Militant could potentially undermine Bangladeshi government

Thousands of people had been greatly affected in the strike made by opposition

The government has been extremely focused in trying to counter antigovernment protesters in Bangladesh. The protesters had been able to instill fear and cause anger against the government. This is because of the undying support of protesters to the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalis Party and its ally, the Jamaat-e-Islami. The protests could create an opening for militant extremism. More than 100 people have died since January, when the two opposition party took to the streets to call for the early elections. Police have arrested thousands of activists and banned the opposition groups from holding demonstrations. The opposition has defied that ban, leading to clashes across the country.As police respond to the violent protests with tactics that critics allege include stifling political speech and carrying out extrajudicial killings, rights advocates fear that militant groups could be better positioned to attract new recruits from among embittered opposition sympathizers in this country long known as a bastion of moderate Islam.

Protests were initiated by Bangladesh Nationalist Party and Jamaat-e-Islami

It is typical that whenever democracy is undermined, militancy could rise. There has been little space for dissent in Bangladesh. The government consistently denied the curbing of political speech or carrying out extrajudicial killings. The government discussed how they are open for peaceful and democratic political activities but would crack down anarchy and terrorist activities. The Inspector General of Bangladesh’s national police, Shahidul Hoque, said security forces only open fire in self-defense. In recent weeks, police have announced the discovery of several weapons caches they say are linked to the Jamaat’ul Mujahideen Bangladesh, a banned militant group blamed for a series of bomb attacks on courts, cinemas and malls in 2002. They fear the group could be making a comeback, after India late last year arrested several people who its police said were JMB members following an explosion in a state bordering Bangladesh. This has been an extremely alarming information as violence continue to exist and looks like that it would not stop any sooner.

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Escalating violence in Bangladesh

Protests are doing out of control

The fight between Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and longtime rival Khaleda Zia have further worsen as both sides don’t want to back down against each other. The violence has already escalated in Bangladesh, workmen reinforced the headquarters of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party, adding coils of barbed wire to the eight foot high walls surrounding the compound. The feud between two top politicians has thrown parts of the country into upheaval, with street clashes, fire bombings and shootouts killing more than 80 people since early January and raise doubts about Bangladesh’s ability to sustain recent economic gains. There have been about 20 opposition activists killed in encounters that police describe as shootouts but some human rights groups say they are extrajudicial killings. The escalating violence over the past month stems from a dispute over the legitimacy of last year’s national election, which was boycotted by opposition parties. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her Awami League have shown no signs of backing down, nor has her longtime rival, Khaleda Zia, leader of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party.

 

Khaleda Zia speaking in the parliament

Ms. Zia has urged her supporters to protest against the administration with general strikes and blockades of all road, rail and waterborne traffic, saying government restrictions on other forms of dissent leave them with no other options. The government has imprisoned thousands of opposition supporters. Ms. Zia said that she doesn’t want to put Bangladesh into a one party rule hiding under the guise of democracy. Ms. Hasina fought back and branded the opposition leader as a murderer and terrorist. She had blamed the opposition for more than 50 deaths that resulted from attacks on public transport since the turmoil began. The opposition denied their participation for the deaths and accuses the government for trying to sabotage their reputation. The violence has been a mix of personal animosity between the two leaders and deep divisions over national identity in the Muslim majority country.

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Feud of Hasina and Zia

There has been a lot of protests by opposition party supporters

The feud between Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina of Awami League and longtime political rival Khaleda Zia, leader of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party, has caused violence to escalate in Bangladesh. In fact some workmen reinforced the headquarters of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party, adding coils of barbed wire to the 8-foot-high walls surrounding the compound. There have been so many street clashes, firebombings and shootouts killing more than 80 people since early January. It would be difficult for Bangladesh to sustain the recent economic gains they have experienced due to this violence. Khaleda Zia even called for her supporters to protest against the administration with general strikes and blockades of all road, rail and waterborne traffic, saying government restrictions on other forms of dissent leave them with no other options. The government has imprisoned thousands of opposition supporters. The reason why the former prime minister is urging her supporter to do this is the fact that Hasina has been trying to target opposition party officials and trying to dominate the political scene in Bangladesh.

 

Hasina has been targeting the Opposition Party

Prime Minister Hasina has denounced the BNP leader and blamed her for more than 50 deaths that resulted from attacks on public transport since the turmoil began. She even branded Zia as “terrorist”. The BNP has denied responsibility for the deaths and accuses pro-government provocateurs of trying to sabotage its movement by instigating violence. Fueling the violence is a mix of personal animosity between the two leaders and deep divisions over national identity in this Muslim-majority country, which won independence from Pakistan in 1971. It would be dangerous for Bangladesh to continue experiencing violence for it may allow a wider acceptance of extremism which could undermine the democratic order. The BNP is allied with the Islamist Jamaat-e-Islami party, which sided with the Pakistani government and opposed the creation of a separate Bangladesh in 1971. Nine members of Jamaat-e-Islami have been convicted in war-crimes trials initiated by Ms. Hasina.

Images by Reuters and Newsweek Pakistan

 

Khaleda Zia released from her office

Police stationed outside Khaleda Zia's office

Police stationed outside Khaleda Zia’s office

Khaleda Zia was arrested by the government due to her said contribution of inciting violence all over Bangladesh. The key opposition figure sparked riots after her arrest last January 6. She has been confined for 16 days. The riots that occurred left 27 people dead. After her release, the Bangladesh Nationalist party vowed to continue a nationwide transport blockade. The reason why Khaleda Zia got barred from leaving her office for the last 16 days is to prevent her from leading protests aim at toppling her rival Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. The government wanted to weaken the protest by not letting its primary leader rally alongside with them. The multiple policemen stationed outside Zia’s office in Dhaka’s upmarket Gulshan district stood down while police vans and water cannon parked outside were removed. The local police chief Rafiqul Islam also said that additional police officers who are guarding Khaleda had been withdrawn from her office after midnight. He said how the former prime minister is free to leave from the premises.

 

Khaleda Zia

Khaleda Zia

Ever since her arrest thousands of protesters have caused violence in Bangladesh. The blockade created by the government has made opposition activists firebomb buses, cars and lorries across the country. The police responded to such violence by firing bullets and tear gas. It looks like the opposition party is not going to back down from the government. They are determined into getting what they want. In fact according to the party spokesman “The BNP-led 20-party opposition alliance’s transport blockade will continue until the government agrees to our demand”. Despite the release of their dear leader, the opposition party will continuously call for another elections in order to remove Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina from the office. Transport operators estimate they are losing $26 million a day, while millions of dollars worth of crops have rotted in the fields.

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Bangladesh government arrest Khaleda Zia

Khaleda Zia

Khaleda Zia

The secretary general of Bangladesh Nationalist Party, Khaleda Zia, was arrested amid protests marking anniversary of controversial polls. Bangladesh was able to arrest a key opposition figure that initiated an opposition protests. This forced the government into deploying thousands of police in order to contain the tensions arising in the country. The arrest on January 6 of Mirza Fakrul Islam Alamgir, acting secretary general of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), happened after four activists were killed in clashes with supporters of the ruling Awami League.

Alamgir was arrested out of the National Press Club in the capital Dhaka, where he had taken shelter mentioned by the police. He has been hiding in that place however authorities were able to obtain a leak on his whereabouts. According to police official Mashiur Rahman “He was arrested in specific cases”. The police officials were vague about what exactly the reason why he was arrested. They just immediately detained him in a facility.

Prime Minister Sheikh   Hasina

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina

The administration of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has made its agenda to crackdown displays of anti-government sentiment in Dhaka as BNP leader Khaleda Zia stepped up calls for fresh election. The government wanted to shun down the proposal of the opposition. They deemed it necessary to crackdown-involved people in order to provide security for the country. The police force however has been rude to protesters everywhere. They have been using teargas and rubber bullets to scatter protesters in Dhaka and elsewhere. However the police officials defended their action by saying “We had to use teargas and rubber bullets to disperse opposition activists after they smashed nearly a dozen vehicles and set off blasts”. Such justification of Khayril Fazal, a police official in the northeastern district of Sylhet, is unacceptable for the people just voicing out their dissent against the government. Bangladesh authorities threatened to bring murder charges against Zia because of her call to re-elect inciting violence nationwide.

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Bangladesh improvement on education

Bangladesh has increased female literacy

Bangladesh has increased female literacy

Bangladesh has been considered the world’s most densely populated country. It houses about 157 million people wherein 47 million people are still living under the poverty line. The country is at a great disadvantage due to being vulnerable from environmental calamities such as flooding and cyclones. However the country has been able to successfully get over such disadvantage for the past few years due to the reduction of poverty by a third, achieving gender parity in primary and secondary education and cutting its maternal mortality rate by 40 percent. The government successfully get the country to be sustainable. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina ensures that there are program directly targeting the vulnerable sector of the community.

 

Teachers are assessed in order to ensure quality of education given

Teachers are assessed in order to ensure quality of education given

World Bank Group has been assisting the country for the improvement on the implementation of government programs. The World Bank has financed conditional cash transfer program that assists young girls into going to school. Such groundbreaking program helped increase the female literacy. Just recently, the World Bank has been able to give out $400 million to support all level of educational program. The World Bank is not the only the group assisting Bangladesh but there are other groups as we’ll such as the Asian Development Bank and the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development. This pressures the government into ensuring that all the funds would be directly given to the people suffering in poverty. In fact the government has committed into giving a better learning for the 19 million children in its primary schools. Such goal ensures the nation’s future will be better. Non-Government Organizations assist in the improvement of the curriculum and implementation of guidelines. One of the NGOs working with the government is the Save the Children. The teachers are also being improved on by the program wherein they undergo national assessment and even increasing the number of teaching institutions.

Images by Dhaka Insider and Bangladesh Result

War criminal convicted of death

Nazami was sentenced to death by the tribunal

Nazami was sentenced to death by the tribunal

Motiur Rahman Nizami was sentenced by the International Crimes Tribunal to get hang. Motiur is known to be the leader of Jamaat-e-Islami, which is the main Islamic party in the country. The charges filed to him were murder, rape and looting as a pro-Pakistani militia leader during the country’s secession from Pakistan in 1971. The tribunal was created by current Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina of the Awami League. Ever since the tribunal was put up by the political party of Sheikh Hasina, it was only the case of Mr. Nizami that got resolved. He became the first war-crimes verdict after the re-election of Hasina.

The decision of the court came after the death of another high-profile defendant at the tribunal, Ghulam Azam. He was known for promoting Saudi Arabian strand of Islam in some secular place in Bangladesh. He used to be the leader of Jamaat in 1971. Some say that his last wish was for either Mr Nizami and another war-crimes convict, Delwar Hossain Sayadee to conduct final prayers. Unfortunately his wish was not been able to be met.

Prime Minister Sheikh   Hasina ensure the conviction of war criminals

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina ensure the conviction of war criminals

The Awami League has been working hard in trying to preserve the memory of the war of independence. Pakistani army was the one who caused violent attacks against the Bangladeshis seeking independence. Due to the major participation of Mr. Azam and Mr. Nizami, the Awami League aimed on prosecuting them. They are known for opposing the idea of independence for Bangladesh thus assisting Pakistani soldiers in preventing such thing from happening. The Jamaat group has in fact played a role in abducting, killing academics and journalists. Lawyers of Azam want to appeal to the court however it would take two years to complete such process. Sheikh Hasina has been satisfied over the progress of the trial against the two defendants. Such significant event could now be added to her credentials.

Images by Amir Abdullah and Getty Images

Bangladeshi politicians answer to climate change

Bangladesh easily affected by climate change

Bangladesh easily affected by climate change

Politicians in Bangladesh have been trying to improve their climate change mitigation policies. The prime minister and a number of ministers are all working on enacting a policy, which could contribute in the resolving the problems in climate change. Despite such efforts of politicians in trying to educate the public the necessity to resolve this issue, the private sector is still not interested in lending their hands to the government. Bangladeshi government already distributed half a billion US dollars in addressing climate change throughout the country. The focus of this policies are supporting of the adaptation measures to manage the risks of adverse impacts due to climate change and some supporting the reduction of emission of greenhouse gases.

Bangladeshi government focus on risk reduction

Bangladeshi government focus on risk reduction

The decision of Bangladesh to focus on adaptation rather than mitigation has been applauded by critics in the country. Some however disagree with such focus because it is quite important for Bangladesh to redouble its efforts to get a global agreement that will assist them in doing their mitigation efforts. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a report wherein it assessed the various GHG emissions in the world. They urge that the government should do something about the reduction of GHG emissions. They said that the temperature would reach nearly 4 degrees Centigrade by the end of the century if it were not brought down soon. Thus it would greatly affect Bangladesh especially the country is vulnerable from such changes in the climate.

Although the efforts of Bangladesh government to focus on adaptation is commendable, it is also important for them to continuously work on trying to persuade the international community to step up their efforts in resolving the problems in climate change. This would ensure that the policies being passed by the government is not put into a waste because of the inability of the international community to follow what is necessary.

Images by Sumaiya Ahmed and WWF

Prime Minister Hasina shuns BP

PM Hasina ruled out the possibility of midterm elections

PM Hasina ruled out the possibility of midterm elections

Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has dismissed the possibility of conducting midterm election. She claims that it is not necessary for her to meet with the representatives of the Bangladeshist National Party (BNP). The BNP held a nationwide 48 hour strike in the last elections held in January. Khaleda Zia initiated the boycott. She thinks that she was put in a house arrest by the government. She is known to be the main political enemy of Prime Minister Hasina. They had been alternating the leadership for the government to opposition for the past two decades.

 

The BNP has protested over the change of election rules by the Hasina administration. Elections in Bangladesh have been conducted by a neutral caretaker since 1991. Such arrangement was made in order to ensure the fairness of the election. However the Awami League, political party of Hasina, decided to abolish such policy last 2010. Despite the persistence of the government to the BNP to take part in the elections, they still decided to boycott it. This made the administration of Hasina not open for any resolution over the matter.

Padma Bridge is set to be the biggest rail-road bridge in the history of Bangladesh

Padma Bridge is set to be the biggest rail-road bridge in the history of Bangladesh

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is currently focused in trying to eliminate corruption allegations towards her government. Such allegations were made due to the halting of World Bank in  trying to fund the Padma bridge. Hasina defended her administration and pledge that the government doesn’t allow any corruption practices. The advancement in the economy and education is a proof of the corruption free government. Hasina dismissed a coalition between the Awami League and Jamaat-e-Islami on the war criminal issue. The issue surfaced because of the reduced punishment obtained by war criminal Delwar Hossin Sayadee. He was able to get life imprisonment instead of death penalty. Hasina defended the integrity of the Supreme Court by saying that the judiciary had no unnecessary influence. She even boasted how the government has tried war criminals.

 

Images by Tazakhobor and Bangladesh Moves

General Election of Bangladesh, 2014

The Bangladesh General elections was held this year, particularly last January 5, 2014. It was considered as one of the most controversial elections of the decade. The election was dominated by the Awami League, since its candidates were deemed victors in one hundred twenty seven of the one hundred fifty four seats. Many boycotted the elections, giving the Awami League a lot of win by default. Of the remaining uncontested seats, the Jatiya Party led by Rowshan Ershad won 20, the JSD won three, the Workers Party won two and the Jatiya Party (Manju) won one.

Atleast 18 were killed in the election

Atleast 18 were killed in the election

During Election Day, the turnout of voters was only 22%. Hence, it was not only the candidates that boycotted the election but even voters themselves. Results of 139 seats out of 147 were released, with the Awami League winning 105, the Jatiya Party winning 13, the Workers Party winning four, the JSD winning two and the Tarikat Federation and BNF winning one each.

On January 9, just four days after the elections, the winning candidates sworn in to power in front of their supporters.

Awami League candidate and current Prime Minsiter Sheikh Hasina said that the boycott should “not mean there will be a question of legitimacy. People participated in the poll and other parties participated.”

She also said that she offered her rival, Zia, a role in the government “Look, I tried my best, I told you, I offered ministry, I offered to share power with our opposition. I have done as much as I can do but they didn’t respond. Now if they realize that they made a mistake in not participating in the election, perhaps then they may come forward to discuss with us or make an offer. If they come forward to discuss with us, they have to leave all these terrorist activities behind because what they are doing it is absolutely killing people, killing police, killing innocent people.”

Shiek Hasina, the Prime Minister

Shiek Hasina, the Prime Minister

Image from Dailystar and Wikipedia