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Thursday, August 26, 2004

The fun continues... 

Well what a week it has been here in Bangladesh. Bomb attacks, strikes, more strikes and strikes being called to protest against the way police behaved during other strikes. It looks like it could go on and on.

Jokes aside the situation is fairly serious here at the moment. A previously unheard of fundamentalist terror organisation has informed the leader of the opposition that they planned the bomb attack and within a week would make sure they finished the job properly. The opposition parties are working together to use this as an opportunity to call for the government to step down due to their poor handling, especially in terms of catching and prosecuting, the perpetrators of bomb attacks over the last few years. The situation has the potential to descend into chaos. Already there is another strike on Saturday called by the oppostition parties to protest police brutality at 'peaceful' demonstrations. The country is now taking these strikes very seriously as many trains and buses have been burned in the last week. To confuse issues the goverment has planned a protest on Saturday against bomb attacks, terrorists and anarchy so this has the potential to clash with the strike and get pretty ugly. Am still going into Dhaka this afternoon as everthing seems ok for the moment and it will be my last chance to farewell the aya's who are leaving. The other concern is that I need a letter of support from the NIMH for my ethics proposal and this is being made next to impossible by the political action going on. I guess that's probably not the biggest problem here at the moment.

Even quiet CRP has had a bit of action this week. There was an article published in one of the newspapers which basically among many other things said that physiotherapists were not doctors (thought that one would have been fairly obvious) but worse than that it compared them to nurses. The physios here are very keen on calling themselves doctors and there is one physio in dhaka who is getting rich by calling himself a doctor and doing surgery and stuff like that. His argument was that ethics don't exist in Bangladesh. So the physio students called a strike, locked their teachers out of their offices and closed down the physiotherapy department and then marched up and down all morning chanting and carrying on. In the afternoon they decided that they would shut down the whole office and were being quite rowdy and generally behaving badly. This was exacerbated by the fact that physio students from other schools nearby came to 'support' their colleagues which basically can be reduced to trying to cause as much trouble as possible. I was all for getting a group of strike busters together and cracking a few heads but in the end diplomacy prevailed and the situation seems to have calmed down. CRP has taken the step of sending all of the students home for 2 weeks so they can clean up the accomodation etc. Probably not a bad move.

One good thing from the OT perspective is that none of our students were involved and in conversations with them they were not interested in being involved even though they had been threatened by physio students for not supporting them. Possible explanations that have been put forward for why the physio teachers had so little control over their students are that they were planning this with the students all along and were suppotive of it, if covertly, or that in the past physio teachers have accepted bribes from the students and therefore no longer have as much authority over the students as they should. Neither of these can be confirmed so like many things here it will remain a mystery.

Anyway, lets hope things settle down soon so we can all get back to work.
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Sunday, August 22, 2004

Not dead 

This is just a quick post to let everyone know that I am ok. If you haven't heard there was a bomb attack at a political rally yesterday which it is thought was an assasination attempt on the leader of the opposition party, The Awami league. There were 16 people killed and around 200 injured. Ironically the rally was a protest against the goverments lack of action against the perpertrators of previos bomb attacks which have gone unpunished by the police, leading some people to believe that the goverment has been involved.

It is now a matter of waiting to see how serious the repercussions of this are. There was a funeral procession today for those who died and like any large gathering for such an emotive reason there is always a risk of violence. Then on Tuesday there is a 2 day dawn to dusk hartal or strike. Given the reason for this it is likely there will be further violence.

This is not the first time something like this has happened since I've been here but it seems to be the most shaken up that a lot of my collegues have been about one of these attacks, one stating that if the attempt had been successful it would have been the beginning of civil war.

The party that is currently in power, the BNP, won the election by forming a coalition with a fundamentalist muslim party and it is possible that this is one of the reasons for the more frequent use of bombs in political violence. Historically there has been many political assasinations in Bangladesh but obviously throwing granades into a crowd injures a lot more people than shooting at an individual with a pistol from close range.

The immediate reaction was violent, demonstaters burning buses and smashing windows in the area and if protesting continues in this fashion it is possible that this could escalate. Hopefully, as many situations in the past have, this will soon blow over but with an election due perhaps some time late next year there is a good chance that there will be more incidents like this. Sometimes it is a definite advantage to be outside of Dhaka where most of the protesting and violence takes place and especially to be within the compound of CRP where we are relatively safe.

Anyway the next few days will be interesting and I'll try to keep the website up to date on any interesting developments. It would also be intersting for me to hear how this is being reported in the western media so if you have the time knock up a quick comment for me....
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Monday, August 16, 2004

The end of an era... 

Well it's sad days here in bangers with a cuple of weeks of farewells coming up. Derek the boy wonder and drummer of the world famous, legends in their tiffin box, AIB heads up the road on Thursday and then that very same night is the farewell for Jane, Damo and Aimee who head off over the next week or so. It's always sad to see people leave and we've spent a fair bit of time together and had a lot of fun so it'll be sad to see them go. But this is the volunteer lifestyle and so we'll continue to rock on here in their absence.

Not much exciting going on here but it looks like the musical shenanigans are likely to continue with Tom having lined up another gig for us at the American Club which should be good for a laugh if nothing else. Will be playing with a couple of new people which is always good for pushing the music in new directions. Haven't found a replacement drummer yet but there must be one around here somewhere.

Well looks like the raiders have blown it, don't rate them a huge chance of beating the roosters in their current form so no finals footy this year. boooooo
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Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Banging on... 

Well it's been all work and no play making jack a very dull boy here in Bangladesh. Have been flat out trying to get a draft of my ethics proposal finished, organising meetings with the National Institute of Mental Health and generally trying to teach a few classes and mark some work at the same time. Actually haven't done any marking for a very long time and now the pile infront of me is almost too daunting to even consider starting. wonder if there is some way I can outsource it.... hmmmmmm.

The flood waters here are receding quite quickly at this stage but as expected disease is now rampant and there is a fairly major health crisis with tens of thousands of people with diahhrea.

There are less than 3 weeks now unitl the Youth Ambassadors who have been here since last Spetember are leaving. Must admit it is pretty sad as they have all become good mates and even though I'm sure I'll see them all again it will make life here just that little bit less fun. On top of this Derek the boy wonder and backbone of AIB is also up the road pretty soon, as a result of this AIB is on a sabbatical which will probably last until we are all in the same country together again.

Am currently trying to attach some files to an email with yahoo which seems to be taking forever. Computers here are not my best friends at the moment.

May have to stop commenting about rugby league on this site very soon as the raiders are not looking so good for the finals... with the luck we've had this season the storm will find form away from home, the roosters will get their act together just in time to flog us and the bunnies will play their match of the season to put the final nail in the coffin.... almost glad I'm not there to suffer through it. At least we'll kill the bye!



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Sunday, August 01, 2004

Additional information 

Damo has recently updated his site so if you click on the link to your right you can check out in pictorial form some of thye latest shenanigans from bangers.....

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Not swimming yet.. 

Well it’s been quite a while since my last post and quite a lot has happened since then. Where to begin.

AIB played their final gig on Thursday night at the Australia club. It was AIB unplugged, well basically, we ran one of the guitars through a little stereo to give it a slightly fuller sound and ran a mike through there as well. For the setting the mood was right and as far as I could tell everyone had a pretty good time. So no problems there.

Before all this happened Kirsty, for the University of Sydney who is currently running the operation India program and my associate supervisor for my research dropped in to CRP for a visit. It was great to be able to talk with someone who had been through the whole process before and she gave me some good advice about where to go next, on top of that she was a bit of a legend and quite good at handling some of the management.

The day after the gig was Johan, the young German lad from upstairs birthday. We had planned a boat trip and this was quite an amazing experience. It was the first real understanding I have had about how serious the flooding is at the moment. Before we got anywhere near where the river usually begins we had to abandon rickshaws and resort to boats. There are some houses that are completely submerged and many that are under several feet of water. At the moment the water seems to be subsiding slowly but if there is more rain in the north of india then it could be a bad sign for bangladesh. In 1998 the flooding was at least as bad as this and in 1988 basically the whole country was submerged including the airport being closed. At these times the peak flooding level came in September so we’re not in the cleat yet. It all depends on the rain. I wish we could send some of this water down under where people would be more grateful for it. It is impossible to explain the extent of it but I will try to get hold of some photos that a mate took from the air when he was flying in. To give you some idea though the level was at about 9 ½ metres last week.

Anyway it’s almost lunch time and I’m a bit depressed as the raiders are being flogged by Manly boooooo. So i’ll try to write a bit more frequently in the future.

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