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04th-Feb-2015

Don't make Bangladesh another Syria: Go for election

By MAINUL HOSEIN

The government that refuses to see a political crisis as  political  one and treats it as a law and order situation, makes it clear  that such a government will not be able to solve the problem but will worsen the law and order situation making life more unsafe and more miserable for all. That is what is happening to the peace-loving democratic-minded people of Bangladesh. We need more than the concerns expressed by our friends outside if we have to overcome this tragic crisis born of politics of arrogance and short sightedness.The common concern is that a serious political issue like legitimacy of the government when not treated politically both the government and the movement can easily go out of control of everybody. Weapons are not a problem for the extremists. One has to look at the situation prevailing in Syria. The country is in tatters for the attacks by the outside extremist forces and the civil war is continuing there for years together. Election is the most effective and peaceful democratic way to solve a political conflict. Everywhere people fight for their democratic rights. Though unfortunately more often such fights are extremely violent and the victims are always the innocent people.We, on our part, fought a war for democracy and thousands of innocent people lost their lives when the leaders crossed the borders for their safety. It is also not the spirit of the liberation war to resist election and deny people of their hard earned voting right. What is demanded of the leadership is not to be blinded by the state power available to them.It should not be difficult to those who believe in democracy that denial of free and fair election is not a law and order crisis requiring police to be tough.We are not looking for excuses to justify violence by any side, but we are anxious to emphasize the peaceful way available for ending death and destruction. Peace is not obtained by lies, there has to a just basis for it to last.The government is treating the opposition activities as crimes and its leaders and workers as criminals. So the security forces have been ordered to do everything at their free will to restore law and order.Not only the prime minister but also the president, who is to remain politically neutral, also jointly emboldened the high security officials to take every action needed to be taken to deal with the law and order situation.We have been appealing to the government that as the crisis is centering people's election it should rely more on people's power than on police power. The prime minister should better accept the challenge of election and get the opposition rejected by the people for 'all its alleged crimes against the people'.The opposition leaders are being branded by the government terrorists and murderers and it says forcefully that they have no public support. In that case, the people's court meaning free election should be the best way for publicly punishing them instead of uncertain police persecution.It is also a terrible misconception that by giving the security forces a free hand the government supporters will be successful in eliminating the opposition BNP. This is another delusion to be found among the power hungry authoritarians. It is they who brought civil wars in their madness to hang on to power.By some accounts, the security forces have arrested more than ten thousand BNP supporters on allegations of criminal activities including some leaders. Such arrests have become an everyday affair. The plain clothes persons are more dangerous as because there is no way of knowing who they are. With so much freedom allowed to the security officials, no one can be sure that the innocent people are not being easily harassed. Men, specially the young ones, are getting killed by security forces in crossfire or in pursuant to the 'shoot at sight' order.It is clear that the government is keen to arrest Begum Khaleda Zia, the leader of the 20 party alliances, and put her out of the way. She is already in virtual confinement for over a month with all communications network snapped. We understand that rampant corruption in the government has become its biggest liability for a reasonable solution. Yet, the best and safest option is a political solution reached through broad-based dialogue.The opposition claims that its call for hartal or countrywide blockade is to be observed peacefully. It holds the government responsible for using violence and killing for the purpose of misguiding the nation and discrediting the opposition. Our assessment is when despite all the pleas of businessmen and professionals along with the international community for the leaders to meet to solve the evolving deadly crisis, there is no response to move politically.The puzzle remains why all of us cannot say together to solve the problem through election as promised by the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina herself. It is the hypocrisy of otherwise decent and knowledgeable elite that has done unbelievable damage to our nation and the dangerous mess we are facing now. Sending vague and cleverly ambiguous appeals to the leaders cannot be fruitful.No dialogue, no peaceful public gatherings and above all no election cannot be the way of peace and political stability, so much needed in the greater interest of the country. We need to speak in one voice about the solution known to us all.