Wednesday, February 25, 2009

A Precarious Situation

I've been meaning to write a piece on street children in Dhaka for sometime now.  I actually already wrote it up but then decided that visual images should accompany it.  Once I finally had the appropriate pictures, so many things hindered me from actually posting it.  Something else has come up again that will make me wait to put it up, but it itself is interesting enough to write about here.

This morning was just like any other.  Woke up at 7, finally rolled out by 7:20.  By 8:05, I was on the micro-bus taking me to ICDDR,B.  8:15, and I was already working at my computer.  It was a little after 10 today when news came that there had been shots fired within the Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) Headquarters in Dhanmondi.  No one really knew what was going on, and from what I could one seemed that concerned.  I had to actually look up BDR on Wikipedia since I had no idea what it was.  Pretty much, they are in charge of controlling and protecting the borders of the country.  News here does not travel as fast as it does at home, but we eventually discovered that it was an internal problem, and then later that the Director General had been killed.  

This is when people in my office started getting pretty worried.  Mejbah, who is usually very chill, called all of his family members (parents, siblings, wife) and ordered them to all go home.  I had never seem him so concerned or upset before.  I tried looking up the situation online, but none of the online newspapers had details about what was going on.  I didn't worry too much, and instead made plans to eat lunch at 1:00 with Emily since it was Vegetarian Wednesday at the center's canteen.  Veronika got a text from the American School (AIS/D) saying that the Dhanmondi bus route was cancelled until further notice.  Everyone around me was calling family members and friends to make sure that everyone was okay and to tell them to go straight home since there was some news that civilians had been hurt.  By this time, we knew that the army had surrounded the BDR Headquarters, and if anything, the situation had just gotten worse.

I received the Warden's message from the Embassy to avoid the area, but didn't worry too much since Dhanmondi is in the opposite direction of where we live.  By then a few minutes shy of noon, Emily sent me a message asking me if I was planning on going home.  Apparently, all Americans at ICDDR,B were told to go home immediately and stay within the diplomatic enclave.  So I gathered my things and hurried downstairs where there was a rather large group of Americans gathered.  We were quickly assigned to cars and rushed home.  Once I got home, I was greeted by Tiffany, who had asked Noorealam and Moslehuddin to come to our apartment since they live right next to the BDR Headquarters.  They had heard the shots firing and had seen army tanks filing into the area earlier that day.

The situation is still somewhat unclear, but the last thing I want is to be evacuated.  Here are some links to news articles if you want to know more about what is happening.  For those who are interested, I will try to keep you updated.