Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Prospect for Democracy in Bangladesh

(Cross posted in Deshivoice)

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to understand the agenda of the military government in Bangladesh. It’s becoming crystal clear that Army is running the show and it has no desire to leave it in the coming days. If you don’t believe, watch the TV news that will show you who runs the game plan. If you look at the history of military backed political parties under General Zia and Ershad, the recent political trend in Bangladesh fingers at the same path of dirty history. Now, the military spokesperson Law Advisor Mainul Hosein says that the government may not lift ban on politics due to recent violence. Isn’t it a part of the blue print that the Army wants to stall the return of democracy? Bangladesh Election Commission has repeatedly asked the government to lift ban on in door politics to start grounds for dialogs with political parties. Nothing happened. Now, the Commission has come up with schedules of dialogs as it’s been left with no alternatives. BDnews24 reports today:
Law adviser Mainul Hosein Wednesday said recent street violence had made the government rethink a move to immediately lift a long-standing ban on indoor politics.
His latest concern came a day after the Election Commission announced that it would kick off dialogue with the political parties in the second week of next month.

"We have finalised an outline to lift the ban on indoor politics. But the recent violence in Dhaka University has forced the government to reconsider its implementation," Hosein told "The council of advisers will take a (final) decision," he said.

Chief election commissioner ATM Shamsul Huda Tuesday said that they would start the much-expected dialogue on electoral reforms with the political parties on September 12.

The major political parties have said they are not interested to sit with the EC for talks unless the ban goes...”.

General Moeen has already concluded that traditional democracy has failed to yield any good to this poor nation, as he implied to abandon it and replace it with a new form of governance and democracy (i.e. military democracy?). How many times are we going to be fooled to our Goldfish memory? Yes, we’re looking for democracy. We don’t want to fail as we’ve seen failures of military take over. We want to show the world how Bangladesh can and will return to democracy. Has the process started to welcome the return of democracy? No, not yet.

Political ban in Bangladesh has not been lifted, and it appears that will not likely to happen it in the coming days. Corruption charges and legal proceedings have painfully suffered as they’ve been crafted and enforced to serve ill-motivated political interests and hidden agenda. Yes, the mother of all corruption is still left spared and untouched. The Army Generals’ motive is clear as democracy will return as per their term. When the rest of the world is safely assured that the Bangladesh military won’t take over the government, it doesn’t guarantee that democracy will come back here without sponsorships and influences. Can we afford another hand made regime in Bangladesh in the name of democracy? Sadly, the prospect for democracy in Bangladesh is severely distorted when it solely depends on the mercy of the Generals as the free will and hope of people are cordoned off by bans and blames.

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Thursday, August 23, 2007

What’s Next?

Bangladesh has faced an unprecedented unrest since the Army backed Caretaker government has taken over power on January 11, 2007. At the beginning, the Caretaker Government has enjoyed over pouring support from the masses as it came into power with popular mandates for ensuring a free and fair election and driving corrupt politicians away permanently. Its popular support started evaporating as the election process slowed down, consumer price hike reached at its peak, political process stalled as political activities remain banned and popular support plummeted as suspicion about the Army’s ultimate motive grew as special interest political figures enjoyed favor to regroup and reappear under a new political platform.

The current volatile situation erupted as a few soldiers got involved into fighting with Dhaka University students and beat them while they’re watching soccer game on August 20th. While students started protesting against this incident of maltreatment by the military personnel, it exploded unexpectedly as the Police force has brutally tortured mass students to quell their protest. The protest turned violent as mass people joined students to condemn the attack on students. This is a first visible sign of massive dissatisfaction with the Army backed Caretaker Government. The Army through its Information Advisor Barrister Moinul Hossain is claiming alleged foreign money and influence behind this uprising which is an old tactic to divert attention from the root cause of this unrest. This alarming sign demands to shift priorities for the Army. It needs to show respect for popular demand to return to democracy as quickly as possible. Bangladesh can not afford an army backed non elected government for a long period as its credibility and legitimacy are in question. International community is seriously paying attention to this worsening political development in Bangladesh as Google news item currently show more than 489 stories about curfew situation in Bangladesh.

Times Online reiterates concern expressed by the international observers as it states,
Some analysts and Western diplomats see the protests as the first clear indication that time is running out for the interim government. “Regrettably, the incumbents decided to take the path of repression,” the English-language New Age daily wrote in an editorial today. “The public discontent will simmer on and will find manifestation in different forms and style, sooner than later.”

The current army backed regime shows huge insensitivity to people’s interest and demand. BBC reports about high stakes in Bangladesh following the massive unrest. It says,
“…adding to the mix is a growing fear among many - particularly students and professional groups, that the military has a long-term plan to depoliticise the country, and cement its control over society. They point out that while politicians are being vilified relentlessly, military men are being appointed to various key institutions. The much-talked about National Security Council with a strong role for the military is close to being formed. The current student demonstrations may have been the opening shots in another long battle - not to get rid of military rule, but perhaps to prevent one”.
We cannot speculate what’s next waiting for Bangladesh. While blaming invisible powers behind this trouble could be a nice try, but not a smart one. The Army backed Caretaker Government has lost its credibility as it stalled the election and political process for unknown reasons when the nation is loosing patience. Army may dream for a Pakistani or Burmese military model to replace political institutions which will backfire tremendously as the people of Bangladesh have outgrown military regimes. History knows the end result for an unelected government as the Army needs to relearn this historical lesson once again until it becomes too late.

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Thursday, August 02, 2007

Two Teachers Jailed

This is the dark side of the military ruled emergency power. These 2 poor teachers have been jailed for staging a drama against fertilizer crisis in March this year. Daily Star reports on August 2, 2007:
"Two teachers of Damurhat upazila were sentenced to different jail terms Tuesday in a case filed on charge of violating Emergency Power Rules by trying to stage a 'drama' on fertiliser crisis in March this year.

Court sources said madrasa teacher ANM Afzal Hossain was sentenced to five years rigorous imprisonment and fined Tk 10,000, in default, to suffer six months more RI and M Harun-or-Rashid, teacher of a kindergarten school, to 3 years and 4 months imprisonment and fined Tk 6000, in default, to suffer more four months.

Another accused Abdur Rahim, a farmer, was acquitted.

Upazila Agriculture Officer Shamsul Haq filed the case accusing the three persons as they tried to stage a drama in protest of “fertiliser crisis” in front of Damurhat UNO office on March 27 this year, police said.

After examining the witnesses and records, the Judge of the Speedy Trial Tribunal Yusuf Ali handed down the verdict".
This is a harsh punishment to the poor teachers who wanted to draw Government's attention to fertilizer crisis. Many more worse offenders are walking out there free when these poor teachers will suffer in jail. Who will speak for them?


Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Immunity for Jamaat-e Islami Bangladesh

(Cross posted at Deshi Voice)
It is great news for the fundamentalist Jamat Islami in Bangladesh, as the current military backed Care Taker Government in Bangladesh has openly taken side with them. Yes, it is now reconfirmed by the highest authority of the National Coordination Committee that Jamaat is most likely immune from corruption. General Matin with his Army colleagues may seek comfort with Jamatis when the evidence shows Jamaat’s huge involvement into corruption. Daily Prothom Alo published an investigative report on July 23, 2007, “13 of its central leaders are charged with corruption. Out of their 17 MPs, 9 of them are facing charges”. So the question arises, why the current Adviser Gen M. A. Matin is maneuvering unconditional support for Jamaat? Who is he to certify Jamaat? Read his stark statement published today.

BD News reports, “Adviser MA Matin Wednesday said the caretaker government did not take any laidback approach to deal with Jamaat-e-Islami leaders and activists with suspected corruption ties. The chairman of the national coordination committee on serious crime responded to a question on why Jamaat leaders or activists were not arrested in the ongoing anticorruption drive. "Well, questions surfaced over the issue. It just may be that Jamaat leaders were not involved in corruption," he said. Matin, also communications adviser, told reporters in his office that the government was determined to hold elections by 2008 and took measures to prevent corrupt people participating in the polls. "I don't see any difference between a reformist and the one who is not when it comes to corruption”.

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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Transparency for All

Right after Sheikh Hasina landed in jail, Anti Corruption Commission has asked for the wealth information for Sheikh Hasina and Khaleda Zia, two leaders of the largest political parties in Bangladesh. The timing and the sequence of this development have raised valid questions about the subtle motive of the care taker government.

Daily Star reports, "The Anti-corruption Commission (ACC) yesterday served notices on former prime ministers Khaleda Zia and Sheikh Hasina to submit their wealth statements as part of its initiative to find out whether there is any ground for filing graft cases against the two.

In the notices, the government anti-graft watchdog asked the chiefs of BNP and Awami League (AL) to submit statements of their movable and immovable properties to the commission within seven working days from the date of the notification.

AL President Sheikh Hasina, who had been arrested on Monday and sent to a sub-jail, was served with the notice through the jail authorities while the notice to Khaleda was sent to her Mainul Road residence in Dhaka Cantonment.

Talking to reporters on the ACC premises, its Secretary Mokhles Ur Rahman said the decision was taken yesterday morning. "This is a routine work of the commission," the secretary added.

On receiving the two most prominent leaders' wealth statements, the ACC will crosscheck the statements with the information gathered by itself with assistance from intelligence agencies.

"The ACC will file cases against them, if they are found to be suppressing information about their wealth in the statements," a source in the ACC said.

Sources in intelligence agencies said they already have information about the wealth of the two leaders. The intelligence agencies gathered the information by collecting the two leaders' wealth statements submitted to the Election Commission during filing of their nominations, and from NBR. Besides, they collected information about the two leaders' bank accounts and examined whether there were any unusual transactions, the sources said".

We're not disputing Government's intention. Anti graft watchdog needs to crate transparency for all of its action. Can the Caretaker Government claim that all of the Advisers have come clean? May I have answers to the following questions:

Where is the wealth statement for Maj. General Matin; (including his wife's business)? What is about Tapan Chowdhury's tax evasion?
Where is the wealth Statement for Tapan?
Where is the wealth statement for Giti Ara?
Where is the wealth statement for Ex Army General Sakhawat Hossain (Election Commissioner)?

Yes, this list will grow. Please tune up. Before you start clean up others mess, clean up yours.


Monday, July 16, 2007

Is Sheikh Hasina Arrested?

Cross Posted at Deshi Voice
Currently, I’m observing breaking news from Bangladeshi media outlets that Awami League President Sheikh Hasina has been or is going to be arrested momentarily. This is a sad development in Bangladesh as it looks like that the country is going to be plunged into more political turmoils. It appears to a lot of observers that the military backed Interim government is trying to neutralize Awami League by taking Sheikh Hasina into custody. Please follow the breaking news from Channel I news has just reported that phone lines at Sudha bhaban have been disconnected. Live breaking news was showing from Sudha bhaban... 7:05 am BD Time. More to come soon...


Friday, May 11, 2007

Blogger Tasneem Khaleel Picked up by the Army

(Cross posted at Deshivoice and Bangla Adda)
As a blogger, I'm concerned about Bangladesh Army's action to arrest Tasneem Khaleel. Please read this breaking news from Salam Dhaka, "Army has picked up a freind, blogger, and human rights activist Tasneem Khalil. We're not going to let this go unanswered. Tasneem's blog is is CNN and Human Rights Watch representative in Dhaka. He also works for Daily Star.The U.S State department, CNN, HRW are being contacted through the highest levels".

Bangla Bloggers have already started their protest against this action. Rezwan has just published this breaking news in Bangla Blog. Third World View is maintaining updates on Tasneem Khalil. Another blogger Sushanta is keeping updated posts on Tasneem. Human Rights Watch has already issued a press release to protest Tasneem's arrest and demanded his immediate release.

Please join me along with thousands of bloggers to condemn this cowardly action by the Military.