Vol. 5 Num 251 Tue. February 08, 2005  

Drishtipat speaks out
This note of clarification is being issued by Drishtipat in response to reports carried by some media outlets that quote the Honourable Law Minister, Barrister Moudud Ahmed, citing circulars that were sent out from a "New York based expatriate organization" as examples of propaganda against Bangladesh. As the issuing body of that circular, or 'action alert', we are rather astonished at the erroneous interpretation of our appeal to the Government of Bangladesh, and would like to clear any confusion surrounding it.

We sent out the circular to enable Bangladeshis -- both expatriates and those at home -- to voice their concerns to their local Bangladesh Embassies. Communicating with representatives of one's own government is a standard democratic practice, and it is a constructive form of protest that we advocate, as opposed to hartals. This cannot be construed as a conspiracy because we are appealing openly as one Bangladeshi to another.

The content of the 'action alert' was formulated in response to overwhelming reaction, both at home and abroad, to the assassination of Shah AMS Kibria. This call for voicing concerns about an attack on a political leader of a major opposition party does not speculate on the identity of the attackers. Demanding that they be identified and brought to justice is our right as citizens and is not propaganda.

There is nothing 'mysterious' or 'alarming' as far as the phrase 'action alert' and the date are concerned either. An 'action alert' is a standard online label used for Internet petitions asking individuals to take a specific action on a current issue of concern.

It is not a term coined by Drishtipat.

Dates are put on action alerts to prevent them from becoming chain mails that keep circulating on the internet beyond a reasonable timeframe. The specific date of 20th of February was chosen because it is three weeks from the day the 'action alert' was issued, enough time for the circular to make its rounds and serve its purpose.

Drishtipat has long been involved in campaigning for basic human rights in Bangladesh, in accordance with the principles of Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Constitution of the People's Republic of Bangladesh. We are committed to being non-partisan and are not affiliated with any political party. We campaign for human rights no matter who is in power in Bangladesh. We raised money for medical treatment and campaigned for justice for Tipu Sultan, a brave journalist who was grievously injured for his brave reporting during the former Awami League administration. We have worked on a wide range of other projects, from highlighting abuse faced by child domestic workers and the fate of abused workers in Saudi Arabia, to raising money for women war veterans and victims of 1971. Our members have a strong commitment towards Bangladesh, and are active not because of any political affiliation but from a concern that human rights and good governance need to be addressed to make our homeland prosper.

These allegations against Drishtipat are inappropriate and an unfortunate diversion from the task at hand. We renew our appeal to the Government of Bangladesh to investigate all the bombings to date and bring those responsible to justice.

You are encouraged to contact us if further clarification is required at the following address:

PO Box 1581, New York, NY 10156 USA