Social Icons

Monday, September 26, 2011

Memorandum of Understanding on Academic Cooperation between

National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) New Delhi, India and BGMEA Institute of Fashion and Technology (BIFT) Dhaka-Bangladesh

This Agreement is executed on 6th September, 2011 at New Delhi between National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT), New Delhi, India through Ms. Monika Garg, Director General, NIFT, New Delhi who has been duly authorized by the Board of Governors of NIFT vide Resolution No.-----dated ------, hereinafter referred to as NIFT and shall include all its servants, agents and assigns of the FIRST PART
BGMEA Institute of Fashion and Technology (BIFT), Dhaka -Bangladesh through, Mr.Muzaffar U. Siddique President, Governing Body-BIFT, Bangladesh who has been duly authorized by the Board of Governors of BIFT vide Resolution No. 78 dated 25th August 2011 hereinafter referred to as BIFT and shall include all its servants, agents and assigns of the SECOND PART
I. About the Agreement
1.1 This agreement defines the principles, policy guidelines & procedures required which BGMEA Institute of Fashion Technology (BIFT) & National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) wish to develop in mutual interest. This co-operation includes exchange of students, training activities, research activities within the area of Design, Management and Technology of the two partner institutes.
1.2 This agreement will be reviewed each year and changes specifying the methods of co-operation and modalities between the partners will be incorporated with mutual consent.
II. Organization and Management
2.1 Each of the two partner institutes shall designate a permanent employee of its teaching staff or management team as a representative for the management of this agreement.
2.2 Each partner institute will endeavor to provide the human, material and financial resource necessary for the running of the co-operation program specified annually. Moreover, the two institutes agree to put forth joint proposal for financial support for the activities undertaken within the framework of this agreement from regional, national and international funding organizations.
III. Objective
3.1 The objective of this agreement is to encourage international cooperation, and strengthening two institutes in the following areas:
a) NIFT will provide a semester study for BIFT students while BIFT will facilitate NIFT student to carry out Internship and Graduation Project/ Research Project in Apparel Industry at Bangladesh.
b) Faculty training program for BIFT c) Exposure to workshops, exhibitions and conducting special lectures d) Joint industrial projects and joint research activities
IV. Scope
4.1 The Agreement will cover the exchange of activities between NIFT India and BIFT Bangladesh.
A. Faculty Development Program
1 On the basis of requirement of BIFT, Faculty Development Program can be offered by the NIFT. The modalities will be worked out on the basis of the duration, gap areas, nature of workshop, place of training etc. at the time of offering the program.
2 BIFT faculty / faculty groups may come to NIFT for training or NIFT may send faculty members to BIFT to train their faculty at BIFT which will be decided in writing from time to time.
3 Detailed modalities will be worked out at the time of training programs.
B. Student Exchange
1. NIFT will offer a semester input to BIFT Students at NIFT India and BIFT will facilitate NIFT students to carry out Internship, Graduation Project and Placement in Apparel Industry at Bangladesh.

1 Semester at NIFT for BIFT Student
8 -14 Weeks Apparel Internship for NIFT students
12- 16 Weeks Graduation Project Research Project for NIFT students

BIFT student at NIFT:
2. The exchange student (s) from BIFT will undergo for the study of one semester of the Degree Program at NIFT. BIFT student will be issued a complete semester mark sheet indicating the subjects studied, credit, hours of inputs and overall performance. The classes for BIFT student(s) will be held with other students of NIFT.
3. BIFT student (s) shall be responsible for all travel costs, accommodation, meals, health insurance, semester contribution (at their home institute), medical costs, passport and visa costs, course materials (books, and consumables) and other expenses. NIFT shall not provide any financial assistance to exchange students.
Internship and Graduation Project at Bangladesh Apparel Industry for NIFT students:
4. As a part of exchange, NIFT student(s) will carry out an Internship and / or a Graduation Project in the industry at Bangladesh. This complete activity will be organized by BIFT well in advance by 2 months. The duration and timing of internship and Graduation Project/ Research Projects will be communicated well in advance, since the duration of these activities varies from program to program at NIFT. Both the activities, Internship & Graduation Project, will take place in the Industry only. During this period BIFT will appoint one senior faculty as a co-guide / mentor to the student(s) carrying out the Internship / Graduation Project in the Industry. The student who undertakes the internship in the industry will be encouraged to carry out the Graduation Project in the same Industry in Bangladesh. However, in specific cases a different student can be sent to carry out the Graduation project if the student who had opted for the Internship is not willing to go there for Graduation Project.
Internships: 8 to 14 weeks (Depending on Academic Program of NIFT) Graduation Projects : 12 to 16 weeks (Depending on Academic Program of NIFT)
a) Internship at Bangladesh Industry:
For the NIFT student(s) carrying out Internship at Bangladesh Industry, the Industry will provide accommodation and local conveyance between factory & place of accommodation. However student will have to bear all other travel expenses, lodging, health insurance, semester contribution at their home institute, passport & visa cost, course material & other unforeseen expenses. This arrangement between the Industry & NIFT students shall be planned and finalized by BIFT.
b) Graduation Project at Bangladesh
For the NIFT student(s) carrying out Graduation Project in the Apparel Industry at Bangladesh, the Industry in which students are carrying out Graduation project will provide accommodation and local conveyance from place of accommodation to the factory however student will have to bear expenses of all other travel expenses, lodging, health insurance, semester contribution at their home institute, passport & visa cost, course material & other expense. The Industry will also provide a stipend to the students for the duration of Graduation Project. BIFT will work out this arrangement between the Industry and the students and also facilitate the placements for NIFT students.
5. The maximum number of students exchanged under this agreement will be limited to four students per year.
6. Exchange student(s) of BIFT who have successfully completed 6 semesters for UG program / 3rd year of degree course at the home institute will be nominated by BIFT. The applications will be submitted to NIFT & each exchange student will satisfy the admission procedures and requirements of the host department as well as the prerequisites for specific courses and programs. Admission of the student(s) will be entirely at the discretion of NIFT.
7. Language proficiency of exchange students will be gauged and verified by appropriate personnel at the home institute before nominating them. The medium of instruction at NIFT is English.
8. Exchange students will be admitted in a non-degree status by NIFT for a period of one semester.
9. On a reciprocal, NIFT shall waive tuition and related fees for BIFT exchange student(s)
10. Exchange students must carry out medical health insurance that meets the requirements of the host institute and/or the host government. Neither institute will incur liability for illness, injury, financial loss or death of an exchange student at the partner institute. NIFT and BIFT will ensure that exchange students sign liability waivers absolving both institutes of any liability.
11. If an exchange student withdraws before the end of the designated period of that exchange, the status of the other member of the exchange will not be affected. The principle of reciprocity however, must be maintained over time.
12. NIFT will provide services to assist exchange students in locating accommodation and adjusting to the academic, social and cultural life of the host institute. It will also provide instruction, academic evaluation and supervision for exchange students as is maintained for home students.
13. Exchange students are expected to adhere to the rules and regulations of the host institute and respect the cultural norms, national traditions and customs of the host country.
14. Both the institutes reserve their rights to decline the students on academic ground or if any other condition within this agreement is not met.
C. Student Groups
1. Special arrangements for groups of students from one institute to another for the purpose of a short-term visit (workshops, exhibitions, industries exposure) may be negotiated in a separate agreement.
D. Joint Industrial Projects / Research Work
1 Faculties and the staff at both the institutes can take joint industrial projects on mutual consent with the prior written approval of the respective institutes.
2 Both the institutes have equal rights on the joint projects.
3 Prior to the starting of the joint project all the conditions will be worked out. If any faculty leaves in between, the institute will be responsible to provide a substitute
4 In the joint industrial projects / research work, liability will remain with the institute, individual will not be liable for the project.
5. Detailed modalities will be worked out at the time of taking up joint projects.
V. Duration, Conditions and Modifications of the Agreement
5.1 This agreement becomes effective upon the signature of the designated officials of both institutes. The actual implementation will begin as soon as both institutes have identified qualified individuals in each institute ready to participate in the exchange. However, such identification must take place within 30 days of execution/coming into effect of this Agreement.
5.2 This Agreement is valid for five years from the date of signature. However, three years will be recognized as the accounting period. The numbers of the students benefiting from this agreement would be 20 each from either side by the end of 5 years. However, every effort will be made to maintain four students on yearly basis.
5.3 The absence of exchanges during one academic year is possible and does not nullify the Agreement.
5.4 In accordance with the Equal Opportunity Policies of the institutes named above, there will be no discrimination against any person, for any reason, who is qualified as a participant in the program supported by this document.
5.5 Either institute may terminate this Agreement with a notice of six months. Exchanges in progress at the time remain unaffected and will be completed in the agreed period.
5.6 Modifications may be proposed and implemented at any time, effective from the date of written notification mutually agreed upon and signed by both institutes.
5.7 At the end of the penultimate year of the five-year cycle both institutes will conduct an evaluation of the program. Any amendments to be made would be achieved by mutual consent in writing and the agreement will be revised accordingly for a further five-year cycle.
5.8 No amendment or revision of the Agreement shall come into effect unless it has been mutually agreed upon and such agreement is recorded in writing.
VI. Dispute Resolution
6.1 The disputes arising out of and in connection with the present agreement shall be sought to be amicably resolved by conciliation between the Director General, NIFT and the President, Board of Governors-BIFT. In the event there is a failure of resolution of such disputes, it shall be referred to arbitration by a sole arbitrator to be duly appointed and nominated by the Secretary, Ministry of Textiles, Government of India.
6.2 The place and venue of arbitration shall be at New Delhi.
6.3 The applicable proper, substantive and procedural law for arbitration shall be the laws of India and the arbitration proceedings shall be conducted under and as per the provisions of the Indian Arbitration and Conciliation of Disputes Act, 1996 and the Rules framed there under.
VII. Jurisdiction
7.1 All disputes arising out of the present Agreement shall be subject to the jurisdiction of the Indian courts.
VIII. Governing Law
8.1 The present Agreement shall be governed by the laws of India, and in the event of conflict between any laws of Bangladesh and India, the Indian law shall prevail.
IX. Miscellaneous
9.1 Licenses and regulations: In the performance of this Agreement both parties agree that they shall comply and shall cause their personnel to comply with all local laws and regulations, which affect the undertakings to be executed by the parties under this Agreement. Both parties shall have all relevant permits and licenses in place necessary for the proper execution of the Agreement.
9.2 Intellectual property rights: Both Parties undertake that they shall not infringe upon any copyright or other intellectual property rights of the other Party which shall remain in exclusive possession of the respective Parties. Both parties shall obtain permission in writing for the usage of any logo, motif, emblem, or any other intellectual property right vested in the respective Parties to be used in connection with the implementation of the present Agreement from the respective Party.
9.3 Each Party is the sole owner of such intellectual property rights and the other Party shall have no rights thereto if not expressly mentioned in this Agreement. Neither Party may use the other party's intellectual property rights without the prior consent of possessing Party. Nothing contained in this agreement is intended to, or shall be construed to grant to either Party any license or right regarding the other Party's intellectual property rights.
9.4 Waiver: No waiver by either Party of any breach of any condition, covenant or term of this Agreement shall be effective unless it is in writing and no failure or delay by either Party in insisting upon strict performance of any of the terms or conditions of this agreement or in exercising any right, power or privilege hereunder shall operate as a waiver thereof.
9.5 Assignment and subcontracting: Neither Party hereto shall assign any of its rights or obligations or sub-contract the same under this Agreement to any third party without the prior written consent of the other party.
9.6 Entire Agreement: This Agreement constitutes the complete expression of both Parties' agreement and understanding with respect to the subject matter herein and supersedes all other prior agreements, undertakings, obligations, promises, arrangements, communications, negotiations and understandings whether oral or written, by both the Parties with respect to the subject matter hereof.
9.7 Modification: This Agreement and its Annexure may be amended or modified only by a written agreement by both Parties. Any such amendment and modifications will be listed in an Annexure hereto.
9.8 Notices: Any notices required to be sent under this Agreement by one Party to the other shall be in writing and forwarded to the other Party to the following addresses:

If to NIFT:
Director General NIFT Campus, Near.Gulmohor Park Town, Hauz Khas, New Delhi. India 110016
If to BIFT:
President, Board of Governors BIFT S. R. Tower, 105 Uttara Model Sector #7, Uttara, Dhaka - 1230 Bangladesh
9.9 If statements must be made in writing, they are deemed to having been made in writing when using electronic data communication or any other machine-readable form as long as the originator of the message is identifiable.
9.10 Independent Contractors: Both parties shall not for any purpose, be deemed or represent itself to be an agent or representative of the other Party. The relationship between the Parties shall only be that of independent contractors.
9.11 Severability: In the event that anyone or more of the provisions contained herein, or the application thereof in any circumstance, is held invalid, illegal or unenforceable in any respect, such provision or provisions shall be ineffective only to the extent of such invalidity, illegality or unenforceability, without invalidating the remainder of such provision or provisions or the remaining provisions of this Agreement, and such invalid, illegal or unenforceable provision or portion thereof shall, to the maximum extent possible, be substituted by an enforceable provision(s) that preserve(s) the original intentions position of the parties.

The F Express. 08-09-2011. Sub: BD-India relations

Memorandum of understanding between the Government of the Republic of India and the Government of the People's Republic of Bangladesh on Co-operation in the Field of Fisheries

The Government of the Republic of India represented by the Ministry of Agriculture and the Government of the People's Republic of Bangladesh represented by the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock, hereinafter referred to as the "Contracting Parties",
Mindful of the need to strengthen the existing friendly relations between the two countries through development of co-operation in the fields of fisheries and aquaculture and allied activities.
Considering that the advantage to be derived from development of co-operation in fisheries and aquaculture and allied activities;
Have reached the following understanding:
The Contracting Parties shall promote development of co-operation in fisheries and aquaculture and allied activities between the two countries through joint activities, programmes, exchange of scientific materials, information and personnel.
The joint activities will be determined by the Contracting Parties and implemented through mutually agreed procedures.
Such joint activities should be environmentally sound and sustainable and may include the areas of aquaculture germplasm exchange and training in fish stock assessment, post harvest technology, freshwater pearl culture, Hilsa fisheries management, protection of biological diversity related to fisheries development, fish production, distribution, trade and international protocol on Biosafety.
The Contracting Parties shall jointly promote co-operation within this framework of the activities mentioned in Article II. Biennial Work Plans will be drawn up by mutual agreement between the contracting parties to give effect to the objectives of this MOU.
A Joint Working Group (JWG) shall be formed to provide guidance, review the progress of activities and to facilitate co-operation under this Memorandum. The Joint Working Group Meeting shall be arranged every year alternately in India and Bangladesh.
Each Contracting Party shall designate an Executive Secretary who shall be responsible for coordinating and monitoring all activities to be carried out under the auspices of this Memorandum. The Executive Secretaries will either meet in person or correspond with each other to develop a work programme and coordinate administrative details.
Under this Memorandum, the designated coordinating authorities will be the Ministry of Agriculture for the Government of the Republic of India and the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock for the Government of the People's Republic of Bangladesh.
The Memorandum authorizes the involvement of other interested Government agencies, the scientific and business communities as well as the private sectors of both countries in such co-operation.
The sending party will bear the costs of travel(s) and the receiving party will provide local hospitality. Activities pursuant to this Memorandum are subject to the availability of funds and personnel and to the laws and regulations of the respective counties of the parties.
The Memorandum shall not in any way affect the commitments of the Contracting Parties under existing bilateral agreements between the two countries.
The Memorandum shall enter into force upon signature by both parties and shall remain valid for a period of 5(five) years. This MOU may be extended for further period as may be mutually agreed upon. Either of the parties may terminate the MOU by giving at least 6(six) months notice in advance of its intention to terminate the MOU. The termination of this Memorandum shall not affect the validity or duration of any implementing arrangement/ project executed and commenced thereunder and the activities in progress shall continue until completed.
This MOU may be modified or amended by mutual consent.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, the undersigned, being duly authorized by their respective Governments, have hereto signed this Memorandum and affixed hereto their seals.

Done at Dhaka on this Sixth day of September, 2011 two originals in English language.

For and on behalf of the For and on behalf of the
Government of the Government of the People's Republic of India Republic of Bangladesh

The F Express. 08-09-2011. Sub: BD-India relations

Protocol on Conservation of the Royal Bengal Tiger of the Sunderban between the Government of the Republic of India (the "India") and Government of the People's Republic of Bangladesh (the "Bangladesh")

Sunderban, which is an excellent tiger habitat and the largest sanctuary for the Royal Bengal Tiger in the world, stands across the common boundary of India and Bangladesh; and
India and Bangladesh have a shared and common concern of the Royal Bengal Tiger and accordingly wish to take certain bilateral initiatives for ensuring the survival and conservation of the tiger in the unique ecosystem of Sunderban; and
It is necessary to intensify the efforts for the safety of the Royal Bengal Tiger.
Now, therefore, India and Bangladesh hereby agree as following:
Article I
1. Both countries
(a) will undertake bilateral scientific and research projects to promote their understanding and knowledge of the Sunderban's Royal Bengal Tiger and including habitat will develop information systems, share research data and conduct joint research;
(b) will exchange personnel for training and promotion of education;
(c) will undertake patrolling of the Sunderban waterways on their respective sides to prevent poaching or smuggling of derivatives from wildlife;
(d) agree that either party will not undertake any activity, which will have adverse effect on the biodiversity and the unique ecosystem of Sunderban. However, no restriction on border domination activities be imposed;
(e) will include the safety of Royal Bengal Tiger as an agenda in all border meetings involving the habitat of the tiger.
Article II
2. For the purpose of training and promotion of education referred to in clause (b) of Article I of this Protocol, the Government of India, at the request of the Government of Bangladesh, will reserve at least four seats for personnel from Bangladesh in the nine months Diploma Course in the Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun.
Article III
A special committee will be constituted in each country to examine human casualties that take place in the Sunderban by tiger attacks with a view to sharing experiences from either side, and to act in consultation with the other side, if necessary.
Article IV
Forest Officers or Park Directors from both the countries will hold periodic meetings on either side of the Sunderban alternately, with a view to sharing management strategies and creating innovative and common management approaches.
Article V
High level Ministerial level meetings will be held to follow up all the recommended actions between the two countries.
Article VI
The Protocol can be amended by mutual consent.
Article VII
The Protocol shall remain valid for 5 (five) years and shall be automatically renewed at the expiry of each period, unless terminated by mutual consent for which the Party desiring to terminate shall serve on the other Party a notice 90 (ninety) days prior to the date from which termination becomes effective. The termination of this Protocol shall not affect completion of any project which has made substantial progress.

Signed at Dhaka on the Sixth day of September, 2011 in two originals in English language, each of which is equally authentic.

For and on behalf of the For and on behalf of the
Government of the Government of the People's Republic of India Republic of Bangladesh

The F Express. 08-09-2011. Sub: BD-India relations

Agreements/MOUs signed during PM's visit to Bangladesh

(i) Framework Agreement on Cooperation for Develop-ment

(ii) Protocol to the Agree-ment concerning the demarcation of the Land Boundary between India and Bangladesh and related matters

(iii) Addendum to the MOU between India and Bangladesh to facilitate Overland Transit Traffic between Bangladesh and Nepal

(iv) Memorandum of Understanding for Coopera-tion in Renewable Energy

(v) Memorandum of Understanding on Conser-vation of the Sunderban

(vi) Protocol on Conser-vation of the Royal Bengal Tiger of the Sunderban

(vii) Memorandum of Understanding on Coopera-tion in Fisheries

(viii) Memorandum of Understanding on Coopera-tion between Doordarshan and Bangladesh Television

(ix) Memorandum of Understanding on Coopera-tion between Jawaharlal Nehru University and Dhaka University

(x) Agreement of Coope-ration between National Institute of Fashion Design (NIFT), India and BGMEA Institute of Fashion Technology (BIFT),

Bangladesh Dhaka

September 6, 2011

The F Express. 08-09-2011. Sub: BD-India relations

Framework Agreement on Cooperation for Development between Government of the Republic of India and Government of the People's Republic of Bangladesh

Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohon Singh and Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina exchanging documents on framework accords on bilateral cooperation

The Government of the Republic of India (hereinafter Government of India) and the Government of the People's Republic of Bangladesh (hereinafter Government of Bangladesh)

Recalling the two countries' shared bonds of history, culture and common values;

Desirous of living in peace and harmony with each other and fostering good neighbourly relations based on sovereign equality, non-interference in each other's internal affairs, and mutual respect and mutual benefit;

Inspired by an abiding faith in and total commitment to democracy, development, pluralism and peaceful co-existence;

Reiterating their common objective of eradicating poverty, hunger, illiteracy and disease and promoting social justice and inclusive growth with a view to enabling their peoples to realize their potential to the full;

Desirous of promoting trans-border cooperation in the management of shared water resources, hydropower potentials and eco-systems and in the areas of connectivity and trade and economic cooperation;

Convinced that cooperation at the bilateral, sub-regional and regional levels will accelerate development and enable the two countries to realise their developmental aspirations, shared destiny and common vision of a peaceful and prosperous South Asia;

Have Agreed as under:

Article 1

To promote trade, investment and economic cooperation, which is balanced, sustainable and builds prosperity in both countries. Both Parties shall take steps to narrow trade imbalances, remove progressively tariff and non-tariff barriers and facilitate trade, by road, rail, inland waterways, air and shipping. Both Parties will encourage the development of appropriate infrastructure, use of sea ports, multi-modal transportation and standardization of means of transport for bilateral as well as sub-regional use.

Article 2

To enhance cooperation in sharing of the waters of common rivers, both Parties will explore the possibilities of common basin management of common rivers for mutual benefit. The Parties will cooperate in flood forecasting and control. They will cooperate and provide necessary assistance to each other to enhance navigability and accessibility of river routes and ports.

Article 3

To develop mechanisms for technical cooperation and exchange of advance information with respect to natural disasters. The Parties shall also promote training and capacity building initiatives and cooperation between respective disaster management authorities, with a view to upgrading response mechanism.

Article 4

To establish arrangements for cooperation in generation, transmission, and distribution of electricity, including electricity from renewable or other sources. The Parties also agree to use power grid connectivity to promote power exchanges to mutual economic advantage.

Article 5

To promote scientific, educational, cultural and people to people exchanges and cooperation between the two countries. These shall be implemented through programmes and joint initiatives in areas such as agriculture, education and culture, health, tourism, sports, science & technology and any other area that the Parties may agree. The Parties shall cooperate by means of exchange of data, scientific knowledge, collaborative research, training, common programmes and in any other manner as may be agreed between the two Parties.

Article 6

To develop and implement programmes for environmental protection and responding to the challenges of climate change through adaptation. The Parties shall collaborate on projects of mutual interest to preserve common eco-systems and, as far as practicable, coordinate their response in international fora.

Article 7

To harness the advantages of sub-regional cooperation in the power sector, water resources management, physical connectivity, environment and sustainable development for mutual advantage, including jointly developing and financing projects.

Article 8

To cooperate closely on issues relating to their national interests. Both parties shall work together to create a peaceful environment conducive for inclusive economic growth and development.

Article 9

To cooperate on security issues of concern to each other while fully respecting each other's sovereignty. Neither party shall allow the use of its territory for activities harmful to the other.

Article 10

To establish a Joint Consultative Commission for effective and smooth implementation of this Agreement that shall meet once a year.

Article 11

The Agreement may be amended by mutual consent in order to enhance, deepen and widen the scope of cooperation, including regional / sub-regional expansion.

Article 12

This Agreement shall come into force on the date of its signing by the two Parties and shall remain in force until terminated by mutual consent in accordance with Para 2 of this Article.

Either Party may seek termination of this Agreement by giving a written notice to the other Party providing the reasons for seeking such termination. Before this Agreement is terminated, the Parties shall consider the relevant circumstances and hold consultations to address the reasons cited by the Party seeking termination in the Joint Consultative Commission.

Actions taken or agreements reached pursuant to this Agreement shall not be affected by its expiry or termination.

Done in Dhaka o n the Sixth day of September, 2011, in two originals in English Language.

Dr. Manmohan Singh Sheikh Hasina

Prime Minister Prime Minister

Government of the Government of the
Republic of India People's Republic Bangladesh

The F Express. 08-09-2011. Sub: BD-India relations

Monday, July 18, 2011

Authorities lack capacity to enforce food safety laws

Khursheed Jahan

Nutritionist Khursheed Jahan tells New Age

by Shahidul Islam Chowdhury

RELEVANT authorities lack the capacity to enforce laws and regulations in ensuring food safety, says Khursheed Jahan of the Institute of Nutrition and Food Science under Dhaka University.

Most of the importers, producers and sellers of food items continue to repeat the offences for what they have been penalised in the past, she said in an exclusive interview with New Age on Tuesday.

‘The government must bring the food producers, public or private, importers and sellers within the legal framework,’ she added.

A medical graduate, Khursheed Jahan said most people in the low-, lower-middle- and middle-income brackets were struggling to ensure even two square meals a day amidst a sustained surge in the prices of essential commodities.

Nearly 40 per cent of the under-5 children are suffering from nutrition deficiency and 40 per cent of the adult population is suffering from energy deficiency, she said. ‘It is dangerous for a nation.’

People are increasingly becoming dependent on mushrooming roadside shops, which are set up under an open sky and serve food prepared in unhygienic condition, said Khursheed Jahan, who obtained a postgraduate degree in public from Harvard University.

As a result, viral hepatitis, gastrointestinal problem, lever and kidney failure, dementia, diarrhoea, acute food poisoning and other food-borne diseases have become widespread, she added.


What is your assessment on the current state of food safety in Bangladesh?

Many surveys on nutrition have been conducted in the past 40 years. Each of these surveys show deficiency disorder in people as they are not maintaining required food intake. About 40 per cent of the under-5 children suffer from nutrition deficiency and 40 per cent of the adult population suffers from energy deficiency. It is dangerous for a nation.

A human being requires a balanced diet of 2,150 to 2,200 calories every day. About 60 per cent should come from carbohydrate, 12 to 14 per cent protein and the rest should be fat. Now, 75 to 80 per cent of the total calorie intake comes from carbohydrate as rice is a staple food in Bangladesh. Most people in Bangladesh cannot afford vegetable, fruits and animal protein and fat because of limited purchasing power.

Most people in the low, lower-middle- and middle-income groups struggle to ensure two proper meals a day, let alone three quality meals, due to soaring prices of essentials. They take whatever they can manage. Many children do not get proper breakfast before going to school.

In many families, busy parents cannot manage time to prepare snacks for school-going children. Those who can afford give money to their children to buy calorie- and fat-dense junk food from school canteen. These are not balanced diet on any consideration.

That’s how people’s food habit is changing.

Another important thing is that children cannot manage time to play at open spaces. As such, they have become dependent on television, computer, internet, mobile phone for entertainment. In fact, most of them do not lead an active life.

Poorer sections of society, especially the children, have to bear a double burden. Many of them take one meal a day and are heavily dependent on street food. People taking sugarcane juice and sliced fruits and vegetables including papaya, pineapple, watermelon, cucumber and carrot are common scene in cities. Sellers of these products use dirty utensils, knife, bucket and glasses. They do not wash their hands properly and many of them spread pathogenic bacteria from skin infections.

Middle-class people are becoming dependent on mushrooming roadside shops, which are set up under an open sky and serve food prepared in unhygienic condition.

That’s why viral hepatitis, gastrointestinal problem, lever and kidney failure, dementia, diarrhoea, acute food poisoning and other food-borne diseases have become widespread.

How do soaring food prices adversely affect food safety in general and level of nutrition in particular?

Certainly. People compromise on both the quantity and quality of food due to soaring prices of essential commodities including rice, flour, vegetables, fish, meat, fruits and milk. Thousands families cannot afford two meals a day or vegetables, fish, meat, fruits and milk regularly in their menu. They are becoming dependent on alternative and unsafe food. That’s how soaring prices of essentials are compounding chronic energy deficiency among people in general and low-income people in particular.

What role should the state play to ensure food security and safety?
The government should take pragmatic steps to increase the purchasing power of the people. It should also make food available at affordable prices and ensure the quality of food. Sustainable distribution chains with storage capacity in remote districts are also essential for ensuring food security.

How widespread do you think adulteration has become?
Adulteration was there in the past but now it has become extensive. For example, applying calcium carbide for ripening green mangos is very common every summer. Applying colours, essences and taste enhancers, including sodium salt in chips are common. The paediatric units of different hospitals are getting more patients with gastrointestinal and other problems.

How severe is the impact of rampant use of chemical pesticide and fattener in growing crops, vegetables and fruits?
Now, almost all growers apply chemicals as pesticides and fatteners—from the very beginning of plantation to harvesting. The government agencies conduct drives in name only. Many government employees and officials do not have proper knowledge and training to stop the use of chemicals as pesticides and fatteners. The government needs to establish a toxicity testing laboratory under a university to properly face the hazard.

How about artificial food?
Supply of artificial food including juice, jelly and carbonated drinks are also common. Producers of these products apply flavour and low-cost textile colour in foods that make children hyperactive. Many of them suffer from hypertension. In fact, additional colour in food is not good even if the colour is food-grade.

What is your view about the quality of packaging? Are they really food-grade?
Food-grade packaging and coating are very important for maintaining the quality of food in general and the pre-processed and pre-packed food in particular. Another important aspect is shelf life of a product. Unfortunately, many big department stores here do not properly maintain shelf life of products, let alone quality of packaging. The government agencies are not properly taking care of the issues of packaging and shelf life. So consumers must check whether the packaging is scratched or the composition of a product is right or the product is damp.

What is your view about genetically modified food and hybrid food?
Generally nutritional values are kept intact in hybrid foods. But we need to be careful about genetically modified food.

Do you think there is a necessity for investing in ensuring food safety and nutrition?
The authorities need to take food security and food safety in consideration together. So quality food must be made available at an affordable price for people in general and low-income people in particular.

What is the current state of laboratory facilities and research on food safety in Bangladesh?
A very limited number of tests and researches are done here on food safety. The government should invest more in research.

You are for establishing a laboratory under a university. How would you evaluate the performance of the Bangladesh Standards Testing Institution and its laboratory in ensuring food safety?
It does some tests. Does it really do all tests necessary for ensuring food safety when chemical contamination, pollution and adulteration are rampant? That’s why I feel there is the necessity for establishing a central toxicological laboratory preferably under a university.

Why under a university?
For credibility of the tests as most public universities still do credible tests and research works.

There are laws on food safety. Are they enforced effectively?
There is enforcement in name only. Food producers and shops continue to repeat the offences for what they were punished or fined by magistrates during anti-adulteration drives. Thousands of street shops are still unregistered. The government must bring the food producers, public or private, importers and sellers within the legal framework.

Do you think climate change has had adverse impacts on food safety?
Draught, salinity intrusion into soil and inland waters, no matter surface or underground water, and stagnation of waters for longer period adversely affect food safety and security.

How would you evaluate the preparation for emergency situations?
There is hardly any mechanism to ensure food security let alone food safety in
emergency situations. We must develop a mechanism for the people in disaster-
prone areas.

New Age 19-05-011

Monday, April 18, 2011

Rich countries need to take responsibility to mitigate climate change effects seriously

Former Irish president and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson tells New Age

by Saiful Huda

THE first woman president of Ireland (1990-97) and former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (1997-2002), Mary Robinson was recently in Dhaka to attend the convocation of BRAC University and deliver a public lecture on climate justice at the BRAC Centre.

Robinson, who currently runs the Mary Robinson Foundation, which works for climate justice around the world, took the opportunity of her maiden visit to Bangladesh to see the ground realities of climate change adaptation. She flew in a seaplane to Koira, an upazila in Satkhira, which was devastated by cyclone Aila-induced tidal surge on May 25, 2009.

In an exclusive interview with New Age, after her visit to Koira, Robinson lauded the resilience of people there in coping with, and adapting to, the adversities of climate and also talked about climate justice for which her organisation is campaigning. Excerpts:

What is your view about unwarranted infringement of individual freedom by the government and private organisations, which is common in almost all countries?
Every culture has its own problems. The most important and best way is to integrate. Civil society and parliament have to play their respective roles to ensure people’s rights.

But, in many countries, the role of civil society is often criticised.
There is confusion in many countries about the role of civil society. Civil society has the role to check policymakers when they make mistakes as well as support the government.

Do you think all countries that signed and ratified the UN charter on human rights ensure their citizens’ rights to enjoy civil and political life without discrimination or repression?
I wish they did. But no. Every country has citizen rights problem. It is not fair that one country lectures some other country without looking into its own violations. Human right in China has different perspective than that in the United States.

The United Nations has been talking about upholding human rights at the international and national levels. But most of the states have become coercive machineries where governments fail to uphold human rights for their citizens. Why has the UN failed to ensure that the states uphold the universal human rights?
There is a danger of lowering the role of the UN. But the standards have not changed.

One of the responsibilities of the UN is to respond to serious violations of human rights. Do you think that extrajudicial killing by law enforcement agencies and killing of unarmed and innocent persons on borders between two countries, like in the case of Bangladesh, are serious violations of human rights?
I am not specifically aware of the situation here. The UN has specialist rapporteurs whose task is to look into such incidents and report to the human rights counter at the UN.

Most of the rich countries generally use their development aids as ‘political tool’ and many countries do not uphold their commitments on development aid meant to support the poorer sections of the people. How do you see the situation?
Ireland has never worked on tied aid. It is true that some countries do have tied aids. This affects aid effectiveness.
We don’t think of climate justice anyway like trade justice. Climate justice isn’t just about mitigation and adaptation; it is also about transfer of locally sustainable tangible technology. Light, probably solar, clean cooking and water distillation for the poor people. It’s a bottom-up approach. We need to focus on enhancing access to technology. There is actually a website which is tracking reasonably and effectively the contribution of governments to the climate fund but there is no comprehensive website to put all the funds — the LDC fund, the adaptation fund, the fast-rack fund, the green fund.
If we have transparency on exactly what governments are committing to and a way of tracking it in one source, I think we would see that governments are not fulfilling their pledges and utilising the money which they commit for adapting and mitigating climate change.

Leaders in the developed countries are talking about climate justice. But most of them are unwilling to transfer good, green, low-carbon technologies to the poorest to support their right to development. How do you regard this situation?

Climate justice isn’t just about mitigation and adaptation but is also about financial support. It deals with who will be the representative of the green fund. There must be a gender perspective. What will be the role of the World Bank and the trustee? And all these things are extremely important.

The other thing is access to technologies. I think we have to address how this will come about. And it is not just feeding the market, rather bottom-up application of appropriate technologies. And then how to bring innovativeness in securing a transfer; to some extent, it has to be locally sustainable and tangible technologies.

For example, it was mentioned in the Global Alliance for Vaccination and Immunisation, where I was representing civil society as a chair of the board, that if you stand back from this alliance to immunise the poor children, those who are just over 10 years old will not be reached.

Just looking back very briefly, the Gates Foundation put up about $700 million in the year 2000 and UNICEF, WHO and the World Bank came together saying that we are not reaching the poor children and we have to do better. Donors, partner developing countries and governments then got involved in identification of what is to be put in place by the developing countries. The pharmaceutical companies got involved.

What the GAVI alliance did was create a market of immunising the poorest children. This philosophy has to be implemented in the case of climate change to make green technologies affordable for people in developing countries. What I have been trying to tease out of my head, but I don’t have an answer to, is how we create initial market for getting to the poorest.

I am very keen to transfer green technology for adaptation and mitigation to the developing countries. The private sector will play a very strong role here. There is lack of innovativeness and thinking in how to do it and how to do it well. How do we create an affordable product? How do we create an affordable market? Mobile phone is a glaring example of how products can be made affordable and technologies reachable to all segments of society for a better living. We need to learn lessons from these.

How do you look at the global role of the United States, especially in developing countries?
In the past, the role of the United States was obvious. It is no longer a unipolar world. There are emerging economies in the world, countries which are strong now.

Do you think that the UN in general and the Security Council in particular reflect the power balance and economic balance in the world today?

I would welcome reform of the Security Council. The 15-member council does not reflect the world forum.

What is your reaction to the
US and UK governments’ moves to try WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange?
It has got long-term impacts. My own observation is that if countries say one thing and do something else, it is not fair. There seems to be a credibility gap. You have to be more frank.

What has been your experience in the field during your visit to Koira?
I have to start on a personal note. My first time in a seaplane was exciting and a very good way to see just how water-logged the areas are as we were getting closer Koira.
I wanted to have an opportunity to see the community in practice to adapt with climate change.
I was very shocked by so many people living in such fragile condition and some of them still on the embankment two years after cyclone Aila. I talked to one elderly woman, she used to have her own house and a reasonable income and now she is tucked in a very inadequate shelter with her husband and son. You could see she was very traumatised by the period as two years have passed. It has struck me.
I was happy to start with a visit to a primary school BRAC is involved in and to see the children’s school having a bench of tree knocked by wind. I think every primary school in every part of the world should have their children becoming aware of those children.
For some in the rich world it won’t be a realistic threat, but they should know that there are children for whom it is absolute reality. Those children have been four years in primary school and they will have the experience of Aila. They have seen the flooding.
The American children, the Irish children, they don’t have the experience, but we should know that is what children are already living through. It is part of creating awareness that climate change is affecting people already.
Then we met farmers and fishermen, men and women who had to adapt, had to feed crabs because crabs don’t mind the saline water. Then gift Telapia fish providing livelihood for women and their men folk. Women took a big involvement in it.
It’s not easy to adapt with something you have never done before. They had to learn new ways of how much food is needed, the technical side which BRAC has been supporting as they have to be sustainable in future.

It is the same thing with the farmers I met. Because of the salinity of the ground they were learning to grow maize and a type of rice to grow on saline land. What really impressed me, I must say, was these farmers knew exactly what the issues were. They had made the decisions. They had come away from sticking to the old rice which had not done so well. Others had grown maize for the first time.

I even joked with them because in the west of Ireland, where I grew up, small farmers are not very adaptable. But these farmers were very resilient and they were obviously benefiting.

The last thing which we saw was houses constructed to show climate resilience. One was on concrete pillars not quite high and tile roofs looked very sturdy, obviously a very impressive structure, but it is more expensive. And the other one was a home built entirely of local materials. If it is destroyed by a future strong surge or cyclone, it would be replaceable.

Local people were being given options other than being told you have to do it this way. And the whole thing was being about empowering local people. That’s a very human rights approach and it was a very generous thing to do.

Just again flying back in the seaplane, thinking of the scale when I understood what was going on down on the ground. The dykes have been damaged and need to be rehabilitated. What was missing to me, I think, was an effective strategic local government.

I have a sense that if there was a well-functioning local authority that was planning, and should have been planning, immediately after the cyclone, the rebuilding, things would have been much easier for these people. But in the absence of that, NGOs, BRAC and others, are struggling to help the people and make them very resilient. But there is a missing element that I think needs to be worked on. More evaluation part of local authority, more responsibility, more capacity to deal at local level and create enabling environment for what is going on.

What is your view about climate justice and responsibility of developing countries regarding compensation for causing climate change?

I very much take the justice view. The people I was meeting cannot be at all responsible for greenhouse gas emission. But the impact on them is more severe, and we are undermining their already fragile development, already difficult development.

As far as that is the case, I think countries like Bangladesh should be enabled effectively to address that. I don’t care whether you call it compensation or anything else; definitely there should be financial support for adaptation. There should be a better balance between mitigation and adaptation funding. And I strongly support that and I supported that in Cancun. Responsibility to mitigate has to be taken much more seriously by the rich countries that are responsible. It could be by debt relief or it could be by a number of measures. I personally have no problem with the word ‘compensation’ but I know it can lock any further discussion. So, tactically I would be inclined to try to be clever to get the same results no matter what it is called.

Source - The New Age. Bangladesh daily newspaper Date: 24.02.11.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Wikileaks Bangladesh – II, RAB, counter-terrorism and pursuit of democracy-Rahnuma Ahmed
by Rahnuma Ahmed 

IT HAS been nearly two weeks since the WikiLeaks leak of diplomatic cables from US Embassy, Dhaka revealed that US ambassador James F Moriarty had urged the prime minister’s energy adviser, Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury, to award contracts to Asia Energy, Conoco Philips and Chevron.
As I argued in ‘WikiLeaks Bangladesh – I: People’s resistance to global capital, govt collaboration is vindicated’ (December 27, 2010), subsequent events reveal that those in position, i.e. those within the government, complied. So did the opposition, by remaining silent. By not publicly disavowing policy decisions taken earlier.
A critical analysis of WikiLeaked diplomatic cables reveal a shared interest between the two major political parties and their respective leaders, Sheikh Hasina and Khaleda Zia, whose bitter political rivalry has led influential sections of both national and international media to dub them ‘battling begums’.
They reveal a shared interest between—and this probably evokes a sense of deep shame for the nation—the party which leads the nation’s desire for trying war criminals of 1971 (the Awami League), and leaders belonging to the party who are to be tried for having committed these crimes (the Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh).
The public is given to understand that the Awami League, Bangladesh Nationalist Party, and Jamaat-e-Islami are unlikely bed-fellows, but closer analysis reveals their unity in serving the interests of global capital, against the interests of impoverished, oppressed local communities in Phulbari, against asserting national control and ownership of mineral resources.
No official reaction to the WikiLeaked energy cable, still. Other exposés seem more pressing. The creature comforts in Khaleda Zia’s Dhaka Cantonment home from which she was evicted. Signs of ‘opulence’, says Sheikh Hasina.
Meanwhile, the National Committee for the Protection of Oil, Gas and Mineral Resources, Power and Ports demands that the US ambassador be declared persona non grata, that the prime minister’s energy adviser be sacked (December 30, 2010).
WikiLeaked diplomatic cables further reveal that the British government has been training the Rapid Action Battalion, Bangladesh’s paramilitary force, described as a ‘government death squad’ by Human Rights Watch, in ‘investigative interviewing techniques’ and ‘rules of engagement’ (Guardian, December 21, 2010). That Moriarty thinks RAB is ‘best positioned to one day become a Bangladeshi version of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation.’ Since the revelations, the British government maintains it has provided ‘a range of human rights assistance’ to RAB, while the head of RAB’s training Mejbahuddin says, no. Not to his knowledge. At least not since he took charge last summer.
The BNP-Jamaat-led four-party alliance government established RAB in 2004. Barrister Moudud Ahmed, minister for law and parliamentary affairs, dismissed extrajudicial deaths as ‘technicalities’, not ‘killings’. They make people ‘happy’. The trial of extrajudicial killings was an Awami League electoral pledge but since coming to power, its position has veered between denial (home minister Sahara Khatun, former state minister for home Tanjim Ahmad Sohel Taj), and necessity. Shipping minister Shahjahan Khan said, some incidents of trial are not possible under the laws. Extrajudicial killings will have to continue.
The Awami League has obviously forgotten those who were earlier cross-fired. It has forgotten Mohammad Mohimuddin Mohim, a central Bangladesh Chhatra League leader, ‘encounter’ed in November 2004. It has forgotten what Mohim’s sister asked Lieutenant Colonel Emdad, commander of RAB-7 Chittagong, ‘My brother, before you murdered him, did he have any last wish, any last word?’ Caught off guard and visibly shaken, he replied, ‘Our politicians, for them, we have to kill our children’ (Forum, December 15, 2006). The WikiLeaked cables help further our understanding: our politicians, bolstered by the support of US, UK (and Indian) governments, for them, ‘our children’ have to be killed.
Moriarty did express reservations about RAB because of its gross violation of human rights. Fake reservations, given the US-led occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq, its escalation, the Af-Pak war, under Obama. Millions killed, nations ravaged. Fake, given Moriarty’s own track record. As the US ambassador to Nepal (2004-2007), in response to paramilitary death squad killings in Terai, he said, it was a reason for ‘optimism’. His main concern? The Royal Nepalese Army was ‘running out of bullets’ (Reconstructing the Nation. Imperial Designers at Work, New Age, December 22, 2008).
Bolstering RAB would further strengthen counter-terrorism operations in Bangladesh; shared concerns, as WikiLeaks reveals, of Indian, American and British governments (January 14, 2009). Pleased at the Awami League’s landslide victory, the Indian high commissioner reportedly said, ‘improving security cooperation would be the top Indian priority.’ RAB should not be ‘disband[ed]’.
But as Jude McCulloch points out, terrorism is notoriously difficult to define, it’s definitions are selectively applied, what we view as terrorism is largely shaped by counter-measures (International State Crime Initiative 2010). During the past decade, counter-terrorism in the ‘war on terror’ has been linked to state crimes: crimes of aggression, torture, police crime, corruption, state corporate crime. Counter-terrorism frequently causes more harm than the violence it purportedly addresses. It fuels political divisions and conflicts which underpin the violence it is said to be countering. It becomes part of an escalating cycle of violence as violent expressions by non-state actors are justified by the state’s response through counter-terrorism measures.
Counter-terrorism laws have served as a pretext for imposing far-reaching restrictions on civil liberties, cracking down on political dissent, pervasive secrecy, indiscriminate detention, arrests and torture. Since September 11, 2001, Chinese authorities have re-categorised separatist acts involving the use of force as ‘international terrorism’, not simply criminal actions. Repression has intensified in Egypt, hundreds arrested or detained on suspicion of being opposed to the government, possessing ‘suspicious’ literature, or, for peacefully demonstrating against the occupation of Iraq, Israel’s occupation of Palestine. Civilians, including professors, medical doctors, other professionals, are tried in military courts, or emergency and regular state security courts. Many are accused of ‘terrorism’.
In liberal democracies, ‘war on terror’ policies have been aimed at undoing workers’ power in the workplace, forbidding airport security personnel the right of unionisation, branding workers who refuse to accept wage and benefit cuts as ‘unpatriotic’; targeting environmental activists, anti-globalisation movements. Former British prime minister Gordon Brown invoked ‘anti-terror legislation’ to freeze assets of bankrupt bank Icesave, when Ireland initially refused to compensate British customers’ who lost savings due to bankruptcy (Aradau and van Munster 2010). Analysts speak of a fascist shift in the US, in the context of what Naomi Wolf describes as, being ‘at war’ in a ‘long war’, a war without end, on a battlefield described as the globe (Guardian, April 24, 2007). Sweden, long upheld as a model liberal democracy, adopted wiretapping laws in 2008 allowing authorities to spy on international calls, faxes and e-mails. Ironical, writes journalist Tasneem Khalil, since he had fled to Sweden, away from the police state of Bangladesh after being detained and tortured by DGFI (Directorate General of Forces Intelligence) personnel during the military-installed caretaker government (2007-2008).
The DGFI has been implicated in torturing Jamil Rahman, a British citizen, in December 2005. He and his wife were taken to the DGFI headquarters, held in separate cells (Guardian, May 26, 2009). Rahman was stripped naked and beaten. He was threatened, his wife would be raped and murdered, her body would be burned. Released after confessing to being the mastermind behind July 2005 underground and bus bombings in London, Rahman alleges, two well-spoken Britons, claiming to be MI5 officers would be present during interrogations, leaving the room when he was tortured. On occasions, three men, allegedly from Scotland Yard, an American woman named Mary, were present during interrogations. A Bangladeshi intelligence officer told Rahman, they were ‘only doing this for the British.’ Rahman’s two-year long ordeal began during the BNP-Jamaat coalition rule, it continued into the Fakhruddin-led emergency period. In June 2009, Lord West, UK state minister for security and counter-terrorism, while launching first UK-Bangladesh Joint Working Group on Counter Terrorism in Dhaka, said ‘we have worked to build the capacity of Bangladeshi agencies involved in counter-terrorism work...’ Is capacity-building a euphemism for out-sourced torture? (On Forced Marriage and Insourced Torture. The Loving Face of British Imperialism, New Age, July 20, 2009).
DGFI features in WikiLeaked cables too. The military’s intelligence agency reportedly supported the idea of the Islamist terrorist group Harkatul Jihad Al Islami (HuJi) joining mainstream politics through forming the Islamic Democratic Party before the 2008 general elections. According to a news report, at an IDP-held iftar party, guests included Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury, editor, weekly Blitz and a campaigner for awarding official recognition to Israel. ‘If Hizb-ut Tahrir,’ said Choudhury, ‘banned across the countries and had role in the Bali blasts, and anti-Liberation forces like Jamaat-e-Islami can operate openly, why can’t IDP?’ (The Daily Star, September 29, 2008).
WikiLeaked cables, cautions Andrew Gavin Marshall, must not be taken at face value. They should be placed within a wider context and understanding, so that we can better inform the information itself. We must remain critical of all sides and all actors (Global Research, December 6, 2010).
Three bombs went off on the Indonesian island of Bali on October 12, 2002 causing the deaths of 88 Australians, 38 Indonesians. A radical Islamic group Jemaah Islamiyah was blamed. Some of its members were convicted, 3 were sentenced to death. Indonesia’s former president, Abdurrahman Wahid, in a television interview in October 2005 said, he has ‘grave concerns about links between Indonesian authorities and terrorist groups.’ The JI had placed the original bomb in the nightclub, but the second, larger car bomb outside, ‘had been organised by authorities,’ suggesting that either ‘the police...or the armed forces’ may have planted the bomb. He also stated, ‘the orders to do this or that came from within our armed forces, not from the fundamentalist people.’ The TV programme also reported that one of JI’s key individuals behind its formation was an Indonesian spy; the president continued, ‘there is not a single Islamic group either in the movement or the political groups that is not controlled by (Indonesian) intelligence’ (Andrew G Marshall, GeoPolitical Monitor, November 15, 2008). (Is it irrelevant to mention that another former president, Francesco Cossiga of Italy, thinks that 9/11 was an inside job?)
According to Sayed Abdullah, Indonesian intelligence expert, the CIA and Israeli Mossad had infiltrated JI. Assisted by the Australian Special Action Police and the MI5 of England, they worked jointly to ‘undermine Muslim organisations in an attempt to weaken Muslims globally.’ The 2002 Bali bombings was ‘an operation clearly financed and assisted by the CIA and Mossad, [which] made use of Muslims to carry out the final act,’ who were not innocent either as they ‘took [their] bait’ to ‘avenge against the US war on the Muslims in Afghanistan.’ Abu Bakr, spiritual leader of JI, linked to the Bali bombings, later executed, said, it was the work of the CIA; a belief confirmed by several senior Indonesian National Intelligence Agency officials.
The repercussion of the bombings? It ensured Australia’s support of the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the wider ‘war on terror’. After the bombings, the Australian government said, ‘Australians may have to sacrifice some freedoms to help fight terrorism.’ The executions led JI leaders to say, there would be ‘retaliation’. Marshall writes, it’s also likely to increase recruitment into radical Islamic groups.
Siddique ul-Islam, widely known as Bangla Bhai, leader of Jagrata Muslim Janata Bangladesh (formed in 2003) was finally captured by RAB on March 6, 2006. Nationwide bomb attacks on August 17, 2005, and successive suicide bomb attacks had shocked and outraged the nation. He was executed on March 30, 2007. He told the judge, ‘The government had engaged us to invite the ulema community for establishing Islamic laws. But now it [has] punished us under worldly laws. What is the punishment this government deserves?... Our trial has been conducted hastily... Why the government is hurrying and why it is afraid? (The Daily Star, May 30, 2006)’
Bangla Bhai had wanted to speak to the media, a request denied. I wonder what tale he would have told us. I wonder how many directions his fingers would have pointed at. Maybe he had to be executed to cover up the real relations of ruling, irrespective of who governs, whether the Awami League, or the BNP, or the military-installed caretaker government, and to conceal their global backers, who increasingly feel threatened by our aspirations for democracy.

The New Age. (Bangladeshi newspaper) Date: 03-01-11. Sub: RAB/ Crossfire