Archive for the 'Bangladesh Elections' Category

Sheikh Hasina arrested, and the Army gambles with Bangladesh

[I actually wrote this last week but couldn’t get online for a while.]

At around 2am in Dhaka on Monday 16th June, a thousand members of the security forces began to assemble outside the home of Sheikh Hasina, the former Prime Minister of Bangladesh and leader of one of the two main parties, the Awami League (AL). She was arrested on charges of extortion, taken to court, denied bail under the Emergency Power Rules and sent to a sub-jail by midday. After six months of running Bangladesh under a state of emergency, the military-backed caretaker government is finally beginning to lay its cards on the table, in doing so taking a massive gamble with the future of Bangladesh and its 150 million people. Currently, it’s impossible to predict if this gamble will pay off.  Continue reading ‘Sheikh Hasina arrested, and the Army gambles with Bangladesh’

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Bye bye to Yunus, and brave leadership in Bangladesh

[Cross-posted at The Guardian’s Comment Is Free]

As Britain bids goodbye to Blair, and the sense of new political hope that he once symbolised, Bangladesh is also rapidly facing the reality that it has lost its chance of an alternative, fresh and progressive political leadership.

The awarding of 2006 Nobel Peace Prize to Dr Muhammed Yunus, confirmed his demi-god status in Bangladesh, and granted him incontestable moral authority. After the military coup on January 11th a vacuum was created and the stage seemed set for him to save the nation by entering its political spotlight. By February 22nd in an open letter, he announced his intention to form a party, ‘Nagorik Shakti’ (Citizen’s Power) in an open letter to the nation, and Bangladesh largely celebrated.

Yunus promised a politics that would “materialise the dream of the liberation war” and would offer a much-needed electoral alternative and clear path away from the democratic nightmare being fostered by the rule of the BNP and Awami League.

Continue reading ‘Bye bye to Yunus, and brave leadership in Bangladesh’

Terrorists strike again in Bangladesh

[Cross-posted in the Guardian’s ‘Comment Is Free’ section here.] 

Two weeks ago, the Generals in control of Bangladesh were on the cusp on completing their coup through the ‘democracy minus-two’ plan, with the imminent exile of both previous Prime Ministers, Khaleda Zia and Sheikh Hasina. This attempt to end their dynastic and allegedly hugely corrupt control over the country spectacularly backfired however, with the former leaders popular again, whilst the military-backed interim government has lost a huge amount of both international and domestic support and legitimacy. Then on Tuesday May 1st, three small bombs exploded in the three major cities, planted by ‘Jadid Al-Qaeda’. Political power and the responsibility that comes with it must now look far less attractive.

Before the electoral crisis erupted at the end of October last year, the rise of Islamic extremism in Bangladesh was raising the most international concern. Tuesday’s attacks have now reminded everyone that regardless of the current political posturing, outside of that arena another long-term threat to Bangladesh and the region is fermenting, and the people behind it have less interest in gaining power through the ballot box. The proliferation of jihadist groups willing to resort to terrorism must be addressed as soon as possible by
Bangladesh’s eventual democratic government. Continue reading ‘Terrorists strike again in Bangladesh’

Uncertain Times

[This has been cross-posted on The Guardian’s Comment Is Free blog. There are already comments, so maybe contribute to any debate there?]

Bangladesh is rapidly moving from being the world’s fifth largest democratic state, to the world’s largest state of total uncertainty. Since January 11, when the military stepped in to avert certain chaos and cancelled January’s scheduled but highly contentious general election, imposing a caretaker government under a state of emergency, the caretaker government, whilst initially very popular here, is beginning to look less military-backed and more military-run.

On Sunday in London the former prime minister Sheikh Hasina, the leader of the Awami League (AL) was humiliated when she was turned back from Heathrow trying to board a flight home as the military stated they would refuse to let her re-enter the country. Her bitter rival Khaleda Zia, the leader of the Bangladesh Nationalist party (BNP) and the most recent prime minister, is desperately fighting against exile to Saudi Arabia with her family. The coup began by the military is near completion.

Continue reading ‘Uncertain Times’

The world wakes up to the mess in Bangladesh?

The august New York Times has published an editorial on the crisis in Bangladesh today. The NYT states:

April 15, 2007

Editorial

Bangladesh in the Generals’ Grip

Promoting democracy, especially in Islamic countries, is supposed to be a major goal of President Bush’s foreign policy. But his administration has raised little protest as Bangladesh — until January the world’s fifth most populous democracy — has been transformed into its second most populous military dictatorship.

Continue reading ‘The world wakes up to the mess in Bangladesh?’

Big Political Trouble in Little Bangladesh

The dam of lies and corruption is beginnning to burst, and everything’s spilling out now.

In the last few days, charges first of extortion/corruption and today murder have been levelled against Sheikh Hasina, the leader of Bangladesh’s Awami League, who was PM from 1996-2001 and leader of the party pretty much since her father was assassinated in 1975.

Sheikh Hasina has been on holiday in America, since all politics is banned in Bangladesh, but she’s announced that she’s coming back as soon as possible to fight the charges, and has completely denied them, obviously.

You can read about the murder charges here, on the BBC. Most Bangla news sites at the moment are still buzzing with bias.  They’re based around who was responsible for the riots on October 28th when six people were beaten to death. I was there and it was disgusting. It’s the kind of charge that’s completely politically motivated and may well never even see court, but personally, I would agree with this summation, by Kawsar Jamal who runs the Change Bangladesh website:

“150 million people including the Non-resident Bangladeshi are responsible for October 28th, 06 occurence. The factors that played hard for the occurence to happen are
lack of education,lack of information sharing between people to people,lack of humanity and humanness(n)and lack of proper process and procedures of so called filthy democracy,familycracy and autocracy thats been followed for last 35 years after independence. It doesn’t look to good even now, so I won’t be amazed if I see the same occurence sometime soon too, who knows may be very soon or little later unless things gets strengthen up very soon.”

Continue reading ‘Big Political Trouble in Little Bangladesh’

The suspension of politics in Bangladesh – the end of freedom?

On Sunday Fakhruddin Ahmed, the Chief Advisor to Bangladesh’s ‘interim’ military-technocratic administration came to Sylhet. He declared that the administration was directly accountable to the people, and was a constitutional government as it had assumed office taking the oath on the Constitution. He went on to say that his government wanted real democracy, adding that a peaceful atmosphere and social stability were the pre-requisites for holding free, fair and credible elections.

This is all utter nonsense, and I’m disappointed that I was in the office and unable to witness his statements myself.

These are the facts about the political situation in Bangladesh at the moment:

Continue reading ‘The suspension of politics in Bangladesh – the end of freedom?’