- F R Chowdhury
NO TO HATRED & VIOLENCE; YES TO PEACE & PROSPERITY
F R Chowdhury
The word “ISLAM” means peace. Islam does not support violence. The killing of any human being is a crime. It is a sin for which everyone will be ultimately answerable to Allah, the creator of the universe and human being. I am sure no religion supports violence or killing. When it became challenging to preach Islam in Mecca, Prophet Mohammed migrated (hizrat) to Medina. He came back to Mecca as a conqueror. When the people of Mecca were running for their lives, Prophet declared a general amnesty. They were overwhelmed by his generosity. They believed in the message of God and converted to Islam. This is how Islam spread all over the world. It is sad and unfortunate that today some people are engaged in hatred, violence, and killing in the name of Islam. They are also killing other Muslims in the name of Shia and Sunni. It is certainly not acceptable in Islam.
In 1971, we witnessed a lot of violence and killing. We have to blame Pakistan more because they were the ones in power. When they started the operation “search light” and started killing innocent people, the scenario changed. Thousands of people like me who believed in one strong united Pakistan changed their allegiance. We have begun supporting the liberation war because we did not know how else the hatred, violence, and killing would come to an end. By the grace of Allah, we became independent on 16-December-1971.
Sheikh Mujib was in custody in Pakistan, but we waged war in his name because he provided the inspiration for liberation. On his return to Bangladesh, he did not engage in witch-hunting. He believed in rebuilding Bangladesh with the support and cooperation of all people. He agreed to repatriate Pakistani POWs and get back Bangladeshis stranded in Pakistan. Bangladesh and Pakistan recognized each other. He went to Pakistan to attend the OIC meeting. He even embraced General Tikka Khan the so-called butcher of Bangladeshis. History started taking its path as we moved forward. Then in 1975, Sheikh Mujib was sadly killed by a group of army officers. He was not killed because he granted amnesty to those who supported Pakistan in 1971 but because of famine in 1974, extra-judicial killing by Rakshi Bahini and his desire to establish one party state with all powers to himself. His party people were making fortunes right under his nose. He paid the ultimate price.
It was late president Ziaur Rahman who re-introduced multi-party politics in Bangladesh. He realized that because of various reasons many people could not join the liberation war. Even many people under compelling circumstances continued to serve the occupation forces. It did not imply their rejection of the heard earned independence. He decided to unify the nation by utilizing all talents available. He even gave full security guarantee to Sheikh Hasina to return to Bangladesh. Dr. Kamal Hussein and Abdur Razzak of Awami League traveled to India with this message. The country was again marching forward until President Zia was killed in 1981.
Over the years things kept on changing. Two ladies – the daughter of late Sheik Mujib and the other Khaleda Zia, widow of late Ziaur Rahman dominated the political scene in Bangladesh. There are a lot of accusations against both of them being corrupt and power hungry. Both of them are eager to ensure that their sons eventually take the helm. Mr. Sajib Wajed Joy, son of Sheikh Hasina, stays mostly in the USA but supposed to be an IT Adviser to the Prime Minister. It is rumored that he receives about $200,000 per month as his salary. Because of divulging this fact, Mr. Latif Siddique lost his position as a minister. It is also rumored that Mr. Joy has about $300 million abroad. Those involved in leaking this information are already in jail on charges of the attempt of kidnapping and murder of Joy. These efforts said to have happened in the USA but FBI does not seem to have any interest. Mean time some Bangladesh officials are making holiday trips to the USA on the plea of investigating the incident (if at all there was any). The other is Tareq Zia, the son of Khaleda Zia, now an opposition leader in Bangladesh. He stays in the UK because of dozens of corruption cases against him in Bangladesh. We all know what will happen to him if he returns to Bangladesh.
Efforts are underway to get some conviction against Khaleda Zia so that she can be barred from contesting the election. There are many cases filed against her. New cases are still being registered. If BAL succeeds in getting Khaleda and Tareq away from politics, then the BAL rule will succeed for many more years to come. Apart from that BNP party leaders at all levels are on the list. There are fabricated cases against most of them. Wherever possible they are already behind bars. BNP leaders all over the country are busy running around the courts with their lawyers. They have no time for politics. All BAL leaders are supposed to be clean and honest. There are no charges against them.
Elections for local governments have also been manipulated in favor of BAL (Bangladesh Awami League). In a rare case if BNP wins one then s/he is suspended, and corruption or other criminal charges are brought against. This is to make sure that BAL controls both central as well as local governments.
The government always talks about press freedom. Mr. Mahmudur Rahman of Amar Desh knows well about press freedom. Mr. Shefiq Rahman of Jae Jae Din probably knows even more. One mistake by Mr. Mahfuz Anam of Daily Star was enough to remind him as to where he lives. As many as 55 cases were filed against him all over the country. However, all cases disappeared with the peace deal made overnight. All journalists learned their lessons. Now, the editors know exactly what to print and what not to write.
The head of the government is the chief executive. S/he has to take a lot of decisions. Most of them may be right, but one or two are bound to be wrong. After all, he or she is a human being. But in Bangladesh, it is not the case. The prime minister can make no mistake. Very often we read in the paper about people in Bangladesh being arrested or jailed for criticizing the PM. The political cartoonist is supposed to be high in demand in the most democratic country. In many countries, I have seen them portray cartoons with the head of the PM with rest of the body like a tiger or a snake to make mockery of his/ her wrong decisions. They are never jailed. It is all accepted in good humour. In Bangladesh you dare try doing anything like that and you will soon know where you are.
The ruling party is too worried about the rightful place of Sheikh Mujib in the history. That is why they are determined to name everything after him. According to them, Sheikh Mujib alone should be credited with the liberation of Bangladesh. They are not ready to accept the fact that others also had a lot of contributions. As a matter of fact, Sheikh Mujib was in custody when the liberation war was waged and won. There is no denial that Sheikh Mujib spent most of his life to establish the rights of Bangladeshis. However, this should not be an excuse to diminish the contributions made by others. Tajuddin, Usmani, Zia, and thousands of “shaheeds” (martyrs) played their role in the liberation of Bangladesh. That will remain in the history. Any attempt to re-write the history to exclude them would be wrong. The name of Dhaka airport was changed only to remove the name of Zia. This was a vindictive action by the present government. We all know that Sheikh Mujib was given the title “Banga-bandhu” (friend of Bengal) for all that he did for Bangladesh. Now the word “Banga-bandhu” is being used to name roads, bridges, university, a communication satellite, and the newly surfaced island. Only Sheikh Mujib should be referred to as the father of the nation and “banga-bandhu.” Referring to any material object as “banga-bandhu” is an insult to the father of the nation.
Ever since coming to power the BAL (Bangladesh Awami League) government is trying to re-establish BAKSHAL. Silence all opposition and talk only about BAL government until it becomes a one-party state. The BDR killing was a warning shot for the armed forces. The disappearance of Mr. Ilyas Ali was the first warning shot for the political domain of Bangladesh. It was followed by killing of journalists Sagar-Runi. However, the most barbaric and cruel was the killing of mullahs near Motijheel at night by putting out the lights. In a matter of extra-judicial executions, Bangladesh perhaps ranks number one in the world. The BNP leader Salahuddin was missing for a long time. He later surfaced in Shillong, India only because people had taken pictures of his abduction. This particular incident proved how closely the security forces of Bangladesh and India work together. In Bangladesh disappearance of political activists is very common. Some manage to return. However, those who return never seem to remember as to how they were abducted or where they were kept. The government should get Nobel Prize for inventing such excellent medication that makes people forget everything about the past.
When the government talks about the high tide of development activities, poor and desperate young people are dying at sea trying to reach other countries. This is because they see no future in Bangladesh. There is a small island state of Palau which gives visa to all visitors on arrival except two countries, and Bangladesh is one of those two nations. I do not think it is necessary to speak any more about these matters.
Corruption has become a way of life. The cost of road and bridge construction in Bangladesh is higher than any other country in the world. Projects are never accomplished in time. Cost estimates are revised several times until they reach 3 or 4 times of the original shown in the budget. Ruling party members have taken money from state-owned banks never to return. Now even the central bank has been robbed of millions. No wonder that BAL politicians are buying properties abroad. Money in Swiss bank account belonging to Bangladeshis has increased by 20% in last one year.
Law and order are now at its lowest ebb. Open the pages of newspapers. The first is some deaths in road accidents. The second news is the number of mass rape and serial killings. The third is the news of law enforcing authorities’ involvement in unlawful activities. The role of law enforcement authority in the killing of seven persons in Narayanganj is a case that brings shame to the country. The chief justice of the state eventually spoke in public about the administration. Those of us living abroad are scared of visiting Bangladesh.
The present government cannot be considered as a democratically elected government. The election was boycotted by the majority of the voters. I say so because the government party won majority seats before a single vote was cast. There must be a democratic environment for proper election. There has to be even playing ground. Opposition parties must have the freedom to hold meetings and rallies. The government party and its allied bodies such as Jubo-league, Chatra-league and Sramik-League can have all the freedom, but BNP cannot be permitted even for a single public meeting. This is not fair. This cannot go on like that. People will break this barrier but that will bring chaos and beak-down of law and order. So, why not do the right thing now and avoid the disaster.
I started this article by referring to Islam and peace. To establish peace we have to be more tolerant. Hatred and violence do not help. We have to respect each other’s feelings and view-points. We must remember perfection can only be achieved through criticism. Corruption, whether for money or power, must be eradicated. In Islam, it is “haram” (forbidden). We have to have freedom of expression, human rights, and dignity, justice, and equality. These are essential ingredients of a democratic society. Surely we can build a peaceful and prosperous Bangladesh. Let us work together to achieve that. Otherwise, hatred and violence will destroy us.
London, 30-June-2017 <[email protected]>