Delwar Hossain Sayedee, an Islamic preacher and a senior leader of Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh, the country’s largest Islam-pasand party, was sentenced to death on 28 February for war crimes committed during the 1971 Liberation War. Within hours, Jamaat cadres and activists clashed violently with police and law enforcement agencies. Scores have been killed in some of the worst political violence the country has experienced in recent years.
Five other senior Jamaat leaders, including its current and former chiefs, are being prosecuted for war crimes committed in 1971. Another leader was sentenced to life imprisonment on 5 February. That sentence triggered what has come to be called the Shahbag Awakening—a month of largely peaceful gathering of tens of thousands of people in the middle of Dhaka. A key demand of the largely government-supported Awakening is to ban Jamaat.
Will the Jamaat be banned? The ruling Awami League has a three-fourths majority in parliament, while the Jamaat is a key ally of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party. A general election is expected before the year is over. So there are complex political calculations involved. Meanwhile, even if the party survives, how will it perform if its top leaders are convicted (and possibly executed) for war crimes?
To compensate for the recent hiatus — caused by microcosmic organisms with evil side effects — a double edition of trashes collected by the senses. Normal ramblings should begin soon.
A funny thing has been happening lately. Opinion editors in Deshi English media, print and electronic, have been approaching me for political pieces. I suggest an economic or policy piece, they respond ‘yeah, that’s good, but how about (whatever is the headline that week)’. Beats me why this is — it’s not like I have a good track record of predicting Deshi politics. In fact, I am not at all qualified or knowledgeable to commentate on day-to-day politics of Bangladesh. Further, I don’t live in Bangladesh, and have a very dim view of pundits who claim to know Bangladesh better living in London than people back home.
But I have my opinions. And while I am extremely reluctant to publish them in formal media, I can jot them down in my blog. In fact, I should record them in the blog, so that you, dear reader, can hold me to account. However, please note that none of these are predictions. Nor do I necessarily support or oppose them. They are all trends or events to look out for in 2011 and beyond. Some of them will be good, some not so good, and some pretty awful. But these are the things I’ll keep my eyes on.