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     Volume 6 Issue 19 | May 18, 2007 |

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   View from the    Bottom
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It's Time to Take Action
I appreciated the cover story 'No Rights for the Modern-day Slave' (May 4, 2007). I have great expectations from Star Weekend Magazine and so far I have never been disappointed. This magazine has highlighted such discrimination innumerable times, but has anything been done yet? In every issue, we get to read at least two articles on slave discrimination but are they worth anything?
As far as I know nothing noteworthy has happened and in my opinion nothing is going to happen by just writing articles in such an ignorant country like Bangladesh. This sort of discrimination is common practice in this country. You can't change this tradition with a few words on pages that will go unnoticed by many of the so-called 'high class people'. It's time to take a bold step. I think SWM is perfectly capable of putting a stop to this. This is a request to my favourite magazine to do something, anything, to put a stop to such slavery.
Rubaiya Tasnim
South Khulshi, Chittagong


It is really regrettable that despite frequent attempts, discussions and write-ups by myriad NGOs, social organisations and the mass media, the government has not come forward with any laws or regulatory bodies that may prevent atrocity and exploitation of the home workers. 'The Invisible Millions', who are always ready to serve us in return for a meagre salary and unforgivable abuse, are always treated like abandoned animals.
I would like to urge everyone to think about it from their point of view. After returning home from a 9 to 6 job, we rest while these people slog away from dawn to midnight without any rest. They do not ask for any luxuries, but it should not be too difficult to at least treat them well. This is, perhaps the right time for the government to take initiatives to stop this violence. My heartfelt gratitude to SWM for keeping up the good work and to Hana Shams Ahmed for her brilliant write-up.
Mahmuda Akter
By email

Election 2008
The Chief Adviser of the Caretaker Government Dr. Fakhruddin Ahmed declared recently that the next national parliament election would be held at the end of 2008. But till now nothing has been done about the voter list. The government has stated that the election would be held only after the voter ID card with photograph was complete. To prepare the new voter ID card is a long process and will cost approximately 400 crore taka. The ICT department of BUET has invented an Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) which is going to cost much less than that. I think it's advisable for the government to use the EVM and arrange the election as early as possible.
A.K.M. Fuad Adnan Rahman (Apu)
Muktagacha, Mymensingh

On Separation of State and Religion
In Esraj Fairuz's letter (May 4, 2007), he opposes the separation of religion and state saying that “what happened in 1947 was not a result of religion, but because of its misinterpretation.” But this religious 'misinterpretation' could be blamed for all the worlds' religious persecutions from the crusades down to Iraq's current day Shia versus Sunni hostilities. It is because religion has this historical tendency of being 'misinterpreted' that it should be banned from state politics.
Ali Siddiquee
Forest Hills, New York

Life without Luck
In Bangladesh we believe 'Biharis' are those people who migrated from India during 1947 to the then East Pakistan. The 'Civil Society' refuses to use the name 'Bihari' and prefer to use the word 'The Camp-Dwelling Urdu Speaking Community (CDUSC)'. But the positive effect of renaming is scanty or nil. The state authority does not pay enough attention to them and the NGOs neglect them completely. The CDUSC has to face various obstacles in every step of life where the access to right as citizens is concerned.
A recent research work, carried out by the Dhaka University based research organisation Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit (RMMRU), in various camps of Urdu-speaking people in Dhaka and Saidpur, revealed that a growing number of the younger generation of CDUSC, in particular, now consider themselves to be Bangladeshis and their eligibility under the laws of citizenship of Bangladesh has been cemented by pronouncement on the part of the Supreme Court that have officially afforded citizenship to a minority. However, in practice very little has changed for the majority of the community and 'effective' citizenship rights have never been achieved. There is no confusion that the people of this community are Bangladeshis and it is high time we should sensitise policy makers and civil society about the issue and bring a shift to our own pattern of thinking and do our own part regarding this.
Sayeda Akther Dipty
Member of Young Researchers' Forum
Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit (RMMRU)

Questioning US Gun Laws
Hana Shams Ahmed's Opinion on the April 27th issue of the Star Weekend Magazine moved me. As an American I have always been concerned about the carnage through gun abuse on campus.
By the way I have yet to experience absolute freedom in America because my constitution guarantee of checks and balance prevents absolute power and freedom.
Lets not be too expedient and give up laying the responsibility where it really belongs--on the perpetrators (the criminals, the shooters, the terrorists) and lets not take Cho (the mass murderer who killed innocencts in Virginia Tech) as the so-called poster boy to undermine the Bill of Rights.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports 17,013 wanton deaths and 500,000 injuries in 2003 by drunk drivers misusing alcohol. I hope Hana is not advocating that we re-examine the right of people to consume alcohol under the guise of absolute freedom or live with this legacy of death and destruction.
I would venture to say in disagreement with Hana Ahmed that United States should live with the legacy of its constitution and serve as a beacon for Freedom from oppression anywhere in the world.
Maurice Hussain
By email

Big Injustice
In a village of Kali Upazilla in Joypurhat, Shefali Mali, a housewife was punished for 'losing' her character. She was allegedly brought under the village Salish where it was decided that she would have to face the punishment according to the religious norms in the presence of representatives of major political parties. Her head was shaved off and then she was tied to a cow and milk and water was poured on her in front of a crowd of villagers. Surely this heinous punishment reminds us of middle-aged barbarism.
There are so many similar incidents which are arbitrated by the so called determiners of Village Salish. This does not reflect on our religion well which teaches us to give human dignity the highest priority. Shefali Mali has been dishonoured seriously and what was done to her was complete injustice in the name of justice. It is a serious violation of human rights.
I think proper empowerment of local government and fair and neutral representations of it are important steps to mitigate these occurrences. Also plenty of awareness enhancing programmes needs to be out there.

Submission Guideline:
Letters to the Editor, Dhaka Diary and Write to Mita, with the writer's name and address, should be within 200 words. All articles should be within 1,200 words. A cover letter is not necessary, but every write-up should include the writer's name, phone number and email address (if any). While SWM welcomes unsolicited articles and photographs, it cannot accept the responsibility of their loss or damage. SWM does not return unsolicited articles and photos. Response time for unsolicited write-ups range from three weeks to two months. All articles submitted are subject to editing for reasons of space and clarity.
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