December 08, 2007

When Things Got Surreal

As we approach the end of the third month (on December 17th) of cartoonist Arifur's incarceration, we note that the media is still awfully silent about his predicament. What we put down to mere infighting within the coalition of diverse interests that is the CTG has resulted in an innocent man denied justice. All because of the rumblings of disenfranchised or alienated beings for whom practising their religion always boils down to making someone or the other miserable.

Against the backdrop of the media and the religious elites' complicity then, it would take something really bizarre - bordering on the unbelievable - to outdo them. Behold this story from the Daily Star which I reproduce fully below. Read it and weep mortals! Your puny little brains cannot comprehend an "emergency" so necessary and an "anti-corruption campaign" so complex that it requires the jailing of an award-winning cartoonist while simultaneously praising the corruption-eradicating efforts of cartoonists at a gathering organised by those honourable members of the servile civil society who are ostensibly a watchdog against corruption.

What happens when the watchdog gets too buddy-buddy with the very people its supposed to be watching?

Saturday, December 8, 2007 12:13 AM GMT+06:00

Front Page
'Allow cartoonists' freedom for exposing corruption'
Staff Correspondent

Speakers at a meeting yesterday said instead of limiting the freedom of speech the authorities concerned should rather ensure an atmosphere conducive to cartoonists uncovering diverse aspects of corruption.

“At present, the cartoonists do not seem to have the opportunity to work freely, whereas they can make a huge difference in exposing corruption and corruption suspects,” said Rafiqunnabi, a noted artist and cartoonist who is popularly known as Ranabi.

“The authorities concerned should take necessary measures for a cartoonist to be given a free rein,” he said adding that a cartoon can portray a situation from a refreshingly different point of view.

“Besides, we cannot deny the cartoonists' role in bringing the corruption suspects to trial,” observed the creator of Tokai, the character representing the street urchins of the capital.

He was speaking at a five-day exhibition titled “Cartoon against Corruption”. Transparency International, Bangladesh (TIB) has arranged the show at Drik Gallery in the city's Dhanmondi area as part of their efforts to organise a social movement against corruption.

Inaugurated by Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) Chairman Lt Gen (retd) Hasan Mashhud Chowdhury, the function was addressed, among others, by Duncan Norman, deputy high commissioner of the British Embassy in Dhaka, and rights activist Sultana Kamal.

“Currently, freedom of speech is limited in many ways. But we believe it is a duty of the citizenry to put finger on places that require attention. And we will continue calling for an atmosphere where the people can contribute to rooting out corruption from the society,” said Sultana Kamal, also a former adviser of the caretaker government.

Duncan Norman said that people's participation in the exhibition shows that the message is getting across.

Speaking as the chief guest, Hasan Mashhud said, “If you fight corruption with the spirit you've done the cartoons against corruption, I have no doubt that we will win over corruption with ease.”

The inaugural session was moderated by TIB Executive Director Iftekharuzzaman.

The works on view on the first day came from the contest titled “Corruption and General People.” A total of 747 cartoons were submitted for the competition arranged for the second time by TIB. Of those, 56 were selected for display.

The judges included cartoonists Shishir Bhattacharya, Shahrier Khan and Ahsan Habib.

The ACC will launch a year-long campaign against corruption on December 9, the international anti-corruption day. In association with TIB, it will work to organise a social movement against corruption.


tacit said...

I know, I had to read the piece a couple of time just to convince myself I wasn't misunderstanding anything.

The situation in Bangladesh is really too surreal to do justice to it in blog pieces. The mind boggles, and the hand wavers.

DhakaShohor said...

Should we get David Lynch to write a script and direct it instead?:)

tacit said...

Brilliant idea. It'll be great, I just know it.

And he's already made a movie about two ladies, who are friends and rivals in turn, so this venture should be quite smooth.


DhakaShohor said...

O tacit ... tsk tsk tsk :)

You understate the friendship and exaggerate the rivalry a bit, I feel, if Silencio is any indication of where you're coming from. I'm not quite sure the nation is quite ready for that yet. I'm not quite sure that even a freedom loving libertine such as myself is!

The coincidence is that I watched Mulholland Drive for the first time only last Wednesday! The cover is still lying on my coffee table.

Thanks for the much-needed laughs.


tacit said...

Lol, guilty as charged. Should have thought that through, huh?

Wow, that is a bit of a coincidence. I do love that movie though, it's amazing. Also, scared the crap out of me.

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