Logo
22nd-Aug-2015

When journalists are not treated as journalists and lawyers not as lawyers

By MAINUL HOSEIN

They cannot blame anybody but themselves for creating a situation where even the journalists and lawyers cannot be sure of their own professional protection under the law. They can be easily arrested and sent to police remand and even tortured despite the fact that we still have a democratic Constitution. The recent public confession about torture of a disabled journalist is a sorry story.The Constitution that now exists prohibits torture but it is perpetrated often starting with arrest. It is not unknown. But the higher authorities cast a blind eye pretending it is not happening. But there persists a general panic of torture derailing the criminal justice system as a whole.One eminent journalist and a highly placed union leader of the journalists Mr Shawkat Mahmud along with three lawyers have been arrested on different allegations on August 18. Among the lawyers arrested is a young woman barrister. The allegation against the lawyers is that they were financing the terrorists.It is highly unbelievable that the lawyers could have complicity with such a dangerous crime so callously by issuing cheques as evidence. Besides, they know it well that they will lose their right to practise law if convicted. But desperate people do desperate things. We have to wait for the trial to know the truth. We are for quick trial since the police claim to have unshakable evidence.Against Mr Shawkat Mahmud the allegation is that he threw cocktails at vehicles during BNP called mass movement. His connection with BNP is well-known yet a senior journalist like him could use cocktails for political protest defies credibility. So, here also we have to wait till we hear the other side at the trial.But we are not writing this narrative to discuss merit or otherwise of any particular case.We are alarmed at the evidence of desperation and fear of uncertainty everywhere in the country. There is a kind of extortion terrorism from which there is no escape. The police are left with the impossible task of managing the unruly politics of the country.When the lawyers and the journalists remain true to their professional obligations they are the faithful voice and power of the people. The rule of law and the rights of the individuals remain well-guarded for their safety. The political violence spreading by politics has to be ended by politics. The use of police power is only aggravating the situation.As they have chosen to be party activists so the lawyers and the journalists have also digressed from their unity of purpose. They are also divided and confrontational like the political parties. If some journalists criticise any action of the government then there are also pro-government journalists to oppose them. That is, the other group stands strongly in favour of the government.  It is a national misfortune to witness that the journalists and the lawyers are unable to uphold their professional loftiness.Where the journalists and lawyers cannot be relied upon to play their larger national role, the rule of law is not protected. We are seen as a nation without conscience for not coming forward in saving the people's life and liberty in a situation of grave lawlessness resulting from the mismanagement of the government.  So we are living with the anarchy of lawlessness and crimes of killing, rape, corruption and forced disappearances while the real situation is that we are evading our responsibilities to the people and the rule of law is mentioned only as rhetorical assertion.But the disgrace we must all face is that as a nation we are failing to protect our freedoms by being heartlessly unfaithful to the sacrifices of the people and the freedom fighters who fought for the cause of the freedoms to be protected under democracy.When the whole nation is in a leaderless trap, salvation lies in the institutional leadership undertaken collectively with patriotic dedication. The most important thing for peace and progress in the current depressed situation is to offer brave hope by competent people everywhere. The nation must be united for the common goal of the whole nation - justice in peace and not peace of the graveyard.