Violence on rise as voice of sanity sinks

Faruque Ahmed

When people are demanding more tolerance from the government and opening of dialogue with the opposition to end the ongoing political crisis, the ruling party seemingly made the situation more tense by issuing arrest orders for BNP chairperson Begum Khaleda Zia and crush the opposition’s voice.

The arrest of Nagorik Oikya convener Mahmudur Rahman Manna in a mysterious night time swoop by plain clothes police and the blackout of his whereabouts for the next 48 hours aggravated the situation further. And all these are happening at a time when statesman and elderly citizens at home and abroad are calling for calm and to resolve Bangladesh’s ongoing political crisis through dialogue and giving minimum democratic space to the opposition.

Sen emphasizes on dialogue
But as it appears that the voice of sanity and hands of cruelty are tearing the nation apart forcing the people to pay dearly with their lives in petrol bombs and police fire including night time shoot outs. In all intents Bangladesh is rolling towards the abyss.
Nobel Laureate Prof Amartya Sen last week speaking in the city at a public lecture had laid emphasis on public liberty saying it is equally important as democracy. He said “I don’t believe that liberty has to be cut down for the sake of democracy.”  But he did not clearly explain when both liberty and democracy are missing what the situation may look like.
He also laid emphasis on dialogue to resolve the crisis. In his view ‘there must be discussions on social and democratic failures to devise out ways to fix problems.” Earlier a delegation of the sub-committee of the European Parliament which visited Bangladesh last week to see the human rights situation here also laid similar emphasis on ensuring freedom and ensuring freedom and liberty of people saying ‘peace and stability not at the cost of liberty.’
Meanwhile, the UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon and US secretary of state John Kerry have also urged the government to respect human rights and public liberty anf give democratic space to the opposition. They also asked both the ruling party and the opposition to resolve the ongoing crisis through dialogue.
The leaders made the points in separate meetings with Bangladesh foreign minister Mahmood Ali last week when he went a visit to Washington to attend an international conference on global terrorism.
But the latest situation as it is unfolding on daily basis only shows the government is keeping totally defiant and going more on the hard line to crash the opposition parties’  movement seeking a fresh inclusive election to end the legitimacy question of the last year’s January 5 election.
The Prime Minister had agreed to hold such a mid-term election at that time but it appears she has moved out of the pledge and rather determined now to end the demand for election using excessive police force and court on opposition parties.
As the situation suggests the country is now inching the country towards a deeper crisis and most observers fear that a more bloody violence may now hit the nation if the government arrest BNP chairperson Begum Khaleda Zia in response to a court order issued on February 25.
BNP has already warned of the consequences in a statement following the court orders asking the government to stop repression on the opposition leaders and workers and drop the scheme of arresting the party chief.
In a statement BNP joint Secretary General and its spokesman Salahuddin Ahmed said the government must stop thinking that it can crash the will of the people and asked the ruling party to give fresh election to bring peace and stability to the nation. He said BNP and the major opposition has elaborate programme in absence of Begum Zia and instructions have already been circulated to party’s local leadership how to carry on the torch of the democracy movement to the end.
Meanwhile Amnesty International in its annual report has also denounced torture and disappearance of people in Bangladesh giving a critical picture of bloody human rights violation in the nation.
The country is waiting now to see what may happen with Begum Khaleda Zia. Whether or not she may be finally arrested and put under bar and how and when it may take plac—this is the talk of the town over the past few days.
She is now staying at her Gunshan party office with over 50 party leaders, office staff
and security personnel. They have barbed the high rise wall and balcony of the first floor of the party office to protect the party chief from unknown attacks.
But when the state forces will move on to arrest her how both sides may behave is something observers are keeping on watch. Reports said Begum Zia has said she is ready to face the arrest. But the action may bring further pressure on the government and isolate it from international community.
Meanwhile, the arrest of Mahmudur Rahman Manna on ‘charge of sedition’ for inciting army to act against the government may also create anti-government sentiment in the civil society leaders who were so far keeping on edge from siding one of the feuding camps. Many observers believe the citizens’ initiative to resolve the crisis may be the first casualty of this arrest.
By the time, police appears to have become reckless in shooting on young people on suspicion of carrying petrol bombs and arson attacks in roads, highways and city streets. Most people believe that it may be part of higher alert to create panic in the workers of the opposition camp and stop such violence.
It may be a clear move to bring the violence sooner to en end using the force and the government leaders hinted out that it may take one more month to crash the movement.  People are against violence that may come from either side but what about public liberty and a democratic society free from a repression. Silencing the opposition may not work longer and rather fail to bring peace and stability to the nation at the end. The nation looks forward to return of democratic government whoever it wins.

Source: weekly holiday


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