothing happened. I don't understand why it would take so long for troops to get to the pilkhana from the cantonment? Does it take hours? You tell me?"

The Star says: "The sequence of events clearly demonstrates that both the government and the army were aware of the fatal attacks by 9.30 AM."

But why should we go by the sequence of events?. We know from oral source what was said at the Senakunja to the PM: why didn't she send the army after General Shakil had warned her of an impending mutiny, long BEFORE the first shots were fired. Indeed, it was 1:00 pm before the mutineers could even get organized.

'Speaking to the Star, Col. Syed Quamruzzaman, GSO of the BDR headquarters described the harrowing scene. “The jawans asked us to come out and said we wouldn't be harmed. We walked out with the DG in the middle. They told us to walk in single file. We fell in line with the DG leading the way. They started firing at close range…”

So the star had access to Col. Zaman's testimony before the Senakunja grilling of the PM.

No, that's not what he said: he said four men came from outside and shot four bullets into General Shakil....Misreporting as usual, or deliberate falsification of what Col. Zaman himself saw?

"It has been suggested that an outside group might have assisted in the massacre. Since this episode has seriously weakened both the army and the BDR -- tactically and strategically -- mutterings about a conspiracy cannot be ignored. But talk about an outside group should not distract from the failings within the BDR, the army, the intelligence community, and indeed, the administration."

According to Col Zaman, the first killers did indeed come from outside.

The Star raises several questions, but never the question about how thousands of personnel could melt away into the city.

In the Star report, we find no criticism of the government at all. Instead, we find such incredible sentences as: "The PM, who has to handle such a big crisis on the 50th day of her tenure, has taken some widespread measures."

Poor PM! One's heart positively aches for the PM's onerous duties - surely the tragedy could have occurred on the 100th day, or better still, 150th day of her tenure! How inconvenient! How callous that she had to behave like a leader on her 50th day in office! Poor woman!

"There is no doubt that the crisis has been one of the toughest challenges that any new elected (sic) [leader] would want to see itself embroiled into (sic)."

Isn't that what governments are for? To handle tough challenges? And didn't this government deliberately, and with the aid of the media like the Star, fail the nation?

But, of course, since she is the member of a political dynasty, - the daughter of the "father" of the nation - she is above reproach - give me a monarchy any time!

Listen to the army and the prime minister

Saturday, March 7, 2009

what went on for 33 hours inside Pilkhana

This photo gives us a remote idea of what went on inside the Bangladesh Rifles Headquarters for 33 hours on 25-26th February, 2009

Thursday, March 5, 2009

The army and the prime minister of Bangladesh

For background, visit:

[For those who know Bengali, it is strongly recommended that you visit this site:]

Even 10-year-old girls were raped, murdered and interred. The BDR jawans stripped the officers' wives and kicked them in the back and legs, and forced them to walk in this condition. The officers were pierced with bayonets into mincemeat.

When, on the night of the 26th, Mrs. Moeen, the army chief's wife, came to Mirpur Cantonment to see the female victims, she got an icy reception. Usually, the docile and respectful wives of the officers would rise, greet her and go towards her – not on this occasion. She left the premises silently.

What was it that prevented General Moeen U. Ahmed from sending tanks to their rescue post haste?

After the incident, the American ambassador has again and again lauded him for supporting the recently democratically elected government of Sheikh Hasina. Why?

Were these, then, his alternatives, his choices: (a) either to back the civilian government of Sheikh Hasina and abandon the officers to their fate or (b) to bypass the civilian government (that is, take over state power) and help his officers?

It is becoming more and more evident that the the events of 25th and 26th February at Pilkhana has the ruling party's signature all over it. As well as the army's – that is, a part of it.

Over the last sixteen years of two-party politics, every institution has been politicized: the bureaucracy was the first to go to the dogs, then the judiairy and the army. The most egregious example of the latter was when Sheikh Hasina took General Mustafiz out – yes, out – of retirement (he was on LPR – leave preparatory to retirement) and made him army chief again for his loyalty to the dynasty (he was, in fact, related to Hasina, and the whole family are rabid supporters of the League). Apparently, the General was only 'slightly retired', as in 'slightly dead' or 'slightly pregnant'. The other leader – Khaleda Zia of the BNP – did exactly the same in office.

So, when democracy was restored after a two-year military interregnum spearheaded by General Moeen and backed by the western donor governments, the army was more or less evenly divided between those loyal to Hasina and those loyal to Khaleda.

Now, Hasina has a greater following: she is regarded as a continuation of her father, Sheikh Mujib, the demagogue who inadvertently created Bangladesh. Her followers regard her incarceration under military rule as an unpardonable act of lese-majeste. They were baying for blood.

And, it seems, they got it.

But the unholy alliance between the army and the two politicians has been forged under the watchful eyes of the western donors. They saw it happening: true, they tried to get rid of the two 'begums' in a minus-two formula, but such was the tenacious loyalty of the followers (especially of Hasina), that it proved impossible.

Instead of drawing the ineluctable conclusion, as the late Samuel Huntington would have done, that democracy here is a no-go, the west insisted on elections.

In the process, they have ruined every institution that stands between civilisation and barbarism.


[the material below is unedited, and is a first draft...more later]

[On 25th February, 2009, a section of paramilitary forces apparently mutinied against their army officers and killed over 150 of them, raping girls and women, and killing many of them as well]

The prime minister of Bangladesh was supposed to attend a dinner party at the Bangladesh Rifles Headquarters on the fateful day of the 26th of February, 2009. She declined to attend, and instead supervised the march past the previous afternoon. Apparently, she was warned on the 22nd not to accept the offer of dinner at the BDR HQ, but nobody at the BDR HQ knew for sure whether she was coming or not. She was sent the invitation card on the 23nd after 3:00 pm...and then her staff decided that instead of the PM, the Home Minster would attend. But the BDR HQ was nit informed.

Naturally, the PM totally refuses to acknowledge this as true – but the officers insist that this was true.

One officer maintained that the Home Minister left the officers in the hand of the rebels and walked out with only 25 weapons! How could she have done that?

In fact, if the army had been sent to succour them, those who were wounded but still alive would not have died, many women would not have been violated....

The PM's excuse is that the HQ is very big....and it was dark. The Home Minister rescued the families that she could.

Half an hour before the shooting began, General Shakil spoke with Sheikh Hasina, saying that, probably a section, the 54th battalion, of the BDR personnel had rebelled. Shakil was assured by the Prime Minister that the army was on its way.

They were told that forces were on their way from the 46th brigade ... if she had sent in forces then, the officers would not have died.

The rebels entered the Durbar Hall, where the officers were assembled, half an hour after the assurance was given that forces were en route. They started killing after 10:45 / 11:00 am. Everybody was told "They're coming! They're coming!" But nobody came.

At first only 20 to 25 soldiers were circling the Durbar Hall with rifles...They had no live ammunition, but were firing blanks. Ten to fifteen minutes later they broke into the armory and, before of the officers, started shooting inside. They still did not dare to enter the building, even though the officers were unarmed. .

Who put it into her (the PM's) head, that this had to be solved politically?

If the army chief had sent just one talk, or one platoon of commandos, they would have run like ants! [In fact, this is precisely what they did when the tanks turned up on Stamasjid Road, a couple of hundred yards from the scene – but the tanks arrived after 32 hours!]

The rebels had only one desire – to kill army officers. And this hatred for the army had been engendered by the politicians.

Parliamentary sessions broadcast on TV show that the ruling party MPs keep preaching hatred against the army. [Is a fact that both Khaleda Zia and Sheikh Hasina had been kept in a makeshift jail for two years by the army. Every person loyal to the Awami League – like everyone in my family, for instance – hates the army for this reason. Yet the army was merely carrying out the instructions of western powers!]

After General Shakil spoke with the prime minister, the army chief, the director general of the Rapid Action Battalion...they waited, in vain.

There were 2,200 soldiers who were involved in the tattoo show and they comprised the initial group of rebels [remember that on the 26th, the BDR officers were still expecting the PM to come: hence the arrangements for the tattoo]. And who encouraged them? Outside the New Market gate, civilians were shouting through megaphones "Don't worry! The people are with us!" Who were these civilians?

Shakil told the officer the troops were on their way: but they never came.

A few jawans fired blanks – they weren't even armed. It was half an hour later that they broke into the armory and, in front of the officers in the Durbar Hall, armed themselves.

The officers were forced to march in single file, and the moment General Shakil stepped outside the door, four people came from outside and shot the General four times in the chest.

They not only killed the officers, they pierced them with bayonets - after killing them. If the PM had sent in troops, they wouldn't have dared to do this. They had no leadership till 1:00 pm...and then they started becoming organized.

There were around 7,500 to 9,000 soldiers – plus their families – in the BDR HQ – and they all escaped overnight. How?

The strength of a battalion is 840; there were 4 battalions; that makes it roughly 3200 soldiers; there were over 1,200 in HQ; 2,225 soldiers came with various attachments; signal personnel....altogether 9,000 to 10,000 soldiers were posted there – and their families of the same number. Now, the question is: how did so many people creep ant-like out of the HQ...who allowed this to happen?

MP Golam Reza was able to take out 10 army officers and certain families. He warned one of them not to say anything against the BDR because then many officers and their families were still inside the BDR.

If you ask a second lieutenant which Generals will lose their jobs when the Awami League loses power and the BNP form a government....the army has been thoroughly politicized over the last 18 years of political rule.

A certain colonel had not been given promotion by the senior officers, for whatever reason, after Sheikh Hasina became PM he became deputy commander of her regiment! He had not received his comeuppance because he 'smelt' of the Awami League under BNP rule!

Why should a general be promoted on the instructions of the PM?

If it was found that the son of the paternal sister of the maternal uncle was a BNP man, then the officer so (unfortunately) related would not get a promotion!

The PM insists that the army had been immediately deployed. One soldier died and another even received a bullet wound to his head. "If it'll take a long time to send the army, then tell the air force to send a helicopter so they'll be scared and won't do anything further."

The PM maintains that she had worked with the army, and if it hadn't been made a civilian affair then many more people might have been killed. [This claim sits oddly with the fact that the mere sight of the tanks sent the rebels – indeed the entire force inside HQ – running for cover.]

"As for the soldiers escaping, gate number 5 was totally open." Why was it open? And how did thousands leave through that aperture? "

"As for the civilian processions, I asked the police why they were allowing people to come near the gate?" [It would e incredible if ordinary people were coming near the gate; they – all of us – were terrified out of our wits, and the place was devoid of people.] "There are videos of the processions; why don't you, officers, have a look at the videos and see who was involved?"

On the question of intelligence failure, the PM was heard asking somebody "How many kinds of intelligence branches do we have? What kind of branches?" [She had no idea!]

At Senakunja, officers nearly begged her to issue an immediate order to hunt down the rebels.

"The defence forces have certain rules. We have given them 24 hours to surrender; and we have to wait. We have to give them this time. Search will begin right after 24 hours" This was the prime minister's reply.

Meaning: give them 24 hours to escape?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Electoral Lie-Detector

So far, we've had four elections since 1990.

Two of them were rigged – those of 1996 and of 2001, the latter massively.

In all likelihood, the last election was rigged, also – but I'm working on that one (turnout of 87% and in certain constituencies 92% - sounds like a banana republic election!).

Like a gullible fool, I didn't believe it when a bureaucrat told me that the 2001 election had 'also' been rigged. But the thought persisted.

Then, while reading The Economist*, I chanced upon work by Walter Mebane on elections forensics using properties of numbers.

He confirmed exactly what the bureaucrat told me.

Ponder: none of our newspapers let us in on the rotten secret; so many lives were lost in political violence – for rigged elections!

It all makes sense: western donors and our bureaucrats have taken it upon themselves to give Buggins his (or her) turn. It's all an eyewash, for the consumption of the US and EU domestic audience, and our masses as well as our intelligentsia (except the bureaucrats, who are past masters at manipulation).

I wrote Walter Mebane about the last election, and this was his reply:

Mr. Sayeed,

I read about the election in the media, but I haven't looked at it in
any detail. Do you know a source for election returns at the polling
station level? Given such information, I can replicate the kind of
analysis I did for earlier elections.


Unfortunately, I have not been able to get my hands on data at polling station level: if anyone out there has access to such data, would you please contact me?

"One example concerns an analysis of the last three elections in Bangladesh. The 1991 election showed no strange results. For the 1996 election some 2% of results were problematic. And fully 9% of the results in 2001 failed the test. The 2001 election was fiercely contested. Yet monitors from the Carter Centre and the European Union found the election to be acceptably, if not entirely, free and fair. Tests like Dr. Mebane's one could provide monitors with quantitative estimates of exactly how free and fair an election has been.... [The Economist, February 24 2007, p 82]"

Sunday, March 1, 2009

A Bangladeshi Bluestocking

(click above for article)

Nationalism in Bangladesh is shot through with contradictions, some ludicrous and some dangerous. A local columnist has championed local culture by sounding off against Arab culture – claiming that the hijab is an import from the latter. This would be risible but for the political consequences for that embattled Arab people, the Palestinians.

Of bigotry and logic

It was a bit of a shock for me to get a post script from an OEN ( editor (copied below with my reply): the OEN prides itself on its tolerance and breadth of understanding, when in fact, like most American publications, it shares a collective contempt for the Muslim world. How was George Bush guilty in trying to 'civilise' us? It seems the ideas of lunatic leaders find nourishment in secluded, dark and dank liberal crannies.

"Op Ed News Administrator

P.S. I am going to publish this piece but with a caveat. It has only been since the rise of Hamas that the Palestinian movement has been shackled by an Islamic twist. The Palestinian movement itself is a nationalist movement, so that sort of creates a little discordance with the premise of your piece.

And, as an American who is very glad that women in this country do not have an archaic patriarchal system shoved down their throats without a choice, the history of hostility toward women in Arab and other Islamic Cultures would seem to indicate that the hijab, the burkha, and any other contrivance used to pretend that women do not exist, are merely used as tools to allow the prevailing system of patriarchy and domination by religion to continue."

[NB: not one word about my observations regarding female foeticide in India, where Islam, unfortunately has had no impact; not one word about the Indian caste system: all the evil is in the Islamic world; neither did the editor even notice what I had to say about the elegance and diversity of the shalwar-kameez and the saree as opposed to the uniformity of denim pants and T-shirts. He/She has focused, laser-like, on only the hijab - very revealing, that!]

This was my reply to the editor:

"I read your caveat ('A Bangladeshi Bluestocking') with interest.

I assume it was solely meant for me. May I ask why? What purpose did you hope to serve with that little lecture? We are used to being lectured like that, of course, but not all of us accept it with grace.

As a social scientist, I am aware of cultural biases even among the most enlightened editors - I am not going to argue your points (you recently published as essay of mine called "The Body of William Jay"), but such frank expressions of disgust and superiority are quite rare in my personal experience.

I hope in future you will show more respect to me as a writer and desist from lecturing me again.

As for your views regarding Arab and Islamic societies, they are the blind, uninformed prejudices of a typical westerner - I expected better from the OEN. Your collective attempts to 'civilise' us have caused a great deal of misery. But then, I accept that as part of your civilisation, and publish such views openly, instead of taking individuals aside and giving them a private dressing-down, and by means of logic instead of bald assertions of superiority.

Logic is not a westerner's forte."