imperfect | world | 2010

Archive for June, 2006

Jun 6,2006

It is not often you get some municipal official who takes it on himself to bring modernisation to the citizenry. But it appears that a certain brave soul called Mijanur Rahman Minu, the mayor of northern Rajshahi, has decided to do away with a certain practice condoned by islam but which is prohibited in most modern polities - polygamy. So from now on, if you want a nice young or indeed a nice old second wife you will have to contribute 10,000 takas ( about ninety pounds) to the city coffers. The tax on a third wife is 30k and on a fourth - 40k. Mijanur says

“Polygamy is a disrespectful and outdated act in this modern age. We have imposed the taxes to prevent such acts and for the welfare of the families”

I know two very poor Faridpuri women who recently got married to husbands who were already married. It was the women who had to fork out for the privilege of marrying. In one case, the woman, a 38 year old, parted with her entire life’s savings of 50,000 takas. However they both considered their investment worthwhile, and they both considered acquiring a husband as a pre-condition for security in old age. I wonder what such a tax will do amongst the poorest of the poor. Yet another push factor for the labour market?

What is this a picture of?

  • Filed under: labour
Jun 5,2006

Fashion house

Yes you are right. It is a fashion house in Bangladesh. Easy was it not? Lacking in corporate culture and a culture of resolving disputes via social dialogue, Bangladesh resorts to the tried and tested police-paramilitary-military approach to industrial relations.

But what is this I read? The head of the Economic Processing Zone, a certain Mr Zakir Hussain ( a former military officer, surprise, surprise) has been sacked by Khaleda Zia after a little tete a tete with foreign investors in the industry.

Jun 5,2006

Ah yes the battle lines are drawn over these two teams as the football fans in Bangladesh prepare to go crazy ( although some already have gone crazy - read here and here).

Unlike millions of other argentinian fans back in Bangladesh, i have been lucky enough to see them for real in the 1998 world cup (albeit in a dull game against Croatia. I have got some fantastic shots - esp of female fans ;) - from that event and may post some up if football fever hits me badly). I also have to admit that having supported Brazil throughout my life I changed my mind in the final of the great 1998 world cup and hooted for France. It was a monumental game. Indeed a great national moment for France and I don’t mean in terms of football alone but in terms of France recognising and confronting its national question. I was at the Hotel de Ville, Paris watching the game and I could not hear a damn thing when the goals were being scored. I had to phone my wife in England on my mobile to find out what the hell was happening. Nevertheless it was fantastic and for me a great political and football event!

Argentina played Saudi yesterday in a friendly, and as i was incarcerated in hospital my thoughts turned to footballers’ wives (and why not?). Here in England they have a “reputation.” TV soaps and reality programmes and sunday tabloids have all created a very salacious/peculiar/catty/greedy image of these women. I was wondering if the wives of Saudi players have any kind of image - real or not? I was also wondering what they would be wearing as they follow their men from city to city? Burqhas? This is what the hotel was requested to do for the Saudi team:

The hotel has removed alcohol from the minibars, blocked adult entertainment and other free-TV channels showing naked women and taken down tasteful nude photos in the fitness area, according to the Reuters new agency.

Jun 4,2006


The controversial and dubious Muslim Council of Britain has elected a Bangladeshi, DR Muhammad Abdul Bari, as its new head.

The conservative organisation is proned to making embarassing gaffes, and last year Panorama - an in-depth news analysis programme -exposed how the MCB was connected to and promoted the cause of the fundamentalist Jamaat of Pakistan and its “philosopher” Mawdudi. (Apologies to real philosophers…it is not my description of the fellow)

Iqbal Sacranie, the former head of MCB, had connections with a bangladeshi war criminal...

Jun 2,2006

“Members of the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) and police joined the EPZ’s regular security forces to tackle the unrest and brought the situation under control half an hour later.” READ MORE HERE

Razi Azmi on Bangladesh

Jun 2,2006

One or two interesting observations in an article otherwise full of perverse observations and chauvinism. This is apparently the second parter of a two part piece.

Here is an interesting bit below:

Also during my last visit, I wanted to see the spot in Dhaka’s Race Course Ground, now turned into a park, where the Pakistan Army had formally surrendered. I was curious to see how this piece of history had been preserved.

With considerable difficulty my Bangladeshi friend and I were able to locate a small, neglected plaque overgrown with bush which recorded (in Bengali only): “This is where, on December 16, 1971, the aggressor Pakistan Army surrendered before the Mukti Bahini and allied forces”.

For those not familiar with the history, the unnamed “allied forces” (an auxiliary to the Mukti Bahini, according to this account) could have been from Nepal, Bhutan, Burma, or India. National pride and Islamic resurgence probably prevent a direct admission of the crucial Indian military role.

Garment Workers still under arrest

  • Filed under: labour
Jun 1,2006

The Clean Clothes Campaign have today renewed their call for arrested garment workers to be released. They have also re-iterated a call for a proper investigation of the root causes of the disturbances and for authorities to address the outstanding issues concerning pay and work conditions. READ HERE

Jun 1,2006

Yipee we have an industry first - a leading garment company acknowledges fault and sets up the country’s first “grievance cell.”
SQ Group which produces for big names like GAP and Marks and Spencer said this :

“After the trouble at our factory, we did some soul searching and found that there were some lapses in the way managers handled the workers’ grievances. The (grievance) cell is the direct outcome of this soul searching.”

The statement was made by Gulam Faruq, chairman of SQ Group of Industries.

Conspiracy theorists - please note that there is no mention of conspiracies originating in India neighbouring states.

Jun 1,2006

Bangladesh has recently been elected to serve on the new UN body called the Human Rights Council. The newly formed United Nations Human Rights Council (replacing the the UN Human Rights Commission) has already come under a lot of flak. Observers say that a name change is all that has happened and the new body will be as bureaucratic and as useless as the one it has replaced, and that countries with a long track record of human rights abuses such as Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, China etc do not deserve to be on the agency but nevertheless have been elected to serve in it. (Israel and the USA - two countries with unparalleled experience of abusing human rights - have remained off the body feigning their usual sniffy contempt and disdain…so you can see there is a lot of aggro about the whole issue).

Bangladesh’s human rights record, as we all know, isn’t exactly rosy. If you need a reminder of the present situation go to the “Docs” section of this blog and download a report or two. Arguably one of the least talked about human rights abuse cases is what is going in the Chittagoing Hill Tracts. Last week a session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues was held in New York. Ina Hume presented a collective statement on behalf of the Bangladesh Indigenous Peoples Orgnaisations, Jumma Peoples Network International, Taungya, Tribal Welfare Assocication, and Adivasi Parishad on Human Rights in Bangladesh.

Some points raised by the statement:

  • quasi-martial law still operates in the area
  • people are living under the rule of the army
  • harassment and intimidation of indigenous people continues
  • there is disregard of legal processes by the army
  • sexual assault is commonplace
  • there are arbitrary arrests and detentions
  • Asian Development Bank social afforestation programs are leading to the displacement of indigenous people and relocation of the majority population on the lands