2013 may prove to be a perilous year for Bangladesh as various political forces fight over the country’s narrative, history and future course.
The current government, led by the Awami League, has deployed legal and illegal means to ensure that it maintains total control over the country, silencing and destroying Bangladesh’s pluralistic political culture. It may well lead the country into civil war.
This campaign has been launched on the day when the controversial ‘International Crimes Tribunal’ has handed down a death sentence to the religious scholar and opposition leader Delowar Hossain Sayeedi. On this day alone, as people have come out to protest this decision, 50 people have been shot and killed.
We fear that that current repressive policies of the Bangladeshi government will lead to three unintended outcomes:
1. The country is on the bring of civil war. The actions of the government will have huge repercussions within Bangladesh and surrounding areas, massive loss of life, long term unrest and instability.
2. As the government muzzles the opposition, particularly those peaceful Islamic parties that have participated in Bangladesh’s constitutional democracy, Bangladesh risks propelling people into extremism. It proposes to ban these parties and drive such expression under ground.
3. Bangladesh needs to heal its historical wounds. We agree that there should be of impunity for the crimes of 1971. But for this to happen, there needs to be transparency and a process that is beyond reproach.
Bangladesh’s politics are toxic. This initiative aims to favour no-one, and will hold anyone to account, whatever political background they come from.