Course:Hist105/Bangladesh

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Introduction - Bangladesh is a country in Southeast Asia bordered by India and Myanmar. After being a British colony and a part of Pakistan, it gained its independence in 1971. It is a nation with a rich and interesting history and culture. It is highly populated, and although it is still deemed a developing country, it is an emerging economic force. Although Bangladesh has made huge societal improvements since independence, it still has a long way to go. My goal is to discuss some of its social movements. - Faria

Week 2 "Revolutions" - In 1971, Bangladesh gained its independence from Pakistan. Prior this, it was referred to as East Pakistan. The war was very violent and scarring, with Pakistani forces being especially brutal. (http://content.time.com/time/photogallery/0,29307,1844754,00.html and http://content.time.com/time/photogallery/0,29307,1844754,00.html)

Week 3 "Abolition of Slavery" - One of the main sectors of Bangladesh's workforce/economy is their manual labour. There are dozens of garment factories there (remember the fire at the Joe Fresh factory?), and child labour is still a huge issue. Although slavery became outlawed in 1972, after the ratifications of ILO Conventions 29 and 105, forced labour is still a big problem in Bangladesh. (http://www.irinnews.org/report/85617/bangladesh-the-modern-face-of-slavery)

Week 4 "Workers/Slaves/Women Unite" - Presently, many women's issues still exist in Bangladesh. Child marriage, dowry, rape (here's a great mini-documentary I watched last year on gang rape and the attitudes surrounding it in Bangladesh http://www.vice.com/en_ca/video/bangladeshi-gang-rape-567), domestic violence, and more exist. However, there have been quite a few feminist activists to come out of Bangladesh, including Hameeda Hossain (who has published articles on women's rights in Bangladesh and is a founding member of the organization Ain o Salish Kendra/The Centre for Law and Mediation), Purabi Basu (who has published feminist novels), and Rounaq Jahan (a political scientist, former professor, and feminist activist who has represented Bangladesh in the past at the UN). As well, Bangladesh has many women in powerful political positions, such as Sheikh Hasina, the Prime Minister. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women_in_Bangladesh)

Week 5 "Working Class Heroes" - On July 30th, 1997, there was a strike by many of the factory workers, transportation and private sector employees in Bangladesh. It was nationwide, with demonstrations taking place in many of the major cities. They were peaceful strikes (other than in Dhaka, where 25 workers died and many more were injured during a stampede), with minimal injuries reported. The reason behind the strike was due to the unions not being able to reach an agreement with the government and employers association a few days back. The workers had 8 specific wants, a few of them being: a standard minimum wage of 3000 taka/month (about $70 USD at the time), job security, reviving closed-down factories, and the release of arrested workers/the withdrawal of false charges. (http://www.hartford-hwp.com/archives/52/063.html)

Week 6 "Satyagraha, Revolution and the Indian Independence Movement(s)" - Prior to August 14, 1947, Pakistan (as well as what is now known as Bangladesh) was a part of India. After dividing these nations based on religion and the end of the British regime in India, Pakistan was made up of two territories (East and West Pakistan) and the Muslim population, while India was comprised of the Hindu population. 24 years later, as stated above, Bangladesh went through a very violent war with Pakistan to separate and become an independent nation. Neither of these nations used any peaceful tactics, and they relied on armed forces. Allies of Pakistan included the USA, and India supported Bangladesh. (http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Bangladesh_War_of_Independence#The_main_war)

Week 7 "Freedom Struggles in South Africa" - Similar to the apartheid, Bangladesh has had its own racial divide - the indigenous ban. There is a region in Bangladesh known as the Chittagong Hill Tracts (fun fact: the president of the University of Western Ontario is originally from this region - and he got his PhD from UBC!), where the citizens have less in common with the majority of the Bengali population and are more similar to those from Myanmar/North India. Now, the Hill Tracts are a common tourist location and the number of Bengali settlers is starting to outweigh the natives. It is a highly militarized area and anti-indigenous riots are common. The worst part is, foreign researchers are not supposed to speak to the natives. The indigenous residents are silenced and marginalized, and this is supported by the Bengali government. (http://www.aljazeera.com/blogs/asia/2015/06/bangladesh-indigenous-ban-worse-apartheid-150616134617804.html)

Week 8 "Civil Rights Movement" - N/A

Week 9 "Sexual Revolutions" - Currently in Bangladesh, homosexuality is illegal and can lead to imprisonment. As well, same-sex marriage is not legal. In 2013, the United Nations Human Rights Council subjected Bangladesh to a Universal Periodic Review. This review inspected Bangladesh's human rights performance since the last check in 2009. The UPR suggests methods to improve human rights, and gave two recommendations to Bangladesh - abolish section 377 of the Bangladesh Penal Code, which would decriminalize same-sex marriage, and also to educate law enforcement on LGBT issues/create protective measures for LGBT people. While these ideas would've been a good start, they were not successful as Bangladesh was facing many other political issues. Boys of Bangladesh, an LGBT group of self-identified gay men in Bangladesh have also made recommendations to improve the lives of LGBT people in Bangladesh. (http://equaldex.com/region/bangladesh) (https://lgbtbangladesh.wordpress.com/)

Week 10 "Red Power(s)" - Related to what I wrote for Week 7

Week 11 "Modern Environmentalisms" - Bangladesh currently suffers from terrible pollution. The garment and textile industries have caused water pollution, and various issues such as CO2 emissions have created heavy air pollution. However, there is a group known as Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon (BPA) who are committed to fight against pollution. They formed in 2000 after the International Conference on Bangladesh Environment (ICBEN). They receive no help from the government. (http://www.bapa.org.bd/AboutBAPA.aspx)

Week 12 "Democracy Redux" - In 1990, Bangladesh experienced a democratic movement. This was due to the prior leadership of Hussain Muhammed Ershad, who used the military to suppress citizens. Various people from different walks of life, such as students, intellectuals, and workers, all protested the heavy military presence. Even politicians disapproved of Ershad's ruling style, with the two main opposition leaders, (now Prime Minister) Sheikh Hasina and Begum Zia releasing a joint statement in 1987. In 1987, groups of more than 5 were not allowed to gather and the military was killing citizens. Three years later, the three political parties finally were able to cooperate for a short timespan of 2 months. In November of that year, Ershad declared a state of emergency, where censorship, curfews, and military presence were all present. However, December of that year, Ershad had to step down and Bangladesh finally gained back a sense of democracy. (http://www.abac-bd.com/bangladesh/1990-the-movement-for-the-restoration-of-democracy-in-bangladesh/)