26.2.15

TellMamaGilligate, or How to win/lose credibility in one telling article

A few days ago an article appeared on the Telegraph website, written by Andrew Gilligan.  Peter Oborne's recent resignation from the publication gives us some flavour of what is going on there. Contrary to the piece's claims that there was anything radical at the heart of Whitehall, its just bum-licking as usual.

Gilligan is known for going after decent or half decent Muslim organisational forms and figures like bitch on heat on a mission from the deep state to cause maximum and unjust disruption to the scapegoats of its failed imperialistic policies abroad. After falling on bad times after failing to protect the life and dignity of Dr David Kelly, he was picked up by the now Mayor of London Boris Johnson during his time at the Spectator, and God knows who else. I argue that as far as the decolonial ummah in progress goes, he is the same category of individual as Anjem Choudhury, only fatter, balder, whiter and with a right to audience, not 'entertain'.

Both are highly dedicated and involved, wittingly or unwittingly in the assemblage of resources and interests that works to undermine any growth in our community's integrity, function and appeal.  They and the many other stage devises like them are an invitation to observe and improve.

Gilligan's last target, Mayor Lutfur Rahman and his re-election prospects, did not fall over when pushed. It was a bungled attempted coup featuring the British Labour and Tory Parties, the BBC, the Bangladesh Awami League, the City of London, a creepy blogger and a washed up documentary maker. People from all over the world understood what was afoot and smiled at Luther's re-election. At the time of writing, Tower Hamlets Council  is going through legal proceedings relating to the anti-Lutfur campaign run over last year's election campaign. In any case, it is the social cleansing of Tower Hamlets that is the long game to keep our eyes on, and that means citizen mobilisation, not simple nose counting exercises.

Which is why the recent article was annoying, as it shows the character gap in a man who runs an organisation that is meant to be monitoring Islamophobia, not fueling it.

It is a really sad feature of the late Whitethropocene, that colourful politicians on the make have become quite practiced at furthering their ambitions over the reputations, dignity and bones of others.

I saw this cringeworthy dishonour in Fiyaz Mughal's contribution to the Gilligan article, in particular his use of the term 'entryism', around which the journalist built the article, linking in with Gilligan's second most favourite Islamophobising trope, The Stratford Megamosque. Many others have noticed this skulduggery too, and I suspect Mr Mughal will now inhabit the spaces exploited by the likes of the Quilliam Foundation, which was probably part of his business plan. His clarification later, which has been taken off the website, made his supplication to his paymasters even clearer to the naked eye.

I guess Mr Mughal will be getting a good bollocking from his old friends and associates, and no doubt some strategic consolations and congratulations from his new ones, and the men who stroke cats.

24.2.15

Judicial Murder of Kamaruzzaman on the cards again and the Robertson Report

It is with great sorrow that I comment on the impending execution judicial murder of Jamaat e Islami leader Muhammad Kamaruzzaman, by the Bangladesh state for war crimes alleged to have taken place in 1971 when he was 18-19 years old. It is very hard for an Islamist to get justice from any court in the world at this moment, least of all from a tribunal whose rigging has been internationally recognised.

It is an unfortunate feature of Bangladeshi historiography that bullshit is easily rendered into fact, and that events like the hideous Sohagpur massacre have been retrospectively pinned onto Kamaruzzaman.  As well as objecting to unfairness of trial and false historical evidence making, we need to ask ourselves how this has been possible. Many people, Bangladeshi and non-Bangladeshi have been instrumental in creating the myths that mislead us on Bangladesh. It can be observed that their sons and daughters still dominate the English medium nonsense-making engine that represents Bangladesh in the international media. Thankfully, more and more are seeing through the facade.

Before this tribunal, Kamaruzzaman was not implicated war crimes, he wasn't event a primary or secondary object of hatred to campaigners on the issue. In the image below we see a younger Kamaruzzaman speaking on a panel about Rethinking Confrontational Politics with some prominent members of Bangladesh's 'vibrant' civil society in 2000. From left to right we have Kamaruzzaman the Younger, NGO-lady Khushi Kabir (whose husband tried to run a local Amnesty franchise but was allegedly too corrupt), the Daily Star editor Mahfuz Anam (whose daughter Tahmima Anam represents Bangladesh in the New York Times and Guardian) and economist Rahman Sobhan (whose son Zafar edits the Dhaka Tribune).  I would love to have a read of the proceedings if they were recorded.
'
Amateur caste system aside, Bangladesh's quite donor-dependent civil society has little connection to the country's grass roots and is blind to its own prejudices, which includes Islamophobia, a rarely explored prejudice in predominantly Muslim societies. This makes killing Kamaruzzaman and Hating Jamaat e Islami Bangladesh, linked objectives for them and those who (think) they represent.

We can expect further repression of Kamrazzaman's lawyers, family and well wishers, from the government and establishment media machine in the coming days.  Twitter tells me that there has been a joint forces raid on his home in Mirpur, Dhaka and two family members arrested.

Last November I wrote about Kamaruzzaman's unjust predicament, and the year before about his Strategy for Change for his party. It is a party that requires much transformation, and he is a reformer struggling and leading people to realist some of those reforms. It is my speculation that he is targeted because it is people like him who represent a positive future of Jamaat, responsive to social justice needs, not mindless conservatism.

Through killing him the Awami League does two things, it satiates the primordial blood lusts that it has nurtured in its followers for decades, and enflames and destabilizes the progressive tendency in Jamaat, and tries to make beasts of its adherents.

Earlier this month an independent and constructive report detailing the systematic injustices of the current war crimes tribunal was published by Geoffrey Robertson QC . Its independence has been  questioned by David Bergman, who has made a whole career, family and legacy covering the issue, apparently using evidence extracted under torture.

Robertson's report sets a new reference point for the internationalisation of justice in the issue. Most interesting for me is the inclusion of an argument for the posthumous trial of  General Tikka Khan, author of Operation Searchlight, the brutal army crackdown which kicked of the Bangladesh War. For reference, after the war General Tikka Khan was awarded the Governership of Punjab by late Benazir Bhutto.

I think transformative justice is very important for ongoing dignity and for civilisation to flourish. Till today, both Pakistan (Model Town, Lahore June 2014)) and Bangladesh (Motijheel, Dhaka May 2013) are ruled by brutal establishments that massacre their own citizens to hold onto power.  Understanding how they operate, self legitimate and spawn themselves is in the public interest.


I have always thought that the Bangladesh war crimes trials were an unjust idea, because there is no shared appetite, or capacity, to know what really happened, just self-aggrandizing delusional, hurt histories muddled with ideological axes. To remedy this, I wholeheartedly support William Gomes'  letter to Imran Khan for Truth and Reconciliation between all of the societies involved in the Bangladesh War.

To close, Muhammad Kamaruzzaman deserves a fair retrial at the very least and the Robertson Report outlines how this may be achieved. Murdering him via the judiciary further weakens the governments grip on history. That our so-called civil society stands for such persecution questions their claims to morality and civility

20.2.15

The College of the Oppressed

A young lady bleeds in Jatrabari,
Body punctured by the Chhatro League
Who came for her father
Then followed orders from their masters
To annihilate the progeny of political adversaries.

Lord console her parent's trembling hearts.

Shaheeda Iffatudoha Sadia,
May you be raised amongst the highest,
In His gracious sight,
In the hearts of green birds
An afterlife of delight. 

Be strong dear survivors,
These years of torment,
In the College of the Oppressed,
Could turn lesser humans to beasts.

I pray that you may contribute
To transformation - head and root,
Of this bedevilled nation
Of multiple and extreme exploitation. 

10.2.15

Truly Asia?

"Malaysia Truly Asia"
The entertainers sang with glee
Orang asli black face
Recruited into the fantasy.

Well I'm Asian too
And saw these moves
Poured over the ICT.
Those judges lied.
We saw Futuricide
And thousands cried
Into a soup of fear and tea.

Fantasia Truly Asia
Lord spare you the brutal scene
That degenerates my delta
Step away from the whitening cream.

Forget isis,
Oil prices,
This is the crisis,
Political Epistemic Encephalitis.

25.1.15

[New Word] PUD

Person Undergoing Decolonistation, for those moments and folks for whom the Uncle Tom identity is unwise to labour at this point in their journey.

Flatulent connotations also double welcomed.

20.1.15

Dictatorship in Bangladesh and the political economy of camouflage attacks

One's heart does tend to wander deshwards from time to time. We are several weeks into opposition protests to mark the one year anniversary of the phoney 2014 election.

It is inevitable that critical pillars of the regime will have to be either destroyed, bypassed or transformed in order for this face of the regime to change.  The security infrastructure and human rights make up artists are amongst these pillars.

The newly promoted Benazir Ahmed, who delivered the Awami League the Shapla Chottor massacre in 2013, now threatens protesters as the head of the notorious Rapid Action Battalion.  And the human rights make up artists are at it again. From Muntasir Mamun of the Nirmul Committee, now celebrating 23 years of hate, to David Bergman Enterprises. While the former is a blatant loon, calling for the physical elimination of the opposition, the latter renders a new forum of hypocrisy to make a common sense that makes no sense.

A group of people are throwing fire bombs at buses and killing members of the public. The regime would like us to believe the perpetrators to be their opposition and the reverse. In the absence of 'Bishwajit' levels of visual triangulation, Bergman, the Dhaka Resident finds the government's perspective more 'reasonable'.

This narrative has a familiar ring to it, we have seen it deployed and swallowed ridiculously over the years, usually with Sultana Kamal and Shahriar Kabir somewhere close by. The 2013's attacks on minorities were pinned on the government's bogeyman at the time, as if they had nothing better to do. Alternative data was actually collected to challenge this accusation at that time, but the facts were not acknowledged until recently in an Indian op ed.

The fake minority attack card was such an issue that between their huge marches Hefazot e Islami took the step of modifying their list of demands to include protection and dignity for minority religions and their adherents.

When the regime deployed it's British trained scorched earth tactics on Satkhira in late 2013, they took with them some useful human rights make up artists and hack journalists.  This year the tactics are bludgeoning  Rangpur and beyond. And the familiar, fire attackers killing the public' reports are at play again. They are a discursive aide to trigger intellectual anaesthesia and war on terror bountyhunting.

Several things bother me about this picture; that the regime has form for producing atrocities then blaming the victims, that voices evidencing such shenanigans are dismissed, and of course, the Rentu Memoirs.

The memoirs of the late Matiur Rahman Rentu speak volumes of the ability of Hasina and her advisor's set off wild and outrageous operations that grow more and more ridiculous with time. Both he and his wife were close aides to Hasinas beforehand turned on them. The memoirs were banned just before the last electoral rejection of the Awami League in 2001 and Rentu died exile.
From planning to assassinate her once ally Kamal Hossein to throwing away the lives of others for the sake of political street theatre, the book paints a detailed portrait of a psychopath and has been translated into English.

This regime knows which buttons to press in order to manipulate white and brown people. Those who seek to supersede these murderous Islamophobic bastards are advised to up their game.

References









12.1.15

French cultural hypocrisy: The Quenelle

A short feature with Hafsa Kara-Mustapha on Iraqi TV station about the quenelle, a French anti-establishment gesture that was subject to great white symbolic violence from the French thought police last year. It looks into the work and trajectory of French comic Dieudonn√©,  France's enduring Vichy complex and the impunity with its political-cultural untouchable elite operate. 

A similar hornet's assemblage, was kicked over by the Paris killings last week, prompting whiteous indignation from the same people who covered up, excused or denied that there was a massacre in Dhaka on May 5-6th 2013.

Decolonial English speakers are advised to make efforts to understand the cultural field, of resistance as well as white supremacy in France.


6.12.14

The Rights of Nature Tribunal in Peru




In Lima over the past two days, in parallel to the UN climate summit, an interesting collecting of thinking and being has held a Rights of Nature Tribunal. Below is a statement from Vandana Shiva earlier this year.


'Official' Political Islam has failed to defend the rights of creation ( Huquq al Makhluqat ) and should take a long hard look at the the complex climatic scenario.




4.12.14

Bergman, Contemptgate and into the categories of the Bangladesh war dead

Dhaka based British journalist David Bergman has been found 'guilty' of contempt by a Bangladeshi court for contesting the figure of three million dead during the 1971 Bangladesh war [JUDGEMENT TEXT]. The legal grounds are  Byzantine, I would argue that the 'lesson' he is being given is for humiliating Bangladesh's judiciary and its mindless reproduction of the Bengali National mythology.

The judges are unfit to have an elevated position over 160 million souls, and pretty much deserve a good ribbing after having played a vital role in blowing probably the only chance Bangladesh was going to get to investigate the war and hold people to account, with key figures still alive. If you think about it, the judges have handed the government's political nemesis, the Jamaat-e-Islami a long term moral victory with these kangaroo trials, which their bleadership are likely to piss away on something trivial, neoliberal or both.

The Awami League government is faltering in step these days, bitchin' about the random US diplomats meeting with their deposed opposition, and doing a damage limitation exercise after a cabinet member accidentally let out what he really thought about Bangladesh's Muslims and their economic 'usefulness'.  A few days back, establishment court photographer Shahidul Alam complained that some of his Drik gallery staff were beaten up by government party cadres, without irony.

White and capital powers are always looking for a more convincing looking set of clients. The sins of the Awami League are documented and will not be used against them, but to negotiate against the people's interest to extract greater rent

The government probably going to try and deport Bergman to ease their path to judicially murder another Islamist bogeyman, this time the progressive Kamarrazzaman, in time for Victory day (soon to be Vengeance Day). There is no such thing as press freedom in Bangladesh, unless you are serving the government's will, then you can press and oppress what you like.

This moment does prompt one to reflect however, on the unjust continuing detention of Mahmudur Rahman, and why the establishment in Bangladesh is so scared of talking about how many people lost their lives in and around the Bangladesh War.
   

Bergman speaking outside court in Dhaka this week. Beside him is is wife Sara Hossein,  
a high profile barrister and BLAST campaigner.  Because its very relevant to how things work, 
I must add that Bergman's father in law is Kamal Hossein, an eminent barrister and 
Bangladesh's first Foreign Minister and constitution writer.  

Arrest of Amar Desh editor/owner Mahmudur Rahman in April 2013.
This followed months of intimidation for publishing revelations of collusion at the Tribunals,
and standing up to the fascistic Shahbag movement. The final straw for the government was
 his publication's giving voice to huge public revulsion at reckless anti Islamic provocations.
My way of resisting this illegitimate, tyrannical and hopeless government is to deepen the critical numeracy for which Bergman is being persecuted, and discuss numbers and ecology of violence issues further and more deeply. I disagree with Bergman's politics,laugh at his admission of confessions extracted under torture in his 1994 Channel 4 film, and am disgusted at his denial that the 24 dead he saw after the Shapla Chottor Massacre on May 6th, constituted evidence that the government had committed a massacre. However seeing how Al Jazeera journalist Nicolas Haque's family was threatened by ultranationalist for covering the trials, there might well be subsurface reasons, not bastardesque ones for the later.


Friendly fire or collateral damage?
The court has apparently given Bergman the choice of a token fine, or an opportunity to gain source material in a Bangladeshi prison over a week. This episode is surreal because  Bergman's white privileged, but flawed efforts have done a lot to render the trials possible and palatable to the white liberal left, not to mention the neocons.

What nobody has been able to do however, is to arrange things so that we might truly know all perspectives and experiences of the war year, robustly. 'Civil society' has always been intolerant of other perspectives, and the trial has been incompetent, murderous, collusive and entrenching of this tyranny.  I was against trials in these current historiographical circumstances.

Bergman, who maintains the best English language archive on the proceedings, has responded to the verdict here and here, while English PEN have jumped to his defense quite eloquently.   The court had problems three of his posts.

  1. His 11 November 2011 blog where he visited the honourless terrain of the origins of the 3 million war dead. 
  2. His 26 January 2013 blog where he analysis the in absentia judgement on Abul Kalam Azad, a month or so after the revelations of the Skypegate collusion materials and shortly before the ultra nationalist Shahbag kicked off. 
  3. A second blog analysing the Azad judgement on 28th January 2013, where Bergman questions the wisdom of putting a lot of prejudicial and un(con)tested information into the introduction of the court judgement.
A few weeks ago, there was another nationalist bunfight following a young deshi Al Jazeera English reporter's reference to Bergman's ruminations on the numbers of war dead. Establishment voices used the opportunity to reassert themselves and push alternatives ideas, and voices beyond the pale of acceptability.

Although he is not the only one to contest the figures, white people listen to him, so as the logic goes, he matters. It hurts the Awami ego when its source of power, the Bangladesh foundational mythology, is interfered with. This hurt is amplified by the fact that the ruminator is white, accepted as such by the west, and has married into an elite local family not unfamiliar with Bangladeshi and International law.

Whose deaths matter?
 There has been a sad lack of analysis of the dynamics of war during this tribunal. Last month, during the bun fight, Bergman cracked open Categories of Death, which are quoted below

- there are civilians murdered by the Pakistani/collaborators 
- there are civilians who died in Bangladesh from war related diseases, hunger etc
- there are civilians who died in India in the camps
- there are those Pakistani solders and Mukti Bahini who died in the course of battle
- there are those Pakistani solders and Mukti Bahini who were were killed after being captured.
- there are Biharis who were killed by the Mukti Bahini

 I would add the following

-Biharis and Urdu speakers killed by Bengalis in the run up to the Pakistan Army crackdown
-Biharis and Urdu Speakers killed after the official end of the war
-Civilians and fighters killed by Indian armed forces.

Numbers, with dates, places and contexts tell us about the ecology, transfer and interactivity of violence. That is if we are interested in understanding ourselves.

It is a real pity, failure and indictment that the names and stories of death circumstances of everyone have not been collected. I have heard of one effort well underway doing so and wish that quiet man good luck. The urban middle classes flagellate themselves regularly over the deaths of urban middle class intellectuals, dedicating them a whole day, however the lives of sons and daughters of farmers are rarely accorded value.

An Elections Mubarak present from a well wisher. 

If late Pakistan is to be characterised by state crime, prejudice and economic deprivation, then we can see through the straight light from 25 March 1971 and 6 May 2013 that the conditions of Pakistan never ended. 

Bhashani was correct nothing structural has changed, if anything colonial continuities have grown more intimate.

And now that Bangladesh is established fact, not Biafran, and that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed is General Yahya Khan, and that former UN Peacekeeper and  Dhaka Metropolitan Police Commissioner Benazir Ahmed is General Tikka Khan, maybe a few more might have an open ear to the cultural choreography and emotional blackmail surrounding the Bangladesh War - not to mention the underlying accumulation by dispossession. 


Why are numbers important?

What difference does a number make? is the line of argument used to persuade people away from asking too many questions, by people with a stake in continuing the ignoracracy. They are in their second generation.

These are the same people who insist that numbers do matter and that they are very low, if not zero for the Shapla Chottor massacre and related incidents last year. They demand that oppressed victims of crimes deliver the government that killed them lists of the dead immediately.

It matters because it gives us an idea of the lengths social formations will go to to achieve their goals and undermine those who challenge them, it also complicates the monoculturalised impacts of the singular Bangladesh narrative and trains us morally to even try and understand other people. Critically it matters because hegemonic power manipulates good people and kills with it. 

West Bengali political scientist Sarmila Bose walked through the heavily mined ground of Bangladesh war deaths a few years ago, with an empirically rooted study that examined a handful of incidents from different angles and closed of with a numerical analysis of estimates that caused some upset at the time. Her talk at the Brick Lane Circle was called How can we apply critical thinking to understand 1971? and viewable online here.

It is hard to know of her work's content in Bangladesh, where her book is perceived like a radioactive substance. One history professor was harrassed and nearly lost his job for including it on his student's reading list. however for all the narcassistic critiques on the pages of EPW, Bose does not provide us the most startling knowledge on the subject. 

These inconvenient reports emerge from Abdul Mu'min Chowdhury's bilingually sourced 1996 publication 'Behind the Myth of 3 Million', which can be read online . It seems studiously excluded from the Bangladesh canons of Bergman, Shahriar Kabir, David Lewis, Meghna Guhathakurta and Willem van Schendel, Gary Bass and Srinath Raghavan, though Sarmila Bose briefly picks up on it.

Chowdhury is not endeared to Mujib family's Bengali Nationalist project, most people with pro Islamic intellectual convictions see it as an essentially Islamophobic ideology.  Like Bose doesn't feel the need to massage egos and pride for repeat custom.  He has written at length on the long range histories, or Brahminism and Buddhism and their impacts on the Bengal Muslims. His focus on the Myth of 3 Million here may read to some as disparaging to those with genuine family suffering. However, when taken in the context of the human, economic , intellectual and civilisational costs of accepting such a big self regenerating and maddening lie that it critiques, the sharpness makes more sense.

The excerpts below shed light on Mujib's egotistical attitude to emerging quantitative evidence [p29-30], and through the words of a staunch pro Awami League writer and witness, the Provisional Government in Exile's responsibility for a great number of refugee deaths [p56-57] 


4.2. The Inquiry Committee Report:
The Inquiry Committee seemed to have also failed Mujib in giving him
the kind of truth he was after. The Government of Bangladesh never
said a word about officially receiving the report, which was, as per as
the original Gazette notification, due on or before 30 April 1972 or
what happened to the Inquiry Committee's work.

On 6 June 1972, William Drummond reported:
"Since the third week of March, when the Inspector General's
office in the Bangladesh Home Ministry began its field
investigations, there have been about 2,000 complaints from
citizens about deaths at the hands of the Pakistan Army have
been received."
[3]
Later, sources in Bangladesh reported that the draft report showed an
overall casualty figure of 56,743. When a copy of this draft report was
shown to the Prime Minister,
"he lost his temper and threw it on the floor, saying in angry voice
'I have declared three million dead, and your report could not come
up with three score thousand! What report you have prepared?
Keep your report to yourself. What I have said once, shall prevail."

[4]


7.2. The Categories of People ‘Killed’
...Irony is that they were made victims by
their fellow 'Bengalis'. Abdul Gaffar Choudhury, the columnist,
disdainfully wrote:
“Now we are saying three million Bengalis have been martyred.
Without even having a survey we are claiming that three million
Bengalis have died. But those of us who went to Mujibnagar
and took up administrative responsibilities were responsible for
the death of four hundred thousand children, one million women
and two hundred thousand old people, out of the ten million
Bengalis who took refuge in India. The records of their death
exist in the newspapers of Calcutta and in the refugee related
documents of the Government of West Bengal....A section of
our public representatives have taken away food from the mouth
of these women and children and have sold the goods that came
from foreign countries as aid to the refugees ....Millions and
millions taka's worth of foreign aid came and most of them
disappeared in the cavern of corruption.”
[3]
It was not Abdul Gaffar Choudhury alone, M.R. Akhtar Mukul, another
leading liberationist, has also provided us with a vivid eye witness
account of this heartless killing of hapless women and children at the
hands of the Awami League politicians. [4]



Newspaper representation from June. What on earth does Abdul Ghaffar Choudhury mean?