Posted by The Template News, Current Affairs and Sport Website | Filed under Arab World, Asia, International News
First, it was the Koreans, or was it the Taiwanese, who undercut everyone producing cheap goods for the rich global north.
They were followed by the growth story that was Indonesia, where branded goods were created in battery like conditions by human beings who were treated no better than hens laying eggs for supermarket chains.
And then came the Chinese miracle, where poor peasants worked endless hours in conditions that no one from the outside world was ever allowed to see, flooding western markets with ever cheaper goods.
Now, it’s the turn of Bangladesh, the Third World nation that will go that much lower, push their desperately poor workers that much further to produce goods for brands like Lee Cooper, and the Arcadia owned BHS.
It’s a given that child labour is employed, its a given that the poor mainly women are expected to worked impossibly long hours to meet deadlines and targets set by companies who are answerable only to the shareholders, and who clearly turn a blind eye to Dickensian work conditions.
When a building called the Rana Plaza collapsed in Dacca, more than a thousand souls perished under the rubble. Like 9/11, it was a completely avoidable disaster, but unlike the attacks on the twin towers the world did not take action to find and punish the culprits.
Instead, things have largely continued as before, as last night’s EXPOSURE programme on ITV showed. Sure, there have been closures and punishments, but it won’t do. It won’t do when weak women – often too tired or frightened to speak – are kicked for not standing straight by supervisors who think it’s their given right to mistreat workers because they have been set impossibly difficult deadlines by multi billion dollar companies who employ the cheapest possible labour through using middle men and fixers.
Bangladesh is proud of its textile industry and the chances are the ‘Made in Bangladesh’ label will be the most familiar one to anyone buying goods in the west – after of course that of China. No doubt in the future, there will be another nation that will go that much lower, push their workers that much harder to meet ever tighter deadlines for the cheapest possible price. And it’s a state of affairs the ‘World’ does not seem able or willing to do anything about.
Two more members of Bangladesh’s Jamaat -e-Islami party have been convicted of war crimes relating to the country’s secession from Pakistan in 1971.
That makes a total of seven – six of whom could be hanged, the other told that he escaped the noose because he was 90-years-old.
All but one of the ‘convicted’ members of Jamaat-e-Islami are accused of committing appalling crimes against intellectuals in Dhaka, alongside the Pakistan army.
Another – who was minister of social justice in the previous government – has been convicted of genocide and torture against Hindus.
More are to follow.
For their part the Islamic Party say they are being punished for siding with Pakistan. Independent observers say Jamaat-e-Islami are being gutted in an effort finish them as a political force in Bangladesh.
The War Crimes Tribunal set up by the daughter of the assassinated founder of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina, has been criticised for its lack of legitimacy by international observers.
Hasina’s rivals, the Bangladesh national Party, say the current government is trying to weaken the opposition by crushing one of it key allies in the run-up to forthcoming national elections.
Of course, this is much more.
By destroying the country’s leading Islamist party, Sheikh Hasina is signaling that her country’s future lies with India and the West, at a time when it may be in the country’s long-term interest to look at China and Pakistan.
She, like her father, Mujib Islam, sees no place for Islam in the political life of Bangladesh.
As well as this, she is of course also ignoring what happened once Bangladesh won its independence – the appalling actions of Indian-trained paramilitaries on members of Jamaat-e-Islami and anyone they accused of siding with Pakistan.
In this context, the War Crimes Tribunal can be seen for what it is – the latest act of revenge conducted by a nation that really hasn’t faced-up to what really happened in 1971, and after.
And until that happens people like Sheikh Hasina’s father will never get justice, for it wasn’t the Pakistan army or Jamaat-e-Islami who threw his bullet ridden unclothed body onto the street.
That crime was conducted by Bangladesh’s own army.
And they were not the only ones.
Three people have been killed in Bangladesh after demonstrators protesting against the death sentence on an Islamist party leader clashed with police for a third day running.
Delwar Hossain Sayeedi was sentenced on Thursday on charges including murder, rape and torture during the war of independence in 1971.
Since then, at least 46 people have died in riots across the country.
Mr Sayeedi’s Jamaat-e-Islami party says the tribunal is politically motivated.
Mr Sayeedi is the third defendant to be convicted by the tribunal, which was set up in 2010 by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s government to deal with those accused of collaborating with Pakistani forces who attempted to stop East Pakistan (as Bangladesh was then) from becoming an independent country.
Earlier this month, another Jamaat leader, Abdul Kader Mullah, was sentenced to life for crimes against humanity.
In January, former party leader Abul Kalam Azad was found guilty in absentia of eight charges of crimes against humanity and sentenced to death.
The tribunal is trying a total of nine Jamaat leaders and two members of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP).
Human rights groups have said the tribunal falls short of international standards.
Jamaat is an ally of the BNP, which is led by former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia.
Ms Zia says the war crimes trials are politically motivated to target the opposition. The government has denied the allegation.
Jamaat and Ms Zia’s party have called for a three-day nationwide general strike starting Sunday.
At least seven people have been killed after violence erupted between Buddhists and Muslims in the western Burmese state of Rakhine. According to reports, the violence had begun on Friday in the town of Maungdaw, before spreading to state capital Sittwe and neighbouring villages. One report has put the actual number of dead at 25 with most of the Muslim residents in the affected areas of Rakhine state being relocated.
President Thein Sein declared a state of emergency on Sunday night.
Rakhine state is named after the ethnic Rakhine Buddhist majority, but also has a sizeable Muslim population, including the Rohingyas. The Rohingyas are a Muslim group who Burma considers as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.
This violence is reported to have been provoked by the murder of a Buddhist woman last month when a bus carrying pilgrims was attacked by Muslims.
Posted by The Template News, Current Affairs and Sport Website | Filed under International News
A democracy where the heads of the two main opposition parties are women, should be an excellent springboard for any modern state and an excellent showcase for the world. Trouble is, this is Bangladesh one of the poorest countries on earth, whose 170m people are going have to endure another round of political infighting between the daughter of a former president and the widow of another.
Even by South Asian standards – remember Bangladesh is neighbours with India and was once east Pakistan – the power games between Sheikh Hasina, leader of the Awami party and the current prime minister, and Khaleda Zia, leader of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, have been stupid and dangerous. Here is a country where democracy has not been able to deliver anything concrete to the man on the street, whilst the elected leaders of the two main parties have spent most of their time in office trying to score points off each other.
Perhaps the best example of this, is the war crimes tribunal which was set up to investigate atrocities in the 1971 civil war and which is looking like an attempt to discredit the BNP and her Islamist allies.
Awful things were committed during that conflict and after in revenge, trouble is no one seems to be interested in what happened after when Indian trained militias savagely punished anyone that had supported Pakistan.
On top of this, the Awami League has targetted a Nobel laureate who pioneered Microfinance and created the Grameen Bank, Mohammad Yunus. His crime appears to be that he dared to set up a “third force” in Bangladesh politics.
Today, Bangladesh which fought to be free of one master is the only country on the subcontinent to accept India as the region’s superpower, something that the smaller – in terms of population – war ravaged Sri Lanka has not done to this day.
And domestically, the country which was once the breadbasket of Pakistan, sees street protests, disappearances and murders of opposition leaders.
All the while, ordinary Bengalis who struggle with food and fuel price rises, chronic power cuts and still no new roads are contributing through the textile industry to an economy with 6 per cent growth with the promise of a healthy middle class in the near future.
So, with a general election eighteen months away, one has to wonder what exactly would be gained from such an enterprise at this moment, when the country’s politicians seem so distracted from the real issues.