Bangladesh | A War Crimes Court and a Travesty of Justice [New York Times]

Tom Felix Joehnk wrote on The New York Times  | 08 December 2011

DHAKA, Bangladesh — On the fourth floor of a nondescript pale-blue government building in Old Dhaka, clerks are stapling together copies of depositions from witnesses to the crimes committed during Bangladesh's 1971 war of secession from Pakistan — a conflict that may have killed up to three million people, according to the Bangladeshi government. Above them on the wall is a map showing the 11 sectors of what was then called East Pakistan.

Delwar Hossain Sayedee, a leading cleric of Bangladesh's Islamist party, Jamaat-e-Islami, at the International Crimes Tribunal in Dhaka in November.
Maulana Delwar Hossain Saydee is accused
politically  and victim of the  War Crime Court

Strdel/Agence France-Presse — Getty ImagesDelwar Hossain Sayedee, a leading cleric of Bangladesh's Islamist party, Jamaat-e-Islami, at the International Crimes Tribunal in Dhaka in November.

The poisonous politics of Bangladesh : Reversion to type [The Economist]

Bangladesh’s economy is becoming ever healthier; its politics are heading in the opposite direction |Aug 13th 2011 | Economist Link

THE election of December 2008 seemed to mark a watershed for Bangladesh. In the fairest poll in the country’s four-decade history, the Awami League, led by Sheikh Hasina (pictured), swept to power in a landslide, on a wave of national optimism. The hope was that she would use her party’s popularity to strengthen democratic institutions and pursue national reconciliation, putting an end to a vicious cycle of winner-takes-all politics between the League and its rival, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP). The fear was that she would use its huge mandate for partisan advantage.

Bangladesh : Politics of Hate [The Economist]

An ancient vendetta continues to eat away at public life | Nov 18th 2010 | Economist Link

 Another BNP eviction
MORE than two years after the army aborted a dismal interregnum and released from jail the leaders of the country’s two rival political dynasties, the politics of hate and attrition grind away in Bangladesh. The thanks go mainly to the personal vendetta of the prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, one of the two leaders, against the other, Khaleda Zia.
On November 13th Mrs Zia was evicted from her home of nearly 30 years in Dhaka’s cantonment area. The move triggered a hartal, a protest strike called by Mrs Zia’s opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP). Violence broke out between her supporters and those of Sheikh Hasina’s Awami League (AL). The country’s third political force, the army, has backed the High Court’s eviction order. Shrewdly, Sheikh Hasina has allocated the vast plot surrounding Mrs Zia’s home for housing for the families of 57 military officers killed in a mutiny early last year, soon after the AL swept to power.
The eviction is part of the League’s mission to break the BNP’s back. It is obsessed with airbrushing from history the legacy of the political dynasty founded by Mrs Zia’s late husband, General Ziaur Rahman, hero of Bangladesh’s war of independence against West Pakistan in 1971.

In the name of the father [The Economist]

An obsession with Bangladesh’s past may explain its prime minister’s growing intolerance | Aug 13th 2011 | Economist Link

ASK well-connected Bangladeshis which country they dream of emulating and they usually name one of two big Asian democracies: populous and largely Muslim Indonesia, for its moderation, growing wealth and stability; or India, for its job-creating, increasingly urban economy. Wretched Pakistan is dismissed with the scorn of a divorcee rejecting her abusive ex.
Compared with Pakistan, from which Bangladesh split bloodily 40 years ago this December, life does indeed look better. The country is stable: few of Bangladesh’s 160m-odd citizens are Muslim fundamentalists. The economy, with annual output of around $100 billion, grows by nearly 7% a year and is fuelled by the world’s third-largest clothes-export industry. Aid money gushes in, and good things are done against poverty. And, since two years of army-backed rule ended in 2008, the generals have been tucked up securely in barracks.
All this should leave the prime minister, Sheikh Hasina—whom civil servants are said to address as “sir”—feeling confident. Her Awami League romped to an electoral win in December 2008. Her popularity has since dipped, but not disastrously. Nearly half the respondents to an AC-Nielsen survey in January, the most recent one, thought her government did a good job. Few backed the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), which spurns parliament, calls public strikes and is remembered for the brutality and corruption of its rule in 2001-06.

India and Bangladesh : Embraceable you [The Economist]

Growing geopolitical interests push India to seek better relations nearer home

NOT much noticed by outsiders, long-troubled ties between two neighbours sharing a long border have taken a substantial lurch for the better. Ever since 2008, when the Awami League, helped by bags of Indian cash and advice, triumphed in general elections in Bangladesh, relations with India have blossomed. To Indian delight, Bangladesh has cracked down on extremists with ties to Pakistan or India’s home-grown terrorist group, the Indian Mujahideen, as well as on vociferous Islamist (and anti-Indian) politicians in the country. India feels that bit safer.
Now the dynasts who rule each country are cementing political ties. On July 25th Sonia Gandhi (pictured, above) swept into Dhaka, the capital, for the first time. Sharing a sofa with Sheikh Hasina (left), the prime minister (and old family friend), the head of India’s ruling Congress Party heaped praise on her host, notably for helping the poor. A beaming Sheikh Hasina reciprocated with a golden gong, a post-humous award for Mrs Gandhi’s mother-in-law, Indira Gandhi. In 1971 she sent India’s army to help Bangladeshis, led by Sheikh Hasina’s father, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, throw off brutal Pakistani rule.
As a result, officials this week chirped that relations are now “very excellent”. They should get better yet. India’s prime minister, Manmohan Singh, will visit early in September to sign deals on sensitive matters like sharing rivers, sending electricity over the border, settling disputed patches of territory on the 4,095km (2,500-mile) frontier and stopping India’s trigger-happy border guards from murdering migrants and cow-smugglers. Mr Singh may also deal with the topic of trade which, smuggling aside, heavily favours India, to Bangladeshi ire.