Category Archives: Justice

Citizenship and contested identity: A case study

Bina D’Costa and Sara Hossain.

Published in the Daily Star 20th Anniversary supplement on 14 March 2011.

This piece looks at Bangladesh’s citizenship laws, using Father Timm as a case study.

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Sex workers and our moral police

Wasfia Nazreen.

Published in bdnews24 on 13 October 2010.

This piece challenges the hypocritical taboo surrounding sex workers in Bangladesh.

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Where the Streets Have no Name

Bina D’Costa.

The Daily Star Forum, 6 September 2010.

This piece  looks into displacement and dislocation in the Chittagong Hill Tracts.

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Nurul Islam’s death and our hollow national pride

Asif Saleh

Published by the Daily Star on 8 December 2009.

Our country is going to be forty soon; our nationalism is prominently on display everywhere. However, I can’t but help detect a sense of hollowness in our national pride when we know that the country has not been fair to so many of its people. We have made a small step towards correcting that error through the verdict of November 19. Can this be the start of righting the wrongs that have been done to the people of this country?

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Justice, the General and His Soldier

Tazreena Sajjad

Published by the Forum on 7 December 2009.

This piece questions who will take command responsibility in Bangladesh’s war crimes trials.

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The Nurul Islam case: How long before justice?

Mridul Chowdhury

Published by the Daily Star on 19 September 2009.

WE, in Bangladesh, are used to waiting. We have been waiting to find out the perpetrators of the BDR massacre, who were really behind the August 21 grenade attack, or who killed one of the most brilliant sons of our soil, Shah AMS Kibria. Our waiting does not stop at that — even for cases for which we know who the perpetrators were, we wait for them to be brought to justice. Some of the self-declared murderers of Bangabandhu and his family are still at large. So are the “war criminals” who attempted to eradicate the intellectual backbone of the nation in 1971, only to be riding cars bearing our national flag in less than a generation, as no less than ministers. We live in this ‘strange’ country where one can emotionally survive this uncertain and excruciating wait only if one knows how to wait, wait and wait only to see the reason for the wait becoming a distant memory at one point.

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‘We are poor, but are we not human?’

Asif Saleh and Rumi Ahmed

Published in the Daily Star on 24 March 2009.


Unattended and uncared for.

Every Saturday our prime minister speaks directly to the common people for a few hours and hears their grievances, and later asks the relevant ministry to take action on these matters.

Yesterday was one such day. I wasn’t there. But if I were, what would I tell the PM?

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A zero kill year

February 5, 2009

NOW that an elected government is in power, we want to be assured that the most basic of our rights — the right to life — will be respected.

Too many lives are lost to political violence in Bangladesh every year. People die in brawls with bamboo sticks. Deadly ambushes on activists are common. Thugs armed with machetes and daggers sweep down on political foes routinely. Continue reading

Our Politics of Dispossession

Naeem Mohaiemen

Published in the Forum on February 2009

When talking about human rights, complacent analysis comforts us with nostalgic notions like: “Bangalis have always been egalitarian/secular/(insert favourite value).” But in the context of life in a subcontinent with too many people fighting for too few resources, legal infrastructure is far more important than attitudes and social norms.

Within this context, there are certain laws that stubbornly stay in place. In some cases, this is because political parties consider them to be useful future tools (Special Powers Act). In other cases, it is because questions of patriotism and security are considered off limits to debate (anti-terrorism laws). Continue reading

It is the ordinary citizens of Bangladesh who need a voice

Asif Saleh

Published in the Guardian, UK (April 3 2008 )

John Pilger mounts an impassioned and spirited defence of the Bangladeshi politician Moudud Ahmed (The prisoner of Dhaka, March 12). “There is a decent, brave man sitting in a dungeon in a country where the British empire began,” Pilger says. “I have known him since a moonless night in 1971.” Pilger does his reputation an immense disservice with his erroneous and exaggerated claims on behalf of Ahmed, by ignoring the real issues at hand in favour of using his influence to defend an old friend.

On the 37th anniversary of its independence, Bangladesh faces a human rights crisis. Our fledgling democracy – hard won in 1971, and resurrected again in 1991 after years of military rule – is in suspension. Thousands of ordinary citizens have been rounded up and imprisoned without cause, without due process, and with no hope of release. It is true that Ahmed is one of those people. He was arrested by the security forces and is now in jail as a VIP prisoner. Continue reading