Existential threat to democracy in Bangladesh
DEMOCRACY in Bangladesh faces an existential threat from within. A handpicked ‘all-party’ election-time government under the leadership of the Awami League has mobilised and unleashed all the instruments of state power to repress the electorate and deny them their inherent and constitutional right to exercise their will through free and unimpeded voting. December 29, 2013 will be remembered by the people of Bangladesh, long after Sheikh Hasina and her AL cohorts have passed from the political and national stage, as a day when they delivered a grievous blow to democracy and freedom.
The raw images on the television screen of police barricades throughout the capital city, of armed AL activists (abetted and protected by the police and law enforcement agencies) attacking unarmed opposition party activists throughout Dhaka (even within the premises of the Supreme Court and the National Press Club) do not fully convey the outrage of the people as that of the deployment of hundreds of uniformed and plain-clothed police, the Rapid Action Battalion and intelligence agencies in front of the residence of Bangladesh Nationalist Party chairperson Khaleda Zia. The stationing of sand-filled trucks for the purpose of blocking the exit of the opposition leader, and thus preventing her from going to a political rally, is unprecedented in Bangladesh’s tumultuous political past.
A so-called ‘elected all-party government’ laid siege of the capital city of the country from within and without, reminiscent of the tactics of dictators and fascists. It made a mockery of everything the nation holds dear, the values and aspirations that energised the war of liberation — freedom, democracy and economic emancipation.
The events leading up to and those of December 29, including 154 members of parliament already ‘elected’, is a tragic preview of what the nation can expect to witness during the scheduled January 5, 2014 ‘elections’. It lends credence to the opposition’s claim of why a ‘non-party election-time government’ is necessary for the perpetuation of the democratic processes in Bangladesh and to free it from the clutches of a political party that has arrogated to itself the right to govern our country in perpetuity. It should motivate patriots and freedom loving citizens, irrespective of their political persuasion, to reject what is being forced down the throat of the nation in the name constitutional politics.
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