We are deeply angered and saddened at the horrific killings that took place in Pilkhana on 25th February 2009. We express our deepest grief for the army officers, BDR habildar, subedar and jawans and their family members and the civilian casualties, the pedestrian, domestic worker, rickshaw puller and student. We hope that the countless people who were injured and are currently undergoing treatment, will recover soon.
It is not only the affected families who have lost their loved ones; the nation as a whole has suffered grave losses. While it is true that those who have died will not return, we sincerely hope that their family members will find the strength to withstand their losses, and for their wounds to heal. In trying times such as these, we must all work together to ensure that our struggle for democracy is not lost.
We think that the government’s firmness in resolving the crisis through peaceful means made possible the prevention of further loss of life and bloodshed. The Prime Minister’s well-thought out, firm yet compassionate speech helped defuse tension and ensure the surrender of arms by the rebel forces.
We think that the inclusion of the DG BDR and so many members of the armed forces in the reconstituted probe committee headed by Anisuzzaman Khan is bound to raise questions about its impartiality. The proceedings as well as the findings of the committee must be made public in order to ensure that its workings and recommendations are acceptable to all. We expect that the committee will inquire into the grievances of BDR and army personnel, that it will examine all allegations of corruption and disparity, and take necessary steps. We welcome the Home Ministry’s announcement regarding the equalisation of food subsidies for officers and constables of the police force. We think that the same principle should apply to the BDR and the army.
Many members of the public are of the opinion that the evacuation orders on 26th February for people living within a three kilometre range of the BDR headquarters, made it possible for rebel jawans to join the ranks of fleeing civilians. This announcement not only caused untold misery for the area’s inhabitants, it also helped to fuel rumours. We think that the confusion created over the number of missing army officers is most unfortunate. Official army sources should not make announcements based on speculation; this helped to aggravate resentment. The government must take steps to restore the public confidence in military intelligence, which has eroded as a result of this gross error.
Despite tremendous pressure, the Home Minister, by not speculating on the missing numbers, has shown political wisdom and fortitude.
The political parties have now begun to blame each other, thereby helping to create an environment in which the truth may never be uncovered. We hope that for the sake of national unity they will refrain from making such statements and allow the investigation to proceed judiciously.. The need of the hour is for all to focus our energies on uncovering the truth, and ensure a fair trial and justice following an impartial investigation. We can not put at risk the democratic rule that has been achieved at a tremendous cost.
BDR Sniper. Shahidul Alam/Drik/Majority World
BDR sniper. Shahidul Alam/Drik/Majority World
Photos earlier in the day by Jessica Lim:
Minister and police trying to mediate. Shahidul Alam/Drik/Majority World
Sunday Leader editor Lasantha Wickrematunga was shot dead by two men on a motorcycle as he drove to work this morning in Colombo.
“Sri Lanka has lost one of its more talented, courageous and iconoclastic journalists,” Reporters Without Borders said. “President Mahinda Rajapaksa, his associates and the government media are directly to blame because they incited hatred against him and allowed an outrageous level of impunity to develop as regards violence against the press. Sri Lanka’s image is badly sullied by this murder, which is an absolute scandal and must not go unpunished.”
The press freedom organisation added: “The military victories in the north against the Tamil Tigers rebels must not be seen as a green light for death squads to sow terror among government critics, including outspoken journalists. The international community must do everything possible to halt such a political vendetta.”
President Rajapaksa called Wickrematunga a “terrorist journalist” during an interview with a Reporters Without Borders representative in Colombo, last October.
This morning’s attack on Wickrematunga occurred in rush-hour traffic about 100 metres from an air force checkpoint near one of the capital’s airports. The two assailants smashed the window of his car with a steel bar before shooting him at close range in the head, chest and stomach. He was rushed to a Colombo hospital where he died a few hours later.
The Sunday Leader’s outspoken style and coverage of shady business deals meant that Wickrematunga was often the target of intimidation attempts and libel suits. The most recent lawsuit was brought by the president’s brother, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, who got a court to ban the newspaper from mentioning him for several weeks.
Lasantha Wickrematunga, who was also a lawyer, told Reporters Without Borders in an interview that his aim as a journalist was to “denounce the greed and lies of the powerful.” His newspaper specialised in sensational investigative reporting of corruption and abuse of authority in Sri Lanka.
The printing press of the Sunday Leader media group (Leader Publications), which is located in a high security area near Colombo, was destroyed in an arson attack by a group of gunmen in November 2007. Wickrematunga told Reporters Without Borders at the time the attack was “a commando operation supported by the government.” The police did not carry out a proper investigation.
Sri Lanka was ranked 165th out of 173 countries in the Reporters Without Borders 2008 press freedom index. This was the lowest ranking of any democratic country. Two journalists were killed in Sri Lanka in 2008 and two others, J. S. Tissanayagam and Vettivel Jasikaran, are currently in prison.
Iraqi TV al-Sharqiya just reported on the news that AL-Zaidi is transferred to Camp Cropper prison [the Airport prison, managed by the American forces].
The TV Channel announced that Al-Zaidi is in a difficult condition, with broken ribs and signs of tortures on his thighs. Also he cannot move his right arm.
NYT- While he has not been formally charged, Iraqi officials said he faced up to seven years in prison if convicted of committing an act of aggression against a visiting head of state.
The incident has been a source of embarrassment for the government of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, who, in a statement on Monday, called the shoe throwing a “a shameful savage act” and demanded a public apology from Al-Baghdadia. (Via TenPercent blog)
ALL HAIL THE SHOE THROWER
George Bush was befuddled by the use of shoes as a symbol of protest, which just shows how much he doesn’t know about the culture of Iraq and how much he forgot about how the Iraqis he hailed, and probably paid in the aftermath of the invasion, hammered at Saddam’s statue with their shoes.
Not surprisingly, the Bush backers at the NY Post described the incident as the work of a “crazy Iraqi.“ It is impossible for them to conceive why anyone would resist the US occupation or protest it this way. Thus, they have to be “crazy” or a “terrorist,” or both.
Journalist Muntadhar al-Zeidi has become a hero throughout the Middle East and the world.Across Mideast, Arabs Hail Shoe-Hurling Journalist
Baghdad – Thousands of Iraqis took to the streets Monday to demand the release of a reporter who threw his shoes at President George W. Bush, as Arabs across many parts of the Middle East hailed the journalist as a hero and praised his insult as a proper send-off to the unpopular U.S. president.
The protests came as suicide bombers and gunmen targeted Iraqi police, U.S.-allied Sunni guards and civilians in a series of attacks Monday that killed at least 17 people and wounded more than a dozen others, officials said.
Journalist Muntadhar al-Zeidi, who was kidnapped by militants last year, was being held by Iraqi security Monday and interrogated about whether anybody paid him to throw his shoes at Bush during a press conference the previous day in Baghdad, said an Iraqi official.
HIS TV STATION DEMANDS HIS RELEASE – Iraq TV Demands Release of Bush Shoe Attacker
Baghdad – An Iraqi television station on Monday demanded the immediate release of one of its journalists who caused a furor when he hurled shoes at visiting US President George W. Bush. Muntazer al-Zaidi jumped up as Bush was holding a press conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki on Sunday, shouted “It is the farewell kiss, you dog” and threw two shoes at the US leader.
Bush ducked and the first shoe hit the American and Iraqi flags behind the two leaders, while the second was off target. Zaidi, a reporter with the Al-Baghdadia channel which broadcasts from Cairo, was immediately wrestled to the ground by security guards and frog marched from the room.
“Al-Baghdadia television demands that the Iraqi authorities immediately release their stringer Muntadhar al-Zaidi, in line with the democracy and freedom of expression that the American authorities promised the Iraqi people,” it said in a statement.
In Cairo, Muzhir al-Khafaji, programming director for the television channel, described Zaidi as a “proud Arab and an open-minded man.”
“We fear for his safety,” he added.
IAN WILLIAMS: BOOT BUSH
One Iraqi journalist shows more willingness to stand up to President Bush than the entire White House press corp
News organisations have to feign surprise to make news. In reality, it is of course no surprise that Bush would be greeted in Baghdad with all the warmth and approbation of fraudster Bernie Madoff dropping by the Palm Beach Country Club, nor that Iraq’s physical infrastructure, $69bn later, is still in a worse state than before 2003.
In Arab culture, dogs and the soles of shoes are two very potent demonstrations of detestation and the intemperate. Iraqi journalist Muntadar al-Zeidi’s lobbing of two well-aimed shoes at the president is a belated make-up for all the softballs thrown at him in Washington.
Zeidi has clearly epitomised Iraqi feelings across the board, with protests on the streets and support messages from Arab journalists. Ironically, many of them, including Zeidi’s own TV station, are comparing his arrest with the brisk way that the Baathists had with dissent. This is a little unfair – he is still alive as far as we know, which is more than could be said for anyone who would have done that to Saddam.
RADIO NETHERLANDS: TALK OF THE TOWN
The Iraqi journalist who threw a pair of shoes at US President George W Bush on Sunday, is the talk of the town in Iraq and other Arab countries. The video footage of Muntaze al-Zaidi throwing the shoes and calling the president a dog has been watched over and over again.
The Iraqi authorities arrested Mr Zaidi immediately and charged him with carrying out a barbaric act and insulting the Iraqi state. The small TV station the journalist works for has demanded his release and warns that any penalty against him would be dictatorial. Several lawyers, including American ones have offered to defend him. Saddam Hussein’s lawyer, Khalil al-Dulaimi is putting together a legal team.
In Arab culture, throwing shoes is a huge insult. The journalist’s colleagues say if he had had the opportunity, he would have thrown shoes at Mr Bush earlier.
MSNBC: WILL THEY RELEASE HIM OR TRY HIM?
Al-Baghdadia repeatedly aired pleas to release al-Zeidi on Monday, while showing footage of explosions and playing background music that denounced the U.S. in Iraq.
“We have all been mobilized to work on releasing him, and all the organizations around the world are with us,” said Abdel-Hameed al-Sayeh, the manager of Al-Baghdadia in Cairo, where the station is based. “This
whole thing is putting the Iraqis and the Americans to a test. Are they going to release him or try him?”
Called a ‘hero’
– Al-Jazeera television interviewed Saddam Hussein’s chief lawyer Khalil al-Dulaimi, who offered to defend al-Zeidi, calling him a “hero.”
CALL TO ACTION: SHOES PROTEST IN WASHINGTON
SHOES FOR BUSH: This Wednesday ~ 12/17 ~ 11 AM ~ at the White House
Please join Code Pink: Women for Peace, AfterDowningStreet.com, and Democrats.com this Wednesday, December 17, 2008, in Washington, D.C., at Lafayette Square Park in front of the White House.
We will have with us a large supply of shoes labeled with the names of Iraqis who have died in Bush’s war. We encourage you to bring your old shoes as well. Come rally with us in solidarity with the Iraqi people to demand an immediate and complete end to the occupation of Iraq.
Read press advisory from Code Pink
Watch and discuss video of Iraqi journalist Montadhar Al-Zaydi throwing shoes at Bush.
Watch video of Bush saying that throwing shoes is a sign of a free society:
Read about Iraqi rally for Al-Zaydi.
Source: News Dissector Blog
Inquiry into Nurul Islam’s death demanded
Editorial: New Age 6th December 2008
At a time when clean politics and honest and dedicated politicians are so hard to come by, the nation can ill-afford to lose a leader like Nurul Islam, the president of Ganotontri Party and a widely respected leftist and trade union figure. Nurul Islam after battling with his severe burn injuries for nearly 40 hours has succumbed. His son Tamohar had died immediately after the outbreak of fire. According to media reports, the mysterious fire broke out in his rented Lalmatia flat in the early hours of Wednesday.
Death of a senior respected politician is mournful in itself, and s of cdoubly so when the death is unnatural, amid circumstances which are suspect in the eyes of a wide segment of the public. In the hospital before losing consciousness Nurul Islam told the press that he had been receiving threats from fundamentalists over telephone after filing his nomination, as reported in Wednesday’s New Age. The Workers Party leader Rashed Khan Menon also has corroborated that Nurul Islam was receiving death threats. Family members of the deceased and fellow politicians of the Awami League-led alliance have alleged that Nurul Islam with his son was killed by design. The police and fire service people have their ready answer, without, we suppose, adequate investigation – the fire broke out accidentally.
Whether the cause was accident or sabotage, it is for the government to unearth but it must be thoroughly unearthed because the tragedy has not only spread sadness but also a high degree of unease among the people. The timing of the tragedy, just after his submission of nomination, as a candidate of the AL-led alliance, also points to various speculations. We have neither the intention nor the ability to foreclose the finding but we would want everyone to be on guard against any hush-hush operation. Accidents can indeed happen and accidents can also ‘be made to happen’. We cannot divine what is the truth.
A neighbour on the top-floor flat heard two loud bangs. Is this evidence compatible with the short circuit theory? We would request the government that a high-powered probe committee consisting of eminent experts as well as highly esteemed non-controversial citizens with the appropriate terms of reference be set up in order to get at the bottom of the truth. Services of leading forensic experts should be enlisted. It may be argued, however, what further investigation should the government make after two government agencies have already pronounced that the deaths were due to accident. But we think what the police and the fire service said were but a knee-jerk reaction of government officials we often encounter in such tragedies. These officials think it safe to point to a cause which will not require further explaining, but investigation by a committee is something else.
Finally, we express our sincerest condolences to the deceased’s wife Ruby Rahman who is an avant garde poet and sntellectual in her own right. We can imagine her pains at losing both her husband and her only son in a single tragedy and hope she will bear her loss with courage and fortitude.
Unusual snterview, on CNN, with the materialistic “guru” and physician, Deepak Chopra, regarding the recent horror in Mumbai (Bombay). Source: Sunil Janah
Video CNN – Deepak Chopra on Mumbai Attacks
Attack on Balaka Sculpture
© K M Asad/DrikNEWS
© K M Asad/DrikNEWS
© K M Asad/DrikNEWS
Al Bayenat activists claim the attack on the Balaka sculpture in front of the Biman office in the city’s Motijheel commercial area on Saturday night. bdnews24.com/ Dhaka, November 29, 2008
Explain suspension of rights: HC to govt
Mon, Nov 24th, 2008 4:28 pm BdST
Dhaka, Nov 24 (bdnews24.com) – The High Court on Monday asked the government to explain in four weeks why constitutional amendments allowing suspension of people’s fundamental rights during emergency rule should not be declared void.
The bench of justices Syed Mahmud Hossain and Quamrul Islam Siddiqui passed the order on a writ petition filed by journalists M Asafuddowla, Nurul Kabir and Amir Khasru, and anthropologist Rahnuma Ahmed.
The court also asked the government to explain why the president’s order of the proclamation of emergency and suspension of fundamental rights should not be declared unconstitutional.
Barrister Mayeen Firozee moved the petition while deputy attorney general Razik-al-Jalil was present during the hearing.
Barrister Firozee submitted that articles 26(3), 141B, 141C and 142 (2) were inserted through the Constitution (Second Amendment) Act 1973 for the obvious purpose of curtailment of the fundamental rights of citizens.
He said, “Fundamental rights are a provision of the Constitution.”
Barrister Firozee contended that through the second amendment, therefore, the harmony of the Constitution had been destroyed.
He further argued, “The president invoking his power under article 141C issued a proclamation of emergency on January 11 (2007), and issued two emergency powers orders suspending fundamental rights.”
Barrister Firozee continued, “Curtailing the right to move before the High Court for enforcement of fundamental rights, the independence of judiciary has also been curtailed.”
HC asked the law secretary, the president’s secretary and home secretary to reply the rule.
Fire in Hazaribag slum
© Munir uz Zaman, DrikNEWS.
Large fire caught in a slum known as sweeper colony in Hazaribag caused more than 100 houses burnt down. Fire fighters rushed to the place in time and brought the fire down before it cause any casualties and huge lose of properties. Dhaka, Bangladesh. November 21 2008.
Kofi Annan announces award for Prix Pictet. Bangladeshi photographer Munem Wasif receives commission.
Ivan Pictet, speaking at the award ceremony, announced that Munem Wasif, one of the photographers shortlisted for the Prix Pictet, will be awarded the commission to document WaterAid’s Chittagong Hill Tracts Project in Bangladesh which is supported by Pictet & Cie. The main award which includes a €50,000 cash prize was given to photographer Benoit Aquin. He was handed out the prize by former United Nations General Secretary Kofi Annan at the high-profile ceremony in Paris.
The partners of Pictet & Cie have agreed to commission Munem Wasif to record the evolution of WaterAid’s project that aims to bring clean tap water to village communities in Bangladesh. Wasif’s photographs will be used to illustrate how important such projects are, especially to countries such as Bangladesh where over 65 million of a population of 140 million have no access to sanitation.
Wasif graduated from Pathshala, The South Asian Institute of Photography and is a contributor to DrikNEWS
16th September 2008 18:22 Colombo time:
thanks guys for all your support. today we made it across. it was an intense drive through 3 air attacks, shelling in the distance and driving through a freshly hit target with trees still on fire. but i am now safe (if emotional and exhausted) in Vav in the north. i will go to colombo tomorrow morning and then fly to london on sunday for some of mums cooking and a long sleep and maybe go and find a good counselor!!!
thnaks again and much love. i will write more tomorrow when i get my head together. for now i go and sleep.
16th September 2008 17:30 Colombo time:
All UN staff have safely moved to the town of Vavuniya.
Tamil Tiger rebels set off a powerful bomb inside a public bus in Colombo today.
Four people were slightly hurt in the bombing and casualties were low because passengers had spotted a suspicious parcel and evacuated shortly before the explosion, military spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara told AFP.
The force of the explosion shook buildings in the city centre, where security is tight because of fears of attacks by the LTTE.
16th September 2008 01:30 Colombo time:
UN Staff trapped in Kilinocchi
Subject: !!! URGENT !!!
i am really sorry for what i am going to write here and i know you will freak out (as i kind of am!!) but this is super urgent. i have writtent o the contacts you sent me before and to the BBC in Colombo but the turn of events here is quick and i need you to do all you can to get the following out to the world quickly.
Shahidul any help media that you can pass this to ASAP is much appreciated.
I am sending this as im a little desperate but also as i believe this to be a big story. 10 UN internationals including myself have been trying to get out of the LTTE held territories since Friday last week. Due to rapid escalation of the security in the region and protests outside our offices to leave for the fears of the community that when we leave there will be an onslaught of the Sri Lankan army. we now feel that if we do not leave tomorrow Tuesday 16th it maybe too late and we will be trapped in here until the battle for Kilinocchi (LTTE capital) is finished.
the below statement was released to the media today by the UN in Colombo. basically the situation is that it is getting way too close here now. Both Waring parties have assured our safety in leaving but the conflict is now very close on the A9 road, the only way out of here.
we want to get all assurances from both sides that it will be a safe passage as stated by both parties.
this must be a story for the web site. please put it up there. we will be leaving Kilinochchi at 10am on tuesday 16th September and plan to make it to Omanthai (Gov held area) by 11:30 latest. a UN convoy of Approx 20 vehicles
At present there are multi barrel rocket launcers and artillery landing just 3 km from our UN compound and Helicopter gun ships were clearing the A9 road today for LTTE cadre bunkers.
i need to have some of the world watchin this to give pressure on both sides to respect thier assurances of a safe passage. any media coverage that you can give will be a great help. below is the statement.
please do what you can.
This has been released tonight by the UN in Colombo.
The UN has received assurances from the LTTE that UN and humanitarian agency staff remaining in Kilinochchi can leave. We intend moving those staff in a single convoy at 10am tomorrow Tuesday 16th morning. We expect that all staff and this convoy will be given safe passage by the LTTE to the Omanthai crossing. We reiterate that we have been compelled to temporarily relocate from Kilinochchi because of our security assessment that the situation has become too dangerous to remain working from there at this time. Because of our continuing commitment to and concern for the civilians of the Vanni, senior staff are in place to mount our humanitarian operation from Vavuniya.