Nafeez Ahmed's Uncle Assassinated in Bangladesh

Biting Mangos... and Bullets: from Bradford to Bangladesh -- a Tribute to my Uncle

"...We got back from Bradford on Sunday evening. I had forgotten my mobile at home, and had a backlog of messages, one from my Dad, so I called him back. He had very bad news.

My uncle in Bangladesh had been shot on Saturday morning while I was speaking on my panel in Bradford. A nationally-respected professor of political science at Dhaka University, Dr. Aftab Ahmed, had been attacked in his own home on the university premises by unidentified gun-men, who had pushed their way into the apartment and shot him four times at close range in the upper body, in the presence of his wife (my aunt) and 9-year old disabled daughter (my cousin).

This evening, at around 8 pm, my Dad called to let me know that my uncle passed away earlier this morning. He had been recently demoted from a government-appointed post as Vice-Chancellor at Bangladesh's National University. In that position, he had tackled entrenched issues of political corruption and bribery, the legacy of the previous Allawi League government, when hundreds of university staff had been systematically recruited solely for their political support of the govt, as opposed to their merits as teachers. In a politically explosive and unpopular move, he had fired all staff recruited on the basis of corruption and moved to revitalize academic standards in university recruitment.

This wasn't the first time my uncle had made enemies. He was well-known as a Marxist dissident, and had often been imprisoned by previous governments for his loud opposition and participation in demonstrations and strikes. In 1995, he co-authored a powerful critique of the lack of accountability Bangladesh's purportedly democratic institutions, warning of "the intransigent attitude of the bureaucracy" and highlighting "the lack of willingness and ability ofMPs to seriously enquire into government policies and operations."

In another notorious episode, my uncle had made a few off-hand televised remarks suggesting the Bangladeshi national anthem be amended for a new time, and to give new impetus to the people. He was harshly criticized by hardline nationalists in a concerted campaign that almost lost him his job. But such things never bothered him.

My uncle was a courageous academic who stuck by his principles, and spoke what he believed. For unswervingly doing what he was convinced was just, he was murdered in a brutal assassination, unprecedented in the history of Bangladesh. As the world turns and the newsbites chatter, I pray for uncle's soul, and hope that his legacy of political activism on behalf of freedom and, always, against oppression and corruption, will be carried forward in Bangladesh, this beleaguered icon of Third World devastation from which I am descended. To those out there who believe, please pray with me..."

Ahmed's post continued...


911blogger regulars,

Instead of clogging Ahmed's inbox and blogger account with messages, please feel free to post your condolences in the comments thread below, and I'll make sure Ahmed sees this.

Looks like that dissident bone runs in the family.

My deepest sympathy to you and your family, Nafeez. I hope that justice is served on the assassins.


In case you want to send something more tactile, here is an address to send cards, etc.;

Institute for Policy Research & Development
Suite 301, 20 Harewood Avenue
London, England

im so sorry, he sounded like

im so sorry, he sounded like a truly great person. keep fighting on with your research Nafeez, im sure you are making your uncle very proud.

Please accept...

our deepest condolences. Your uncle is now among the blessed ones in heaven. Continue to make him proud, Nafeez...

I am very sorry for your

I am very sorry for your loss.  He certainly sounds like he lived an honorable life.