This post will be a most unusual one. Although I often champion the worthy causes of people I meet, I normally keep out of specific political situations. However, on behalf of my friend and fellow blogger, Raad Rahman, I am breaking this rule today.
Raad is a well-respected author, blogger and champion of many causes, fighting injustice wherever she sees it by, among other things, publicising the wrongs and reporting on the crimes on her blog Wonder Sonder.
Today it is Raad’s turn – more accurately her family – to feel injustice as corrupt officials in Chittagong, Bangladesh attempt to take land from her father while the media seem to have no interest at all. Below are Raad’s own words about what has happened taken from her Facebook page. Please read, like the page, offer support and – particularly if you are Bangladeshi – make a noise about this.
D K P
On the 3rd of April, 2015, in complete disregard to court orders, the Chittagong Development Authority’s Shahenur Islam held my father at gunpoint as some of the city’s most disgusting thugs attempted to bulldoze part of my family’s property in Chittagong.
If you’ve been to the southern city of Chittagong in Bangladesh, there is almost a hundred percent chance that you’ve seen my house, even if you were simply passing through on your way to the more popular location of Cox’s Bazaar…
Being able to view the house hasn’t always been the case- back in the day, the house was part of a larger complex of hills that surrounded the Mehdibag and Dampara area, but I still remember when the house became prominent in the city’s landscape.
It was around the time that every single bus service between Dhaka and Chittagong decided to base themselves across the street from my parents’ property. It was around 1994. And by 2005, when the Peninsula Hotel took over the city’s landscape, my family’s house received the status of that lush strip of green that you can see from the Peninsula’s rooftop. It was also the beginning of the accelerated harassment my parents and family have been facing as per the property.
That’s right, that same green hill that many of you have spent hours gazing at while eating your phuchkha and crabs or enjoying a cultural concert at Shilpokola Academy, the city’s premier artsl institution, belongs to my parents… but now the Peninsula has some grand plans to get rid of ONE OF THE LAST REMAINING HILLS IN CHITTAGONG.
What most of you don’t know is that a man who claims to be the Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s brother, has been illegally trying to take over our property for years. His name is Kazi Ekram, and he is the head of the Federation of Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industries. Somewhere along the way, the then mayor of the city, Mr. Moinuddin, attempted to take over the property too, and turn it into his mayoral office. When Moinuddin fell out of favor with other party members and none of them backed him up, Engineer Musharraf Hossain, the owner of the prominent Peninsula Hotel, who also happens to be the Minister for Works in Bangladesh, also began to chime in. Now, between Hossain and Ekram, they somehow eventually managed to even get the Chittagong Development Authority to attempt to bulldoze our property.
EVEN THOUGH these folks have no legal grounds to it.
What most of you don’t know, what the media isn’t telling you, is that my parents and family have a permanent stay order and what the government cronies are trying to do is ILLEGAL, even though most people refuse to touch the issue… What the media is not reporting, is that my parents have paid millions in land taxes on a property that corrupt members of the government are now simply trying to grab from them.
If you know me, or know my family, chances are you love that house. Chances are that you’re as blown away by the British architecture as I am. Chances are, you have shopped at one of the 18 shops that line the property. Whatever it may be, I need your help like I’ve never needed your help before.
Please spread the word, and get this message out to everyone you know. They can try to bully us, bulldoze us, and even threaten my father with a gun to his chest, but the time for silence is over.
Thank you in advance!
–Raad Rahman, April 2015
Photos taken from Raad’s Facebook page.