Thank you for the response, I was excited to see you received my card. I truly am grateful I had the opportunity to take one of your classes.
I came to Bangladesh joined a journalist currently working with a local english publication Dhakatribune.com and a correspondent/producer for Al-Jazeera English. I have been joining her on stories as producer assistant. Most notable is the recent collapsing of a building in Savar, Bangladesh which held 5 garment factories. The casualties have passed 1,000 deaths. This experience has been eye opening for me. Not just because of the graphic nature of the incident, but also the response of the Bangladesh government and these foreign retailers.
For my senior thesis I covered the corruption in Bangladesh, which I had the pleasure to speak with the executive director of Transparency International Bangladesh and experts in academia, during my trip in December 2012. The events that are unraveling here for me are intense. Being that I freshly graduated from the political science department, I have taken an observers position in the events of this country. Bangladesh is a country that is suffering from so many issues right now that it is painful to watch. Besides the constant issues in the garment sector, the country is facing elections, which are creating disarray for the public as the current party Awami League and the opposition Bangladesh National Party duke it out. The current issues tied to the elections are the battle for a caretaker government to hold power during the elections so that neither party has an advantage. In this case the sitting party, the Awami League and the Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina, will not instate the caretaker government, which in recent elections has been used.
Also the current government is holding trials known as the International Crimes Tribunal. They are trying perpetrators who are being charged for crimes performed during the Liberation War of 1971, when Bangladesh gained independence from Pakistan. There are claims that 3 million people were killed and 300,000 women were raped and tortured. The tribunals do not sit well with many because many of the individuals being tried are prominent members of the Bangladesh National Party and the Jamaat-e-Islami party. These two parties have an alliance and are the opposition of the Awami League.
The verdicts of the trials have been all consistent with the charges and the punishments are life in prison or death by hanging. The government and the courts have not given access to foreign organizations or the media, which also has created some distrust in how the trials are being conducted.
These current political issues mixed with the rampant corruption and the other weighing problems that the underdeveloped nation have are making the population very unsettled. Almost every other day we witness Hartals, which are strikes conducted by the opposition party and other organizations. Two non-political groups that have strong following are Shabagh, whom are liberal student body of Bangladesh who organize in Shabagh Square in Dhaka. They are fighting to keep Bangladesh secular and reinforce the rights of freedom of speech. They also are strong voices against corruption and demand accountability and transparency. The second group is Hafazat Islami. This group is a pro-Jamate Islami group of youth, who sprung from the rural areas. Many are products of the madrases in Bangladesh. They are fighting to make Bangladesh an Islamic nation, to introduce the blasphemy law, hang atheist bloggers and protesters, and remove women from public life; these can be found in their list of 13 demands. In recent weeks they are also responsible for the violent protest and clashes with law enforcement.
In the midst of all of this I am trying to do some volunteering with BangBallers, an organization that is using basketball as a tool to bring together youth and JAAGO a foundation to fix poverty with education and organization. This year will continue to get more eventful as campaigns for elections continue, the tribunals continue, and the aftermath of Savar.
I hope all is well with you professor. Thank you for your lessons, my time with you was priceless. You gave me a new lens to see the world. Please stay in contact.