Ahsanullah Master Gunned Down
absence of the rule of law and the government's indifference
have made Bangladesh a failed state. The latest victim of
the escalating violence was Ahsanullah Master, an Awami League
MP from the Jazipur-2 constituency. He was killed, along with
a schoolboy, by unknown assailants in Tongi. The 54-year-old
politician, whose illustrious career started at the age of
12, was about to leave Noagaon MA Majid Mian High School field,
where he was attending the council of ward-10 of Awami Shechchhasebak
was elected union parishad chairman in 1983, upazila parishad
chairman in 1990; and an MP in 1996 and 2001 as an Awami League
candidate. Police are yet to find any motive or the perpetrators
behind the gruesome killing that has shocked the country.
B Chowdhury Launches Bikalpa Dhara
president AQM Badruddoza Chowdhury has launched his political
party, Bikalpa Dhara Bangladesh, at a press conference at
Dhaka Reporters' Unity on May 8. "We have come up with
an alternative with the launch of the Bikalpa Dhara as corruption
has emerged as an endemic when most government decisions are
taken for either personal, family or party benefits,"
Chowdhury told an army of journalists. He, however, regretted
that even the National Press Club authorities did not give
them any room for holding the press conference, a newspaper
Chowdhury was nominated as the founding president and major
(retired) Abdul Mannan was declared as the secretary general
of the new party.
Wine in an Overused Bottle
there has been much speculation about a downsizing of the
cabinet, the recent reshuffle has not pleased even the young
lawmakers of the BNP. On May 6, the government relocated the
portfolios of six ministers and two state ministers and merged
four ministries into two ahead of the Bangladesh Development
Forum (BDF) meeting that begun on May 8.
Though it was meant to infuse dynamism into the administration,
experts are calling this a mere cosmetic change. Last year,
on May 22, the 60-member jumbo cabinet was reduced to 53 along
with distribution of portfolios of 11 ministries. By that
standard, the recent change was aimed at bringing down the
number of ministries rather than downsizing the cabinet, which
in turn is no real change at all.
Powerless to Halt Iraq Net Images
year's US-led war in Iraq has presented a showcase for the
Pentagon's superior military technology -- but as the occupation
drags on, gadgetry is increasingly showing another side of
the American armed forces.
the shocking images depicting the abuse of Iraqi prisoners
by US troops began to surface, it became clear that many of
them were amateur pictures, apparently taken by soldiers using
their own digital cameras.
internet also played a role in the distribution of the photographs,
highlighting the ease with which troops serving in Iraq can
now send pictures to friends and relatives back home.
of these are quite innocuous, the equivalent of the snaps
taken by tourists abroad. But whatever the content, the images
are not subject to any kind of military censorship and are
transmitted freely back to the US.
his testimony to congressional committees, Defence Secretary
Donald Rumsfeld indicated that the flood of pictures was now
beyond the US authorities' control.
are a lot more photographs and videos that exist," he
said. "If these are released to the public, obviously
it is going to make matters worse... I looked at them last
night and they are hard to believe."
Rumsfeld was indignant at the publication of such images:
"We're functioning with peacetime constraints, with legal
requirements, in a wartime situation in the Information Age,
where people are running around with digital cameras and taking
these unbelievable photographs and then passing them off,
against the law, to the media, to our surprise."
he admitted that he had not realised the seriousness of the
allegations until the pictures were leaked to the media. The
internet has been acting as an unofficial clearing-house for
all sorts of unapproved images of conflict in Iraq.
of the coffins of dead American soldiers repatriated from
Iraq were published on the web, but only after activists successfully
filed a Freedom of Information Act request to overcome the
Pentagon's objections. And at least one website is showing
a video report containing footage apparently shot from the
cockpit of a US military helicopter and showing the killing
of a wounded insurgent in cold blood. The film is said to
have come from a European working as a sub-contractor for
the US Army who left Iraq last month. Despite Rumsfeld's concerns,
the American military does not have any centrally determined
policy on the use of digital cameras by soldiers. That is
left to commanding officers in the field.
spokesman for US Central Command in Iraq, Lt Cdr Nick Balice,
told BBC News Online: "Certainly the use of digital cameras
and the internet provides methods of communicating that did
not exist before.
far as I know, there is not a policy that covers theatre-wide
with regards to digital cameras. It depends on what area they
are in - there may be restrictions, such as along flight lines
or within secure areas."
BBC Defence Correspondent Jonathan Marcus points out that
frontline soldiers in combat zones are normally too busy to
take pictures and that this is more of an issue for what are
called "rear area support troops". "The US
military have reasonably sophisticated camps for their troops,"
he says. "In those places, they're often linked to the
internet and it's a legitimate means of allowing soldiers
to communicate with their families. It's hard to control the
content of what they're saying." Jonathan Marcus argues
that social change, just as much as technological change,
is responsible for the climate that allows these images of
abuse to circulate. "In World War I, the only means of
communication was by letter, and military mail was heavily
censored. Even when soldiers returned home, social pressures
probably led them not to talk at length about the issues they
it's different - you have a professional army and people have
a different attitude to authority." In a less deferential
society, today's soldiers would be unlikely to tolerate the
level of censorship that was considered routine in previous
conflicts. But of course, the real issue is not the depiction
of the abuse, but the fact that it should have happened at
all. "Certainly one of the issues that might be looked
into is the use of digital cameras and whether or not any
policy might be desirable," says US Central Command's
Lt Cdr Balice.
if there's some kind of thought that we might introduce a
policy because we fear that wrongdoing might be exposed, then
that is incorrect. In any case, the photographing of detainees
is prohibited." Ultimately, then, the only way that the
coalition can prevent the spread of images depicting the abuse
of Iraqi prisoners is to prevent the abuse itself.
may change, but the morality of war will always pose the same
-BBC News Online