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Bangladesh bans YouTube over controversial video

By Suman Guha Mozumder in New York
March 11, 2009 01:14 IST
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Bangladesh has imposed a ban onĀ YouTube after a recording on the website showed the anger and frustration in the military over the government's handling of last month's Bangladesh Rifles mutiny.

The half-an-hour clip of the three-hour meeting between Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed and army officials on March 4, which was banned in the name of national interest, reveals the seething anger among army officials who openly shouted down the newly elected prime minister when she tried to justify her government's decision to negotiate with the mutineers rather than take military action.

An estimated 70 army officials and their wives were killed and many more, including civilians, were injured last month in the two-day mutiny by a section of the BDR.

An army official was heard telling the prime minister angrily as to how timely military intervention could have saved the lives of the army officers.

'I escaped death three consecutive times and was held by BDR soldiers along with 60/70 other people, including women and children inside one of the rooms of the quarter guard's cell. The lives of those who suffered bullet injuries but were still alive at that point of time could have been saved if the home minister sent troops to quell the rebellion. Many women would not have been raped and children would not have had to suffer lifelong trauma,' the unidentified official said, his voice choked with emotion.

When Hasina tried to justify her government's action, her voice was completely drowned by the furious army officials who raised slogans like 'We want answers,' and 'We want justice.'

They also jeered at her repeatedly whenever the prime minister tried to speak.

When Hasina said it was not fair to blame the home minister and others who tried to rescue the held-up officers and to save their lives, there was another bout of cacophonous protests.

'I need answers from you as to why the minister left after accepting some 25 weapons from the mutineers and never sent troops to rescue the rest and to save their lives,' the officer said in an aggressive tone.

When Hasina said that as far as possible the home minister moved around the area and helped rescue the victims and that it looked like the army officials have got wrong information, it sparked more angry outbursts.

'I do not know who gave you the advice that the problem of the BDR rebellion had to be tackled politically rather than militarily, but you should know this was wrong. You should know that politics does not work in every situation,' alluding that the decision not to send the troops to quell the mutiny was politically motivated.

The officer then took on members of Parliament for allegedly 'spitting venom' all the time against the army.

'Tell us what you have done for the army, what opportunities and amenities you have given us. Tell us why the members of Parliament are always angry with us. Have we come from outside Bangladesh,' the speaker asked.

'There are forces who are trying to destroy the unity of the army and you must find out who those forces are,' he demanded.

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Suman Guha Mozumder in New York