Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Bangladesh now: Bullying, Brutality and Bias

My thanks to Max Horn for another thought-provoking piece.

'Bangladesh now: Bullying, brutality and bias

'Talk of bullying! 

'While the government in Bangladesh has morphed into a horrendous bully for the people of that country it has primarily utilized law enforcement (note the irony) personnel to achieve that sordid objective. (See earlier post Bangladesh now: A proto-fascist kleptocracy?) Even though the politicization of law enforcement in Ba'Bangladesh ngladesh began some years back, the present ruling clique drove in the final nail by completing the process by infusing the element of criminalization.

'One of the well-recorded actions of the police and its more Rambo-like partner, the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), has been the deaths of many people in purported “crossfires”. These have been enumerated regularly by international human rights organizations (e.g. Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Asian Human Rights Commission and the Bangladeshi watchdog with cross-national affiliations Odhikar, among others) and their protests and objections have been repeatedly conveyed to the administration.

'But deaths by the law enforcers persist with clockwork regularity, and to that has now been added the police firings---along with party cadres doing precisely the same with their guns in close cooperation with law enforcement officials and often with media cameras recording the scene---into rallies with the obvious intent to kill.

'And kill they have scored in large numbers. Last February, it has been recorded, almost one hundred people died due to these gunslingers’ bravado. The crime of the dead: they were opposition political activists demonstrating in support of political goals.

'What became conspicuous during my short residence there is that the impunity provided to the police and RAB initially for the “crossfire” deaths has now been extended to all deaths in police actions. Consequently, there is no known instance when any police officer has been tried for what has been called by the rights watchdogs as extra-judicial killings but which in reality are plain extra-judicial executions.

'Additionally, they have also been reported (mainly by the families of the victims) to be involved in the abductions and subsequent disappearances of a number of people, mostly opposition politicians. Of course, law enforcement officials and government leaders have continued to deny the reported involvement. On the other hand, law enforcement has not been able to locate any of the victims so far.
And here is another fact: in opinion surveys the crown for the most corrupt institution in that country has often been claimed by the police. There have been numerous reported incidents when law enforcement has picked up innocent persons only to intimidate them into paying sufficient money to have the arrested persons released from avaricious hands. When the demands are not fulfilled the seized people and their families are threatened with gunfire to maim the arrested persons.

'These facts may be difficult to comprehend---though they indeed have occurred in other countries as well---but these realities and more are well-documented by human rights organizations and many have already been reported in the country’s media. But instead of taking actions against any negligence, to say nothing of deviant involvement, by law enforcement the ruling clique has actually rewarded police personnel who have engaged in activities which may be described as being above and beyond the call of duty.

'For instance, one police officer was awarded the President’s Medal after he had assaulted a senior member of parliament of the main opposition party in full view of media cameras and onlookers. In one other case, another officer was treated to a sponsored junket to Singapore after he had raided the headquarters of the largest opposition political party and arrested all those who were at that time present in the building.

'While the police force and RAB are thus being utilized recklessly to suppress dissent they have simultaneously utterly failed to perform with any degree of efficacy the primary responsibilities and duties they are expected to do according to the law. They have till today, as a case in point, not succeeded in solving any of the high-profile murder incidents, like the one in which a husband and wife journalist couple were horrifically stabbed to death in their apartment in spite of repeated assurances from the government.

'Increasingly so far, they have displayed an extraordinary ability to fail in all the tasks the nation expects of them: from being unable to protect the citizens from criminals (especially those who have connections with ruling party leaders) to solving murder cases to even being unable to manage vehicular traffic in the cities and highways where total anarchy rules with policemen on duty blatantly accepting money from operators of trucks and buses, and even squeezing whatever they can from the meager earnings of pedicab drivers.

'The unfortunate nation of Bangladesh, for eons a regular victim of vicious tropical storms and devastating inundations, is now facing the cavalier brutality of law enforcement utilized for purely political purposes.

'Added to these misfortunes is the recent development of sections of the media reporting news as they see it from their political perspectives; i.e. not based on the facts but on the basis of perceptions colored by the owners’/editors’ opinions. And even the arrest and torture of an editor and closure of his newspaper; and the suspension of a couple of TV stations brought little or no protest from certain segments of news outlets.

'It is, of course, a historical fact that repressive, intolerant regimes have always been scared of the written and spoken words. But that one part of the media should be intolerant of the news and views of another part is evidently a fact that does not augur well.

'Thus the wholesale and deliberate denudation of the quality of all institutions in that country continues and the last resort of the citizen, the judiciary, has also been made subservient to the executive. Almost no attention is given to the principles of due process and rule of law. Instead lately the ruling clique has even resorted to changing laws midway through trials to better accommodate its wishes.
This then is Bangladesh now: a nation confronting frightful realities and unable even to protest due to the real fear that protest may mean death.


Wednesday, May 22, 2013



Another name to remember - KIM TILLMAN.  This 25 year old from the USA is another star in the making - and she has also been the victim of bullying.  Not physical, but psychological which can be just as dangerous.  

Kim had a dream - and has set out to achieve it.   In Kim's debut album and video series:  'Chronicles of a Rising Star: Inception'  she tells the story behind her dream.  I have heard this young lady in action and was bowled over by her amazingly velveteen voice - velveteen and so smooth, yet very, very powerful.  And super sexy dance moves to boot - this lady is a true star.  

To give a bit of Kim's background - she was born in Columbia, SC and raised in Charlotte, NC, in humble beginnings.  She has three siblings, all girls and sadly, does not recall really fitting in - anywhere.  She felt she was skinny with buck teeth, acne, unruly hair - and also that she was a huge nerd.  And for this reason she threw herself into academia - she therefore did extremely well in her schooling and was a leader in everything she participated in.  BUT this is only what people thought - and Kim was happy to let them.  She actually hated high school and, sadly, home wasn't a lot better.  So she did what so many in similar situations did and still do - she shut herself away and wrote - just wrote - until she felt somewhat better.  

Thank goodness for her grandmother, who saw 'something' in Kim and became her biggest fan and supporter.  She encouraged her granddaughter to use music and dancing as a way to release this pent-up stress, while also encouraging her to leave NC.  So she did.  Kim moved onto university in a different city - but in 2007, her freshman year, she lost both her grandmothers.  Naturally this left the young girl devastated and she lost confidence in being around other people - she also decided that she was going to find a cure for cancer, which was the reason both her grandmothers died.  Kim sank into a deep depression - but she forced herself to keep on keeping on and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry before starting graduate school, studying medicine.  Which she actually hated.  That same feeling of not being able to fit in returned with a vengeance.

However, it was during this time that music re-entered her life and she realised where her absolute passion lay.  While there she met the founder and CEO of Fly Trap Music Productions and therein lay the start to Kim's future.  With this professional help and guidance along with the chance meetings of others in the entertainment industry, Kim's star began rising.  Her dreams were being realised.  She has discovered the entire experience also to be very much a learning curve - including working to deadlines.  But as she said, she was continually blessed to meet such talented people who were all wanting to help her succeed.  

And so this amazing story continues and this equally amazing young lady's star is rising - quickly.  

In weeks to come, I will be interviewing and publishing Kim's story along with those of other rising young stars who have been bullied and are using their experience to help others through their music/modelling/acting/whatever they are doing.

Again, watch out world.  Kim is on her way.

     Chronicles Of a Rising Star
     Real Kim Tillman

Monday, May 13, 2013

Bangladesh now: A proto-fascist kleptocracy

My thanks to Max Horn for submitting the following thought provoking article.

'Having been in Bangladesh - a country much in the news these days for all the wrong reasons - for two years with an NGO recently provided me with a first-hand experience ; of precisely what it feels like to live in a place where the bully is the government itself.  In fact, it's a country which has been transformed by the ruling clique into a 'photo-fascist kleptocracy'.  That is as close tot he reality as one can get.

'By brazenly utilizing the law enforcement apparatus and arming its party cadres - and giving all of them the freedom to shoot to kill into assemblies of political adversaries - the ruling clique has in deliberate steps succeeded in spreading sheer fear among the people of the country.  And killing its unarmed people is evidently easy; witness the shootings into a rally on May 5 when at the very least a few hundred people were shot to death by the police.

'Of course they also have other ways of making dissenters think before talking - hundreds have been made to disappear; often dead bodies are found floating in the rivers and canals all across the country.  Not surprisingly so far, in spite of repeated demands, none of those who have disappeared has been traced by the police (more on the shenanigans of law enforcers and the media in subsequent articles).

'Certainly, none of these facets is unique to Bangladesh; they have all been the characteristics of every nation that has been ruled by tyrranical - and often corrupt - forces.  And while talking of corruption one has to note that members of the ruling clique and its hangers on have been looting the nation blind; a fact that is well-known to the so-called development partners (ie donor agencies and countries) with the World Bank only recently cancelling a loan to build a bridge - what would have been the largest infrastructure in Bangladesh - because of corruption in the proposed project.

'The most unfortunate factor for the people of that country is that not only is that nation deprived of democracy, the freedoms enjoyed by the citizens of any democratic country and respect for the lives of its people but the rulers are also bringing unabashed shame to the country internationally.  Which in future may impede its development.

'Additionally, the rampant sleaze bolstered by cronyism has brought the major foreign exchange earning industry to the brink of collapse, especially since the administration and the industry owners were phlegmatic in heeding the warnings about recurring disasters in the clothing factories.  Consequently, the present government presided - without an iota of regret - over the worst catastrophe in the history of textile industry resulting in the deaths of well over seven hundred workers - and counting.

'Apparently the only solutions the administration has to settle any issue - political, intellectual, law and order - is to arrest, torture, incarcerate, kill or make people disappear without trace as has already been done a number of times over the past few years.  Regarding the latest onslaught on a demonstration (on May 5-6) this is in part what hte country's most trusted human rights organization (Odhikar) had to say:

' "On May 6, 2013, at around 2.30 am, over 10 thousand members of police - along with the armed cadres of the ruling party attacked thousands of leaders and activists of Hefazate Islam Bangladesh, a non-political religious group - in the capital.  The demonstrators gathered - after their 'Dhaka blockade' program with the permission of the government for a public meeting.

' "The law enforcement agencies began by removing journalists from the area and shutting down the power supply.  During this time, they opened fire with live ammunition, rubber-coated steel bullets and threw tear gas shells and sound grenades indiscriminately at the unarmed leaders and activists of Hefazate Islam, many of the m were sleeping after the day-long program.

' "The government removed media people from the area and attacked the unarmed people in complete darkness.  It was obvious that they wanted to hide the brutality of the operation and numbers of dead and injured.  It has been reported that hundreds of people were killed as a result of this attack.  Hefazate Islam claimed that more than 2000 people were killed and thousands were injured.  Odhikar is trying to ascertain the actual number of deaths, but it is very difficult at this stage with substantial evidence.  (Because of) the nature of the operation and information received so far from the survivors, the number could be very large."

'The ruling clique has taken the old saying - 'give the dog a bad name and hang it' - to an unprecedented level.  Call anyone an Islamic fundamentalist/hardliner and you can do anything inhuman to her/him (the reasoning being, since once you give those persons that classification they do not have any rights whatsoever).  [Personal Disclaimer:  the writer does not subscribe to any view or opinion of any religious group in Bangladesh nor does he know anyone in any such outfits.]

'One of the saddest aspects of the extant situation in that country is the role of the media.  Most of the news outlets and TV stations are owned by beneficiaries of the present government, and, hence, follow the administration's wishes while a few others are blatantly engaged in obvious biased reporting for their own reasons, and some are way too scared and desist from reporting the facts.  The result is that disinformation and misinformation are disseminated by the ruling clique freely.

'Given these circumstances, in Bangladesh and elsewhere, one thing that demands serious considerations is that international human rights organisations need to ponder more effective ways of stopping rogue governments from trampling at will the very basic rights of citizens.  Merely appealing to them and encouraging others to send missives to the leaders of these countries is too weak a response and time-consuming as well.  In the process precious lives are lost with the protests barely registering with the errant administrators.'


Tuesday, May 7, 2013


Actually I am not sure that that heading is appropriate – I have had the huge honour of seeing and hearing some of the works of this amazingly talented young lady and, to me, I think she is already there.  Or very, very close to it.

Please allow me to present this 17 year old American beauty – actress, model and singer Meredith O’Connor.  Not only is this amazing young lady very talented, she is also extremely nice and very genuine – and she is a leader in the fight against bullying.    

Meredith is inspiration personified – she has incorporated her fight against bullying into the theme for some of her music.  Hailing from New York, she has trained in theatre, dance, pop vocals, classical music; she has appeared on Broadway along with such local productions as ‘Annie’, ‘Little Shop of Horrors’ and ‘Grease’.  In short, Meredith loves performing – she is very much at home on the stage and I consider it wonderful that she found her passion so young – and is doing something about it.  Using her voice - which is getting louder.

Meredith is a victim of bullying.  At school.  She was picked on because she didn’t fit in.  Apparently she was too tall, too weird, too skinny, no good at this or that – she has had a horrible time.  But she has used this experience for the good, to become absolutely unique.  She is an official advisor for reachout.com which is an information and support service and magazine for the young to reach out to.  She is also a member of It Gets Better and has recently appeared in an upcoming independent film, ‘Red-Headed Randy’ – which is an anti-bullying horror film with the very simple aim of attraction attention.  The film’s soundtrack will feature one of Meredith’s songs:  ‘The Game’.

She is also about to release her debut EP, which includes songs which focus on her personal experiences and beliefs. 
In short this young lady is going places.  She is very much an intriguing young artist, using her growing ‘roar’ to help in the fight against bullying.

In coming weeks, I will be featuring a series of ‘progress’ interviews about this amazing young lady. 

All I can say is:  watch out bullies and watch out world.

            Women’s LifeLink
            Music Video         
            Newest Project
            Reachout Article
            Movie:  “Red-Headed Randy
            Personal Facebook

Music Press Links:
            Music Street Journal
            Wildy’s World
            Andrew Greenhalgh



As a result of my recent call for guest contributors to this blog, I was contacted by a PR company in the USA, asking if I would be interested in featuring a wonderful new singer/songwriter/actress/model who is on their books.  I responded, was put into contact with this wonderful young lady - Meredith O'Connor (remember that name) and have just written an introduction for her and will be starting a series of interviews, following her progress, as soon as I can.  A second young lady Kim Tillman (that one, too) will also be featured shortly.  Both of these extremely talented performers are past victims of bullying - hence the reason that I was contacted in the first place.  

Meredith's introductory piece has already been published (I think) and I will be doing the same for Kim as soon as I can, followed by the start of the interviews for both girls.

Other articles will continue to be published in between.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

How I Silenced My Bullies

My thanks to Dora Drinovac for this thought provoking piece on bullying.  Her experience and her thoughts about it.

'How I Silenced My Bullies.

'Do you ever wish you could go back to the past and do things differently?  I did, but not any more, and I will tell you why.  Of course, as so many of us do, I look back on my life over and over again, and wonder what it would be like if certain events had never occurred.  But it doesn't work that way, does it?  Everyone knows what's done - is done.  You can never go back.  So where does that need come from, to make things right?

'Personally I wanted to go back to set the records straight with my bullies from elementary school.  Then I would go even further, to high school and give them a piece of my mind.  Nothing violent of course.  But, as a victim of bullying, I do believe that I have the right to tell them a bit or two about my life.

'I would start by telling them that yes, I have been overweight most of my life.  They noticed it and they took a huge advantage of it.  They never let me forget it.  I can't (and don't want to) go behind their twisted logic, but for some reason they immediately thought that 'fat' people don't deserve respect that the thin people, obviously, deserve and get as soon as they're born.

'Why did I write 'fat' like that?  Because it took me a significant amount of years to discover, by browsing through some of my family albums, that I was just a teeny tiny bit overweight, which could have been dealt with by more physical activity.  Had I been more aware of my surroundings, it wouldn't have turned out like that.

'But there was more to my 'fat' than just eating chocolate, chips, ice-cream and other junk food.  Again, looking back now, I realize that emotional issues played a huge part in this as well.  Growing up in a household where parents often had their disputes about all sorts of things, made me anxious and my body couldn't release the stress.  I was confused and worried all the time, but I couldn't vocalize my fears.  Again...had I done that...

'I would then continue to explain to them that just because I haven't found the perfect technique for studying any subject, it doesn't mean that I'm, as they so 'lovingly' said, retarded.  That's a way too harsh a word, and it should never be used with anyone and years later, I discovered that I'm a kinaesthetic type of person and that I can't just read a subject and memorize it, because then the words and facts have no meaning to me.

'I know so many of us don't get the chance or the courage to meet our bullies after years of 'freedom', because somewhere in the back of our brains we're still holding a grudge against them.  Our emotions are strong and painful.  We're furious at them, especially after seeing that they continue on living their lives, while we're stuck in the same place.

'I'll let you in on a little secret.  It's not about them.  It's about you.  I sound like 'Dr Phil' now, ha?  Well, he has a point.  I wouldn't have said this if I hadn't tried and tested it on myself first.  A few years ago was our 10th anniversary of the final year of elementary school.  I got a reunion invitation from a friend that, incidentally, went to my final couple of years in high school, as well as elementary.  My initial reaction was not a very gentle one.  I tried to ignore the FB notifications, but I must admit that I was intrigued.  What did they look like?  What were their lives like?

'In the end I accepted the request and guess what:  it was worth it!  Even though my overly afraid brain was coming up with all sorts of excuses as to why it wasn't a good idea.  I was determined to show them just how wrong they were about me.  I understood that I was the one who allowed them to be rude to me, because I cared too much for them.  They didn't understand that.

'But when the time came to greet all of them, and I was among the first, somehow I felt that most of the wounds have healed, and most of the feelings towards certain individuals have changed so much, that I couldn't care less about their opinions any more.  Why?  The reason is:  because I'm not the same little girls that I was ten years ago.  Not anymore.  In between that span of the last day of elementary school and the last day of college education, I've grown emotionally stronger than I was before.

'I discovered make-up.  I discovered a perfect hairdresser that knows what to do with my hair.  I discovered what clothes fit me best now, while I still have some 5-ish kilograms down to lose.  I tried and tested all sorts of hobbies and classes until I discovered that writing is my passion.

'And while I had no friends in elementary/high school/college, I can safely say that  I met a group of people that accept me just the way I am, because none of them set standards that I must fit into.  We're a group of young writers that laugh and have fun, and accept new people in, because we know that we have something beautiful in common.  We found our passion.

'I have done things in my life that I'm proud of, and just by feeling that with all my heart, I know that I am not the little, scared, I'll-let-you-bully-me-because-you're-better-than-me girl.  I didn't give them a chance, because I realised my value.  They don't have to like it, but it doesn't matter.

'At the beginning of this article I wrote that I no longer want to change the course of actions that happened in the past.  The reason for that is very simple.  If things were different, I would have ended up being a completely different person.  Maybe I would have been self-centred.  Maybe I would have ended up with a child way before time.  Maybe I would have ended up being a bully later in life, just like them.

'Maybe I wouldn't have such a wonderful relationship with my parents.  Maybe I would have ended up using drugs or smoking.  Maybe....maybe....maybe....there are so many scenarios, but I know one thing:  that evening at the reunion I sat on my stool and looked at each and every one of them.  None of them was the same.  As I talked to them, and with some for the very first time that I always wished for.  I realized that the past was, indeed, over.

'I carried the same and anger for the majority of my life, by spending some time with each and every one of them, I realized that I let it go.  I let it go somewhere around the time of accepting the invitation for a reunion.

'Whether I wanted to or not, they were a huge part of my life.  I am glad that they acted the way that they did, because they forced me to get up and change some things.  I have yet to achieve some of the things that I want, but I am very close.  I'm not the same person I was.  I am different and better.

'I don't forgive their actions, but through time I learned that each of them has their own personal story, that made them do the things they did to me.  Thanks to them, now I can say 'no' to that behavior the next time I see it.

'I have to be honest.  I seeked revenge that night and I achieved it just by showing up there.  When one of my most determined bullies looked at me and told me with no irony whatsoever:  you're so amazing....well...the revenge tasted that much sweeter.  Although I wouldn't call it a revenge any more.  I'd call it a proof of my worth and the constant emotional work on myself.  The way it's supposed to be.'

Contact links:  Blog

My sincere thanks to Dora again for this piece.