An incorrectly captioned photo went viral in the Bangladeshi social network recently. The, Pulitzer Prize finalist, Ellen Barry, wrote a piece titled Matriarchs’ Duel for Power Threatens to Tilt Bangladesh Off Balance in NYT where a photo claimed to be of a demonstration by Bangladesh Nationalist Party, the second largest political party in Bangladesh. Let’s take a look at it.

Lucky Akhter of the Shahbag Movement in a demonstration which NYT mistakenly claimed to be a BNP demonstration

Lucky Akhter of the Shahbag Movement in a demonstration which NYT mistakenly claimed to be a BNP demonstration

Those who have the slightest idea about the famous Shahbag movement have readily recognized one of the organizers of the Gonojagoron Moncho, Lucky Akhter. She has already got famous because of the voice there. A couple of song actually mentioned her in that reference. Everyone knows that with Lucky Akhter at the foreground this photographer can be anything but not a BNP demonstration. Period.

I understand that some of my readers may still give benefit of doubt to the photographer A.M. Ahad who works for Associated Press. I agree that he may have just mistakenly captioned the picture or he may not know Lucky Akhter. Does he deserve that benefit of doubt? Let’s take a look at a conversation between him and me on February 6, 2013 – the very next day when the Shahbag Movement started. For privacy issue, I have masked his phone number and email address.

When Ahad made his very first report on Shahbag Movement he did the same thing. He mislabelled  the photograph and when I sent him an email raising the issue he just lied.

Subject: Caption of one of your photographs


Abu Mohammad Omar Shehab Uddin Ayub <> Wed, Feb 6, 2013 at 11:16 PM To: “A.M. Ahad” <>

Hi Ahad,

Thank you very much for the information. Just to verify, please tell me the name of the members of Bangladesh Chatra League you know. I will try to match the head count and see whether your claim is accurate. I understand that it will be difficult to name thousands of activist. Please at least tell the names of the Chatra League members who held a microphone and gave a speech. If the 50% of the people who gave speeches are from Chatro League I will try to extrapolate it for the whole attendance.

You are not the only one I know who was present there. I am surprised to see that ALL OTHER people I know who were at Shahbag had a totally different experience. I would love to see the whole picture. Thanks again for your reply.



PhD student, Dept. of CSEE

(443) xxx – xxxx

On Wed, Feb 6, 2013 at 11:02 PM, A.M. Ahad <> wrote:

Hello Mr. Shehab,

Thanks for your mail. Brother, I was in spot, and I know very well who is who. Their 50% protesters are activist of Bangladesh Chatra League. I’m going journalism, I’m not vies from anyone. So make sure first.



On Thu, Feb 7, 2013 at 3:40 AM, Abu Mohammad Omar Shehab Uddin Ayub <> wrote:

Hi Mr. Ahad,

Greetings from Baltimore. I am writing this email in reference to the photograph taken by you and later published by Washington Post captioned as follows:

Feb. 6, 2013

Pro-government activists and other Bangladeshi people gather for a protest in Dhaka, Bangladesh, demanding the death penalty for Jamaat-e-Islami leader Abdul Quader Mollah. The leader of Bangladesh’s largest Islamic party on Tuesday was convicted and sentenced to life in prison in a series of killings during the country’s 1971 war for independence.

A.M. Ahad / AP

Could you please revise the caption as to my knowledge the demonstration is not led or organized by pro-government people. Rather it is organized by pro-Bangladesh people.



PhD student,

Dept. of CSEE

(443) xxx – xxxx

— A.M.Ahad

Photojournalist xy, Shewrapara, Mirpur, Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Mobile: +880171633xxxx / +880167500xxxx

I hope Ellen Barry will know sooner or later that her colleague has cheated her and it may not be the first time.


[Note: This article was originally posted here.]

On June 24, 2013, ran a news about the visit of one of the investigators of the International Crimes Tribunal, Bangladesh. He was investigating the involvement of Ashrafuzzaman Khan in war crime during the 1971 liberation war which gave birth to Bangladesh. Here is an excerpt from the news about his crime:

“Ashrafuzzaman, hailing from Gopalganj’s Bezra Bhatra, has been charged with killing journalists, eminent writers, teachers, doctors, and intellectuals during the war.

He had allegedly led the notorious ‘Al Badr’, which spearheaded execution of the Bengali intelligentsia during the 1971 Liberation War and said to be its ‘chief executor’.

He is also said to have been an active member of Islami Chhatra Sangha – the student affiliate of Jamaat-e-Islami in 1971. The Jamaat sided with Pakistan and opposed the independence of Bangladesh.”


The same source also reported that he is affiliated with the Islamic Circle of North America, Queen’s Chapter at the New York City.

This encouraged me to investigate it futher. On the contact page I found Ashrafuzzaman Khan’s name. So, I sent out the following email to the leadership on July 23, 2013.

Dear ICNANY leadership,

Salam & happy Ramadan! I just came across this news article published in the most circulated online news website of Bangladesh which alleges that a senior ICNA member was involved in war crime and genocide in 1971 against the people of Bangladesh then East Pakistan. Later I found a member of the ICNANY Shura with the same name, Ashrafuz Zaman Khan.
I would like to know the answers to following questions.
  1. Are the ‘Ashrafuzzaman Khan’ mentioned in the news and the ‘Ashrafuz Zaman Khan’, the member of Shura the same person?
  2. If the answer of question # 1 is no, could you please tell me if the person mentioned in the news is still associated with ICNA? If he still is, I would like to know the chapter and capacity he is affiliated with.
  3. If the answer of question # 1 is yes, does ICNA have any plan to initiate its own investigation about the role of  Ashrafuz Zaman Khan in Bangladesh during 1971 and the channel which associated him with ICNA hiding his past?
Thanks in advance for your answers. Salam.

I never received a reply event after sending multiple reminders. So, I decided to monitor the page on On October 9, 2013 I received an email alert that the page has changed. So, I checked and found that they have removed Ashrafuzzaman Khan’s name. To document more details I have asked the leadership again whether this modification is related to the allegation of war crime against him. I am still waiting for their answers.

Disclaimer: This article is not about the most important aspect of Bali abduction. The most important aspect is that Bali is yet to return to his family. The government should do everything to find him out. I can’t imagine the plight of his family without him and it should end now. I am sorry to discover some of the news agencies’ activities as counter-productive to his safe return. This article is about such activities. Moreover while writing this article I came across a recent Bergman news article about the Savar tragedy. I would like to assure the conspiracy theorists that this article was planned long before and is not intended to be reactive to anyone.

It started when I came across this statement which came out from Human Rights Watch (HRW) on January 16, 2013. I have been seeing the news of this abduction in social media for quite a long time but never paid attention. The major reason behind this carelessness was that most of the time it was the propaganda pages with low reliability which were sharing this news. But when HRW made the statement about the abduction which was alleged to take place on November 5, 2012, I decided to learn more. In the rest of this article I am going to walk you through what I did for next several days to learn more about the alleged Bali abduction.

I started with looking at the November 6, 2012 editions of the most circulated Bangla and English national dailies to know what was immediately reported. I found this news published by the most popular Bangla national daily. It is true that the defense informed the court about the so called abduction which made the court to ask the court officials and prosecutors to clarify. Here is what the court official said.

জানতে চাইলে ট্রাইব্যুনালের ডেপুটি রেজিস্ট্রার মেছবাহউদ্দিন আহমেদ প্রথম আলোকে বলেন, ‘আমি ফটকে ছিলাম। মিজানুল ইসলামের সহযোগী আইনজীবীকে ভেতরে ঢুকতে আমি সাহায্য করেছি। তখনো তাঁরা আমার কাছে কোনো অভিযোগ করেননি। ফটকে উপস্থিত প্রত্যক্ষদর্শী, সাংবাদিক ও অন্যদের কাছেও আমি এ ধরনের কোনো অভিযোগ শুনিনি।’

If you need let me offer a translated version.

When asked the deputy registrar of the tribunal told the Daily Prothom Alo, “I was at the gate. I helped the assistant lawyer of Mijanul Islam to enter. They didn’t complain about anything then. The people, journalists and others, who were present there at that time, said nothing such happened.”

Here is what the prosecutor said.

রাষ্ট্রপক্ষের কৌঁসুলি সৈয়দ হায়দার আলী পরে সাংবাদিকদের বলেন, ‘আজ (গতকাল) মামলার যুক্তি উপস্থাপনের দিন ধার্য ছিল, সাক্ষ্য গ্রহণের নয়। সুখরঞ্জন বালী নামে আসামিপক্ষের কোনো সাক্ষীও নেই। তা হলে কী করে তিনি আসামিপক্ষের সঙ্গে থাকেন, তা আমার বোধগম্য নয়। এ অভিযোগ উদ্দেশ্যপ্রণোদিত। আদালত বর্জনের একটি অজুহাত তৈরির জন্য আসামিপক্ষ এ ধরনের কথা বলছে।’ তিনি বলেন, ‘আইনে আদালত বর্জনের বিধান নেই। ওকালতনামা বাতিল না হওয়া পর্যন্ত আইনজীবী মামলা পরিচালনা করতে বাধ্য। তা না হলে সেটি অসদাচরণ হবে।’

Once again here is the translated version.

The prosecutor, Syed Haidar Ali told the journalists later, “Today was the day for arguments not witness testimony. In fact Sukhoronjon Bali was never in the list of defense witnesses. It doesn’t make sense to me how could he be with the defense? This allegation is intentionally fabricated. They are trying to creating this scene to get an excuse to boycott the court.” He said, “The lawyer must continue with the proceeding until his affiliation is revoked. Otherwise it would be considered as a misconduct.”

And this is what was reported on the most circulated English daily. Let me quote the relevant parts of the news.

Prosecutor Syed Haidar Ali told The Daily Star the tribunal had ended taking the testimony of defence witnesses and there was no reason for one of them to be in a defence counsel’s car.

He added until cancellation of vokalatnama [power of attorney] a lawyer could not leave the court as per law. “If anyone does, it would be held as misconduct,” he argued.

Deputy Registrar Mesbahuddin Ahmed said he had helped one of Mizanul’s assistants around 10:15am to enter the tribunal amid tight security.

Mesbahuddin added, “He [the assistant] did not tell me anything about the abduction while I was helping him in.”

What I get from these two reports is that the defense lawyers never presented any third party witness on  behalf of their claim. Moreover nobody other than them actually claimed that such incident happened. I thought it was too early to decide.

Bali’s family still doesn’t know about his whereabouts. So, it is true that he is missing and we have to try our best to find him. But we should not do anything which is counter-productive to achieve our goal. One such thing is to present false allegations and flawed speculations.

In the meantime this story spreaded like wildfire. A number of world media and humanitarian agencies pointed finger to the government for not doing enough to find Bali. As I had a feeling from the local newspapers that the allegation is not very strong I wanted to test my hypothesis against the international reports.

I collected thirteen news articles or statements from eleven agencies. Let me list them down here along with the dates and locations of publication.

Title Date Location
Bangladesh: Investigate Alleged Abduction of War Crimes Witness 11/13/2012 New York
Bangladesh: Find Abducted Witness 1/16/2013 New York
Bangladesh: Ever murkier 11/19/2012 Online
“Bangladesh: Find Abducted Witness”, Human Rights Watch 1/19/2013 London
Bangladesh ICT: Meeting with Lord Avebury at the House of Lords 11/20/2012 London
Abduction to obstruct justice 1/30/2013 Jeddah
From transitional justice mechanism to monumental revenge: the Bangladesh International Crimes Tribunal sinks to new lows 11/15/2012 London
Bangladesh International Crimes Tribunal: abduction of defence witness Shukho Ranjan Bali 11/8/2012 London
Letter to Bangladesh High Commissioner 3/22/2013 Malaysia
Explain actions taken to locate Bali: HRW 1/18/2013 Dhaka
BHRC statement on the International Criminal Tribunal in Bangladesh 11/16/2012 London
Bangladesh cleric sentenced to death for crimes against humanity 1/21/2013 New York
European Parliament resolution of 14 March 2013 on the situation in Bangladesh (2013/2561(RSP)) 3/14/2013 Strasbourg

I was curious to know whether they had mentioned any source of their reports at all. Here is what I found.

Reporter agency Source agency
Human Rights Watch Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch and an unnamed independent journalist
The Economist Defense lawyer.
The International Criminal Law Bureau Human Rights Watch and Lord Eric Avebury
Saudi Gazette Human Rights Watch and an unnamed independent journalist
Open Democracy David Bergman
Eric Avebury David Bergman
Citizen International The Economist
The Daily New Age Human Rights Watch
The Bar Human Rights Committe of England and Wales Not mentioned
The Guardian Human Rights Watch
EU Parliament Not mentioned

Here is a visual representation of the dissemination of information from the sources to the corresponding agencies.

Information dissemination

Information dissemination

I have interpreted the following from this flow network.

  • The Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales and the EU Parliament do not have any incoming arrow. It means they didn’t mention any source. It undermines the verifiability of their statements.
  • It may be safely assumed that there was at least one local relay point between the Economist and its source, the defense lawyer, as there is not official representative of the Economist at this moment in Bangladesh.
  • ‘The unnamed independent journalist’ and David Bergman are the two high impact sources feeding directly or indirectly at least four and two organizations respectively.

I was curious to know whether the newspapers or organizations verified the tips through independent sources. I tried to contact them using a number of ways. Unfortunately they never clarified their queries. Being not a professional journalist I can hardly imagine how it works for a news agency. I thought the news agencies should always be happy to clarify if any issue is raised about the authenticity of their news. Here is a log of my failed correspondences.

Organization Email Twitter Web form
Human Rights Watch Didn’t reply Didn’t reply
The Economist Didn’t reply Didn’t reply
The International Criminal Law Bureau Just repeated the source hence not asked
Saudi Gazette Didn’t reply Didn’t reply
Open Democracy Just repeated the source hence not asked
Lord Eric Avebury Just repeated the source hence not asked
Citizen International Didn’t reply Didn’t reply
The Daily New Age Just repeated the source hence not asked
The Bar Human Rights Committe of England and Wales Didn’t reply Twitter Didn’t reply
The Guardian Just repeated the source hence not asked
EU Parliament Didn’t reply

This absolute silence left me with no option but to verify the two high impact sources by myself. We are talking about ‘the unnamed independent journalist’ and David Bergman. Several readers may ask me to take into consideration the profile statement  of David Bergman. He is the only independent Bangladesh based journalist who is following up the international crimes tribunal that I know of. So, a very valid question could be:

Is the unnamed independent journalist David Bergman?

I don’t have the answer. I asked several newspapers mentioned earlier whether the independent journalist was him? I never received a reply.

We can also look at this from a different angle if we compare the temporal relations among these news articles in the light of their referrals.

The timeline of referral

The timeline of referral

So, it looks David Bergman and ‘the unnamed independent journalist’ may have acted almost at the same time. It is interesting to discover that the Lord Eric Avebury made a statement on November 8 quoting a Bergman article which came out two days later. I don’t have clear idea how time machines work. A better explanation might be informal exchanges took place between Bergman and Lord Avebury. Moreover the timeline says it may have started with the defense lawyer and later spreaded out with initial help from both ‘the unnamed independent journalist’ and David Bergman.

We could not trace the unnamed independent journalist because organizations, who quoted him, didn’t care to clarify about his existence. We are left only with David Bergman. If we could verify the authenticity of the story as described by Bergman we could say that at least the organizations who quoted him are standing on a relatively firmer ground regarding their statement.

I hate to say that I am going to disappoint my readers. Some of you may have already read my review of the story of Bali abduction written by Bergman in his blog. Let me summarize the questions Bergman didn’t answer to in his writing.

  • How did the abduction take place in such a busy business district without having a single neutral witness?
  • How are both the journalists, who reportedly appeared at the scene out of blue, from the official newspaper of the political party of which the defendant is a senior leader?
  • Why are the uninformative photos presented in the blog among the most reliable proofs of abduction?
  • Why are both the most important witnesses of the abduction from the one of the least credible and subscribed newspaper in the country?
  • How did the so called law enforcement agency people know about Bali’s arrival at the court gate while his appearance on that day before the court was not even scheduled?
  • Why didn’t Bergman consider the statement of the reporter from his previous workplace who was present at the court gate on that day? For your convenience here is the relevant part of the statement. 

I was there at the tribunal on that day and it was the first day that the prosecution was scheduled to begin closing arguments in the Sayedee case. I had reached the tribunal at 9:45am and I walked around the premises. I had been in and out and finally came in through the gates at 10:20am from where the witness was allegedly taken away barely five minutes before, around 10:15am. I personally did not see anything unusual and having asked other people, could only find two persons who claimed to have seen the car that allegedly took away the witness. Both of them were reporters of Sangram, which is affiliated with the Jamaat-e-Islami. Other than the defence lawyers and these two, there were no other witnesses.

  • Why did Bergman believe the statement of the lawyer who according to Bergman himself lied about Bali’s identification in the court register (see the following picture)?
The defense lied about Bali's identification

The defense lied about Bali’s identification

The readers may suggest that I should ask these questions directly to Bergman instead of throwing them into the air. I did in my Blog and it was tweeted to him by some of my readers. We never received a reply.

At this point we see that the Bergman story has reliability issue and the unnamed independent journalist has the problem of lack of verifiability. On top of that quoting the defense lawyers, who have proven track record of lying, without independent verification also makes the statement weak. So, the timeline of the referral consists some weak links! Let’s take a look at those again!

Weak links of the referrals

Weak links of the referrals

As some of you may already have expected, the picture becomes a network of rumors without a solid base.

Sukhoronjon Bali’s family needs truth to be unearthed which will help the law enforcement agencies to find him. Spreading fake stories is not going to help the situation. I would like to invite the reporters or agencies, who helped spreading this allegation without independent verification, to  take a look at the horizontal impact they collaboratively created. Shame on you people!

Global spreading of unverified abduction story

Global spreading of unverified abduction story

This is my second time reviewing a The Economist news on this blog. After the first post, I sent my queries to The Economist regional contacts as mentioned on the website. One of them turned out to be no longer working for The Economist but the other forwarded my issues to It looks I have to spend more voluntary hours to correct The Economist editors when it is about reporting on Bangladesh. Please allow me to explain after presenting some quick info about the article:


Title: Justice in Bangladesh Another kind of crime
Authors: Not able to retrieve as of March 23, 2013
Date of publication: March 23, 2013

The article starts with comparing the operation of the International Crimes Tribunal (ICT), Bangladesh with the Eichmann trial which took place in Jerusalem. According to this news, the Eichmann trial was a ‘model of meticulous process’ while the ICT is not. The reporter characterized the Eichmann trial as,

open, subject to evidence and challenge, and legal.

Even before doing a comparative study between the trial in Jerusalem and the ICT, one can critically study the claims of The Economist just based on the proceedings of the Eichmann trial. Lots of people actually did so. There are still unresolved questions of human rights and jurisdictional aspects of the famous trial which took place more than fifty years ago. The failure of The Economist to recognize those is no less than spectacular. To respect my readers’ patience I would only consider the issues mentioned by this piece of news while comparing the two courts.

In the third paragraph, the article goes on listing the points of criticism. Unfortunately it starts with an utter lie. Let me quote it here.

The government has interfered in the court’s deliberations.

This is a typical vague statement made by The Economist. I just checked with the previous reports of The Economist on the ICT hereherehere, here and here. None of those news articles has ever raised any specific allegation against any unit, office or department of the Government of Bangladesh that it is hindering or influencing the natural operation of the investigation, prosecution, defense or trial units of the International Crimes Tribunal. Moreover, as the two mostly circulated national dailies, both English and Bangla, are reporting the day by day progress of the tribunal, it is obvious that even the defense had never complained against any unit, office or department of the government. The only exception is the alleged abduction of Sukhoronjon Bali for which I have dedicated a whole article in this website and will be addressed later here. Let us know what happened in the Eichmann Trial. Did any influence ever take place throughout the process of the trial? Well, The Economist says it! Eichmann was kidnapped by the Mossad operatives from the streets of Buenos Aires, the capital of another sovereign nation, Argentina! Eichmann’s attorney, Dr. Servatius, raised the issue whether presenting him before the court through an Israeli covert operation on another territory beyond its jurisdiction was legal. The court skipped the issue mentioning that this was not a part of the case. According to the court this had to be mediated between the two governments . So, the question of whether Eichmann had the right to be presented lawfully before the court remained unanswered at least in the eyes of the defense and some of the scholars who later analyzed the case. A detailed treatment on this matter is available in ‘The Eichmann Trial: Some Legal Aspects’ by the eminent international law expert professor Hans W. Baade published in the Duke Law Journal in 1961 while the trial was taking place. My readers may argue that reviewing an ongoing case is little risky as the critic doesn’t have the chance to verify whether the trial process passes the test of time. Well, that’s what The Economist is doing! But I accept your argument! Let us take a more recent analysis. I would also like to quote Professor Ian Shapiro of the Yale University who discussed the Eichmann trial in his class in 2010. Let me quote a conversation took place between Professor Shapiro and his student around the 11-th minute of the class.

Student: In one of the last two chapters, I believe, they’re discussing the reasons for judgment against him on all the counts, and one of them she’s discussing the four main points that they attempt to prove through the prosecution. And in some of them they discuss the term in dubio contra reum, which is, I guess, when in doubt act against the defendant. And that was kind of just when we don’t have necessarily all the evidence because a lot of it is speculative, we will act in a way that will…

Professor Ian Shapiro: Okay, so there was not a lot of attention to the rules of evidence.

Student: Yeah.

Professor Ian Shapiro: Right? Okay, so that’s one thing. There were a lot of what we would think of as procedural irregularities in this trial. Yeah?

Student: I was uncomfortable with the speed of the execution. It happened extremely soon after his appeal and plea for mercy; within a couple of hours.

Professor Ian Shapiro: Right, it was the way executions are done in China today, not the way executions are done in the United States today, right? It was very rapid. And why were you uncomfortable with that?

Student: I think there’s no doubt that what he did was wrong, but you at least have to go through the procedures just to ensure that justice is actually served, so that even if it was correct that he deserved the death penalty. I think the actual protocol should have been followed and that he should have gotten his time to make the appeal.

Let us look into another incidence related to the Eichmann trial. It was reported by Der Spiegel that an agent from the German Intelligence Service, Rolf Vogel was sent to persuade the Israeli prime minister David Ben-Gurion  so that the prosecution of the Eichmann trial will never raise the question about the involvement of Hans Globke regarding Eichmann’s activities. In exchange Israel was awarded 240 million DM military aid.

When Moshe Pearlman, the Mossad operative who took part in capturing Eichmann, published his book,The Capture of Adolf Eichmann, four weeks before the trial opened, Hannah Arendt aptly comments in her book, Eichmann In Jerusalem, that,

The book caused some embarrassment in Israel, not only because Mr. Pearlman had been able to divulge information about important prosecution documents prematurely and had stated that the trial authorities had already made up their minds about the untrustworthiness of Eichmann’s testimony, but because a reliable account of how Eichmann was captured in Buenos Aires was of course the last thing they wanted to have published.

So, in contradiction to what The Economist thinks, experts and public media, from the time of the trial to more recent years, have been raising issues about government intervention into due trial process. I would invite the readers to take some time to go through the proceedings of the ICT reported by the most circulated national dailies for last couple of years. Do you find any allegation by the defense that the government has unlawfully captured any accused or his assets? Do you find any allegation by the defense that the government has instructed the prosecution not to charge someone who took part in war crime in 1971? I don’t!

Let’s go to the second allegation mentioned in the article. I would like to quote it exactly.

Public discussion of the proceedings has been restricted.

I don’t think we need arguments here. A hands on experiment should be more convincing. If you type in ‘international crimes tribunal’ in the search box of, it will show you the search results on International Crimes Tribunal explicitly from the website of the mostly circulated English national daily of Bangladesh. To make your lives easier here is the ready made link to be clicked on! I hope you see what I see. Numerous reports by the daily on the ICT, right? So, it is not true that the public media are not discussing about the court. Let us take a closer look. This link, at the top of the search result, hosts the full verdict of one case. This link discusses how  the court is dealing with witness protection. This link reports the proceeding of a specific day. So, the most circulated English national daily is routinely reporting and discussing the proceedings of the tribunal. Dear The Economist, did you just lie?

Let me quote the third allegation from the report.

The number of defence witnesses was curtailed.

The Economist didn’t make it clear on what ground this number of defense witness was curtailed. As no specific case was mentioned let me pick the case of Sayedee. On August 14, the tribunal fixed the number of defense witness within 20 to match that of the prosecution witness. Why did The Economist fail to compare between the numbers of witnesses on both sides? Let us know what happened when Eichmann’s attorney wanted to call in the people who witnessed the abduction of Eichmann. Once again I am quoting Hannah Arendt.

Dr. Servatius, who tried strenuously and unsuccessfully both before the District Court and before the Court of Appeal to call Zvi Tohar, chief pilot of the El-Al plane that flew Eichmann out of the country, and Yad Shimoni, an official of the air line in Argentina, as witnesses, mentioned Ben-Gurion’s statement; the Attorney General countered by saying that the Prime Minister had “admitted no more than that Eichmann was found out by the Secret Service,” not that he also had been kidnaped by government agents.

So, Eichmann’s attorney was never given a chance to prove the prime minister wrong before the court. This is no violation of justice as certified by The Economist. Did the ICT in Bangladesh stopped the defense from registering witness statements? No, it just limited the number of witness on both side to be brought for cross-examination for logistic issues. Did the Eichmann trial ever do anything limited by logistics issue? Well the Shapiro lecture mentioned earlier suggests that the rationality of the abduction can only be justified by logistic argument and not by legal arguments. Why didn’t The Economist do its homework?

Let us go to the next allegation.

One was even kidnapped on the steps of the court.

A blog post was fully dedicated in this website to counter this argument. Let me summarize the points here. This abduction was alleged to take place in broad daylight OUTSIDE the court. Only witnesses are the defense lawyer and two journalists, both employed by the Jamaat owned newspaper with ultra poor readership due to its credibility issue, who appeared there all on a sudden right when it was taking place. No other journalist or common people, not involved with the defense, was present!  The registrar of the court was present and confirmed that nothing such happened. The defense never filed a case for this abduction. This was not even reported by the two most circulated Bangla and English national dailies. So, The Economist was more prompt than the local media itself to buy this abduction drama without verifying it through third party accounts! How pathetic! Let’s now compare this unproven kidnap story with the proven (and applauded by the Israeli parliament) kidnap incidence of Eichmann himself! Was the reporter out of his/her mind while comparing these two cases?

The next issue is as follows.

In one case, the presiding judge resigned and the death sentence was handed down by three men who had not heard all the witnesses.

I have stopped being surprised by vague arguments made by The Economist. What does this allegation mean? Didn’t the new judges have access to the witness statements made to the prosecution? Didn’t the new judges have access to the transcripts of cross-examination of witnesses? I don’t see what purposes are served by such poorly framed arguments other than just tarnishing its own credibility and integrity! Moreover, I don’t see how The Economist compared this situation where the situation of resignation of a judge never appeared.

Then it was mentioned that,

In another, the defendant was represented by a lawyer who did not have nearly enough time to prepare a case.

So, what is the point here? Was the lawyer inefficient or the tribunal was just sabotaging the defense? From my review of the day to day proceeding it is clear that the court insisted on the efficiency and time management of both the prosecution and defense from time to time. There are several cases where the court refused both the prosecution and the defense extra time because they  failed to proceed in due order. Let me quote from the proceedings of August 23, 2011 (as transcripted here) where one of the prosecutors was presenting before the court.

Haider Ali then got and spoke. He said that ‘Pirojpur district in Barisal Division is one of the places where some of the atrocious incidents took place that happened between 25 March 1971 and 16 December 1971. They are all stated in the formal charge. An Investigation agency was formed according to ICT act section 8, and the investigation officials thus appointed carried out the investigation and prepared the investigation report. The official investigation started on 21.07.2010.’

The tribunal chairman interrupted him and said, ‘You should better go straight to your argument rather than citing history. No need for all the explanations.’

The prosecution said that he thought there should be at least a little bit of explanation.

Here is another example taken from the proceedings of March 5, 2012 where the court responded to the defense when they applied for something which was related to jail condition and beyond jurisdiction of the court.

Justice Nizamul Haq: Mr. Fakhrul Islam [Defence Counsel]; you have provided a lot of papers here except the Clemency Order. You’re repeating the same issues which have already been disposed by us. Don’t do it again. It seems to us, it is nothing but wastage of time.

Let us compare these two cases with two excerpts from the proceedings of the Eichmann trial as reported here.

On one occasion, as The New York Times reported, Justice Landau became impatient with the chief prosecutor, Gideon Hausner, after Mr. Hausner called witnesses who testified about horrors in Polish and Lithuanian ghettos. According to the parameters set by the indictment, these narratives were not strictly germane to the case.

“I know it is difficult to cut short such testimony,” Justice Landau told Mr. Hausner in open court. “But it is your duty, Sir, to brief the witness, to explain to him that all external elements must be removed that do not pertain to this trial.”

On another occasion, as Time magazine reported: “Eichmann was so wrapped up in his notes and papers that Judge Landau coldly had to remind him to stand when addressed by the court. Eichmann’s face flushed with momentary anger as he looked up; then, realizing where he was, he jumped up, apologizing.”

So, The Economist has found major dissimilarity between how the Court managed time in Jerusalem fifty years back and how the ICT is now doing it in Bangladesh. I wish they could present one specific  example like I did here.

These arguments convinced none but only The Economist reporter that if measured against the Eichmann Trial scale the ICT procedures fell short of quality. In later part of the article this conviction made The Economist arrive at more conclusions categorically partial and misleading. One of them is quoted right here.

Now the government wants to rewrite the law to allow death sentences to be applied retrospectively.

WOW! Lie of the day (at least for me!). Let me take some time to inform you what amendments are being discussed here. The International Crimes Tribunal Act 1973 allowed only the defendants to appeal against a verdict. The prosecution was not allowed to appeal if they were unhappy with a punishment. Moreover the law didn’t allow the prosecution to frame charge against an organization if it officially had taken part in war crime. The amendments, we are discussing here, allow the prosecution to appeal if they are not happy with a verdict. It looks providing only the defendants and not the prosecution with the right to appeal is fair and just in the eyes of The Economist. It is perfectly fine with The Economist if the relatives, who lost their dear ones in 1971, are unhappy with the trial and don’t have the right to appeal! Let’s look at the later part of the argument. The Economist got a problem for the retrospective amendment. Let us look at the very law under which the Eichmann trial took place. This is called the Nazis and Nazi Collaborators (Punishment) Law, 5710-1950. Is there any retroactive amendment? Yes! By Nazis and Nazi Collaborators (Punishment) Law (Amendment) 5723-1963, it repeals section 12 (b) of the original law. Let me quote the removed section here.

(b) No person shall be prosecuted for an offence under this Law, except offence under section 1 or 2(f), if twenty years have passed since the time of the offence.

So, the very law which tried Eichmann allowed retroactive amendment which may lead to death sentence to people who were not to be punished by the original law. One more time The Economist has either lied or failed to do its homework. My sympathy is with the readers of The Economist!

These six hundred words by The Economist is, to say the least, horrendous shame on journalistic honesty, academic integrity as well as disgrace for professionalism.

I would humbly quote Professor Shapiro’s comment on Eichmann trial once more.

Professor Ian Shapiro: There was more than one agenda here. One agenda was justice, bringing him to justice, but clearly there was an agenda of revenge, and there was an agenda of catharsis for many of the people who testified, who came there. It was very important for them personally to get up and speak about what had happened to them for which he was held responsible. So there were multiple agendas going on here, only one of which was what we normally think of as what’s going on in a criminal prosecution.

The comment of Hannah Arendt on the Eichmann trial is also very relevant for ending this discussion.

The irregularities and abnormalities of the trial in Jerusalem were so many, so varied, and of such legal complexity that they overshadowed during the trial, as they have in the surprisingly small amount of post-trial literature, the central moral, political, and even legal problems that the trial inevitably posed. Israel herself, through the pre-trial statements of Prime Minister Ben-Gurion and
through the way the accusation was framed by the prosecutor, confused the issues further by listing a great number of purposes the trial was supposed to achieve, all of which were ulterior purposes with respect to the law and to courtroom procedure. The purpose of a trial is to render justice, and nothing else; even the noblest of ulterior purposes – “the making of a record of the
Hitler regime which would withstand the test of history,” as Robert G. Storey, executive trial counsel at Nuremberg, formulated the supposed higher aims of the Nuremberg Trials – can only detract from the law’s main business: to weigh the charges brought against the accused, to render judgment, and to mete out due punishment.

I promised at the very beginning  that my discussion will be focused exclusively on The Economist’s references made to the Eichmann trial while comparing the operation of the ICT in Bangladesh. While going through the arguments one by one I failed to find any relevance or merit that could possibly justify those arguments.

It is not always possible for a reporter to estimate the impact of the article s/he is writing. So, trying to justify the statements as much as possible with facts and rationale might be the best practice just like we always try to document the code of a computer program as much as possible. I still thank The Economist for taking interest in Bangladesh.

As I have said this is a live commentary on the press covering the ICT of Bangladesh, I am going to send my issues to the authors of this article. I will keep you posted in the comment section whether they agreed with me or not.

This is the account of David Bergman about the alleged abduction of Sukhoronjon Bali. Bali was initially a witness for prosecution who went missing for a while. Later on the defense team brought him to the court as their witness. According to them Bali was abducted by the police when he was about to enter. Bergman is based in Bangladesh and has been devotedly reporting the detailed proceedings of the ICT for quite a long time. I must say overall he is doing a great job. But while going through the writings I have found some of the statements questionable. The article of our interest is one of them.

Some quick info about the report:


Title: Abduction of defense witness outside tribunal
Author: David Bergman
Date of publication: November 10, 2012

At the beginning Bergman made it very clear that his sources were the defense lawyers and two journalists who work for the Jamaat’s mouthpiece in print media, The Daily Sangram. Let me ask my readers at this point whether I should rely on the account of these people who are in no way can be considered as the poster boys of integrity. This argument will be made clearer as we proceed.

I think the most important statement of this article is the fourth paragraph. Just to point out that this statement is not the most important part of the Bali abduction case. The only important thing now to me and his family is Bali’s safe return. I don’t care whether Bali is going to vouch for the prosecution or the defense. A person, no matter who he is, cannot remain missing forever. It is his family who is suffering the most. If there is a credible allegation that he was abducted by the detective branch, the defense lawyer should take necessary measure to file report on the missing person so that the police actively search for him. Returning to my point, for this article let me quote the most important part here.

Although there remains at present no entirely independent witness to this abduction, this allegation is credible in light of the background circumstances to this incident, the detailed corroborating accounts provided, and the photographs taken of the police vehicle in which the Bali is said to have been taken.

Here, we see that based on the statements presented and facts observed David Bergman is trying to arrive at the decision that the allegation of abduction was credible. We will discuss whether Bergman has missed anything and if the misses are affordable.

The article discusses how Bali became involved with the case and mention that the prosecution applied before the tribunal to accept Bali’s statement as evidence to the investigation officer when he went missing. I would like to draw your attention to the fifth paragraph of the ‘Prosecution witness’ section. For your ease, please allow me to quote it here.

In Bangladesh, generally statements made to an investigation officer are not entitled to be accepted as evidence – only testimony of witnesses given in court. However, section 19(2) of the International Crimes Tribunal Act 1973 allows statements to be admitted as evidence if the witness:

So with this (subtle punch?) Bergman hints that what the tribunal was requested to do is very unusual and might almost be unique. I am curious to know whether he was trying to mean that even if a witness is missing, in general the courts in Bangladesh still expect him to be present during the hearing! I hope not. Because that’s is whole point of missing! A person cannot be present at a place or point of time if he is missing. The court is supposed to take this millennium old definition of ‘missing’ into consideration and proceed forward.  Let us come out of our nice comfort zone of ignorance and verify this claim. I invite you to review the THE EVIDENCE ACT, 1872 of Bangladesh. Through out the act, it was suggested in about nine places what the court should do in case a person is not found. In every case that was tried on this soil since 1872, this was the act used to deal with the situation when a witness went missing. Let me quote section 33 for my readers’ special attention.

33. Evidence given by a witness in a judicial proceeding, or before any person authorized by law to take it, is relevant for the purpose of proving, in a subsequent judicial proceeding, or in a later stage of the same judicial proceeding, the truth of the facts which it states, when the witness is dead or cannot be found, or is incapable of giving evidence, or is kept out of the way by the adverse party, or if his presence cannot be obtained without an amount of delay or expense which, under the circumstances of the case, the Court considers unreasonable:


that the proceeding was between the same parties or their representatives in interest;

that the adverse party in the first proceeding had the right and opportunity to cross-examine;

that the questions in issue were substantially the same in the first as in the second proceeding.

Explanation.–A criminal trial or inquiry shall be deemed to be a proceeding between the prosecutor and the accused within the meaning of this section.

So, it is clear that the prosecution can lawfully request the court to consider the statement of a witness to the investigation team or the prosecution as evidence if he fails to appear at the court for subsequent oral testimonial. At this point I would like to encourage my readers to ask the question whether this evidence will be as strong as the statements produced and later cross-examined by the witness who were able to appear at the court. My naive answer is of course not. Let me quote from the conversation between the court and the prosecution which was not considered in the argument made by Bergman in our article of interest.

Justice Nassim: Is there any value of this type of witness if they are not cross-examined

 Haider Ali: My lord, it will be considered as weak evidence. And Sukho Ronjon Bali has disappeared for the last 4 months. A GD was filed in local Police Station.

It looks the prosecution and the court also agree with us that the evidence was going to be a weaker evidence. So, we all are on a pretty rational standing. The million dollar question is why on the earth Bergman mentioned that something unusual was about to happen? He is going to be asked this question as soon as this article is finished.

I have another bonus issue for my patient readers.  Let’s go back to the original statement of Bergman that,

In Bangladesh, generally statements made to an investigation officer are not entitled to be accepted as evidence…

It will be rational to ask why Bergman didn’t mention it to his readers that generally in Bangladesh an investigation officer is a police officer who belongs to the executive branch of the government. But by the ICT Act 1973, the investigation officer for Bali was from the judiciary which is Independent of the executive branch. I apologize to my readers for quoting again from the evidence act. This time it is from section 25.

25. No confession made to a police-officer shall be proved as against a person accused of any offence.

So, yes, the court doesn’t consider statements made to the police as evidences. But how can the argument be valid for the investigation officers of the ICT while they are not directed by the police department and also don’t have access to the infrastructure of interrogation of the police department?

Let us proceed to the section ‘From prosecution to defence Witness’. Let me quote from the third paragraph of the section.

On 21 October, the defense filed an application asking the tribunal to issue a summons requiring Bali to come to the tribunal as a defense witness.

Bali’s family had filed a general diary in the police station in the last week of February that he was missing. This was subsequently reported to the ICT. Why did Bergman fail to ask the question that while his family was living in uncertainty about missing Bali for about four months why the defense started grooming him as soon as he was found for witnessing without prior reporting to the police or the family or the ICT? I am perfectly fine if Bali decides not to cooperate with the prosecution and take the side of the defense. But a person is reported to the police missing! Isn’t it unusual that whenever you first knew about his whereabouts you start working on your own agenda instead of notifying the police or his family? Doesn’t this need more scrutiny? Do we see that in this article?

The last paragraph of the section is also interesting to me. It describes about how the date for Bali’s testimonial was fixed. In this article Bergman decides on the credibility of the allegation considering the statements of the defense lawyers. These are the same lawyers who took the pass for the day before the hearing date in the name of Atis Sen and later claimed to Bergman (mentioned in another post but ignored in the arguments made in this article) that they wanted to take Bali using Atis Sen’s pass. My dear readers, do you find this practice usual? Moreover, given this act of dishonesty by the lawyers, do you find Bergman’s interest to rely on their accounts usual?

Let us go to the section ‘The next day: the abduction’. Here Bergman gives the detailed accounts of what happened on that day as reported by his sources. He quoted the Jamaat lawyer who, by the way, was the collector of pass in fake names on the previous day. The fourth and fifth paragraphs amused me like a standard Chuck Norris lore. So, in broad day light, while the abduction drama was going on, the first two journalists who were incidentally appeared one after another at the spot were both from the Jamaat mouthpiece in the media, The Daily Sangram! I would like to present some supplementary information for those who are not aware of the circulation of the Daily Sangram. This government report shows that the circulation of the Daily Sangram is among the worst. Being an avid follower of the Bangladesh media this is not a surprise to me but could be to some of the readers of the Bergman blog. Here is a screenshot of the list. Please look for the Daily Sangram at about the bottom.

A little old circulation information of the Daily Sangram.

A little old circulation information of the Daily Sangram.

If you are not a big fan of government survey here is another report by a private market research company which shows that the Daily Sangram is never considered as a player in private sector PR campaign. Let me include a screenshot of the figures.

The Daily Sangram has no place in private sector marketing campaign strategy.

The Daily Sangram has no place in private sector marketing campaign strategy.

So, going back to the original point, these are the people, taking fake pass from the courts and working for a newspaper with an ultra poor readership, who gives ‘credible’ accounts of Bali abduction to Bergman.

The final circus of the article is the photographs. Bergman quoted Shahidul Islam’s account, another Sangram reporter(!), that he saw the incident and had some exchanges while in the picture he was still wearing helmets and the police vehicle had already been leaving. Bergman also found the allegation credible based on the second picture with a white figure inside the car that he took to be Bali. Isn’t the following picture of Bigfoot clearer?

A bigfoot

A bigfoot!

The ‘Credibility of the allegation’ section lacks seriously in mentioning Sangram’s amazing track record as a newspaper, the coincidence of appearing two Sangram reporters and no reporter from any other house at that moment, the fake pass the defense collected for Bali, not reporting to the police or court that missing Bali was found etc. I wish I could follow the thought process of arriving at a decision about the credibility given all these missing points included in that section.

It is not always possible for a reporter to estimate the impact of the article s/he is writing. So, trying to justify the statements as much as possible with facts and rationale might be the best practice just like we always try to document the code of a computer program as much as possible. I thank David Bergman for taking interest in Bangladesh.

As I have said this is a live commentary on the press covering the ICT of Bangladesh, I am going to send my issues to the authors of this article. I will keep you posted in the comment section whether they agreed with me or not.

This report is comparatively much better than some other news articles I have already reviewed in this blog. But to not surprise me, it had at least one terribly wrong information and several attempts of presenting partial pictures. Let us start with some quick info about the article:


Title: Seeking war crimes justice, Bangladesh protesters fight ‘anti-Islam’ label
Authors: Farid Ahmed from Dhaka and Elizabeth Yuan from Hong Kong
Contributors: Christina Zdanowicz and Henry Hanks from Atlanta and Sarah Brown from London
Date of publication: February 28, 2013

The article started with a nice introduction about what is going on in Shahbag. After a fairly written starting I was expecting at least same quality when I started reading the ‘Genesis’ section. But I was surprised reading this. Please allow me to quote here.

Sayedee, a two-time member of Bangladesh’s parliament, responded that the court “has done injustice” to him. His lawyer, Abdur Razzak, said the sentence would be appealed.

So, this CNN piece says Sayedee was a two-time member of the national assembly. It is true that Sayedee was elected twice. But what about this? On September 14, 2003, the court gave the verdict that the election of Sayedee as a member of the parliament was illegal. The verdict considered  Sayedee’s hate speech against religious minority and spending over the allowed limit set by the election commission as serious violations of the election law.  The court also ordered the government to remove him from the parliament and recognize Sudhangshu Shekhor Haldar as the parliament member instead. This verdict was reported in both the most circulated national Bangla and English dailies. As the then government was led by Jamaat’s chief ally, BNP, this order was never carried out. Dear reader, my point is when you use the phrase ‘two-time member of Bangladesh’s parliament’ you give a reader, whose first language is English and may have heard of Bangladesh for the first time, that you are going to talk about a people’s representative. But when you include the fact that this guy was ordered to be removed from the parliament due to his corruption during the election process the readers’ minds know that they are about to know more about someone’s criminal activities. The pen of an author has this amazing power of setting up the mood or I should say a small universe of thought processes by presenting facts when and if needed. Shouldn’t I say that failure of mentioning such facts deceives the readers who might have been interested to correlate Sayedee and Jamaat’s works retrospectively?

Then we see a series of paragraphs reflecting a very nice and broad picture about the Shahbag movement and its background including our great liberation war and the international crime tribunal.

Another surprise was waiting for me in the criticism section. Allow me to quote that part.

As the protests grew, the parliament proposed an amendment to the law empowering the International Crimes Tribunal. Under the proposed amendment, the government can appeal any tribunal verdict, and Law Minister Shafique Ahmed said it plans to do so in Mollah’s case.

Protesters hailed the proposal, but human rights groups weren’t pleased.

“A government supposedly guided by the rule of law cannot simply pass retroactive laws to overrule court decisions when it doesn’t like them,” said Brad Adams, the Asia director of the New York-based Human Rights Watch.

The amendments “make a mockery of the trial process,” he added.

I would like to ask this question to my patient readers. Don’t you think that a law is unfair and biased if it gives only the defendant to appeal against a verdict and deprives the accuser to appeal if not happy? Is this a fair playing ground? What if the law would have permitted only the accuser to appeal against a verdict and deprived the defendant to appeal if not happy? Don’t you think that this CNN news report would have said in that case that the law is not fair and is technically flawed and biased. Don’t you think that such case would have made CNN to quote HRW, AI and other human rights watchdogs claiming the law to be modified and give the defendant the right to appeal retrospectively? Yes you are right! They would have done that and I think that’s perfectly fair. Why are then they painting a different color when the deprived party is the accuser in the case of ICT? Don’t the people who suffered from the atrocities of these monsters and represented by the prosecution have the right to receive justice? I would also like to humbly remind the reporters that the both the legal basis for the famous Nuremberg trial (London Charter on August 8, 1945) and the ICT Act 1973 itself were retrospective.

As I have said earlier without these scattered incorrect information and false representation of the picture, overall this article could have been an example to everyone about how a report on citizen movement should be written. I sincerely appreciate that unlike, Guardian, The Economist and Saudi Gezzette, the CNN reporters actually went to Shahbag, talked to people, quoted them and at least tried to understand what is the inner meanings of those demonstrations, protests and banners. It is an amazing report indeed.

It is not always possible for a reporter to estimate the impact of the article s/he is writing. So, trying to put statements as correct as possible backed with facts and rationale is very important just like we always try to write the code of a computer program as bug free as possible. I still thank CNN for taking interest in Bangladesh.

As I have said this is a live commentary on the press covering the ICT of Bangladesh, I am going to send my issues to the authors of this article. I will keep you posted in the comment section whether they agreed with me or not.

This is another pathetic example of journalism from a highly reputed newspaper. Sorry, my reader, for ruining your day with my ‘hate speech’! Please allow me to explain after presenting some quick info about the article:


Title: Unrest in Bangladesh, A nation divided
Authors: Not able to retrieve as of March 9, 2013
Date of publication: March 9, 2013

Let me start with the title ‘A flawed tribunal opens old wounds and threatens Bangladesh’s future’. Any public institution, no matter whether it is operating in a developing or developed nation, always has its limitations. In Bangladesh, with very limited resources, all the public institutions have always been working hard to serve people. Sometimes, because of the politicians, they are not able to meet citizen’s expectations but in most cases the gaps between the service and the expectations come merely from limited resources.

Think about The Economist is preparing a news on why President Obama has not fulfilled his promise of shutting down the Gitmo prison and starts the headline with ‘The Cheater President Obama…’! I invite my reader to predict whether this will ever happen. I think I can read your mind. It is negative. Why don’t we verify it? A quick search within The Economist website points us to this, this and this articles. Dear reader, please take your time to answer to my question – was The Economist judgmental while addressing President Obama in the headline or inside the news? No! Is the tenure of President Obama longer than the lifetime of the International Crimes Tribunal? Yes! Does the fact that The Economist published more news articles on President Obama than the International Crimes Tribunal mean they had more chances to be judgmental about President Obama? Yes! So, why The Economist is so quick for being judgmental about the ICT? I don’t have the answer. Surely, I am going to ask it to The Economist after I finish writing this article.

I would encourage you to raise the point that the case of President Obama and the case of the ICT may not be of same kind. Instead of defending myself I would like to take a second try. Let’s try my hypothesis with the most famous international crimes tribunal, the International Military Tribunal which hosted some of the Nuremberg trials long ago. I invite my readers to read the nine pages long critic of the Nuremberg trials by the famous expert on international laws, professor Quincy Wright, published in The American Journal of International Law in 1947. Since then researchers are still debating about different aspects of limitations of the courts set up in Nuremberg. Did The Economist ever term the Nuremberg trials flawed or even allegedly flawed? I have not done an exhaustive search but they didn’t at least in the articles which showed up on the first page of my search results inside The Economist website.

Why so hurry for being so decisive about the ICT of Bangladesh? I sincerely appreciate if someone is really asking question about the quality of the tribunal and its operations. But when someone is giving judgement I expect academic integrity and journalistic professionalism as a reader. If it doesn’t have enough evidence for being decisive, the report becomes just another example of careless poor quality journalism. Do the readers of The Economist deserve that?

Enough about the headline. Let us proceed. But alas! we have to stop at the very first paragraph! Take a look at the last two lines of that paragraph. If it looks familiar, you are right! The Economist made the same mistake the Saudi Gazette did on March 7, 2013. My explanation in another article says why the surprise The Economist is caught by about the ‘domestic nature’ of the ICT is totally irrational. I have a simple question to the unnamed reporter. Did you ever have some time to check the definition of international crime and the jurisdiction defined in the ICT Act 1973 enacted by the government of Bangladesh? Aren’t you supposed to do the homework?

The next several paragraphs are poor efforts of undermining the level of violence and terror caused by the Jamaat and Shibir activists and highlighting the number of killing by the law enforcement agencies. Why I am saying so? Let me quote from one of my previous articles which takes the statistics of post verdict violence from the most circulated national daily.

Jamaat activists killed three polices after attacking a police camp at the Sundarganj sub-district of Gaibandha district. An engineer who was a government employee was pushed off the roof and killed by Jamaat activists in Chapainawabganj. Jamaat activists set fire to the Bamondanga railway station in Rangpur. Some part of the Santahar-Lalmonirhar railroad was also destroyed by the same people.   Jamaat activists also attacked the Hindu localities of Rajgang bazaar in Begomganj, Noakhali. In Chiribondor sub-district of Dinajpur district three shops were vandalized by the local Jamaat activities. In Kodimchilan, Nator, Jamaat activists set fire to a police van which had polices inside. In Sonamosjid, Chapainawabganj they set fire to a government funded hotel which was under construction.

These are the immediate reports came out within twenty four hours of the first wave of violence. The reporters are now doing more investigations and digging up horrifying stories of crime and terror against humanity happened at that period and ignored by The Economist. My dear readers, does The Economist report of our interest cover the depth and breadth of the nationwide violence took place? Do you feel the plight of the Hindu community with their houses burnt down, temples destroyed, family members killed and raped in several districts? Do you feel the sense of terror which engulfed the families of the staff members of a power station when the whole station and its residential complex was totally burnt down? Do you feel the panic of the passengers when six coaches of an express train were derailed because the Jamaat activists destroyed the some part of the rail roads? Unfortunately I don’t. Excuse me if it is just because English is not my first language!

The Economist also successfully failed to link up these acts of violence with the instructions came out within one hour of the Sayeedi verdict on the FaceBook pages of Jamaat and its organizations. The statement was loud and clear – ‘Burn and kill them all’. The exact statement and its translation is already mentioned in a previous article in this website.

The article then discusses about Jamaat and Shibir being more insurgents and less political parties and some other political hand waiving about how BNP is handling the situation. But the most striking contrast between the Shahbag movement and the BNP backed Jamaat ‘protest’ is terribly missing in the article. It is the difference between violence and non-violence. Let me quote this line from a later paragraph.

The protesters’ initial narrow focus on accountability for war crimes soon gave way to calls for the banning of Jamaat, along with its influential banks, businesses and social institutions. With that shift, the public support the protesters enjoyed from across the political spectrum evaporated. The struggle is now framed by the BNP and its ally as a battle between anti-Islamist forces and the pious.

I would like to ask the unnamed reporter several questions again. I understand that you have successfully quoted Jamaat and its ally’s view about Shahbag but what have you seen there yourself? I hope you wouldn’t say, we never sent a reporter to Shahbag. I wish I could ask – have you ever quoted the exact demands or statements or a official spokesperson of the Shahbag movement? I would be disappointed if you say no we didn’t. I understand that reporting in a south Asian country could be expensive for a western newspaper. But what about these solidarity expressed from 179 international universities around the world? Did you ever try to go to your closest one and ask the participants shown in the picture why they are with Shahbag while being thousands miles away? Dear The Economist, is the easiest way always the best way?

Being an industry outsider I am not sure what should I expect from a journalist – reporting the reality as complete as possible or preaching what s/he believes.

It is not always possible for a reporter to estimate the impact of the article s/he is writing. So, trying to justify the statements as much as possible with facts and rationale might be the best practice just like we always try to document the code of a computer program as much as possible. I still thank The Economist for taking interest in Bangladesh.

As I have said this is a live commentary on the press covering the ICT of Bangladesh, I am going to send my issues to the authors of this article. I will keep you posted in the comment section whether they agreed with me or not.

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