Category Archives: History

This Time for the Judiciary

Syeed Ahamed.

Published in the Daily Star Forum on 1 November 2010.

This piece draws parallels between judicial activism and independence in Bangladesh and the United States.

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What’s in a name?

by Syeed Ahamed

Published in the BDnews24 on 22 February 2010.

This piece discusses the lessons from the politics of name-change.

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Who are we?

Jyoti Rahman

Published in the Forum on 3 Aug 2009.

This piece ponders imagined nations and a real republic.

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Ideas in Bangladeshi politics

Jyoti Rahman

Published by the New Age on 16 Dec 2008.

A Bangladeshi identity has gathered ground since the 1970’s. Does identity politics have a role in today’s Bangladesh?

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Fear of a Muslim Planet: Hip-Hop’s Hidden History

Naeem Mohaiemen

Published in the Forum (June 2008 )

(Amin) Pray Allah keep my soul and heart clean
(Amin) Pray the same thing again for all my team

Mos Def, “Love”
(Black on Both Sides, 1999)

Camoflouged Torahs, Bibles and glorious Qurans
The books that take you to heaven and let you meet the Lord there
Have become misinterpreted, reasons for warfare
We read ‘em with blind eyes I guarantee you there’s more there
The rich must be blind because they didnt see the poor there

Lupe Fiasco, “American Terrorist”
(Food & Liquor, 2006)

JOURNALIST Harry Allen once called Islam “hip-hop’s unofficial religion.” This theme is echoed by Adisa Banjoko, unofficial ambassador of Muslim hip-hop, who says: “Muslim influence was at the ground floor of hip hop. Hip hop came from the streets, from the toughest neighborhoods, and that’s always where the Muslims were.” Continue reading

Swadhin Bangla Betar Kendro and Bangladesh’s Declaration of Independence

Mashuqur Rahman and Mahbubur Rahman Jalal

Published in the Forum (Mar 2008)

Soon after the Pakistan army took over Dacca Betar Kendro in the early hours of March 26, 1971. The Pakistanis renamed the radio station “Radio Pakistan Dacca” and used it to announce martial law orders. The Pakistan army’s attempt at silencing the voice of the Bengalis had begun. Bengalis, however, fought back. The war of Bangladesh’s Liberation had begun.

On the evening of that same day a small radio station started broadcasting defiantly in the face of the Pakistan military’s bloody onslaught on the Bengalis. The clandestine radio station, located in Kalurghat, north of the city of Chittagong, declared to the world: “The Sheikh has declared the 75 million people of East Pakistan as citizens of the sovereign independent Bangla Desh.” The station called itself Swadhin Bangla Betar Kendro. Continue reading

The continuing rape of our history

Mashuqur Rahman 

Published in the Forum (December 2007)

Genocide denial is a phenomenon that crops up to challenge almost every accepted case of genocide. The genocide committed by the Pakistan army during the Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971 is no exception. Because of the scale of the atrocities in 1971 against a civilian population of 70 million people, it has proved impossible for genocide deniers to claim that the atrocities did not occur. Instead, they have focused on two tactics used to deny most genocides: that the magnitude of the killings was not that great, and that the Pakistan army had no systematic policy of genocide. Continue reading

Trying to remember, refusing to forget

Tazreena Sajjad

Published in the Forum (November 2007)

“No one has the right to forgive those responsible for human rights violations other than the victims themselves … For any process of national reconciliation to succeed the suffering of victims must be acknowledged and impunity tackled.”
– 2007 Statement of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan

Do you want to remember or do you want to forget?” If only this question had an easy answer. Remembering is not easy, but forgetting may be impossible, especially when it comes to surviving the atrocities of war. Unresolved questions of how to address the past and deal with the horrific acts of brutality plague a nation: Are prosecutions possible? Should they be national or international? Should indigenous methods of justice and reconciliation take precedence over standardised punitive measures? Is the choice only between a silent peace and a risky justice? Should the nation bury the past, to not risk bringing painful memories back to life and further dividing a fledgling country? Continue reading

The politics of fear

Tazreena Sajjad

Published in New Age (18 September 2007) 

Today, as a nation, are we afraid? The response is a resounding ‘yes’… Our fears reflect the concerns of our own physical safety and our desperate attempts not to lose the status quo that gives us protection. We fear death, torture, being disappeared, being silenced. We fear the loss of hope. These fears accentuate our powerlessness, and in their extreme form can lead to the erosion of any form of social solidarity, Continue reading

The bhodroloke revolution and its discontents

Asif Yousuf and Jyoti Rahman

Published in The Daily Star (11 July 2007)

A bhodroloke revolution is said to have taken place in Bangladesh. At least that is how the events of January11 were advertised to an international audience by the foreign affairs advisor Dr. Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury at the Australian National University on June13.

Dr. Chowdhury started his talk, titled “Evolving Challenges for Bangladesh in South Asia,” with the history of Bengal and South Asia. He noted the 19th century Bengal renaissance and the rise of the bhodroloke class.

He noted the intellectual accomplishments of the bhodroloke from Tagore to Dr. Yunus. Then he stated that the current government is the result of today’s bhodroloke class — composed of professionals and academics, the large NGO sector, and an army that is thoroughly imbued with the “UN values” — asserting its power to save the nation from imminent collapse after an extended period of political impasse. Continue reading