Shahbag to Shapla Chattar — songs of water and fire

Posted in activism, Bangladesh, blogging, Freedom of speech, history, Islamists, media, politics, Rights, uprisings by jrahman on March 26, 2014

The blog went into a hiatus about year ago. The reasons for that extended absence are, unfortunately, still relevant. That’s why the blog has been far less frequent than was the case in the past. However, it is what it is. I am not sure when the blog can be fully operational again. For now, pieces will come infrequently, and the blog will often be an archive for material published elsewhere. Also, the comments section will be off —it is disrespectful to not respond to comments, but since I can sometime be offline for days, if not weeks, it’s better to have the comments off.

This means no direct interaction with the reader.  But this also means the blog will become what blogs originally were — an online diary, a weblog, where one records one’s own thoughts and observations.  I guess it’s somewhat fitting that the first post in the new format is on the set of events that rocked Bangladesh as the blog went into hiatus.

These events, according to the contemporaneous analyses, were going to change everything forever. With the benefit of hindsight, it’s clear that the contemporaneous analyses were mostly wrong. This is a for-the-record post summarising my evolving thoughts as the events unfolded between 5 Feb and 5 May 2013. It is important to note what this is not.  This is not analysis — I am not trying to offer an explanation of what happened, nor provide any insight into what they mean for our past, present or future.  This is not activism either — I am not arguing any particular case.  Rather, this is an extremely self-indulgent post, the target here is really myself years down the track.  If anyone else reads it, that’s just bonus.



Not really on Shahbagh

Posted in activism, blogging by jrahman on February 16, 2013

Thaba Baba, a nationalist and atheist blogger/facebook-er and a Shahbagh activist, has been brutally murdered last night.  There is a good possibility that he was killed for his writing.

If the murder is political, then liberty is under assault in Bangladesh in a way not seen in recent years.  We have seen the state gagging opposition media.  But with that kind of assault, there is an eventual corrective counter assault — as political tide changes, those who applaud the closing of Ekushey TV eventually become the victim of the temporary ban of Amar Desh.

But that’s not what happened here.  If Thaba Baba was indeed killed for his writing, then the killers are likely to be non-state actors.  The Shahbagh movement has already claimed him as the movement’s first shaheed, pointing the finger at militant, fundamentalist cadres of Jamaat-e-Islami.

If they are right, then Thaba Baba will join a long list of Bangladeshis killed for their views by militants supposedly acting in the name of Islam.

If they are right, will the Shahbagh movement remain non-violent?

This post is titled ‘not really on Shahbagh’.  That’s because I am still not sure I understand well enough what’s going on to say anything particularly interesting.  Never mind interesting, my own thoughts are in a state of such flux that even jotting them down just for the record is difficult.  For example, I see a lot of comments like ‘this is a new revolution, Bangladesh will never be the same again’ interspersed with a few ‘dawn of fascism’.  What I don’t see is an analysis of how a dozen or so people turned into a hundred thousand or more overnight.   Until I understand what’s happening — and it may well have ended before I feel I understand remotely enough — I will leave the commentary to others.

Instead, let me return to Thaba Baba.  This blog’s fundamental principle is liberty.  If a Bangladeshi blogger is killed for his opinions (whatever the opinions may be), then all bloggers have been put on notice.

That cannot be allowed to go unchallenged.

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