Monday, March 12, 2012

Blatant coercion to thwart BNP rally

                  AL elected to govern, not to suppress the opposition

Yesterday we witnessed the naked and blatant use of not only the state's coercive machinery but also of the AL's party goons to thwart the BNP rally by infusing fear and panic in the minds of the public. Not only RAB and the police but also its party cadres were found preventing free movement of transport and people on the roads and highways and on the riverine routes, by force. It was shocking to see party goons empowered to coerce, harass and assault political opponents. 

In trying to project its so-called strength, and by bringing the country to a standstill practically by an undeclared hartal by the government, and by putting the capital practically under siege, the AL has only exposed its weakness. 

Would we be remiss to ask the government to explain why the public transport systems were off the road when even during the times of opposition-called strikes these are made to operate, sometimes with police protection to show that the hartal was unsuccessful? There is very little the public can do when the government calls hartal. 

We protest in the strongest possible terms the government's attitude of going to any length in exerting power so as not to allow any political space whatsoever to the BNP. And we protest also the fact that the media, particularly the electronic, were prevented from performing their task properly. 

The way the issue was handled doesn't speak much of the AL's political acumen. The party that came to power with 4/5th majority three years ago is now unwilling to permit a legitimate opposition to organise any mass activity. And in the process of thwarting the BNP by the use of brute power the public have been made to undergo not only humiliation but prevented from carrying out their day to day activity for the last three days. 

The AL's actions, attitude and talk do little credit to the credentials of a political party with a long tradition of struggle for democracy and people's political rights. All their talk of being the upholder of democratic principles has been made to sound hollow by the way they have handled the issue. 

We have been equally surprised by the shameless, blatant and cynical distortion of facts by some senior government and party stalwarts. They have exposed a convoluted mind by trying to paint a completely different picture than what we have been seeing and reading in the media. In doing so they are only fooling themselves, not the people. In the process there is a sever erosion of public confidence and trust in the leaders. 

We would like the AL to realise that it has been elected to govern and not to suppress the opposition.