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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:

Source: http://www.cnn.com/2013/02/27/world/asia/bangladesh-protests

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:

Source: http://www.economist.com/news/asia/21573150-flawed-tribunal-opens-old-wounds-and-threatens-bangladeshs-future-nation-divided

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.

One of the very first reports which triggered me to start this blog is this piece published on The Guardian. Some quick info about the report:

Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/feb/28/bangladesh-death-sentence-deadly-protests

Title: Bangladesh death sentence sparks deadly protests
Authors: Syed Zain Al-Mahmood in Dhaka and Jason Burke in Delhi
Date of publication: 28 February 2013
Date of amendment: 1 March 2013

I sincerely thank Al-Mahmood and Burke for covering the event. Overall this is a good report. But when I look at the fact that one of the authors was from Dhaka I become little curious about whether he had enough chance to check facts.

I start with the third paragraph. Here is the original version:

The verdict first set off wild scenes of jubilation in Shahbag square, in the capital, Dhaka, where hundreds of thousands of people have been agitating for weeks in favour of executing Islamist politicians on trial for war crimes.

How do you, my readers, feel about ‘in favour of executing Islamist politicians on trial’ part? You have all the rights to disagree but I have found it little too general. Do you see the difference in the impact on readers’ minds if it had been written as follows?

The verdict first set off wild scenes of jubilation in Shahbag square, in the capital, Dhaka, where hundreds of thousands of people have been agitating for weeks in favour of capital punishment  of Islamist politicians on trial for war crimes.

Forgive me if it is just because English is not my first language. But what about the fourth paragraph?

But clashes erupted when backers of Jamaat-e-Islami protested at the verdict. At least 14 demonstrators were said to have been shot dead by security forces across the country in the afternoon. Two policemen and a ruling party activist were also killed. By Friday the death toll was being put at more than 40, according to the Associated Press.

Do you notice the word demonstrators? Are those people vandalizing Hindu localities and temples demonstrators? Are those people removing fish plates from railroads which resulted into derailed coaches and passenger injuries protesters? I understand that there could be (I am certain there was) peaceful protests. Does this article differentiate between police actions on peaceful activities and police actions on terrorizing citizens?

The sixth paragraph horrifies me the most. After portraying the people, who reacted against the verdict of the convicted war criminal Sayeedi,  the report added that the protesters set fire to a Hindu temple etc. after an ‘also’.

Protesters also set fire to a Hindu temple and houses in Noakhali district, south of Dhaka, news agencies said. In the town of Cox’s Bazar, a police camp was attacked.

The verdict came out in the afternoon and by midnight communications between the capital and a number of localities were cut off. Let me pick some of those activities from the most circulated national daily of Bangladesh. I have chosen the edition which came out on the same day The Guardian published the news.

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.

I just quoted a few. Dear readers, if you take a look at any map of Bangladesh you will be able to recognize that these acts of terror were distributed widely throughout the country. Does the news article cover the depth and breadth of violence happened on that day? You may argue that a newspaper article has a word limit and the reporter has to cover the context and other things. But look at the title! It is about ‘deadly protests’. Does the article cover all aspects of these ‘deadly protests’?

If you are not from Bangladesh or started following the situation lately let me give you some hints why  the ‘protest’ needed to include vandalizing Hindu temples and destroying railroads.  Here is the screenshot of instructions which came out on the FaceBook page of Islami Chatri Sangstha, the female students’ wing of Jamaat – e – Islami right after the verdict was declared.

Jamaat instructions came out after Sayeedi verdict
Jamaat instructions came out after Sayeedi verdict

Let me translate it for you.

What you should do right at this moment:

  1. Destroy the rail roads as much as possible.
  2. Destroy all the water and land transport stations.
  3. Cut off Dhaka from all the districts.
  4. Gather around your closest police station and lock it up.
  5. Start propaganda war about Sayeedi in the rural areas.
  6. Vandalize the assets of the presses which are not in favor of us.
  7. Make videos of when police shoots at us and publish in world media.
  8. Gather around embassies and lock them up.
  9. Same as # 3.
  10. Set fire to the houses of ministers and members of the parliament.

Could you related these ten points with what happened country wide?

Rest of the article is about the background of what is going on and comments from different organizations. I understand that most parts of the article reflect the reality but what if it is quoted by an organization which is not interested about the war crime which took place about forty two years ago but the statement that police opened fire at the ‘protesters’? Does this article tell them that police had to open fire because they were attacked by the ‘protesters’ while sitting inside the police camp?

It is not always possible for a reporter to estimate the impact of the article s/he is writing. So, trying to remain as complete as possible might be the best practice just like we always try to determine the worst case scenario while writing a computer program. I thank again Syed Zain Al-Mahmood and Jason Burke 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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