Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Iran's anti-Bangladeshi sentiment

My wife and I applied for tourist visas to Iran. Today we had our applications denied - in just 5 days. Apparently, this is normal for some countries. This shows a clear anti-Bangladeshi policy on behalf of Iran. They don't want tourists to go from Bangladesh to Iran. Perhaps they consider us 'meskin' (poor)?

We are a Muslim country - so Iran should welcome exchanges between brothers and sisters. Or is all that talk of Muslim brotherhood just talk? How can Muslim countries know each others' cultures if we are not allowed to travel freely to Muslim countries?

I hope the current ambassador will persuade the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that they should promote understanding between Muslim countries - including Bangladesh.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Bad Barrel Of Bangladeshi Democracy

I have just been boning up on 'Political Psychology'. It has answered many of my questions regarding the evil in Bangladesh, but a cultural/historical explanation seems also necessary.

Hierarchies of obedience
clearly play a part: our leaders are the wife and daughter of former dictators; they are like queens who must be obeyed; they are not only above the law, but above morality as well.

The Lucifer effect is the most fascinating: western donors, by insisting on democracy, have created a bad barrel. The barrel seems to attract the worst elements of society. Now,
Bangladesh is going through a 48-hour hartal: if I drive, my car will be incinerated, probably with me inside. What kind of people incinerate cars and people? The arsonists are members of the opposition: they are 'bad' apples...or are they? It's the barrel that's bad (democracy as 'bad barrel' has had a long history since Thucydides; S.E.Finer notes that in the west democracy used to regarded with 'horror'.}

In 2007 - 2008, the donors had to reinstall military rule because we were headed for civil war: the best elements of society came forward to be our temporary rulers. These men and women were honest. They were respected, and the man in the street was pleased. It was a 'good barrel'.

After the cold war, the western donors enforced democracy on us: fifteen years of military rule were ended. These were the best years for
Bangladesh. The military rulers even amended the constitution to give greater power to the judiciary. The barrel was good, and good men served under the administration.

John Mearsheimer was right: we would regret the cold war. I miss it terribly for the sake of

But why is it that military rule was a 'good barrel'? The answer, I believe, lies in our culture and history. The culture is one of deference and hierarchy: military rule has been the only form of government in the Muslim world. Without a single chain of submission, society collapses. Today, we in effect have two dictators instead of one.

an invaluable poem

You promised me democracy,
But look what you have done to me.
You robbed my past,
and future stole,
and a present
left to me,
crushed beyond
a mending hope.
Ten years before invading me,
you broke my dams
and bridges bombed,
and power plants,
and sewage lines,
and water mains,
You fed the plants
with pesticide,
The baby food and medicine
you destroyed;
and the silos
of my grain
you set aflame.
So I may not
make good my loss
nor repair
my water mains,
you shackled me
in sanctions,
and a million kids
you starved to death.
I lived Saddam’s
nightmare through.
I knew what I
must watch out for.
But now I don’t know
where to hide
for death has lost
its pattern now.
He used to kill
and bury us,
friendless in
our unmarked graves;
but our names
he kept on files.
And now that you
are killing us,
we do not even
have a grave,
nor a number
nor a name–
thus in your books
we never lived.
He was your friend
who hurried us,
so many to their
early deaths,
with weapons that you
sold to him,
while you looked
the other way.
He was not
a ‘tyrant’ then,
which of late
he has become.
You merely changed
the label,
so you could come
and liberate,
the wealth that we
are sitting on,
and this you call
our liberation!
You promised me
but look what you
have done to me.
With bombs you won
my heart over,
with blows you changed
my mind.
You tore into
my home at night,
and pulverized
my only peace.
And shrieking as
my mother watched,
with frightened children
Gathered ‘round,
you floored my father
in a heap,
with kicks and blows
and rifle butts,
and tore my humble
home apart.
Then you led
our men away,
with tied hands
behind their backs,
and with their eyes folded blind,
into the endless prison night.
And there you tore
my father’s robe.
To cover then
his nakedness,
upon his head
you put the hood,
and leashed him like
a dog on show,
and your dogs
unleashed on him.
You promised me
but look what you
have done to me.
You took my youth
in prime away–
you shredded wedding
The little joys
that I had left,
merriment in
a broken life,
now in collateral
damage rest,
rising up
in smoke and flame,
of a mindless
bombing run.
‘Tis peel and husk
I have for food,
and water mixed
with sewage now
is all I have
to slake my thirst.
You even took
my sand away,
polluted by
uranium dust,
so when I have
my children they
shall be deformed,
unlovely and
and so unlike
your lovely kids!
My millions homeless
roam the road,
and orphaned children
beg in streets.
My women raised
in sanctity,
are now the stuff
of ravishment.
My men are slaughtered
out of hand,
and widows search
the morgues for them.
My dawn is dull,
and dusk is blood,
and bombs and blasts,
my afternoons.
My night in hopelessness is sunk,
when peace with me
a refuge takes,
and heaps on me
another dawn–
another search
of bodies lost;
another count
of heaped insults;
another day
to death evade,
call it life,
and celebrate.
So now when I
am fighting back,
my fearlessness
is causing awe.
but unafraid,
when I equalize myself,
and blow my only
life away,
you are shocked,
and label me
a terrorist!
I who want
my honor lost
and country back–
–a terrorist?
And you who came here
for my oil,
on crutches of
a shameless lie,
are and always
shall remain,
the humanist!
I know your type.
I see your greed
and hunger know,
but it is those
I want to know,
whose vote does so
empower you.
Do they not see
what they have done?
They promised me
but look what they
have done to me!

(c) 2010 by Saeed Malik

Friday, July 1, 2011

Zionism's Reach

On Nakba day (15th May) this year, the Palestinian Embassy held a program at a local hotel in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

This was purely a Palestinian initiative. In the last thirty years, according to the embassy, there may have been one or two public discussions on Palestine in Bangladesh. Maybe.

The next day I looked up the major newspapers for any report, however skimpy, on the program. There was none. (Only an obscure local vernacular posted a 1 inch by 1 inch report.)

I have written before on the 'Biddable Intelligentsia'. But the intelligentsia is hyper-cautious: it doesn't wish to be seen to be contaminated even remotely by the Palestinian cause. That would jeopardize all that cash and career dished out by the United States and the western world in general.