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David Bergman

Dhaka, Bangladesh
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About David
Journalist based in Dhaka, Bangladesh for the last ten years writing for various international media including Al Jazeera, the Daily Telegraph, Scroll.in, New York Times. Previously, worked for Bangladesh newspaper, New Age, and as a TV documentary producer in the UK, and produced radio packages for Asia Calling
Audio package (Radio / Podcast) Interview (Video / Broadcast) Vox Pop
Fact Checking

Jailed opposition, dummy candidates, voters threatened: Surreal theatre to pass for Bangladesh poll

30 Dec 2023  |  Scroll.in
Bangladesh is set to hold an election on January 7, which is criticized as a farcical event with the Awami League ensuring its continued rule through tactics such as jailing opposition members, using dummy candidates, and threatening voters. The opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party, having boycotted previous elections due to fears of rigging, faces a similar dilemma. The Awami League aims to create the appearance of a contested election and a high voter turnout by threatening the loss of financial benefits to millions. The election is seen as a means to maintain secular authoritarianism with the support of major countries like India, Russia, and China.

A Brooklyn Boy in Tangier

01 May 2023  |  The Gay & Lesbian Review
Alfred Chester, an obscure yet significant American writer, is the focus of a new publication by Spuyten Duyvil, which has released his Moroccan correspondence from 1963 to 1965. Despite his limited output and tragic death at 43, Chester was a notable figure in the New York literary scene and the English-speaking community in Tangier, mingling with prominent figures like Paul and Jane Bowles, William Burroughs, and Allen Ginsberg. The letters offer a glimpse into a vibrant period of American culture and the unique, predominantly gay and Jewish literary circle in Tangier.

Bangladesh’s army chief and a tale of revenge

04 Feb 2021  |  www.aljazeera.com
An Al Jazeera investigation reveals a feud involving Bangladesh’s army chief, General Aziz Ahmed, and his brothers, accused of political and financial corruption. The conflict began with the murder of Hasan Mahedee Munna's uncle in 1996, for which three of Aziz's brothers were convicted. Aziz's rise to power is marked by allegations of using his influence to overturn his brothers' convictions and to target political opponents, including Munna's family. The report suggests a 'mafia state' in Bangladesh, with the army and RAB implicated in personal vendettas.

Senior leader of Bangladesh’s Jamaat Abdur Razzaq resigns

16 Feb 2019  |  www.aljazeera.com
Abdur Razzaq, a senior leader of Bangladesh's Jamaat-e-Islami, resigned due to the party's refusal to apologize for supporting the Pakistani military during the 1971 war of liberation. Razzaq had pushed for an apology for 20 years and believes the party should dissolve given its inability to operate due to government restrictions. The Jamaat is accused of atrocities during the war, and its leaders have been executed following convictions by the International Crimes Tribunal. Razzaq, now in self-exile in London, has no plans to start a new political party.

US citizen of Bangladeshi origin arrested for 1971 ‘war crimes’

07 Jan 2019  |  Al Jazeera
Mohamed Jubair Monir, a US citizen of Bangladeshi descent, was arrested in Bangladesh for alleged war crimes during the 1971 war of independence from Pakistan. Despite claims that he was only 13 at the time and not in the country for most of the war, Monir is being held in Keraniganj jail and will be tried by the International Crimes Tribunal (ICT). His family argues the arrest is politically motivated, linked to his meeting with an opposition BNP leader. The ICT, criticized for unfairness, has convicted 75 men, with 53 death sentences. Monir's daughter provided documents to assert his innocence, while his lawyer demands his immediate release. The US has not been allowed consular access to Monir, who is expected before the ICT on January 20.

Bangladesh: Ex-chief justice alleges he was ‘forced’ to resign

28 Sep 2018  |  www.aljazeera.com
Former Chief Justice of Bangladesh, Surendra Kumar Sinha, claims in his autobiography 'A Broken Dream: Rule of Law, Human Rights & Democracy' that he was forced to resign by the Directorate General of Forces Intelligence (DGFI) under government orders. Sinha alleges that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and other officials pressured him to rule in favor of the government in a case regarding the power to dismiss judges. The government and its supporters criticized Sinha, accusing him of corruption after he ruled against them. Sinha, now in Canada, describes his experience as state terrorism and compares it to the Gestapo, asserting that his impartial rulings ultimately led to his character assassination by the media at the government's behest.

Muhammad Yunus: Bangladesh probes Nobel laureate’s tax

08 Dec 2016  |  www.aljazeera.com
Authorities in Bangladesh have initiated a new investigation into the financial affairs of Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus, his family, and the Grameen Bank. The National Bureau of Revenue has requested detailed financial information from banks, following a previous court case against Yunus for alleged tax evasion. The investigation is seen by some as part of a political feud between Yunus and the ruling Awami League, which began when Yunus attempted to form a rival political party in 2007. The government denies any harassment, stating the inquiries are standard financial procedures.

Alleged killer of Nazimuddin Samad is innocent: wife

19 Oct 2016  |  www.aljazeera.com
The family of Rashedun Nabi Bhuiyan, arrested for the murder of secular blogger Nazimuddin Samad, claims he is innocent, stating he was in Comilla at the time of the murder in Dhaka. Despite the family's assertions and attempts to file a police report, Deputy Commissioner Masudur Rahman of the Dhaka Metropolitan Police maintains that Bhuiyan was arrested in Dhaka and is involved in the crime. Bhuiyan is also linked to the banned Ansar al-Islam group and the murder of two LGBT activists. Reports of secret detentions in Bangladesh have increased following a July attack in Dhaka, with the government intensifying counter-terrorism efforts.

Bangladesh: Nine killed in gun battle with police

26 Jul 2016  |  www.aljazeera.com
Nine suspected gunmen were killed by Dhaka Metropolitan Police in an operation named Storm 26 in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The suspects, believed to be university students, were engaged in a gun battle after a routine block raid. One additional suspect survived and was hospitalized. The incident occurred a month after an ISIL-claimed attack in Dhaka, which heightened concerns about radicalization among Bangladeshi youth.

My blog on Bangladesh politics and media

Al Jazeera investigative piece - on how Bangladeshi military intelligence agencies have blocked media adverts in Bangladesh

For The Wire - feature on attack of newspaper Editor as the latest Awami League attempt to restrict criticism

Bangladesh High Court Rejects Petition to Remove Islam as State Religion

06 Apr 2016  |  Al Jazeera
Bangladesh's High Court dismissed a long-standing petition that challenged the constitutional recognition of Islam as the state religion. The court ruled that the petitioning group, the Committee against Autocracy and Communalism, lacked the standing to be heard. The petition, filed in 1988, argued that having a state religion contradicts Bangladesh's secular founding principles. The current government's 2011 constitutional amendment retained Islam as the state religion while emphasizing secularism and equality for other religions. Critics argue that the government's stance on secularism versus state religion is driven by political motives to maintain power. The dismissal prevents the government from having to take a clear position on the issue, which could have political repercussions.

The Politics of Bangladesh’s Genocide Debate - The New York Times

06 Apr 2016  |  www.nytimes.com
The article discusses the aftermath of the 1971 war of independence in Bangladesh, which led to the country's separation from Pakistan. It highlights the brutal conflict that resulted in a large number of deaths and atrocities, including genocide against the Hindu population. The focus is on the efforts to bring justice to the perpetrators through the establishment of two International Crimes Tribunals by the Bangladeshi government in 2010. These tribunals have convicted 26 individuals for genocide and crimes against humanity, with some already executed and others awaiting the outcome of appeals. The trials have been popular in Bangladesh, despite international criticism regarding due process.

UK finally releases report on Bangladesh elections

10 Dec 2015  |  www.aljazeera.com
The British government released a report critical of Bangladesh's election commission's ability to conduct free and fair elections. The report, written by governance consultant Hannah Roberts and commissioned by the UK's Department for International Development, led to reduced financial support from international donors and highlighted issues such as lack of broad participation in elections, the election commission's failure to address fraud, and the influence of ruling parties on the commission's operations. The release followed an appeal by a journalist to the Information Commissioner’s Office. Bangladesh's election commission secretary, Sirajul Islam, denied the allegations of partiality and ineffectiveness.

‘Forced disappearances’ surge in Bangladesh

20 Oct 2014  |  Al Jazeera
In Bangladesh, a surge in 'forced disappearances' has been reported, with victims often linked to the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party. Sajedul Islam Sumon and others were abducted by men, some in Rapid Action Battalion uniforms, and remain missing. Human rights organizations Odhikar and Ain-o-Salish Kendra have documented numerous abductions by law enforcement, with few returning and some found dead. Despite national outcry and a High Court intervention leading to the detention of nine RAB officers, accountability is scarce. Families, like Sumon's and Adnan Chowdhury's, have been denied proper police complaints and remain without answers. Amnesty International has condemned the disappearances and criticized the government's lack of accountability.

Bangladesh war crimes tribunal in the dock

15 Jul 2013  |  www.aljazeera.com
The article discusses the controversial Bangladesh war crimes tribunal, focusing on the case of Shukhoranjan Bali, a defense witness who disappeared and later surfaced in an Indian prison. Bali's allegations of abduction by Bangladeshi police raise serious questions about the tribunal's integrity. The tribunal, established by the Awami League-led government, has convicted several leaders of Jamaat-e-Islami for crimes during the 1971 independence war. Human Rights Watch has called for UN intervention to ensure Bali's safety, highlighting concerns about the trial process and the conduct of various parties involved.

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