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The 3rd world view

Views and links from a human being who hails from the so called third world

Last Build Date: Fri, 30 Mar 2018 13:07:54 +0000


Dengue Fever

Wed, 17 May 2017 08:18:00 +0000

No, I am not talking about the mosquito-borne tropical disease that appears in many South and South-east Asian countries. Dengue Fever is an American band from Los Angeles who performs psychedelic rock fusioned with Cambodian pop and lyrics in Khmer language. I first heard the enchanting lead singer Chhom Nimol (the first name is Nimol) in Radio Paradise, the High Definition radio channel. allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="270" src="" width="480">Then I looked up at Google to find out more about the band. Ethan Holtzman (plays Farfisa organ) was inspired by Khmer music during a trip to Cambodia and decided to form a band in LA with his guitarist brother Zac Holtzman. They discovered Chhom Nimol, who was already a well-known karaoke singer in Cambodia, in the Little Phnom Penh area of Long Beach. Their debut album titled Dengue Fever was released in 2003 and they produced a number of albums containing remixes of 1960s Cambodian rock tunes by artists such as Sinn Sisamouth, Pan Ron, and Ros Serey Sothea.The most interesting thing is that some of the songs the band perform contain originals, first written in English by the Holtzmans before being translated into Khmer. This makes the band's main fanbase growing in Cambodia. Dengue Fever toured Cambodia several times and their songs were much cherished there. The documentary film Sleepwalking Through the Mekong documents the band's tours in Phnom Penh and other major Cambodian cities. The band also helps a number of charitable organizations to support causes in Cambodia. Dengue Fever were winners of the 8th annual Independent Music Awards for best World Fusion Album.Watch their live performance in the KEXP Public radio studio (Seattle) recorded February 10, 2015. allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="270" src="" width="480">There are only a few Bangla bands with foreign crew members - like Lokkhi Tera and Seth Panduranga Blumberg performing with Anusheh Anadil in Jatra. But I doubt whether there is any band created by foreigners that use lead singers in Bangla and focus on Bangla traditional songs. [...]

Sayings of Kabir

Tue, 15 Sep 2015 01:41:00 +0000

Image Credit Wikimedia
Saint Kabir was a 15th-century mystic poet from India, whose writings influenced Hinduism's Bhakti movement and his verses are found in Sikhism's scripture Adi Granth. Here are some of his inspirational quotes:
  1. During suffering, everyone prays to the Lord, but when experiencing happiness, we forget to thank God. If one were to pray to God even during the good times, can the bad times ever trouble one? 
  2. Instead of doing tomorrow's work on the morrow, do it today, and do today's work, right now! If the moment is lost, can you get it back any way?" 
  3. Slowly, slowly, O mind, everything happens at its own pace, The gardener may water with a hundred pots of water, but the fruit only arrives in its season.
  4. Give me only so much, O God, that it suffices to fulfil the needs of my clan, I should not suffer cravings, nor should my visitor go unfed.
  5. Reading books hasn't made anyone wiser. But the One who has experienced even the first flush of love, knows more about Life than a learned man.
  6. Inexpressible is the story of love, no one can fully describe what it feels like, Similar to the dumb guy who has eaten sweet sugar, he can only smile to show his pleasure.
  7. When you came into this world, everyone laughed while you cried. Don't do such work during this Life, that they laugh when you are gone.
Perhaps you could use some inspiration from above.


Bangladesh Police Chief Tells Bloggers, "Don't Cross the Line"

Thu, 13 Aug 2015 10:32:00 +0000

Activists march in a torch-light vigil demanding immediate arrest and exemplary punishment to the killers of secular blogger Niloy Neel. Dhaka, Bangladesh. Image by Khurshed Alam Rinku. Copyright Demotix (8/8/2015)It has been five days since the assassination of secular blogger Niloy Neel but Bangladesh police authorities have made no significant progress investigating his murder. Neel was hacked to death by a band of five men who broke into his apartment in Dhaka, the nation's capital, on August 7, 2015.Left shell-shocked by Niloy's killing -- which was the fourth assassination of a secular blogger in Bangladesh in 2015 -- many bloggers have stopping writing and some have gone into hiding. Some of the country's most active bloggers now fear they may face jail or will die at the hands of the assailants. Others have left the country.The names of these bloggers and others under threat appeared on a list of 84 people submitted to a special government committee in 2013 by a group of conservative Muslim clerics who accused the bloggers of “atheism” and writing against Islam. Since then, eleven individuals on the list have been murdered.Following Niloy's death, threats have extended beyond blogging communities. The proprietor of a publishing house that published multiple books by blogger Avijit Roy, who was slain in public in February of 2015, is now in danger as fundamentalist forces have identified him as a promoter of atheist ideology.The day after Niloy's murder, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina called Niloy's killers a "blot on Islam." She said in a meeting on August 8:Islam is a religion of peace. Those who want to taint it cannot have true faith in it. How dare they call themselves Muslims? [..]And now they are murdering bloggers for writing against the religion. Who benefits from this gory mayhem? Which religion they claim to have been protecting?She continued:We cannot let this happen in Bangladesh. The people of this country are peace-loving.In response, blogger Haseeb wrote in Sachalayatan wrote that for him, the Prime Minister's words rang hollow:সরকার ব্লগারদের মতপ্রকাশের স্বাধীনতা বিষয়ে যতোটা না চিন্তিত, তার থেকে চিন্তিত তাদের ধার্মিক ইমেজ যাতে ক্ষতিগ্রস্থ না হয় সেটা নিয়ে। সরকার ধর্মীয় রাজনীতি তো বটেই, সেই ধর্মীয় রাজনীতি যারা করে তাদের আদর আপ‍্যায়নেই আন্তরিকতা দেখিয়েছে। আর ব্লগারদের মুখ বন্ধ করতে চালু করেছে ৫৭ধারার মতো কালো আইন।The government is more concerned about keeping their pro-religion image, rather than worrying about freedom of expression. The government is endorsing religious politics and are soft on those who use religion for politics. And the bloggers are slapped with Section 57 [of the IT Act]...Section 57 of Bangladesh's IT Act criminalizes “publishing fake, obscene or defaming information in electronic form.”Haseeb also cited a recent press release from the Awami Ulema League, a conservative Islamic group claiming to support Bangladesh's ruling coalition:নাস্তিক হত্যাকারীদের বিরুদ্ধে ব্যবস্থা নেয়া মানে এই নয় যে, মিডিয়া ইসলাম বিদ্বেষী নাস্তিকদের হাইলাইট করবে। সুতরাং এসব নাস্তিক ব্লগার কর্তৃক বিভিন্ন ব্লগ, ওয়েবসাইট, স্[...]

Maldivians March to Mark Anniversary of Local Journalist's Disappearance

Sun, 09 Aug 2015 10:40:00 +0000

Image via the Facebook page of Secular Democratic Maldives MovementIt has been 365 days since Maldivian journalist, blogger and human rights advocate Ahmed Rizwan Abdulla went missing. The 28-year-old, who works for online news site Minivan News, is an advocate of democracy and free speech and a prolific social media user.There has been no real progress in the investigation and the people behind his abduction have not been identified. The Maldivian Police and the government have remained silent.Rilwan's friend Yameen Rasheed describes what has happened in the space of a year:To demand action and accountability from the state, Rilwan’s well-wishers started the #FindMoyameehaa campaign – the first of its kind in the Maldives. The campaign has organized rallies, petitions, public events, awareness programs on the streets, and also engages the public on social media. The #FindMoyameehaa campaign has drawn widespread attention and international press coverage, and also generated responses – including statements from IFJ, SAMSN, Amnesty International, Reporters Without Borders, the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives, and various national and international bodies.On July 8, 2015 Rilwan’s family called for an independent public inquiry into the disappearance and the lapses in the investigation.On August 6, Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) urged Maldives to launch an independent investigation into Rilwan's case.No new leads, no updates, no news, and no effort to investigate. Doesn't he matter? #FindMoyameehaa #SuvaaluMarch— Hanaan Didi (@hanaandidi) August 8, 2015It can't be more obvious that the state is complicit in the abduction of Rilwan. Which is why they will never help #findmoyameehaa— Nora Nazeer (@NoraNazeer) August 8, 2015Yameen Rasheed @yaamyn talks about disappearance of journalist & #findmoyameehaa campaign in @ifjasiapacific video— Ujjwal Acharya (@UjjwalAcharya) August 7, 2015To mark one year of his disappearance, the family has requested a public rally on August 8 to remind the state of its duty to protect journalists and enforce the law. The opposition Maldives Democratic party has endorsed the rally.Maldivians are using hashtags #suvaalumarch and #findmoyameeha to spread word about the rally:RT EasaDhari: RT MDPYouth: #Live #SuvaaluMarch #FindMoyameeha #HappenningNow— Aneh Velidhoo MDP ® (@AnehVelidhoo) August 8, 2015Rilwan's colleague @ZaheenaR says he was abducted to kill the hope for a better Maldives. #FindMoyameehaa— Mickail Naseem (@MickailNaseem) August 8, 2015#SuvaaluMarch was just concluded and @PoliceMv is back to inflict more pain on a suffering family and friends.— Mariyath Mohamed (@EhJu) August 8, 2015Maldives' police tried to stop a peaceful silent #suvaalumarch led by missing journo's family. Friends & family pepper sprayed & manhandled.— MushfiqueMohamed (@mushfique_) August 8, 2015Rogue police disrupting #FindMoyameehaa silent #SuvaaluMarch— Mickail Naseem (@MickailNaseem) August 8, 2015Intimidating and attacking Rilwan's family members during the otherwise-peaceful #SuvaaluMarch? @PoliceMv don't know the meaning of shame...— Ahmed Hazyl Hilmy (@hazylium) August 8, 2015Usually don't lose my cool, but how @PoliceMv treated Rilwan's family today at #suvaalumarch was blood boiling.— Naif Naeem (@nAAYf) August 8, 2015@PoliceMv said #SuvaaluMarch was obstructing traffic. What they have become is an obstruction to justice. #FindMoyameehaa— Shauna Aminath (@anuahsa) August 8, 2015Police manhandled members @moyameehaa 's family&friends to prevent them from continuing #suvaalumarch . Broke my shades with all the pushing— Aeko Fathih (@aekofathih) August 8, 2015And people still have hope:Still Hope & Pray that Rilwan is Alive. #FindMoyamee[...]

"No Country For Secular Bloggers": Niloy Neel is the Fourth Bangladeshi Blogger To Be Killed in 2015

Fri, 07 Aug 2015 10:43:00 +0000

Murdered blogger Niloy Neel, Image by Reza Sumon. Copyright DemotixOn Friday, August 7 at approximately 1:45pm, five assailants armed with machetes entered the flat of blogger Niloy Neel and killed him brutally. When his wife and sister attempted to save him, the attackers threatened to kill them too.Niloy is the fourth blogger to be killed in Bangladesh over the last six months. All those killed were secular and critical of conservative religious political movements in the country. Many more have been attacked, subjected to death threats and ostracized by religious hardliners for their writing.Blood on floor of blogger Niloy Chakrabarti's home after he was hacked to death in Dhaka. (Credit: Getty Images)— Sara Yasin (@missyasin) August 7, 2015I am #Niloy_Nil. Stop killing in the name of religion.— Tapas K. Baul (@Tkbaul) August 7, 2015The blogger had written under the pen name "Niloy Neel" in Istishon (meaning "station" in Bengali) as a member of a Bengali group blog that covered political and social issues. Expat blogger Arif Rahman noted that he completed a Master's degree in philosophy from Dhaka University in 2013.Neel was vocal about secularism and wrote for the platform "Ganajagaran Mancha," demanding capital punishment for 1971 war criminals. Dr. Imran H Sarkar, a leader of Ganajagaran Mancha, writes on Facebook:‪#‎NiloyNeel‬ was writing for women rights, indigenous peoples, even for all other minorities. He was critic of religious extremism that provoked bombing in mosque and killing thousands of civilians.He was one of the voice for Social Justice, secularism, human rights and loud for ‪#‎AvijitRoy‬ justice. He frequently got threatened by islamic militants those are trying to destroy this country by terrorism.The names of these bloggers and others under threat appeared on a list of 84 people submitted to a special government committee by a group of conservative Muslim clerics who accused the bloggers of “atheism” and writing against Islam. Government officials responded by blocking critical websites and making arrests, of bloggers and leaders from the religious right, at the height of #shahbag protests in 2013. Some media outlets, including prominent right-wing blogs, have even propagated the ideathat all bloggers are atheists who “hurt the feelings” of religious Bangladeshis. Eleven of the bloggers on the list (including Niloy) have been killed over the past two years.Niloy also was active in Facebook, where he shared his opinions on political issues, but also described the threats he was facing. On May 15, 2015, he wrote:আমাকে দুজন মানুষ অনুসরণ করেছে গত পরশু। ‘অনন্ত বিজয় দাশ হত্যার’ প্রতিবাদে আয়োজিত প্রতিবাদ সমাবেশে যোগদান শেষে আমার গন্তব্যে আসার পথে এই অনুসরণটা করা হয়।I was followed by two people two days ago while returning home after attending a protest programme demanding justice for the murder of blogger Ananta Bijoy Das.He went to the police station to file a complaint (general diary), and wrote his experience:First, a police officer told me personally that the police do not usually register such GDs since the officer who registers it will be accountable for ensuring security of the justice seeker. And if the person faces any problem, that police officer may even lose job for negligence in duties.Niloy soon after removed all his photos from his Facebook profile as a precaution.Golam Mortaza questions the government for inaction:ব্লগার বা অনলাইন লেখকদের 'নাস্তিক ' হিসেবে চিহ্নিত করে হত্যা করা হচ্ছ[...]

Why Britain Owes India for 200 Years of Brutal Colonialism

Sat, 25 Jul 2015 10:51:00 +0000

Shashi Tharoor speaking at Jaipur literary festival. Image by Jim Ankan Deka. Copyright Demotix (23/1/2015)Indian Opposition MP, former minister and former Under-Secretary General of the United Nations Shashi Tharoor recently participated in a debate at the Oxford Union society arguing that Britain owes reparations to India for misdeeds committed during two centuries of colonial rule.The 15 minute clip containing Tharoor's powerful and lucid argument for reparations went viral on social media soon after the Oxford Union debating society posted it online on July 14.The British East India Company ruled or dominated on the Indian subcontinent from 1757 to 1858. The British directly ruled over the Indian subcontinent between 1858 and 1947 when the region was commonly known as British India or the Indian Empire. are some excerpts from Tharoor's speech:India's share of the world economy when Britain arrived on its shores was 23 per cent, by the time the British left it was down to below 4 per cent. Why? Simply because India had been governed for the benefit of Britain.Britain's rise for 200 years was financed by its depredations in India. In fact Britain's industrial revolution was actually premised upon the de-industrialisation of India. [..]By the end of 19th century, the fact is that India was already Britain's biggest cash cow, the world's biggest purchaser of British goods and exports and the source for highly paid employment for British civil servants. We literally paid for our own oppression. [..]What is required it seems to me is accepting the principle that reparations are owed. Personally, I will be quite happy if it was one pound a year for the next 200 years after the last 200 years of Britain in India.Tharoor's speech was widely appreciated in India and even Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in Parliament:Tharoor’s speech reflected the feelings of patriotic Indians on the issue and showed what an impression one can leave with effective arguments by saying the right things at the right place.Miss Malini wrote in her blog:Irrespective of our political leanings and beliefs, we can agree to the fact that Dr. Shashi Tharoor is one of the top debators of the country. That’s why it’s not surprising when the diplomat and former minister of state for external affairs took part in a debate at the Oxford Union.Shashi Tharoor himself said on Twitter:Somebody told me this is one speech of mine that my usual "Hindu nationalist" critics might agree with! True?— Shashi Tharoor (@ShashiTharoor) July 15, 2015Writer and film director Radha Bharadwaj writes on Twitter:@minhazmerchant outlines what British rule cost India. I'd add Indians' self-esteem; the damage in this dept. lingers— radha bharadwaj (@radhabharadwaj) July 24, 2015All differences aside, im blown over by this Shashi Tharoor speech. must watch.— Vande Mataram (@UnSubtleDesi) July 21, 2015What a brilliant brilliant speech by Shashi Tharoor. A must see by every Indian. Would be good for Britain to return our Kohinoor to us.— Priya Gupta (@priyaguptatimes) July 19, 2015 @ShashiTharoor That was a fantastic speech. Thank You fpr upholding India's pride. Thank You.— Dinesh (@DineshHegde) July 24, 2015Sandip Roy claimed in Firstpost that Tharoor's speech had united a polarised Indian society, adding:While the reparations he argues for are for the sins from centuries past, there is a bit that might have far more contemporary relevance for our politics today. At the end of the speech making a passionate case for even symbolic reparations Tharoor says “The abilty to acknowledge a wrong that has been done, to simply say sorry will go a far far longer way than some percentage of GDP.”Now if only some of the politicians furiously butting heads in parl[...]

Citizen Media Shows Why India Is Unlikely to Reach Its Millennium Goals Target for Maternal Mortality

Sun, 21 Jun 2015 10:57:00 +0000

In the hamlet of Indkatha, Jharkhand state in eastern India, women of the Ho tribe take lessons to reduce maternal mortality. Image by Freny Manecksha. Copyright Demotix (11/11/2008)According to the UN Millennium Development Goals, India should bring down its maternal mortality rate (MMR) to 109 per 100,000 live births by 2015. This is a tough ask, as from an MMR of 437 per 100,000 live births in 1990-91 India has only achieved a reduction to 190 by 2013-2014.Experts therefore believe that India is likely to miss its Millennium Development Goals target for MMR.Safe birthing depends on how informed pregnant mothers are and whether the delivery is carried out by trained personnel and in institutional health facilities.In many regions of India, a lack of health infrastructure to support institutional deliveries and pre- and post-natal care as well as a lack of awareness regarding existing schemes promoting institutional deliveries serve as major impediments to achieving the goal. Other factors such as early marriage of girls, poor nutrition among women and gender inequality increase maternal risk.A report drafted by CommonHealth and Jan Swasthya Abhiyan, a coalition for maternal-neonatal healthcare and safe abortion, says that the public health system has failed women belonging to the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and minority religious groups living in geographically remote areas, as well as migrants. The report shows that although the government runs several programmes, there is a great gap in accountability and governance and most of the programmes have been implemented poorly on the ground.Citizen journalists from Video Volunteers -- an international media and human rights NGO -- have highlighted maternal healthcare problems at grassroots level in a series of videos.Their stories reveal that while the government is encouraging women to deliver at institutions rather than at home, the public health system is crippled by shortages of health infrastructure, doctors, frontline health workers and medicine.Corruption plays its partIn 2014, 56,000 women died during childbirth in India. The Indian government’s schemes Janani Suraksha Yojana and Janani Shishu Suraksha Karyakram make provisions to reduce out-of-pocket expenditure for women living below the poverty line, providing free antenatal check ups, IFA tablets, medicines, nutrition in health institutions, provisions for blood transfusion, and transport to and from health centres. allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560">However, according to the above video, which comprises footage taken by the hidden camera of citizen journalist Mary Nisha from the Godda district of Jharkhand:The 24-year-old woman in labour was kept waiting for the doctor for six hours. The doctor on duty did not turn up and she delivered in the presence of a nurse. She was forced to pay INR 400 for her delivery and even to use the toilet. She received neither free medicine nor nutrition.Lack of functional institutionsThis video follows three women in Khatti village, Gariaband district, Chhattisgarh. One lost her baby six days after it was born due to a lack of medical assistance. Another had a stillborn baby resulting from an unassisted home birth while a third, who is nine months pregnant, has no access to healthcare. allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560">This video by Reena Ramteke from Khatti village in Garyaband District of the state of Chattisgarh shows that the state-run health facility in the locality is constantly shut.Laleshwari, 21, says no health worker has ever con[...]

Ananta Bijoy Das Becomes Third Free-Thinking Blogger Killed This Year in Bangladesh

Tue, 12 May 2015 11:07:00 +0000

Ananta Bijoy Das. Image courtesy his Facebook pageIt's a sad day for online activists in Bangladesh. On Tuesday morning, science writer and blogger Ananta Bijoy Das was murdered by a group of three or four masked people wielding machetes in Sylhet, Bangladesh's fifth largest city.It was the third such killing this year of a writer who advocated secular thought, allegedly at the hands of religious extremists.Das, 33, was a banker by profession but also edited a quarterly magazine called Jukti (Logic) and headed the Sylhet-based Science and Rationalist Council. He was the author of four books on science and critical thinking, and took an active part in the Ganajagaran Mancha, a forum born out of the Shahbag protests that demands a ban on Islamist parties and the death penalty for convicted war criminals.Das was also an admin for the Bangla blog Mukto Mona (Free Thinkers), which won Deutsche Welle's prestigious BOBS award for social change in April 2015.According to the Doha Centre of Internet Freedom:While most of Das's output for Mukto-Mona focused on science and evolution, he wrote a number of blogs that criticised some aspects of Islam and also of Hinduism.In comments on Facebook posted early Tuesday, Das slammed the local member of parliament from the ruling Awami League party for criticising one of the country's top secular and science fiction writers.Bangladesh, a Muslim-majority country, is officially secular. But people who have challenged religion have repeatedly been targeted by Islamic extremists in the past decade.The nature of the threats have also escalated from local to international. Just a week ago, Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) claimed responsibility for the assassination of Bangladeshi-American blogger Avijit Roy (the founder of Mukto Mona blog) on February 26 in which his wife Rafida Ahmed was badly injured. In a recent interview, she slammed Bangladesh's government for inaction and has termed the attack on her husband as "well planned, choreographed – a global act of terrorism."On March 30, another blogger who opposed irrational religious belief, Washiqur Rahman, was hacked to death in Dhaka. Two madrassa (Islamic religious school) students were apprehended and a third assailant got away. Both Roy and Rahman's cases are under trial.Das had been on extremists' hit list for some time and was first named in a list of 84 bloggers deemed atheist or blasphemous by Islamic hardliners submitted to the government in 2013.AQIS claimed responsibility for Das’s murder, according to tweets by extremist group Ansar Bangla Team. "Another file closed! Stay tuned for next target," the statement read.Screenshot of the AQIS statementOutrage over Das' death spread quickly. Prominent blogger Arif Jebtik wrote on Facebook:লিখতে, বলতে, ভাবতে কোনো কিছুতেই আগ্রহ পাই না। ৮৪ জনের একটি তালিকা স্বরাষ্ট্র মন্ত্রণালয়ে জমা পড়েছিল দুইবছর আগে, তালিকা থেকে নবম হত্যা হয়েছে আজকে সিলেটে। তালিকা নিশ্চয়ই চূড়ান্ত নয়, গত ২ বছরে আরো নাম সেই তালিকায় নির্ঘাত যুক্ত হয়েছে। কিন্তু অন্তত এই ৮৪ জনের ব্যাপারে গত ২ বছরে কোনো খোঁজখবর হয়নি, তাঁরা নিয়মিত বিরতিতে খুন হওয়া শুরু করেছেন।মাসিক কোটায় হত্যা শুরু হয়েছে [...]

Why Arabic Script on the Walls Might Not Stop Public Urination in Dhaka

Mon, 11 May 2015 11:11:00 +0000

The photo shows Arabic sign on the sidewall of Panthakunja Park at the Karwan Bazar in Dhaka. Image by Sk. Hasan Ali. Copyright Demotix (7/5/2015)Public urination is a problem in Bangladesh due largely to a lack of public toilets. Municipal officials in the capital Dhaka have battled in vain to stop men urinating in public, with signs in the local Bengali language and warnings of punishment and fines yielding no notable results.Now the government is hoping that an innovative idea can put a stop to the habit. Recently the Ministry of Religious Affairs released a video highlighting their campaign "Language Matters" wherein Bengali signs warning against urination are now being replaced by Arabic signs, a holy language for Bangladeshis.Perhaps they have taken a cue from neighbouring India -- battling with the same problem -- where pictures of Hindu gods and godesses on the walls are intended to have the same effect. allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560">Although some are lauding the state's effort to solve a perennial problem, others are skeptical, claiming the campaign supports blind faith and promotes misconceptions.Sufi Faruq comments on YouTube:ধর্ম মন্ত্রণালয়ের দারুণ একটা ক্যাম্পেইন !!! (..)বাংলাদেশের বেশিরভাগ মুসলিম আরবি ভাষা না বুঝলেও এই ধরনের অক্ষরকে পবিত্র মনে করে। তাই ওই স্ক্রিপ্টে লেখা যে কোনকিছু অপবিত্র করতে ভয় পায়। এই ভয়টার বেশিরভাগ সময় ধর্ম ব্যবসায়ীরা অপব্যবহার করতো। এবার একটা দারুণ কাজে ব্যাবহার হল।A great campaign by the Ministry of Religious Affairs!!!Most of the Muslim majority Bangladeshis cannot understand Arabic but they deem it as a holy language. So they fear to desecrate anything written in that language. Most of the time it was used by religious opportunists as it is the language of the Koran and the prayers. Now it has been used for a good cause.Despite the Ministry of Religious Affairs' claim in the video about toilets being present in most of Dhaka's 10,000 mosques, the general lack of public toilets in the city of approximately 15 million is a genuine challenge. The city's large homeless population is particularly affected by the shortage.Adnan R. Amin at Alal O Dulal Blog thinks that the video does not get to the root of the problem and instead aims to create false impressions:The using of a religious misconception (“Arabic is a holy language”), to prevent a social evil, is clever. But it also reinforces and lends credence to that misconception, instead of dispelling it. One would think that for a ministry for religious affairs, dispelling religious misconceptions would outweigh protecting city-walls. If there were funds available to the government, Dhaka’s City Corporations could’ve used them to create better facilities for women. While it is difficult to discern from boardrooms, the 36 public toilets with facilities for women are now being used by men. Judging from the tactic and tone of  this video, a reexamining of both government bodies’ priorities seems to be in order.Translating "do not urinate here" to Arabic reduces public urination in Dhaka @OgilvyChange #NudgesInTheWild— Umar Taj (@umar_taj) May 10, 2015Moreover, Fariduddin Masud, an influential cleric criticised t[...]

Bengali New Year Takes a Colorful Stand Against Religious Extremism in Bangladesh

Wed, 15 Apr 2015 11:44:00 +0000

People celebrating Pahela Baishakh at Mangal Shobhajatra (Rally), a procession organised by Dhaka University’s Faculty of Fine Arts to welcome the Bengali new year. Image by Sourav Lasker. Copyright Demotix (14/4/2015)The past few months have been particularly tough for Bangladesh as continuous political turmoil and violence left over 120 people dead. The recent killings of two free-thinking blog activists and the emergence of a new militant wing that seeks to murder atheists have worried many.Whenever the country has found itself in trouble, Bangladeshis have embraced their roots, taking solace in art and culture to unite against any challenges they face.On Tuesday, April 14, 2015, people did just that in Bangladesh, welcoming the Bengali New Year 1422 with the resolve to continue the fight against communalism and religious fanaticism.Bengalis, who are overwhelmingly the largest (98%) ethnic group in Bangladesh, customarily celebrate the New Year (Pohela Baishakh) with colourful procession and festivities. This year's festivities had a special theme: "Onek Alo Jaalte Hobe Moner Ondhokare" (Burn many lights in the darkness of hearts). It was chosen to commemorate the recent assassination of blogger and writer Avijit Roy and online activist Oyasiqur Rahman. A 20-foot-tall statue symbolising the rise of communal forces was at the procession, reminding everyone to reject such strife.People carried colourful costumes in the Mangal Shobhajatra (Rally). Image by Sourav Lasker. Copyright Demotix (14/4/2015)Pohela Boishakh is the first day of the Bengali calendar, celebrated on 14 April in Bangladesh and 15 April in the Indian state of West Bengal by Bengalis. Hundreds of fairs and events welcoming the New Year takes place in many parts of Bangladesh and in West Bengal in India. The largest festivities happens in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, where tens of thousands of people wearing multicoloured masks and traditional dress march in the Mangal Shobhajatra procession marking the New Year.Tanvir Haider Chaudhury wrote on Facebook:আপনি যেখানে থাকুন, পারলে ঢাকা চলে আসুন। পৃথিবীর সবচেয়ে আনন্দময়, উৎসবমুখর জায়গা এই মুহূর্তে ঢাকা।শুভ নববর্ষ।Wherever you are, please come to Dhaka if you can. Right now Dhaka is the happiest place on earth full of festivities. Shuvo Noboborsho (Happy new year).While Twitter user Bappy tweeted a photo:No race can beat Bengali in celebration & hospitality ! #BengaliNewYear #pohelaboishakh— Bappy (@im_bappy) April 14, 2015Crowds celebrated Pahela Baishakh at Mangal Shobhajatra, a procession organised by Dhaka University’s Faculty of Fine Arts to welcome the Bengali New Year 1422. Image by Sk. Hasan Ali. Copyright Demotix (14/4/2015)Anila Haque thanked Google for creating a doodle for the occasion:শুভ নববর্ষ (Shubho Noboborsho 1422)!!! Thank you Google! :) Bangla New Year 1422 #GoogleDoodle— Anila Hoque (@tweet2Ann_E) April 14, 2015Gargie Ahmad hoped that the New Year would bring an opportunity to start anew:Happy Bengali new year, শুভ নববর্ষ, welcome 1422! Much to be sad about in world, but hoping fresh year brings fresh starts. #pohelaboishakh— Gargie Ahmad (@GargieAhmad) April 14, 2015To the Bengalis, hilsa isn't just a fish. It's an integral part of the culture and heritage. Be it fried or cooked with mustard, hilsa is a must in Pahela Baishakh celebrations. Image by Sourav Lasker. Copyright Demotix (14/4/2015)Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted in Bengali:প[...]

Real Goats. Real Stories. Bangladesh Delivers.

Wed, 11 Mar 2015 12:52:00 +0000

Screenshot from "The Goats of Bangladesh" Facebook page.Read the full interview here at has now a satirical Facebook page much like Pigeons of New York, which is itself a parody site of the famous Humans of New York project. Goats of Bangladesh is only about six months old, but it boasts of almost 10,000 followers. Sahil Bhalla of interviewed one of the page's administrators, who preferred to remain anonymous.[What is] the idea behind the page?We were bored one day during Eid and decided to take pictures of goats with a DSLR camera. After seeing the outcome of the pictures, one of us decided we would open a parody page called "Goats of Bangladesh" where we would mimic the style of posts made by Humans of New York in a mocking way.Screenshot from the "Goats of Bangladesh" Facebook PageRead the full interview here at post was also published in Global Voices Online. [...]

A Passenger Ferry Capsizes in Bangladesh. Again.

Sun, 22 Feb 2015 12:56:00 +0000

Recovered bodies are brought to the shore in a dinghy. Image by Reporter#7619314. Copyright DemotixOn Sunday noon a passenger ferry reportedly packed with more than 100 passengers was hit by a cargo vessel 40 kilometres northwest of Dhaka, Bangladesh's capital. It subsequently sank.A rescue vessel located the capsized vessel and attempted to pull it up. According to reports 37 bodies have been found and many are feared missing.UPDATE: Child killed in Manikganj launch capsize, 60 rescued; 150 on board when hit by cargo trawler #Bangladesh— The Daily Star (@dailystarnews) February 22, 2015Collisions with other craft is the top reason for ferry disasters in Bangladesh, which are quite common according to this study. Overcrowding and poor safety measures are the catalyst.Passenger lists are rarely kept accurately, making it difficult to know how many people are missing when accidents occur. Many people have already been rescued from this particular craft, but it will take days to determine precise numbers. This is the country's second deadly boat accident in less than a fortnight.Divers at work to pull the bodies out of the capsized passenger ferry. Image by Reporter#7619314. Copyright Demotix (22/2/2015)The post was also published in Global Voices Online. [...]

Afghanistan Makes History in Cricket World Cup, Despite Debut Loss to Bangladesh

Fri, 20 Feb 2015 13:02:00 +0000

Image from the Bangladesh-Afghanistan match from Manuka, Oval. Image By RezwanFebruary 18 was a historic day for Afghanistan, as its national cricket team took on Bangladesh at Manuka Oval Stadium in Canberra, Australia, for the country's first ever game in a Cricket World Cup.Even though Bangladesh showed off its experience and talent, beating Afghanistan by 105 runs in a quite one-sided game, it was clear the country had come a long way. Afghanistan learned the game from neighbouring Pakistan, where countless Afghans fled following the 1979 Soviet invasion of their homeland, and cricket is now the most popular game there.Bangladesh is also comparatively new to the World Cup. It played its first World Cup game in 1999.Ahead of the game Afghanistan was pumped up from its victory over Bangladesh at the last Asia Cup in 2014 in Dhaka, Bangladesh. However, the conditions in Australia were much different. The pitch at Manuka Oval offered more by way of pace and bounce than that Asia Cup surface.Huge crowd queueing up for the Bangladesh-Afghanistan match on Feb. 18, 2015. Image by RezwanDespite the loss, Afghanistan thrilled its supporters as its bowlers kept up the pressure on Bangladeshi batsmen in the first 25 overs with a low run rate and took four wickets. Shakib Al Hasan and Mushfiqur Rahim combined for a 114-run 5th wicket partnership and Bangladesh posted a total of 267. Afghanistan was not up to par in reply as it was reduced to three wickets with only three runs in the first three overs. The team never quite recovered and was all out for 162 runs in 42.5 overs.Canberra is home to a small population of Bangladeshis maybe 7,000 to 8,000 strong. However, many Bangladeshis from Sydney and Melbourne came to the Australian capital to watch the game. The official match crowd was 10,972, out of which Bangladeshis were more than 9,000, transforming the stadium into a little Bangladesh.Here are some pictures from the crowd:Bangladeshi supporters. Image by Rezwan (18/2/2015)Afghan Supporters. Image by Rezwan (18/2/2015)Bangladeshi supporters wore the green-and-red team jerseys, the same colors as the Bangladeshi flag. Image by RezwanAfghani supporters were also colourful. Image by Rezwan (18/2/2015)Twitter hashtags #cwc15 and #BanvsAfg were trending on that day as many were talking about the game.The big game for @BCBtigers! Players to Watch from both sides. @Sah75official and @MohammadNabi007. #BANvAFG #CWC15— Bangladesh Cricket (@BCBtigers) February 17, 2015Love for my team! #RiseOfTheTigers @BCBtigers #CWC15 @ICC #Bangladesh I wish you ALL the very best!— Raihan Jamil (@RainSoakedPoet) February 17, 2015OUT! Afghanistan slump to 3 for 3 and Bangladesh are rampant in Canberra! #BanvAfg #cwc15— ICC (@ICC) February 18, 2015Plenty to smile about for @BCBtigers fans! AFG 3-19 (9) without a boundary: #cwc15 #BANvAFG— (@CricketAus) February 18, 2015The fun and festivities continue here at Manuka Oval SCORES #cwc15 #BANvsAFG— Cricket World Cup (@cricketworldcup) February 18, 2015Safe to say these fans are pretty happy with @BCBtigers who are closing in on victory at Manuka #cwc15 #BANvsAFG— Cricket World Cup (@cricketworldcup) February 18, 2015.@BCBtigers and @ACBofficials players shake hands at the end of a historic match #cwc15 #BANvsAFG— Cricket World Cup (@cricketworldcup) February 18, 2015A tweet by the US Embassy in Kabul declaring victory for Afghanistan before the end of the game generated a lot of buzz. It was r[...]

Bangladeshi Publisher Faces Death Threats Over Translation of Controversial Iranian Writer's Book

Tue, 17 Feb 2015 13:09:00 +0000

The cover of the Bengali translation of Iranian Muslim scholar and politician Ali Dashti's book. Image courtesy Haseeb Mahmud.The publisher of a Bangla translation of a controversial book by 20th-century Iranian rationalist and politician Ali Dashti about the Prophet Muhammad's life has received death threats after displaying the work at Bangladesh's national book fair.Hardline religious groups, mainly Hefazat-e-Islam, have called on authorities to prosecute publishing house Rodela Prokashoni over the translation of "23 Years: A Study of the Prophetic Career of Muhammad." Rodela Prokashoni's website appeared to be hacked on February 14, 2015, and their office in Banglabazar was attacked on Sunday, according to a report in the Bangla Tribune. No one was injured.Following the uproar, the publishing house pulled the book from the shelves at the Ekushey Book Fair and from their website, and publisher Riaz Khan reportedly apologized, saying he wasn't aware that the book was considered offensive.Screenshot of the defaced Rodela Prokashoni website which says among other things: The website has been hacked in protest of disrespecting the prophet. [..] Say no to Rodela Prokashoni Despite that decision, authorities from the Bangla Academy, the country's national language authority, which organizes the book fair, shut down Rodela Prokashoni's stall on February 16, alleging that the publishing house was “selling books that hurt religious sentiments.” The fair committee defended the move, saying that “According to article 13.13 of Fair Regulations 2015, none is allowed to sell books at the fair that can hurt religious sentiments."Haseeb Mahmud at Sachalayatan community blog summed up the outrage against the book:এই বই প্রকাশের জের ধরে ধর্মীয় মৌলবাদি গোষ্ঠি বিভিন্ন তৎপরতা চালাচ্ছে। গতকাল গণমাধ্যমগুলো প্রেস বিজ্ঞপ্তি পাঠিয়ে হেফাজতে ইসলামের জুনাইদ বাবুনগরী ও সাংগঠনিক সম্পাদক আজিজুল হক "মানবতার মুক্তির দূত বিশ্বনবী হযরত মুহাম্মদ সাল্লাল্লাহু আলাইহি ওয়াসাল্লামের প্রতি চরম অবমাননাকর ও ঔদ্ধত্যপূর্ণ ‘নবি মুহাম্মদের ২৩ বছর’ শীর্ষক বইটি বাজেয়াপ্ত ও ‘রোদেলা’ প্রকাশনীকে নিষিদ্ধ" করার দাবি জানিয়েছে।" তারা আরোও বলেন, দেশের ক্ষুদ্র একটি ইসলামবিদ্বেষী নাস্তিক্যবাদী গোষ্ঠী কর্তৃক পৃষ্ঠপোষিত [..] এই বইটির পরতে পরতে মহান আল্লাহ তা’আলা, হযরত মুহাম্মদ সাল্লাল্লাহু আলাইহি ওয়াসাল্লাম ও তাঁর পবিত্র জীবন সম্পর্কে অসত্য, বিভ্রান্তিকর ও ধৃষ্টতাপূর্ণ মিথ্যাচার করা হয়েছে। বইটির লেখক কুখ্যাত ইসলামবিদ্বেষী নাস্তিক আলী দস্তি। [..]এই বই [...]

Gardeners Are Repurposing Coconut Waste as Eco-Friendly Plant Pots

Mon, 09 Feb 2015 13:18:00 +0000

Plant vases made of coir fibre and coir piths are eco-friendly and cheap. Image by Subhashish Panigrahi under CC-by-SA 4.0.Coir pots in the above picture are made from coir piths or coco peats, sourced as a by-product from coconut production. Coir is a natural fibre extracted from the hard, internal shell and the outer coat of a coconut and used in products such as floor mats, doormats, brushes, mattresses, twist rope, and weave carpets.Coir fibres make up about a third of the coconut pulp and the remaining portion, called pith or dust, is biodegradable. Coir pith used to be treated as waste material, but is now increasingly being used as soil treatment, mulch and a hydroponic growth medium, e.g. use inside the coir pot. If coir pith is artificially decomposed using biological agents, within 30 days it can convert to be 100% natural organic manure benefitting the plant.Using coir pots that can be planted directly in the garden can save an estimated 100 million plastic pots from ending up in garbage cans.The coconut tree (Cocus nucifera) grows in many tropical countries but is commercially exploited mainly in India, Thailand, Sri Lanka and the Philippines. Ropes and rigging made from coconut fibre have been in use from ancient times and are found in the Indian and Arab histories.This YouTube video shows how coir is made from coconut husks: allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560">India produces 60% of the total world supply of coir fibre. India and Sri Lanka together produce 90% of the coir produced every year across the world. India earned foreign exchange of Rs 2,200 million (approximately $37 million) by exporting coir pith during 2011-12 and aims to boost exports by five times mainly because of the demand in the Gulf countries.One of the inventions using coir piths is the coir pot, an asset for anyone who wants to start green farming.Seed Germination Cup or COCO POT : Coir pots are made from coir fiber blended with or without natural rubber....— Apex Coir (@ApexCoir) November 12, 2013After planting trees inside the pot, the roots grow through the coir, so the entire pot and plant can be put into the ground – no wasted plastic pot and no wasted effort.GV author Subhashish Panigrahi writes in Facebook:Plant vases made of coir are the new export materials. Surprisingly being quite cheap these eco-friendly materials haven't found a market in India. Coir pith is used as manure in the vases. After two years or so, when the roots start penetrating the vase, it could straight away be taken and planted. What a neat idea!The benefits of coir pots are that they can replace petroleum-based plastic nursery pots, flats and trays. Although they are lightweight, durable and can be recycled, they usually wind up in the trash causing environmental damage. But things are changing. Plants in biodegradable containers such as coir pots are gradually becoming more available as growers wake up to the environmental consequences of plastics and rubbers.Subhashish Panigrahi contributed to this post.The post was also published in Global Voices Online. [...]

Mumbai Newspaper Editor Fired, Arrested for Republishing Charlie Hebdo Cartoon

Wed, 04 Feb 2015 13:22:00 +0000

A protest rally against French satirical magazine Charlie-Hebdo was held in Kashmir's Old City. Protestors effigy and Charlie Hebdo posters were set on fire by angry protesters. Image by Adil Hussain. Copyright Demotix (23/1/2015)A newspaper in India was shut down and its editor arrested after republishing one of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo's cartoons featuring the Prophet Muhammad on its front page.Shirin Dalvi, who was later released on bail, is accused of violating section 295A of the Indian Penal Code, which bans malicious and deliberate acts intended to outrage religious feelings. She faces as many as six lawsuits filed against her across the state, and has taken to hiding her face behind a burqa while in public. Her troubles began on January 17, 2015, when she printed the February 9, 2006 cover of Charlie Hebdo titled "Mahomet débordé par les intégristes" ("Muhammad overwhelmed by fundamentalists"), with a bearded man in tears saying "C'est dur d'être aimé par des cons" ("It's hard being loved by jerks"), on the front page of the Mumbai edition of Urdu daily Avadhnama. The editorial accompanying the republished cartoon argued that since no image exists of the Prophet Muhammad, the Charlie Hebdo caricatures should not be taken as a representation of him:There exists no image of him, so how can we infer that this picture is a caricature of him?Ten days earlier, two gunmen had attacked the Charlie Hebdo's office in Paris, killing 12 people, including eight journalists and injuring 11 others. The dead included the magazine's editor and a policeman. The magazine outraged many Muslims across the world as it published a number of controversial Muhammad cartoons over the years.Facing backlash, Dalvi apologised, writing a detailed editorial explaining her position on the next morning. But the outrage continued. She began receiving threats on her phone. Lawsuits have been filed against her in different police stations in Mumbai, Thane and Malegaon.On January 19, Avadhnama’s Mumbai edition was shut down and all its 15 employees sacked. Taqdees Fatima, owner of the Avadhnama title, defended herself, saying she had no links with the Mumbai edition, which was run by a separate entity.The editor, publisher and printers are totally different and… (are) responsible for the contents.Avadhnama's other city editions did not publish the cartoon and were not affected. For Dalvi, more misery was waiting. Members of the Rashtriya Ulema Council (State Cleric Council) threatened to protest outside the police station if Dalvi was not arrested.On January 28, she was arrested and got bail on the next day. But she has not gone back to her home in Mumbra since the protests began; her house remains locked and her children are staying with the relatives. Dalvi, along with the newspaper’s publisher Yunus Siddiqui, proprietor Taquadees Fatema and managing director Deepak Mhatre obtained anticipatory bail in another case filed against them on the same charge.Dalvi told the Mumbai Mirror in an interview that she meant to reproduce Charlie Hebdo's latest cover purely as an illustration to go along with a report, but printed the 2006 cover by mistake. She admitted that she didn't know what the cartoon said since she doesn't speak French, and had only intended for the cartoon to illustrate a report about the controversial magazine's increased circulation following the attacks.In a different interview with media watchdog website The Hoot, Dalvi, who has been working in Urdu media for the last 25 years, accused some papers of running false reports about her, such[...]

A New Era Begins for Sri Lanka After President Mahinda Rajapaksa Concedes Defeat

Fri, 09 Jan 2015 13:27:00 +0000

Supporters of Sri Lanka's main opposition presidential candidate Maithripala Sirisena burst firecrackers at the end of voting in the presidential election in Colombo. Image by Chamila Karunarathne. Copyright Demotix (8/1/2015)On Friday morning, Sri Lankans woke up to news that was unthinkable only a few weeks ago -- President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who took office on 19 November 2005, conceded defeat to 63-year-old former Health Minister Maithripala Sirisena, the presidential candidate of the main opposition United National Party.The day before, Sri Lankan voters had cast their ballot in the 7th presidential election in a closely contested presidential election, with incumbent Mahinda Rajapaksa seeking a record third term in office. The election was largely peaceful and turnout was more than 70 per cent in most districts. Rajapaksa tweeted on 9 January, after it was clear he had lost the vote:I value and respect our democratic process and the people’s verdict, and look forward to the peaceful transition of power. -MR— Mahinda Rajapaksa (@PresRajapaksa) January 9, 2015The early results showed that Rajapaksa remained popular among the country's Sinhala Buddhist population, who account for around 70 per cent of the island country's 21 million people. Sirisena was favoured by the ethnic Tamil-dominated former war zone in the north of the country and in Muslim-dominated areas, who went out in large numbers to vote for him.A screenshot from news portal shows the numbers (final results):Screenshot from Adaderana.lkRajapaksa oversaw the end of a bloody civil war in 2009 that had raged for 26 years between government forces and a militant organisation seeking an independent Tamil state. He was reelected in 2010 by a landslide, and afterward successfully amended the constitution to concentrate political power in the presidency and remove term limits on the office. While in power, he has faced accusations of abuse of power, nepotism and human rights violations committed during the final stages of the civil war.Blogger Indrajit Samarajiva, often a critic of the Rajapaksa government, paid tribute to his legacy:Mahinda Rajapaksa has shown me things I never thought possible. He ended a war that I thought would never end. He rebuilt Colombo and showed us physical development I never dreamed of. For all of his faults, he has won me over as a citizen. I think he has been a good President, in my opinion Sri Lanka’s best, especially because he is the first President to lose an election and gracefully leave.I have always been reluctant to call Mahinda a dictator because I never thought he was. As much as he messed with Parliament, with the Judiciary, he was always close with the people and he rose and fell by the vote. He was elected to power, he marshalled popular support to win the war and, in the end, he was brave enough to face election for a third time. Most importantly, and something we’ve never seen from an incumbent, he was brave enough to gracefully lose.He has truly been a great leader and, though I voted for his opponent, I think he deserves something Sri Lanka hasn’t really afforded its leaders. A comfortable, honored and secure position as the respected and beloved ex-President of Sri Lanka.Some commenters disagreed with Samarajiva's view on Rajapaksa time as president, such as Reshan Auston:While we carry the respect for Mahinda for winning the war, I have no respect for him for looting the country. As a leader he failed the country. He had all the opportunity to be the Nelson Mandela of Sri Lanka but instead he decided t[...]

Your Guide to Sri Lanka's 2015 Presidential Election

Thu, 08 Jan 2015 13:34:00 +0000

Sri Lankan election commission workers carry ballot boxes while escorted by police on the eve of presidential elections in Colombo. Image by Chamila KarunaRathne. Copyright Demotix (7/1/2015)Sri Lankans are going to the polls on Thursday, January 8, in one of the most closely contested, significant presidential elections in the nation's history.Every six years, Sri Lanka elects a new president and legislature. The parliament has 225 members, elected to six-year terms. It is a multi-party system, dominated by two political groups. There are 15 million eligible voters in Sri Lanka and over 12,000 polling stations have been set for elections. Voter turnout in the previous election was around 75 percent.In the 2010 presidential election, Mahinda Rajapaksa of United Peoples Freedom Alliance (UPFA) won with 58 percent of the vote. Shortly after being elected, Rajapaksa successfully amended the constitution to concentrate political power in the presidency, and remove term limits on the office. This time, Rajapaksa has preponed the elections, holding them two years ahead of schedule. Rajapaksa, the region's longest-serving leader, will try for a third term, amidst criticisms that he abuses his authority and seeks a dynasty.Police can even shoot to the head if any body attempts poll rigging -Election Commissioner #PresPollSL— Azzam Ameen (@AzzamAmeen) January 7, 2015Legal action can be taken against Private sector employers who don't give leave for workers to vote - EC #PresPollSL— Azzam Ameen (@AzzamAmeen) January 7, 2015The actors Rajapaksa has the backing of a number of small constituent parties of the UPFA, including the Ceylon Workers' Congress, and Communist Party. He has the support of the Buddhist extremist group Bodu Bala Sena. Rajapaksa's platform, titled "Mahinda's Vision—The World Winning Path", pledges to introduce an entirely new constitution within a year.Supporters of Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa cheer during an election campaign rally in Palmadulla, Sri Lanka. Image by Chamila Karunarathne. Copyright Demotix (3/1/2015)Rajapakse has actively campaigned alongside celebrities like sporting Bollywood megastar Salman Khan, creating no small amount of buzz. Touring the former war zone in the country's North, Khan urged minority Tamils to back Rajapakse in the election, calling him the "known devil".Rajapakse's chief opponent and former health minister, Maithripala Sirisena, is a surprise pick by the United National Party, the main opposition party, which is backed by twelve smaller parties. The remaining seventeen candidates are independents or belong to minor political parties.  UNP only revealed Sirisena's nomination on November 21, 2014, after the election was announced.Sirisena released his platform, titled "A Compassionate Maithri Governance—A Stable Country", which pledged to abolish the country's presidential government within 100 days of being elected. Under a new parliamentary system, Sirisena says he would appoint UNP leader Ranil Wickremasinghe as prime minister.A fantastic infographic on the Rajapaksa empire. Or how one family rules Sri Lanka.— Venkat Ananth (@venkatananth) January 5, 2015Sirisena has launched a campaign attacking Rajapaksa where he is weakest: the President's apparent nepotism. During Rajapaksa's presidency, his three brothers and his son have all risen to positions of considerable influence in the national government.Maithripala Sirisena, it's worth noting, took a great risk [...]

Somber Scenes as World Mourns Pakistani Children Slain in Peshawar Attack

Fri, 26 Dec 2014 13:42:00 +0000

Students of Army Public School, members of Civil Society, Pak Army staffs and large numbers of citizens held a candle light vigil to mourn the innocent victims. Image by ppiimages. Copyright Demotix (19/12/2014)A group of Taliban gunmen dressed in military uniforms entered an Army Public School in Peshawar, Pakistan, on December 16 and shot students and teachers walking from classroom to classroom. At least 148 people, 132 of them children, lost their lives in the attack and scores of the students were injured.The following day, vigils were held in Karachi, Islamabad and other major cities throughout the country, which can be seen in these pictures.There have also been numerous vigils across the world:In Canada: Hamilton, Oakville. Pickering.USA: California, Connecticut, Indiana, Florida, Massachusetts, Kentucky, New York, Ohio, Tennessee, Utah, Arizona, Wisconsin.UK: Derby, Woking, Watford, Leicester, Surrey, Birmingham, Liverpool.Elsewhere in the world: Australia, Norway, Tanzania, Sri Lanka, United Arab Emirates, Iran.People at those vigils remembered the victims, protested against the barbarism, voiced their anger at the Taliban and echoed that children should be spared from such atrocities.Here are images of some of those vigils:A collection of candles and votives lit as part of a vigil in Trafalgar Square, London, to remember the dead school children and teachers killed by the Pakistani Taliban in Pakistan. Image by Emma Durnford. Copyright Demotix (17/12/2014)A Candlelight vigil for the children of Peshawar is held in Longsight, Manchester outside the Pakistani Community Centre. Image by Barbara Cook. Copyright Demotix (20/12/2014)Two hundred people gathered in front of the CNN Center in Atlanta for a candlelight vigil to honor victims killed during a Taliban attack on a school in Peshawar, Pakistan. Image by Steve Eberherdt Copyright Demotix (17/12/2014)Columbia students and other members of the community joined a campus candlelight vigil to support the victims of the Peshawar attacks. Image by Mansura Khanam. Copyright Demotix (17/12/2014)Indian congress workers and children pay tribute to those killed in the Taliban attack in Peshawar, Pakistan at a candle vigil in Allahabad, India. Image by Ritesh Shukla. Copyright Demotix (17/12/2014)A candle light vigil and were held at the Pakistan High Commission in Bangladesh, this evening in remembrance of the innocent victims of the massacre at the Army public School peshawar.Indian people lit candles as they took part in a candle-light vigil in memory of victims killed in a Taliban attack on a military-run school in Peshawar, in Amritsar. Image by Sanjeev Syal. Copyright Demotix (17/12/2014)Childrens in Sivasagar, Assam lighting candles protesting the attack of Talibans in a school of Pakistan, image by Neelam Kakoty Majumdar. Copyright Demotix (18/12/2014)Burdwan District Press Club organised a Candlelight Rally in At Burdwan, West Bengal, India, protesting against Taliban terror attack on Army Public School in Peshawar. Image by Sanjoy Karmaker (18/12/2014)Children holding solidarity messages at the candle light vigil in Lahore, Pakistan. Image by Fatima Arif. Copyright Demotix (18/12/2014)The post was also published in Global Voices Online. [...]

Pakistanis Say #ReclaimYourMosques From Radicalism in Rare, Bold Protests

Sun, 21 Dec 2014 13:51:00 +0000

Students of Army Public School, members of Civil Society, Pak Army staffs and large numbers of citizens held a candle light vigil to mourn the innocent victims. Image by PPIImages. Copyright Demotix (19/12/2014)Two days after the horrific Taliban attack on a military-run school in Peshawar, killed more than hundred and thirty students, controversial Islamabad-based cleric Abdul Aziz refused to condemn the massacre, sparking rare protests against radicalism in the country.Abdul Aziz also said that use of force against the Taliban is not a “wise option”. Aziz is the chief cleric at Lal Mosque, one of the biggest in the capital. The mosque and its attached seminary have a reputation for radicalism and was the scene of a massive 10-day military crackdown in 2007, which left more than a hundred dead, many of whom were radical seminary students. Aziz's brother was the chief back then, and was killed in the operation. Abdul Aziz tried to flee the mosque in a burka, but was caught. He was released on bail two years later. And has since reopened the mosque and become the chief cleric.On December 18, a large number of activists, politicians and students arrived at the Lal Masjid chanting slogans against Abdul Aziz. They wrote names of the students killed in Peshawar on a board and started an impromptu vigil.#ReclaimYourMosques protest in front of #LalMasjid #Islamabad. Civil society for the first time have come forward...— S. Oon Haider Zaidi (@OonHaider) December 18, 2014The protest was organised by Jibran Nasir, an independent politician, lawyer and human rights activist from Karachi. He said:I came to Islamabad for a conference, but then the Peshawar tragedy struck and everything changed. The next day, Lal Masjid cleric issued a statement that I couldn’t stomach and I decided that rather than going back to Karachi, we should protest. We want to reclaim our mosques, our communities, our cities, indeed our entire country from the extremists. We can no longer allow anyone to stand on at a pulpit and preach hatred. We will no longer stand by and watch people like Abdul Aziz use the name of our Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) and our religion to perpetuate violence. I call upon the people of Islamabad to come out of their homes and reclaim their city.The administration of Lal mosque filed a First Information report (FIR) against the participants of the protest. Police in riot gear arrived on the scene and asked protesters to disperse.Faisal Sabzwari from the political party MQM tweeted:See...purana, Naya ya gaya #Pakistan? FIR is lodged against Civil Society 4 protesting against Lal Masjid Cleric.— Faisal Subzwari (@faisalsubzwari) December 18, 2014Nasir and the protesters held their ground and said they will hold the vigil for the next week in front of the Lal Mosque, and there after every Tuesday night.Suddenly, the spontaneous protests that began on Thursday quickly spread across the country as a wider movement against Taliban apologists and extremists everywhere. There were protests after Friday prayers in several cities to condemn Lal Mosque's cleric Maulana Abdul Aziz's statement. A petition in to put Abdul Aziz on trial for treason and terrorism has more than 4000 supporters.On December 19, an FIR (First Information Report) was lodged against Abdul Aziz at a police station and this Facebook video caught the moment.If in tomorrow's jummah sermon your Imam wont condemn Peshawar Attack then stand up and ask him to. #ReclaimYourMosq[...]

#IndiaWithPakistan: Indians Show Solidarity With Their Grieving Neighbors After Peshawar Attack

Tue, 16 Dec 2014 13:55:00 +0000

Victims of militants, who attacked an army public school situated on Warsak Road, are moved for treatment at a local hospital in Peshawar. Image by ppiimages. Copyright Demotix (16/12/2014)People from all over the world have offered their support and sympathy on social media for Pakistan as the country reels from a horrific attack on a school in Peshawar that has left 141 people dead, most of whom were children.But one particular hashtag is worth noting -- Indians are putting aside their ardent rivalry with Pakistan and expressing solidarity with their neighbors at this difficult time under #IndiawithPakistan on Twitter.Yes, I am Indian. So what? The pain of losing a child is universal. #IndiawithPakistan— Dipankar #LDL (@deep_anchor) December 16, 2014At around 11 a.m. Pakistan time on December 16, six Taliban militants entered the Army-run school in the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and took around 500 students and teachers hostage. The attackers were dressed as soldiers and opened fire at random, also detonating an unknown number of suicide bombs. A teacher was reportedly burned alive in front of pupils and children were shot in the head. One hundred and forty-one people were killed, most of whom were children, and hundreds injured in the siege. According to police, all the militants were killed.The Taliban, in a statement to Reuters, said that they targeted the school because the army targets their families in an ongoing military offensive against Taliban strongholds near Peshawar. “We want them to feel our pain,” the statement said.Dr. Asif Sohrab described on Facebook the horror in Peshawar:2,3 funerals in every Street of Peshawar. In my street there are 3! Peshawar bleeds, Pakistan cries.On such a sad day, #IndiawithPakistan generated a lot of good vibes:No Indian I know is indifferent to the horror in Peshawar. Nothing can be worse than sending your children2school ¬ having them come back— Shashi Tharoor (@ShashiTharoor) December 16, 2014Children are the first casualty of violence and war. It is time we all came together and #PutAStop to this violence. #PeshawarAttack— Kailash Satyarthi (@k_satyarthi) December 16, 2014These are the school children who were attacked in #PeshawarAttack today. Hold your heart people. #IndiawithPakistan"— Muhammad Safeen (@SafeensS) December 16, 2014Because bigots, radicals and murderers on either side of the border need to be wiped off from the face of humanity #IndiawithPakistan— Rana Ayyub (@RanaAyyub) December 16, 2014We want to live by each other's happiness, not each other's misery. #IndiaWithPakistan #PeshawarAttack— India Loves Pakistan (@IndLovesPak) December 16, 2014Share the pain of our Pakistani brothers & sisters grieving for children slaughtered by Taliban.Strength,solidarity,hope #IndiawithPakistan— Sagarika Ghose (@sagarikaghose) December 16, 2014In response to the attack, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif announced three days of mourning and has called an all party parliamentary meeting at the Governor House in Peshawar on Wednesday.Men carry the casket of a victim of the Taliban shoot-out in a military-run school in Peshawar, Pakistan. Image by ppiimages. Copyright Demotix (16/12/2014)Pakistani Twitter users have also taken to Twitter to express their anger and grief:This is not my religion, not my politics. I would rather have no god than a god that justifies the mass mu[...]

Massive Oil Spill Threatens Bangladesh's Sundarbans

Sun, 14 Dec 2014 13:58:00 +0000

Spotted deers forage at the Kokilmoni forest in the Sundarbans, a UNESCO world heritage site. Bagerhat, Bangladesh. Image by Muhammad Mostafijur Rahman. Copyright DemotixAn oil tanker carrying 358,000 liters (almost 100,000 gallons) of furnace oil sank in the Shela river on December 7, spilling oil over more than 60 kilometers (about 37 miles) of the Sundarbans. Located on in southwest Bangladesh, the Sundarbans is the largest single block of tidal mangrove forest in the world, covering approximately 10,000 square kilometers (3,900 square miles), of which 60 percent is in Bangladesh. The Sundarbans, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is also one of the largest reserves for the Bengal tiger, and provides sanctuary to many other species.@stephenfry Pls RT: "Oil spill threatens wildlife esp. rare dolphins & birds of Sundarbans-BD" #SundarbansDisaster— Faiyaz Taifur (@FaiyazTaifur) December 12, 20141st ever @oilslick in the #Sunderbans threatens world's largest @mangrove ecosystem, a @UNESCO World @HeritageSite— SALEEM SAMAD (@saleemsamad) December 12, 2014Disaster in #Sundarbans >> Sela banks turn pitch black Sinking oil tanker was actually a modified and…— Polash Datta (@polashdatta) December 11, 2014The #oilspill at #sundarban threatens hundreds of endangered species. @wwwfoecouk @wbclimatechange @the_ecologist— Rumi Ahmed (@rumiahmed) December 13, 2014According to reports, the new oil spill threatens the Mrigmari-Nondabala-Andharmanik dolphin sanctuary. Mangrove trees are also highly susceptible to oil pollution—indeed, they are expected to start dying after the area's aquatic life, which is typically first to perish. Fahim Hassan has put together an infographic on Flickr explaining the details of the devastation.According to images Mowgliz Elisabeth Rubaiyat posted on Facebook, the disaster is already killing some animals. Local authorities appear to be outside their depth, never before having confronted so large an oil spill, and lacking the necessary infrastructure to respond properly. Al Jazeera reports several local fishermen have resorted to cleaning up the spill using sponges and sacks.Many on Twitter have questioned the authorities' response:Talk to the org that worked after 2010 Gulf oil spill! Seriously guys ... "Authorities clueless in the Sundarbans"— Sumaiya Shams (@sumaiya_s) December 12, 2014A #Bangladesh govt minister says a UK company has offered to clean up 60-km oil slick that is threatening the Sunderbans mangrove forest.— Sabir Mustafa (@Sabir59) December 12, 2014#SundarbansDisaster Recovery efforts with pots and pans— Faiyaz Taifur (@FaiyazTaifur) December 12, 2014To help in the relief effort, the government dispatched a ship to the area carrying oil dispersants. If such chemicals are released incorrectly, however, it can harm the local ecology still further. Four days later, the state's efforts seem to have had little effect, exacerbating fears of a lasting ecological disaster.59 hours gone-by #Bangladesh starts sparying oil neutraliser in #Sundarbans river #BD #OilSpill #DhakaTribune— Polash Datta (@polashdatta) December 11, 2014Bangladesh's Water Transport Minister says locals were able to stop the oil from entering the forrest, using nets, and they're also working to remove[...]

Mourning Cricket Fans Honor Australia's Phillip Hughes With #PutOutYourBats

Fri, 28 Nov 2014 14:05:00 +0000

Players and officials of Bangladesh-Zimbabwe and the spectators stand up for one minute silence for Australian batsman Phillip Huges before the fourth One Day International match at Sher-e-Bangla Natioanl Cricket Stadium in Mirpur. Dhaka. Image by Reaz Sumon. Copyright Demotix. (28/11/2014)A simple tribute from a cricket fan to Australian cricketer Phillip Hughes, who died November 27, has gone viral in Australian and around the world.Australian star cricketer Phillip Hughes died as a result of injuries he sustained when he was struck by a bouncer on Tuesday during a domestic league game at the Sydney Cricket Ground. Hughes was wearing a helmet, but the ball made contact with an unprotected area, damaging his vertebral artery which caused bleeding in the brain. He died two days later at a Sydney hospital from his injuries, three days shy of his 26th birthday.In a gesture of respect, IT worker Paul Taylor put his old cricket bat outside the front door of his home in Sydney with a cricket cap slung on the handle and tweeted the picture to his followers with the hashtag #putoutyourbats. The idea soon caught on among mourning fans in Australia and beyond.The #CricketFamily has united for a powerful tribute to Phillip Hughes: #PutOutYourBats— (@CricketAus) November 28, 2014Very touching tribute for Phillip Hughes at Adelaide Oval.Our sincere condolences to family friends & cricket family— Crows Supporters Grp (@crowssupporters) November 28, 2014Awesome! Well done Google Australia #PutYourBatsOut #63NotOutForever RIP Phillip Hughes.— ★mallyHelen★ (@malsagirl) November 28, 2014PHOTO: A tribute to Phillip Hughes at the MCG #putoutyourbat @theage— The Age Photography (@theage_photo) November 28, 201463 bats have been placed in the windows of @CricketAus headquarters as a tribute to Phillip Hughes. #9Newscomau— Nine News Australia (@9NewsAUS) November 28, 2014In tribute to Phillip Hughes #putyourbatsout #408— Melbourne Renegades (@RenegadesBBL) November 28, 2014From the Gilly kids xxx #PutOutYourBats #RIPPhillipHughes— Adam Gilchrist (@gilly381) November 27, 2014Gorgeous tribute at Macksville Primary School for Phillip Hughes— Lucy Carter (@lucethoughts) November 28, 2014#putoutyourbats for Phil Hughes. A sad day for the sporting world— Saracens Rugby Club (@Saracens) November 28, 2014The @Momentum_za Proteas wmn have joined the tribute in their innings break v India #PutOutYourBats #CricketFamily— Cricket South Africa (@OfficialCSA) November 28, 2014#PutOutYourBats l @BLACKCAPS and Pakistan team mourn the passing of Phil Hughes during the ongoing test match— CNN-IBN News (@ibnlive) November 28, 2014The whole of @BCBtigers team paying their respect to Phillip Hughes after the end of the 4th ODI. #putoutyourbats— Bangladesh Cricket (@BCBtigers) November 28, 2014Hughes was born in Macksville, a small town on the north coast of New South Wales, and was so talented that he had his grade A debut at the age of 12. To mark his passing, matches were cancelled in Australia and in other countries. Cricketers across the world have tweet[...]

Updates on the 18th SAARC Summit On Social Media

Thu, 27 Nov 2014 14:08:00 +0000

The ongoing summit of the The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) was covered by international media with different perspectives. However non-official initiatives such as 18th SAARC Summit blog, Facebook account, Twitter and Google+ account are aggregating updates on the summit for easy archiving. Here are some examples:This is How Modi Was Welcomed in Kathmandu for 18th SAARC Summit [Video] #SAARC2014— 18th SAARC Summit (@18thsaarc) November 27, 20147 MustKnow Facts About SAARC #SAARC2014 #saarcsummit2014 #Nepal— 18th SAARC Summit (@18thsaarc) November 27, 2014Why Bangladeshi PM Sheikh Hasina skipped the SAARC retreat session in Dhulikehel - See more at: #SAARC2014— 18th SAARC Summit (@18thsaarc) November 27, 2014Ranipokhari Decorated like Bride for 18th SAARC #Nepal #Kathmandu #SAARC2014— 18th SAARC Summit (@18thsaarc) November 27, 2014The post was also published in Global Voices Online. [...]

In Cricket-Crazy India, Basketball Is Quietly Empowering Girls’ Lives

Wed, 26 Nov 2014 14:12:00 +0000

The champions - girls basketball team of Gangyap's Ekalavya Model Residential School, Sikkim, with their coach. Image used with permission.They hail from one of India's many mountain villages, and chances are that their lives would have been spent in quiet anonymity had it not been for an enthusiastic and persevering coach and their own grit. But now these girls have transformed themselves into national level champions in a sport that they had not even heard of earlier -- basketball. Theirs is a truly inspiring story. They are the girls of Gangyap.Gangyap is a remote mountainous village, located at an altitude of 6,500 feet in the Himalayan mountains of Western Sikkim. Over the last few years, the village has come out of the shadows, thanks to a group of its teenage girls who, under the guidance of their school principal-cum-coach, has become an unlikely powerhouse in the Indian under-19 CBSE (Central Board of Secondary Education) Basketball league.Siddharth Yonzone, 37, was appointed the first principal of the Eklavya Eklavya Model Residential School (EMRS) for Scheduled Tribes that opened in Gangyap around 2009 and he recalls that at the time, the school wasn't connected by proper roads and there were no proper school building or playground. Yonzone introduced basketball to the small number of students (52 enrolled in the first year, and 33 passed) as an extra-curricular student activity and became their coach and mentor.At Gangyap, few had heard of basketball before, but that did not deter Yonzone, himself a basketball fan. There were many challenges, but the fledgeling team and their coach persevered. This video by documentary filmmaker Mandira Chhetri explains how the girls had to build their own basketball court from scratch, through manual labour: width="560" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen>Despite the challenges, however, the girls basketball team of Gangyap started playing in the championships in 2010 and surprised everyone when they stole the headlines in 2011 by winning the under-19 CBSE Basketball national level championship, the first team from north-east India to do so. The girls team has lifted the East Zone trophy for the fifth time this year and are currently preparing to take part in the 2014 under-19 national championships, to be held in December.The girls of Gangyap in action. Image used with permission.Global Voices conducted an interview with Siddarth Yonzone over email to learn more about the team and how the game has had an impact on the lives of the girls and their community.Global Voices (GV): What made you think of creating this basketball team with the girls, who are from the remote, tribal areas of Sikkim?Siddarth Yonzone (SY): I'm a basketball fan, a basketball lover. When I was working in a government school as an English teacher, I had taught the game to a group of boys. This was around 2001-2004. In 2007 I was offered the post of a principal in a new school called 'Eklavya Model Residential School' where we had to begin with just one class, that was class VI. Seeing the very sad condition of the new school, the ignorance of the children and so much more, I wanted to catch their interest through basketball, music and some other literary stuff (of course all of which I am interested in)  I brought two girls with me to the new school (who I had started coaching in[...]