The concept of modern democracy is that majority will choose their leader to run the country along with leading party for which it can be said that election is the art plus part and parcel of democracy because of this process, the estimation of popular parts of people would have been reflected if it is possible to hold a free, fair and credible election. So it is a very common phenomenon that the opinions of people need to be reflected to be seen by all for which organizer of the determination of future leader to run the country must be impartial and play a neutral role elsewhere and everywhere of the mechanism of the election process. However, de facto in Bangladesh is completely inconsistent with the common inference of the election system. Later on, mutual understanding and constructing criticism are being expected from both leading party and its rivalry although it is not taken place yet such practice from very beginning of our independence. Furthermore, Bangladesh’s records for human rights has rigorously deteriorated after the introduction of the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) since 2004 and this issue is easily found just going through the daily newspapers. But it is the duty of the welfare State to secure democracy, rule of law, freedom of expression or press and especially right to life although law and enforcement agencies in Bangladesh violate human rights and have been continuously killing people by the so-called crossfire or encounter or gunfight. This extra judicial killing is regarded as an offence which cannot be condoned by any peace-loving people although it is being used by the existent government against their political opponent. Additionally, oppositions’ supporters including many leaders have also been missing and indiscriminately arrested although Government agencies were demanding that they arrested them for ensuring law and orders. In these circumstances, it was quite impossible for opposition parties to expect a free and fair national election under the interim government led by Shiekh Hasina. So leaders of main oppositions – 20-party alliance, called for “March for Democracy”. Now it is necessary to look back at the very similar movement.
On the 10th of November 1987, after years of rule under an autocratic government, a young man decided to inscribe on his back the words “Free Democracy” and go out on to the streets to protest. He was shot and killed that day by the Bangladesh Police. His name was Nur Hossain and his death sparked the outrage that led to the fall of the Ershad regime. He is a patriot, a hero, and a martyr and every Bangladeshi is indebted to him.
This debt is not being repaid. Under very similar circumstances, after more than 26 years, a man of a very similar age decided to go out and join “The March for Democracy”. He was shot and killed that day by the Bangladesh Police. Mohammed Mansoor Ahmed is a hero and was standing up against the autocratic role of the present government to promote the same democracy that Nur Hossian and countless others gave their lives for. Democracy in this country has died many times since and dies every time any protester is killed.
The March for Democracy was intended to protect the very rights that Hossain and Mansoor sacrificed their lives to protect. It was intended to rekindle the fire that is the source of any great movement. It is a shame that we as people of this country fail to recognize Mansoor’s contribution to be as heroic as that of Nur Hossian’s. Have we as a people lost our honor? We brand the very people who risk their lives and freedom for our right to vote and speak freely as terrorists. We refuse to participate in the grand revolution that this country is in dire need of.
Everyday Bangladesh’s democracy sinks deeper into the mire. With the general election fast approaching, the Hasina government intentionally broke down the opposition piece by piece so that no solid representation of any anti-Awami League movement could be made. In addition, repeated massacres committed by ruling party forces consisting of law enforcement agencies and miscreants kept the ordinary people out of the streets and inside their homes. The few and the brave that decided to join this March for Democracy were not properly represented by the media heavily influenced by the ruling government. The media was very busy with a slander campaign against opposition parties – all parties associated to the 20 party alliance, specially, Jamaat-Shibir. They were represented as being akin to terrorists. In spite of all the precautions taken by the ruling government, the March for Democracy took place because of some foolhardy individuals who were not intimidated by the possibility of blood and death. Mansoor was one of these brave individuals. He was a man of opposition party which to the media was synonymous with terrorism. The people of Bangladesh have been fooled by these ruling party-media tactics. Mansoor and others who joined the “March for Democracy” had a vision, an ideal that they stood for. It is not different from that of Nur Hossian or you or me. It is the eradication of all forms of oppression, deprivation of rights, injustice and terrorism. It is the promotion of peace, understanding and progress for the people of Bangladesh. The time is ripe for the people of Bangladesh to rise and let their voice be heard against the tyranny administered by ruling Awami League government. The students, the professionals, the doctors, the lawyers, the teachers, the housewives and even the children must rise up and be willing to shed blood, if so needed.
The writer is student of LL.B. (International Program) at the University of London.