by Ajmal Masroor
Today the opposition parties in Bangladesh have called for a national march for democracy. The vast majority of the opposition parties are boycotting the upcoming election. The Prime Minister has declared the election for the 5th of January 2014 and the opposition parties have called it unconstitutional. The constitution states that the General Election must be held under a caretaker government. However, Awami League (AL) government has used its parliamentary majority to amend constitution and remain in power while declaring the General Election.
Even before any ballot papers have been issued or a single vote has been cast nearly 160 seats have seen AL candidates declared as the uncontested winners. This political absurdity has outraged the Bangladeshi masses and brought condemnation from the international community. The UN, US, UK and EU have all refused to send independent observers to witness the election. Even Robert Mugabe’s election fraud appears like a child’s play compared to Hasina’s gross abuse of Prime Ministerial power!
The governing party AL and its leader and the Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina have threatened to take severe actions to halt this march. As far as AL is concerned, Bangladesh is a country that is owned by Awami League and its permanent leader is Hasina. Their claim is that they are the true freedom fighters that laid down their lives, blood and honour to gain the independence. Thus, they can never commit a wrong. Whatever they do and however much they steal from the nation, it is their God given right. Any challenge to this absolute authority would be struck down and destroyed at any cost. Even Pharaoh didn’t claim such power!
It has deployed the police, the rapid action battalion (RAB) and other security agencies at every junction in the capital city. The country is on the brink of total collapse with law and order agencies being used as a tool for repression, arbitrary arrest, state sponsored executions of the opposition with the ultimate aim of silencing decent against Hasina’s tyranny and mob rule. So far thousands of lives have been lost all because Hasina and her cronies would like to remain in power.
The charge sheet against the AL government is long. They have systematically destroyed the country and its democratic institutions. It has used its overwhelming parliamentary majority to enact arbitrary laws and bring constitutional changes that have eroded the judiciary’s objectivity, law enforcement agencies’ impartiality and civil services non-political role. They have appointed politically aligned judges in most courts in the country, recruited AL members and indicted criminals in the police forces up and down the country and have provided positions of power to friends and families. Bangladesh has seen extreme proliferation of Nepotism, favouritism and cronyism under this government.
The media agencies and journalists have betrayed their journalistic ethics because senior AL members directly own majority of the media with patronage from the AL Parliamentarians and government ministers. They have reported lies, concocted stories, spread Hasina’s rotten propaganda and created a state of mass hysteria and false consensus. Any dissenting media has been shut down, license to operate confiscated and its editors imprisoned. The press freedom has been severely curtailed and critical media silenced.
The governing party has abused the 1971’s independence war sentiment to further its political agenda and its grip on absolute power in Bangladesh. The country has turned into a banana republic with endemic corruption at every level – the state assets have been looted and syphoned off to off shore accounts and in purchase of luxury properties in Canada, US and UK by the political elite and Hasina’s cronies including her children. The current corrupt oligarchs of Bangladesh comprise of the grand alliance of thieves including politicians, their families, security agencies, military personnel and some businessmen and women. They control everything and any challenge to their interest is being heavily defended. A pathetic last stand but the consequence is grave for the innocent masses!
Hasina is directly responsible for the state sponsored terrorism that has gripped the country. It was at her orders and watch that thousands of political murders have been committed in Bangladesh by the security agencies and AL activists. Since the judicial murder by hanging of Abdul Qadir Mullah in Bangladesh the political situation has deteriorated beyond believe. Mr Mullah’s execution was expedited due to the upcoming General Election. Hasina needed to hang at least one alleged war criminal as this was her last elections manifesto pledge. At her orders the judiciary circumvented the legal process and relied on a single shoddy evidence to put an innocent man to death.
Their evidence came from a lady who claimed Mullah directly murdered her family and she saw it happening with her own eyes. The same lady has given her account of what happened to her family in 1971 on three different occasions. In two of the previous statements Mr Mullah’s name never appears and she never claims to have been an eyewitness to the murder. However, in her 3rd and latest testimony as the key witness to the government’s prosecutions suddenly she slips in Mr Mullah’s name as the key culprit who murdered her family.
The question that has not been answered is why did this lady forget to state Mr Mullah’s name in the previous statements and what prompted her to suddenly remember Mr Mullah so clearly even after 42 years? Why did she previously say that she was not present when the murder took place but now claimed to have been there on the crime scene at the time of the murder? The witness’s credibility has been questioned but the judges did not allow the defense council to cross-examine her or bring other witnesses and place evidence questioning her credentials. Independent lawyers have raised doubts over this woman – is she actually who she claims to be? Did someone pay her to say what she said? And who is behind it all?
Mr Mullah has been killed and no matter what is done now, he will never be brought back to life. However, there are many questions that have not been answered and the subsequent actions of the government pose some serious doubts about the real motives behind this execution. It is clear for many in the world that Mr Mullah’s trail and judicial murder was politically motivated.
Mr Mullah was a student at the most prestigious Dhaka University during the war of independence. If he was involved in mass murder, rape and arson as accused how is it possible for a mass murderer to return to the university immediately after the end of the war and to resume his studies without a single person ever raising a question mark about him? How is it that in 40 years not a single case of any criminal activity has ever been lodged against him? How was it that he attained record-breaking marks at his undergraduate final exam and didn’t get noticed? His name and photograph must have been printed and his achievement celebrated but no body ever complained! His success must have appeared and featured in the national media and no one who was victim of his crime came forward to complain! How was it possible for the university to award him a gold medal for highest achievement? He carried on studying for Masters at the same university, became a teacher at the university school and then became Deputy head of the military college, yet nobody saw or heard anything odd about Mr Mullah? How did he serve in various positions including in the national press club and became a successful journalist but remain totally unnoticed? Why is it that 40 years later he was accused of war crime and his name never appeared in any lists of war criminals before?
Hasina is seeking revenge for the murder of her father. That is clear from her actions and statements. In that process she is destroying a country and an entire nation. Bangladesh is a country full of natural and human resources. They deserve better than this nasty politics of revenge and retribution. They deserve better than being exploited and abused by leech like parasites, sucking the blood of the nation. It is sad but true that this march for democracy in Bangladesh may not yield much change but it is nevertheless the only action they have left at their disposal and the only means of demanding a change in Bangladesh.
There are more questions that have dominating the hearts and minds of the nations. One day the answers will be uncovered but in the mean time I will keep raising them. Upon Mr Mullah’s death, why did the government’s security forces detain his children from attending the funeral prayer of their father? Why did the government force the family to bury the dead at 4 in the morning in his village? Why were the local people prevented from attending the funeral prayer? He was dead, why deny his basic human rights even at death? Why was the organizer of his “funeral prayer in absence” gunned down in his house and then his dead body thrown from the rooftop? If this is not revenge and vindictiveness of a Hasina, what is it? How can you explain this extra-ordinary psychotic behaviour?
Why have the government security forces and AL members used bulldozers to flatten the homes of the opposition party members, summarily executed innocent people, looted their homes and burned down their houses? What was the crime of people of Shatkira (a town in the West of Bangladesh)? There has been allegation of rape committed by AL members! Who is investigating these crimes? Will anyone be brought to justice for these monstrous acts? Do not forget, the security services along with AL members were present and together taking part in the carnage!
Today as the masses of Bangladeshi people try to march towards the capital city Dhaka in demand for restoration of democracy, the security forces have blocked every path and every road that leads to the city. Hasina’s order is simple – shoot them, kill them, arrest them, do whatever it takes but do not let them in the capital. They have carried out raids on houses of the opposition members, detained hundreds of people, and ransacked private homes over the last few days.
Today they have already shot dead a number of opposition activists. At the same time the AL members are given free reign, they are given license to attack any opposition presence while the security services watch in silence. Even the courthouse is not left unscathed. The high court of Bangladesh has been attacked my AL mob. Each and every corner of Bangladesh has become the victim of Hasina’s ruthlessness, annihilation and brutality.
The security forces are the upholders of law and order but when they become the abusive tools at the hands of their political masters and perpetrate heinous crimes I am afraid that is the beginning of the end of democracy. Anyone who has a grain of humanity left in them should never support AL and struggle with everything to bring an end to AL tyranny in Bangladesh.
Let me make myself clear – Awami League’s leadership and its members are guilty of perpetrating or aiding and abetting human rights abuse, mass murder, attack on minorities, corruption, looting and embezzlement of state assets and judicial killing of opposition leadership. They are a curse for Bangladesh and I am calling on every Bangladeshi to boycott them and never to vote for them.
I am also calling on the international community to take decisive actions – place travel ban on the AL MPs and Ministers, issue international arrest warrants against the Bangladeshi Ministers and the Prime Minister Hasina and freeze all their assets held in any international banks. Try Hasina in The Hague for crimes against Bangladeshi people. AL must be starved off any political legitimacy in the world. This must be done urgently to save Bangladesh and Bangladeshi people from further misery.
Hasina may kill thousands of people but we all know her days are numbered. Her political reign is coming to an end and she along with her cronies will not find even a rat hole to hide. Each and every one of them will be brought to justice. The long arm of justice will always prevail. Bangladeshis are prepared to sacrifice even more and stand firm and resolute to return their country to democracy and rule of law.
Long live Bangladeshi people!