Foreign Policy Blogs

Chair of Bangladesh Human Rights Commission Thinks Mandela is Dead-NY TImes Agrees

I don’t know what’s worse: that the New York Times printed a quote from an estimable and important Bangladeshi that was off the mark; or whether, it’s worse that the quote in question was offered by the chairman of Bangladesh Human Rights Commission.

Let’s start with the former issue.  The quote in question was delivered by Mizanur Rahman, the esteemed chair of the National Human Rights Commission on the Times piece, published over the weekend, on the Bangladesh war crimes tribunal.  (In case you didn’t know- 40 years after the fact, Bangladesh is coming around to prosecute individuals allegedly to have been war criminals during the events of teh 1971 Liberation War.)  And the quote:

“A decade after Nelson Mandela’s death, let’s get together and discuss whether South Africans are happy with the justice they got,” said Mizanur Rahman, who lost two uncles in the war and is now chairman of the Bangladesh Human Rights Commission. “Until and unless you put to rest this long history of impunity it will go on. It pinches your heart every moment of your existence.”

It is not so much that Mr. Rahman is wrong to think that a truth and reconciliation process might not work in Bangladesh.  It’s rather that as the chair of the Bangladesh Human Rights Commissions-being the man who is responsible for the concern and conduct of human rights practices in Bangladesh- he does not know that one of the greatest campaigners for the call and implementation of human rights in the last century and this one, is alive and well.

Again, is it worse, instead that the Times ran that quote?  Sloppy journalism? Perhaps there was no one else who could have delivered a quote on this issue–not likely, that! Still, it’s not impossible to think that the error stands behind the low value that Bangladesh’s political, economic and social narrative, has in the international press.  This even though Bangladesh is at the forefront of the fight for democracy and Islam; the political and social consequences of global warming; industrial policy in a tightening, squeezed world.

Either way, surely there’s plenty of room to think  both wrongs, or incorrectitudes, stand as incommensurable value; the badness of both phenomena are mutually complementary though sequentially and, non-comparably so.



Faheem Haider

Faheem Haider is a political analyst, writer and artist. He holds advanced research degrees in political economy, political theory and the political economy of development from the London School of Economics and Political Science and New York University. He also studied political psychology at Columbia University. During long stints away from his beloved Washington Square Park, he studied peace and conflict resolution and French history and European politics at the American University in Washington DC and the University of Paris, respectively.

Faheem has research expertise in democratic theory and the political economy of democracy in South Asia. In whatever time he has to spare, Faheem paints, writes, and edits his own blog on the photographic image and its relationship to the political narrative of fascist, liberal and progressivist art.

That work and associated writing can be found at the following link:

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