Mukti

A people’s republic

Posted in elections, politics by jrahman on December 28, 2018

A country isn’t changed by politicians, but its people…..  You are Bangladesh…..  We have no more fear.  We have put Bangladesh in our heart such that there is no place for fear in it…..  On the 30th….  you will take ownership of this country…..  We want to leave this country to our children.

A few weeks ago, I asked why the promises of a few old men should be taken seriously.  Harassed, threatened, beaten, bloodied, shot, arrested, family members arrested — yet, Jatiya Oikya Front is still spreading a message of hope.  Their grit alone deserves to be taken seriously.  And Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir’s inspiring words are backed up by specific commitments that will return the republic to its people.

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Just a Word

Posted in politics by jrahman on July 3, 2011

(Guest post by Tacit.  Cross-posted at Rumi Ahmed’s blog.)

Read newspaper columns by our intellectuals, and you’ll see a common refrain: we Bangladeshis don’t learn from history. We forget our past. We don’t honour our heroes. And so on. Yet, the events of the last four years or so seem to show rather the opposite. We do learn from history; we do so greedily.

Consider the coup on 1/11 by Moeen U. Ahmed. Coup? What coup? There was no general issuing proclamations, no military council ruling by fiat: we had a nice elderly gentleman of Princeton pedigree. He spoke good English, quoted the right Tagore phrases, and seemed on the verge of turning Bangladesh into Plato’s Republic, when the philosopher-kings of yore would again hold sway. Where we would not be troubled with partisan, nasty, narrow politics. The nation would unite behind our own Mahathir, Lee Kuan Yew, you name it.

If still not convinced, turn to our current Prime Minister, Her Excellency Sheikh Hasina. Does anyone realize that Hasina is now the senior statesman of SAARC, and probably the most accomplished head of state for at least five or six hundred miles in all direction? Poor Manmohan Singh has never won an election in his life;  he is the Indian equivalent of Bangladesh’s MPs from reserved seats (a comparison apt in many ways). Pakistan’s troubles are only matched by Zardari’s foolishness. Rajapaksa is guilty of genocide. Karzai… no, Hasina towers above them all.

And she, too, has learned her lessons. A lesson from 2001, about how the most trusted individuals can become confused if left without adult supervision. A lesson reinforced in 2007, as boot-lickers turned into back-breakers. Maybe a second lesson from 2001, about history would have been different if she had gone ahead with her gut instincts and called for early elections, before the Four-Party Alliance had coalesced. And, finally, a lesson from 1975: if only H. T. Imam had thought to call BKSAL something else, like Bengali Democracy. Sounds so much nicer.

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Freedom of speech under threat in Bangladesh

Posted in activism, Rights by jrahman on June 16, 2010

BEWARE OF BAKSHALI FASCISM.

BEWARE OF BAKSHALI FASCISM.

BEWARE OF BAKSHALI FASCISM.

BEWARE OF BAKSHALI FASCISM.

BEWARE OF BAKSHALI FASCISM.

BEWARE OF BAKSHALI FASCISM.

BEWARE OF BAKSHALI FASCISM.

BEWARE OF BAKSHALI FASCISM.

BEWARE OF BAKSHALI FASCISM.

BEWARE OF BAKSHALI FASCISM.

BEWARE OF BAKSHALI FASCISM.

BEWARE OF BAKSHALI FASCISM.

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Fascism

Posted in democracy, politics by jrahman on June 14, 2010

‘It’s a fascist regime’ is a common refrain in Bangladesh.  Every opposition party in our history has accused the government of being fascist.  And every opposition in the past has been wrong.  And I hope that the current opposition is wrong too.

But I fear the current government is much more likely to become fascist than any in our history.  And the reasons are not what most people think.

Fascism doesn’t mean any odd dictatorship or undemocratic regime.  Mere intolerance of the opposition is not enough to be fascist.  To be a fascist regime, a government needs a large enough popular base, a cult of personality, and a dogma/ideology which is going to invoked by academics and intellegentsia to support the regime.  

The 1/11 or Ershad regimes were not fascist — they had none of these ingredients.

Bakshal had the cult of personality, ideology and intellectual cheerleaders. Had Sheikh Mujib instituted Bakshal in 1972, he would also have had massive popular support.  But by 1975, it was too late.

BNP in 2001 had the popular support to become fascist, but for all its thuggery and brute force, it wasn’t fascist because there was no ideology or intellectual support.

The current AL government is popular enough, has a sufficiently coherent ideology and a cult of personality, and a very strong intellectual support base.

When Ershad or BNP stepped over the line in terms of censorship or rigged election or sheer decency (think about Mrs Zia’s bogus birthday), there were massive outcries.  

Nothing like that happens now because those who are supposed to protest are all on the same side as establishment.  

And that’s why, for the first time in our history, fascism is a genuine threat.

16 June post

Posted in activism, history, Rights by jrahman on June 8, 2010

On 16 June 1975, Bangladesh government shut down all but four of the country’s newspapers.  All four newspapers were state-owned.  Bangladesh was under a one party state then, headed by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. 

His party, the Awami League, is in power now, headed by his daughter Sheikh Hasina Wajed.  The Awami League has two-thirds majority in the parliament, and if it so wishes, it can push through any set of draconian measures.  It has already gagged the electronic and print media in ways not seen in decades. 

This year marks the 35th anniversary of the worst assault on free speech in Bangladesh.  To mark this, and to protest the worsening situation today, there will be a blank post on the 16th. 

Conscientous believers in free speech should join.

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