BANGLADESH; WHAT WE LEARN FROM 2017


F R Chowdhury, December 28, 2017

As we come to the end of 2017, I try to recollect the headline news of Bangladesh published in various papers. I can summarise them in a few major items:

Deaths due to road/ traffic accidents;
Mass rape and rape of minors;
Extra-judicial killings and disappearances; and
Rohingya crisis.

Road/ traffic accidents:

The figure is unacceptable. It is one of the highest in the world. It cannot be allowed to continue. We have to attend to it. We have to remove main reasons to reduce accidents.
Roads must be repaired and maintained to avoid sudden serious situations;

Road markings must be improved including advance display (on the left side of the road) of junction arrangements;
Vehicles must be tested and certified fit for operation;
Vehicle/ driver must be insured;
Driver must be certified for the type of vehicle;
Driving test for licensing must be made tougher, and there is no question of giving license to a person who cannot read or write or a person who is not physically and mentally fit.
In every district headquarters police must observe traffic week to educate all how to respect traffic laws and system;
In our system of “keep left” the vehicles are “right-hand drive.” The driver sits on the right, and the driver must give way to merging traffic from the right.
Finally the fine/ penalty or jail sentence etc. must be reviewed and made tougher if necessary.

Rape, mass rape, and rape of minors:

As a nation, we were never so bad. Such things were not heard of before. Why suddenly the society got so seriously infected? It is a matter for a social scientist to research. I know our good neighbor India is partly to blame for it. Delhi has the worst record in the world for rape in busses and taxis. However, we can deal with only within our jurisdiction. There are a few reasons – moral degradation in general, money can get away with anything and lack of courage on the part of people to stand for the right cause.

The moral degradation should be tackled at the school level. Their syllabuses must contain a bit of their duty to the society – help the poor, protect the innocent and vulnerable; and finally have no fear to stand for the truth;
Corruption must be tackled especially within police and other law enforcement agencies so that nobody can get away with money or other influence;

We must introduce a system of courage and bravery awards for those who risk their own lives to protect the vulnerable. Such acts of bravery should be publicised widely.
Drivers must be taught to consider all passengers as their “Amanat” and protect them as much as possible.

Cases must be dealt with in such manner that it becomes deterrent for others.

Extra-judicial killing and disappearances:

This tarnishes the image of the Government more than anything else. If the government is not behind those killing and disappearances, then it should take drastic action so that such things do not happen to damage the reputation of the Government. The Human Rights Commission in Bangladesh is useless and meaningless. So far it has not brought any case of violation of human rights, and I have not heard of any conviction for violation of human rights. It is time to re-organize this Commission with more legal and administrative powers and appoint persons with guts and drive. How can police investigate police action? There must be Independent Police Complaint Commission to look into all complaints against police and other law enforcement agencies. This is how it is done in the UK. The government remains responsible for all disappearances – for not being able to prevent the abductions or apprehend those responsible for it. The government has to answer for it.

Rohingya crisis:

From the very beginning, the government showed its lack of knowledge and diplomacy. The PM should have called a national conference of all political parties, defense chiefs, and other prominent persons and take a unified national stand. This should have been followed by briefing all diplomatic representations at Dhaka by the foreign ministry. The government could also arrange for the diplomatic missions in Bangladesh to visit the camps. The government should have then selected two special envoys preferably from other political parties to go to important countries – one in East and the other in West. It should have asked our missions abroad to brief their respective host countries about it. Then only we should have gone to the United Nations. This is how Indira Gandhi dealt with our case in 1971.

Myanmar army is addicted to political power. They cannot live without it. It is under the world pressure that they came to a semi-democratic system. It is far from democracy. The real power remains with the military. After winning the election, Aung Saan Suchi should have refused to form a government unless full democracy was introduced. That was the right time, and she would have got it. Instead, she got carried away by the lure of the instant glamour and glory. Now she is trapped. She has to dance to the tune of the army. And the military got to keep the Rohingya issue alive to justify their role. This is an inhuman operation of mass killing, rape, torture, and intimidation that drove nearly one million Rohingya refugees to Bangladesh to keep the Myanmar nation united. This barbaric action can only be compared to Hitler’s campaign against the Jews during WWII.

The Myanmar government signs all the good agreements and talks of repatriation in every official meeting. But their military is still burning those villages to remove traces of any human habitation. They have mined the common border. The refugees are rightly so terrorized to return. The Myanmar government under the pressure of the military will keep finding new excuses and clauses to foil the spirit of all agreements. Our failure to get the support of Russia, China, and all ASEAN countries is nothing other than a political and diplomatic blunder. We will have to suffer a long time, and Myanmar military will have to regret for the eternal period. Myanmar military will convert the peace-loving patriotic Muslim minority into a military force that will be difficult to defeat or control. This is what history tells us.

London, 27-December-2017 <fazlu.chowdhury@btinternet.com>

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