Nothing will happen

Posted in politics by jrahman on October 21, 2010

It was a winter evening when I received an sms from Dhaka.  My friend Syeed Ahamed: Dhaka hot again, attack on Hasina.  Within a few minutes, my father called: Hasina was shot at by assassins, Dhaka is tense, but don’t worry we are fine

That was August 2004.  In the following two years, there were a number of such messages from Dhaka: bomb attacks, assassinations, but don’t worry, we’re fine.  Things got to such a stage that when one autumn evening in 2006 that when my wife begun a phone conversation with Dr Yunus, my instant fear was that the sentence would end with has been killed.

I’ve always felt that of all the manyfold mistakes and wrongs done under the second Khaleda Zia government, the assassinations/militant attacks/political violence by ruling party thugs were the worst.  Yes, our politics has always had an unfortunate violent edge.  But things became markedly worse under that government. 

The violence started within days of the 2001 election, and never ended.  It never ended partly because the then governments were at best uninterested in ending the violence.  And here I am giving BNP the benefit of the doubt — one is presumed innocent until proven guilty.  But accusations can be made on the basis of reasonable suspicion, and senior BNP leaders are definitely susceptible to grave accusations when it comes to political violence under them. 

Nonetheless, even in those dark days, there was always a hope that things could get better with a change in government.  And the grounds for optimism strengthened when Awami League shunned Joynal Hazari types during the 2008 election.

I was wrong to be hopeful.  Nothing has changed.  Nothing will happen.

To use the immortal words of The Smiths: when you say it’s gonna happen now, when exactly do you mean, you see I have already waited too long, and all my hope is gone.

I should have figured it out when violence started before the new cabinet was even sworn in.   I should have realised it when Sahara Khatun turned out to be like her predecessors. 

I should have, but I didn’t.  I held on to the hope of change.  I thought that with time things would get better.  I thought that there would be proper investigations of political violence under the last governments, while the thugs of the current ruling party will be reigned in.  That hope is partly why, about a year ago, I naively believed the story that fugitive murderers from 1975 were out to create more mayhem

But at some point we have to accept the reality.  Even the most hopeless romantic must face up to the loneliness of death.  What’s the reality of today’s Bangladesh?

It will be four years of post-BNP era and two years under AL in January.  Have we made any progress in the 21 August case?  In the Ahsanullah Master of SAMS Kibria assassinations?  Has anyone been convicted of anything for the post-election violence in 2001?

Not anonymous media reports that give dark hints of the involvement of Tarique Rahman or Motiur Rahman Nizami, but concrete legal actions?  Not remand and torture of Lutfuzzaman Babur, but trial, conviction and sentencing? 

No.  Nothing has happened.

It has been year since the attack on Barrister Taposh.  What happened to all those relatives of 1975’s killers?  What happened to the army officers arrested? 

We get noted for doing better than Pakistan in rounding up jihadis.  What happens to them after arrest? 

Nothing, it seems. 

And the victims of these violence is AL.  When the victim is not AL, why does anyone believe anything will happen? 

I know they are not reading this post.  But if they were, this would be my message for the family of the murdered Natore BNP leader: don’t wait for justice in Bangladesh. 

It took decades to get justice for the founder of the country.  We haven’t even begun the process for 1971.   Our bravest freedom fighters were killed in 1975 and no one even asks for justice.  No one asks for justice for Nur Hossain and Dr Millon and others who were killed by an army dictator who now sits in the treasury bench in parliament.  There is no justice for even the wife of the president.

So if I could tell the wife and daughter of the murdered man: your husband and father’s life means nothing in Bangladesh. 

I’d tell them: your local MP was right — nothing will happen

I’d give that MP credit for his honesty.  In fact, I urge everyone to vote for him. 

What does it matter? 

Nothing will happen.


8 Responses

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  1. lynnardmichael said, on October 21, 2010 at 8:32 am

    My name is Lynn Crecelius and I’m a newcomer to wordpress. I see you’ve been on here for three years and seem prolific in your blog postings. Impressive.
    I couldn’t help but feel the hopelessness of your last entry. I would offer words of encouragement, even though i don’t knnow who you are or what you do, but i must admit that i often feel the same way about my own society’s direction…..
    my closest contact with your country was with an indian woman whom i dated for three years. you have a beautiful culture and i have immense respect for the resilience shown by many people in your part of the world.
    Just wanted to reach out. Lynn

  2. tacit said, on October 24, 2010 at 10:13 am

    Jyoti Bhai, you sound as if you have been mugged by reality. You know what happens as a consequence, right?

    It’s not that justice does not exist in Bangladesh. It’s only that it always takes a back-seat to politics.

    Babu’s tragic demise is only another example of the first and pre-eminent dictum of life in Bangladesh: that it is very, very cheap.

    • jrahman said, on October 24, 2010 at 11:41 am

      It doesn’t matter a bit what I sound like. What matters is what millions of first time voters who turned out for AL in Dec 08 feel now. If they feel as if they have been mugged by reality, the fall out will be far reaching. When last time they were mugged by Awami reality, we came close to being a failed state. Then, we were saved by a military man, but his actions also had unintended consequences. What will happen if the history repeats itself?

      • tacit said, on October 25, 2010 at 7:26 am

        Jyoti Bhai, the generation that was mugged by AL in 1972-74 never got a chance to vote again; BAKSAL was introduced to rob them of that choice. If the millions of voters who voted for AL for the first time in 2008 change their mind, they will find a way to make their voices heard – if they are given a chance. I find it extremely worrisome that AL is so actively working on not allowing democratic expression.

        Dhaka City Corporation vote stalled – no one know why or how long. How can a democratic government justify not holding election because it think it will lose? By-election in Mohiuddin Khan Alamgir’s election is stalled. There are several MPs who are also mayors; they should lose their MP positions because they held an office of profit while running in the election. The government has stopped EC from proceeding with those cases.

        So, I don’t think we need fear about failed states about military men stepping in. I fear about our people not being given the opportunity to have their voices heard. Given that opportunity, they will make the right choice.

      • jrahman said, on October 25, 2010 at 11:54 am

        But these things are interrelated, aren’t they? The incumbent fails, but the opposition isn’t strong enough to hold it to account, therefore the opportunity to judge the incumbent is recklessly denied, and there is a vicious cycle. Either way, lot to fear, and not much to be hopeful about.

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