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     Volume 6 | Issue 46 | November 18, 2012 |


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Campus Workshop

Participatory Democracy for the
Better Protection of Human Rights
International Workshop held at Dhaka

Emraan Azad

Bielefeld University, Germany, and the University of Dhaka, Bangladesh recently organised a two-day long International Workshop titled 'Controversial Democratic Spaces: Land, Environment and Human Rights in Bangladesh' from October 16-17, 2012 in Dhaka. It was a platform for academics and right activists to generate ideas on critical issues regarding land, environment and human rights in the context of Bangladesh. The workshop was designed within the three-year research project 'Micro-dynamics of Political Communication in World Society' of the Research Group Social Anthropology at the Faculty of Sociology, Bielefeld University, in close collaboration with the Department of Law, University of Dhaka. The inaugural session of the workshop was held at Nabab Nawab Ali Chowdhury Senate Hall, University of Dhaka, on October 16 and ended through a valedictory ceremony on October 17.

Courtesy: Emraan Azad

The workshop was inaugurated by Professor Dr Shahnaz Huda, Chairman, Department of Law, University of Dhaka, and Professor Dr Joanna Pfaff-Czarnecka, the Director of Research Group Social Anthropology, Bielefeld University. This international workshop focused on the interfaces between land, environment, and human rights in Bangladesh. Among other issues, the workshop sought to explore both the modes and dynamics of land dispossession in Bangladesh.

Professor Katy Gardner of Sussex University rightly examined the processes of 'accumulation by dispossession' in an era of corporate social responsibility by drawing attention to the means by which global corporations, in particular, mining companies gain access to the new territories where they operate, whilst at the same time establishing their moral and legal rights to do so. She particularly referred to the case study of Chevron's Bibiyana gas extraction plant in Sylhet.

The workshop was divided into four discussion panels chaired by Professor of Law, Dr Borhan Uddin Khan of University of Dhaka, Professor of Development Sociology, Dr Eva Gerharz of Ruhr University, Professor of Social Anthropology, Dr Joanna Pfaff-Czarnecka of Bielefeld University, Professor of Law, Dr Asif Nazrul of University of Dhaka, and Dr Iftekharuzzaman, Executive Director of Transparency International Bangladesh, respectively. The workshop was anchored by Md Nazmuzzaman Bhuian of the University of Dhaka.

Delegates at the workshop represented different countries including Germany, the United States and Bangladesh. They emphasised on some particular issues like the role of the conflicting concepts of democracy, democratisation in relation with violence, security, fear, environment, natural resource, indigenous people, justice, as well as the modalities of inclusion and exclusion in these political arenas.

Professor Dr Taslima Monsoor, Dean, Faculty of Law, was present at the concluding ceremony of the workshop. The Dean urged the people of all sectors, especially the academicians and practitioners, to utilise their talents and expertise for the overall improvement of human rights situations. Éva Rozália Hölzle of Research Anthropology, Bielefeld University, gave the vote of thanks. Around 100 academicians, right activists, students and journalists were present at the workshop.

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