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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 1590

The Revolution Has Begun In Bangladesh

By Rashidul Bari

The revolution in Bangladesh began a month after the release of my new book, “Grameen Social Business Model: A Manifesto for Proletariat Revolution”.

Syeda Papia, a lawmaker from the opposition Bangladesh National Party, threw both her shoes at Justice Gobinda Chandra Tagore — who is better known as the “ pet justice” — in the hope of correcting his behavior. “This is from the people of Bangladesh, you dog of Hasina,” Papia yelled in Bengali as she aimed her first shoe at him.

I praise protests of this sort, even though some might deplore them. Perhaps this is because they fail to notice the concerns that made Papia — who can deservedly be known as Bangladesh’s very own Rosa Parks, the African-American civil-rights activist who began the battle for equality in the 1950s — take action. It is unfortunate that Papia protested by throwing her shoes at the judge in a packed court and yes, it is unfortunate that protests of this kind are taking place all over Bangladesh, but what is even more unfortunate is that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has left the people with no other alternative.

First, Hasina unleashed the followers of Awami League on Khaleda Zia, the opposition leader, with Mahbubul Alam Hanif playing the part of the chief “barking dog”. The attack began with her being evicted from her own home. It should be noted that Khaleda had been living in this cantonment house for 38 years, since the days when her husband Ziaur Rahman, who later became president, was deputy chief of the army. After his assassination in 1981, the then-President Ershad allotted Khaleda this house. However, in 2009, Hasina declared that this allotment was illegal and used the High Court to justify her decision. On November 12, 2010, Hasina unleashed her police forces, who forcibly threw Khaleda out of her home. Briefing journalists at her Gulshan office, a tearful Khaleda said: “I was dragged out and forced to get in the car.” This action was illegal and unprecedented. Yet, Khaleda invited Hasina to her Iftar party recently, but the latter refused, thus rejecting the offer to engage in good faith negotiations.

After successfully evicting Khaleda, Hasina decided to belittle the nation’s one and only Nobel Laureate, Muhammad Yunus. She accused him of “sucking the blood of poor people” and told the state-owned Bangladesh Bank to help destroy him. Ironically, Yunus had founded the central bank in 1983. Hasina then unleashed her corrupt ministers to take part in Yunus’ character assassination, with AMA Mohith acting as head of the propaganda team. The final blow came on March 3, 2011, when the central bank removed Yunus from the board of the Grameen Bank. Hasina once again used her “pet-shop” — the High Court — to justify this decision.

After successfully assassinating the public images of Khaleda and Yunus, Hasina then made the Parliament play a puppet’s role in removing the “caretaker system” from the Constitution so she could be guaranteed a victory in the next election. Under the caretaker system, introduced in 1991, the general elections can be overseen by a non-partisan caretaker government. Hasina, instead, unleashed her “pet” MPs to change the Constitution, with Suranjit Sengupta acting as the “chief pet”. The final blow came on June 30, 2011, when the Parliament passed the fifteenth amendment to the Constitution, thereby scrapping the caretaker government system.

It seems like all the state institutions in Bangladesh, like the central bank, the High Court and Parliament, have become pet dogs sleeping at their owner, Hasina’s, feet. Therefore, I had no alternative but to ask the people of Bangladesh to take direct action and correct the behavior of their so-called leaders.

This direct action started on July 13, 2011, a month after my new book hit the stands. That was when Khaleda said the fifteenth amendment had turned the Constitution into a manifesto for the Awami League, which would throw the Constitution into the trash. Yesterday, Justice Gobinda Tagore, Hasina’s most loyal “pet dog”, condemned Khaleda and called her statement seditious. Earlier, this same justice had declared that Nobel Laureate Yunus was a common thief. Tagore implied that just because the Bangladesh Bank did not take action against Yunus 10 years earlier, it did not necessarily mean that it could not take action now. “If a thief steals something while the household sleeps, does that mean the household will never bring him to justice?” he said.

In reality, the High Court and the Parliament should have condemned Hasina for forcibly evicting Khaleda from her own home and for removing Yunus from his own organization. Instead, these “dogs” jumped on Yunus and Khaleda in order to protect their master, Hasina. It seems as if the High Court and Parliament are not willing to correct the government’s mistakes; instead, they will do anything, at any cost, to make the regime happy. Our justices and MPs suffer from the problem of mental slavery. Hence, in my new book, I call on the people to take direct action.

My call for action gathered speed when Papia hurled her shoes at Tagore, in a move that will hopefully transform him from a pet dog to a bona-fide judge. Though Hasina’s “dogs” arrested Papia and threw her in a jail cell, it will not prevent others from following her path.

Half a century ago, women were taught that they were men’s property. “It was the order of nature for women to obey men,” wrote Jean Jacques Rousseau. Rosa Parks reversed this on December 1, 1955, and since then women have been holding up half of the sky. Like Parks, Papia’s actions will not only lead to the birth of thousands more like her to reverse the behavior of Hasina and her “pet dogs”, but will also help overthrow her corrupt regime. So, let the proletariat revolution proceed.

Rashidul Bari most recently authored “Grameen Social Business Model: A Manifesto For Proletariat Revolution”.

- Asian Tribune -

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