By- Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury | Date- September 24, 2011
There is a popular saying – saving a life means saving the entire world. And upholding this golden quotation, it must be said now, that the ruling Bangladesh Awami League has not only smeared the very dignity and pride of the entire nation, but by letting the politically motivated police forces continue extremely brutality and audacity on the civilians, has in other words, put the entire humanity under the boot of the cops. I am sure, the duffer Awami League leaders, who do not remember the past, are feeling delighted seeing their “police” has crossed all limits in committing brutalities on the political opponents as well as innocent civilians during the dawn-to-dusk general strike called by the opposition in protest of government’s decision in exorbitantly increasing prices of petroleum products as well as Compressed Natural Gas [CNG]. Such repeated increase in prices of petroleum products and CNG has already pushed the citizen of the country into dire sufferings.
The picture, where a police was seen pinning a civilian on the ground with his boot, was published as main items in almost all the daily newspapers in Bangladesh, except a few newspapers, which are known as ruling party lapdogs. Commenting on this particular photograph, leading English daily, The New Age in its editorial said: “[The picture] appears indicative of what may very well be called the Awami League-Jatiya Party government’s inherent intolerance of any form of opposition and dissent against its policies and performances. Such a blatant violation of the democratic rights of the opposition political camps—and also the display of utter disregard for human dignity—by the government is, however, hardly surprising. After all, immediately after the BNP had called the general strike, some key functionaries of the government and the ruling party hinted that they would resort to force, if necessary, to foil the opposition programme. The above mentioned photograph and reports in the media suggest that they did live up to their words.”
The editorial continued saying “According to a report front-paged in New Age on Friday, activists of the ruling Awami League and its associate organizations, and members of different law enforcement agencies of the state took to the streets during the 11-hour general strike, virtually crowding out the pickets. The BNP claimed that more than 450 of its leaders, activists and supporters, including the mayor of the Jessore municipality, were injured as members of the ruling party and its associate organizations, in tandem with the law enforcers, unleashed ‘a reign of terror’ during the hartal hours. The party also alleged that more than 350 people had been arrested in the capital city and elsewhere in the country on the eve of, and during, the general strike, while the police confirmed arrests of 200 opposition activists. More than 350 or 200, it is clear that the police did make wholesale arrests before and during the general strike. Then, of course, mobile courts were pressed into action during the hartal hours, and five people were sentenced to imprisonment of varying terms after summary trial, which, needless to say, is antithetic to the rule of law. Overall, the government seems to have employed both apparently legal and decidedly extra-legal means to foil the opposition programme, which tends to betray its undemocratic attitude, if not tyrannical tendency.
“First of all, general strike is not illegal—there is no law that prohibits an organization from calling and observing a general strike. Moreover, in a democratic order, a general strike, as long as it does not degenerate into violence and vandalism, is a potent tool to articulate genuine grievances and democratic demands of the people. Besides, the general strike was called in protest against the increase in fuel prices, price spiral of food and other essential commodities and down-slide of law and order, etc—issues that directly affect the day-to-day lives of the people at large. Against this backdrop, the AL general secretary’s claim, made at a press briefing on Thursday, that the general strike was ‘unnecessary’ and ‘immoral’ could be construed as the incumbents’ indifference to the misery of the people, while its use of disproportionate use of force through law enforcers and ruling party exponents to foil the hartal as undemocratic, and even tyrannical.”
Well, using “extra-legal means” is nothing new to Bangladesh Awami League. It has inherited this culture from decades. Such tendency was prominently exposed when the then opposition leader Sheikh Hasina called upon her party activists to lay seize on the streets of Dhaka with bamboo and wooden rowing-sticks. Subsequently, Awami League enthusiasts came on the street thus murdering at least 18 people in broad-day-light by beating like animal [I must seek apology for putting here the word “animal”, though in no way it is allowed that animals can be beaten. But, it is a common practice of beating the animals, especially when we see in the so-called civilized societies, including the British royals that innocent animals like horses are regularly whipped with specially-made sticks].
Most importantly, none of the Awami League “commanders” or their unholy commandos, who committed such brutal crime in broad-day-light, had ever been punished, while most of the local newspapers did not have the guts to mention that incident in subsequent times. And now again, though the picture of police atrocity as well as audacity on the civilians was prominently published, neither the home minister nor any of the senior police officers even sought apology in public for such extreme attitude. It was rather rumored in the media circle in Dhaka that some of the mid-ranking fries of the ruling party and a few so-called old-monkeys were delightedly excited seeing “their police” acting as mere party-cadres.
Repressive rulers never survive finally in anywhere in the world. The history is the best witness of what happened to such rulers, who instead of dedicating themselves towards welfare and good to the people, turned into mere blood-sucking Dracula. Before concluding, let me remind our rulers that, by continuing various forms of intimidation tactics and brutalities on the political opponents as well as civilians, they are loudly ringing the bell of their departure. Hope that departure won’t be untimely or painful.
Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury is globally renowned Journalist, Columnist, author & Peace Activist. He is the Editor of “Weekly Blitz” and “Daily Frontline”. He is the recipient of PEN USA Freedom to Write Award 2005, AJC Moral Courage Award 2006, Key to the Englewood City, NJ, USA [Highest Honor] 2007; Monaco Media Award, 2007. He can be reached at [email protected]