SHOBAK: Rifles Mutiny

Reacting to:Unheard VoiceShobak

By Naeem Mohaeimen over the Shobak list.  See below on how to sign up if you're interested.

In an anguished editorial, former communist activist and now head of
largest media house, Motiur Rahman writes: "Which Bangladesh is this?
And where will this end?" His thoughts on our past and ongoing violent

Last Wednesday, frantic SMS came to mobiles around 10:30 am. There was
a mutiny inside BDR Headquarters (Bangladesh Rifles, which guards the
border with India/Burma), and the Army was moving into the area to
suppress it. First impressions were very misleading. I left my house
in Dhanmondi with my camera and went to BDR Gate (also in Dhanmondi).
The photographs I took were at a remove: people running, empty
streets, and soldiers. I ran into Nic Haque from Al Jazeera, last time
I saw him was during last year's midnight attack on Balaka Stork
Statues. Nic was wearing a PRESS-marked bullet-proof vest, and that
reminded me that I was neither press nor bullet-proof. I went home, to
watch the news. As we watched footage of BDR soldiers shouting into
cameras, with bandannas covering their face, the image and rhetoric
read like "class revolt".

After a botched negotiation (TV drama w/o substance), a panicked
evacuation of Dhanmondi during which mutineers disappeared into
crowds, chaos of conflicting statements and death counts, and delayed
discovery of mass graves, the grisly truth is slowly coming out.
"Class revolt" is replaced with a killing machine that executed army
officers trapped inside the camp. Why did this happen? Rumor-fed
hysteria, mob violence or shadowy conspiracy-- no one knows what was
the cause. Now the "rebel" faces are revealed as banal killers. An
angry debate explodes around the timing of the massacres of army
officers-- in the first hour, or while negotiations dragged on? Leaked
secret recordings of the Prime Minister's closed-door meeting with
army officers reveal high tensions between the new civilian government
and the army-- latter in shock over the deaths of so many officers.
Everything heading towards very unstable, definitely bad times, for
the country. The honeymoon of the "we did it" election victory of last
December now at an end.

I was writing a newspaper op-ed yesterday, but every day brings new
revelations, so I decided to wait. Maybe not write at all for now.

In meantime, here are few photos.

[I didn't take any photos of the dead. But there are lot of those in
the mass media-- graphic, horrifying and on edge of exploitation.]

By: on 8 Mar 2009