Bangladesh politics is screwed
Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury
Political pundits are continuing to see the future of democracy in Bangladesh
in different perspectives. Some of the analysts with tight affiliation
with particular political affiliations are always drawing negative
picture on the issue saying, Bangladesh
may be heading for a soft authoritarianism replacing a dysfunctional
democracy. But, according to neutral analysts, since the independence
of the country, Bangladesh
unfortunately went into the tight grips of some politicians, who were
in fact behaving much worst than any authoritarian under the garb of
democracy. It is crystal clear to the people of Bangladesh
and abroad that the politicians are the main culprits in giving grand
opportunity to corruption in getting access in every root of the
nation. But, how about the bureaucrats, who are no less liable for such
crime? We have seen numerous politicians seeing the prison cells as the
destination for the previous deeds. But, did we hear single news of any
former bureaucrat or government official entering jail for their past
track record of corruption? No! Why?
According to various press reports, ninety-nine percent of the staffs with Rajdhani Unnayan Kartipakkha (City Development Authority) own one or more than one property in Dhaka
city. Now certainly there should be question as to how a simple peon
with the organization, whose monthly salary is within TK. 5,000 (US$
70) only could own a piece of land at city’s Uttara area, which costs
above TK. 1 million? If the intelligence agencies of the country will
make a massive survey on the properties at city’s Gulshan, Baridhara,
Uttara and Dhanmondi area, they will be surprised to know that more
than sixty percent of the existing plots or properties are owned by any
of the government officials. Should there be question as to how such
huge wealth was earned by those government officials? When there are
ongoing offensives on the politicians, why not similar actions are also
drawn against the culprit government officers and officials? Hopefully,
the present interim plus government will take this matter into
let me get back to another important point. Right after the arrest of
Awami League president Sheikh Hasina, her expatriate son Sajib Wajed
Joy started giving statements and sending messages to various people
demanding release of his mother. Sajib is even claiming that his family
(actually he refers to the family of Banga Bandhu who is his maternal
grand father) had never been into corruption. Sounds good, but very
difficult to digest! Isn’t it? In one of the letters to different
people, Sajib wrote: “Dear all, I would first like to apologize for the
mass email. As I¢m sure you are aware by now, my mother Sheikh Hasina,
former Prime Minister of Bangladesh has been arrested by the military
government of Bangladesh .
She is being detained under the Emergency Powers Rule, 2007, not under the criminal code of Bangladesh.
There is no due process under the emergency powers. Right to bail
and right to appeal are denied and the detention can be extended
indefinitely even without a trial. Trials are conducted by
special tribunals in camera (only the judge is present, there is no
jury and the proceedings are closed to outside scrutiny) and summarily
(normal procedures such as conducting discovery are not allowed.)
This is a violation of international human rights laws, in particular
Article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
cases that were filed against her months ago have not yet gone to
trial. Her arrest comes just one week after she spoke out against
attempts by the military’s intelligence wing, Directorate General
Forces Intelligence (DGFI) to break up the two major political parties
and create a new party of handpicked leaders with dubious track records.
200,000 individuals remain arrested for up to six months now under
these Emergency Powers. Of these, only a dozen or so cases have
gone to trial. One former minister has been sentenced by a
special tribunal to 12 years imprisonment for possessing 21 bottles of
alcohol in his home without paying import duties on them. No
other charges were brought against him.
military continues to maintain an indefinite state of emergency, now
going on six months and all constitutional rights remain
suspended. I urge you to uphold international human rights laws
in pressing the military government of Bangladesh
to release Sheikh Hasina immediately. The charges against her
should be prosecuted under the code of criminal procedure, not under
the Emergency Powers Rule. I would further urge you to press the Bangladesh military to lift the ongoing state of emergency, as continuing it indefinitely is equivalent to Martial Law.”
me clarify one specific point. Sajib Wajed Joy mentioned that Hasina
was not arrested on any specific criminal charge, which is false.
Hasina had been arrested on a specific case of extortion, which is
punishable crime under the existing Penal Code of Bangladesh.
Commenting on the letter from Joy, one of the political analysts in United States, who has excellent command over Bangladesh
issues said, “First of all, Sheikh Hasina amassed her tremendous
fortune through the same corrupt means as did her BNP rivals; and for
this she deserves to be punished. There could be debate as to who
was worse the BNP or Awami League, but that is quite secondary to the
fact that both parties have given proven to be terrible stewards for Bangladesh.
Second, Joy benefited from the corruption that allowed his family to amass great wealth.
is not at all uncommon for their to be arrests and suspensions of
certain rights in States of Emergency. What did he expect would
occur when his mother stood before her people and said she would "shut
down the nation" with street violence, even though she already had the
world community supporting her position on the elections. She
demonstrated then and at other times that her real concern is her power
as opposed to the good of the nation.
Fourth, let us also remember that the State of Emergency was declared under rules of the Bangladeshi constitution and continues to operate under it.
his claim of 200,000 in custody is unfounded and without any credible
evidence. Moreover, he is ingenuous by throwing out the "up to
six months“ of detention since the State of Emergency was declared only six months and a week. I was in Bangladesh during those first weeks of the State of Emergency.
There were no mass arrests; no killings; and press and other rights
were restored rather quickly. Sedition charges were dropped
against journalists who had them for years.And if he thinks that six months is a long time for a State of Emergency,
let's remember that the last time the Turkish military stepped into
that country's government, it took three years before elections were
held--and Bangladesh politics is much more screwed up than Turkey's were.”