The Thriving Fascism and the Death of Democracy and Civil Rights in Bangladesh
Dr. Firoz Mahboob Kamal
The thriving fascism
Now fascism with all its brutal characteristics thrives in Bangladesh. Democracy and basic civil rights now live only in the graveyard. Hasina enjoyed enough time, power, and opportunities to show her talents and good deeds. But she took the other path. She showed her worst evils and criminal intentions against the people. She emerged as the worst form of the fascist rulers. Her government is the perfect showcase of state-run brutality, autocracy, corruption and misrule, The people of Bangladesh are closely observing such state-run crimes during her 14 years of long rule. The state institutions are fully weaponized to suppress and oppress the people.
Hasina stands effectively as the enemy of the state, the people, the democracy, and the basic human rights. So, the people no longer believe her as an honest ruler and a patriot. Hasina also knows her own crimes and people’s anger. So, she has her own strategy against the people. Therefore, de-empowering the people by taking away their voting is her key strategy. This is why she has taken full control of the electoral process. As a result, the members of the ruling clique can elect themselves through robbery of people’s votes. Such electoral rigging and robbery took place in elections in 2014 and 2018. Thus, the people of Bangladesh are deprived of their constitutional rights to elect their own representatives.
The robbery on votes
To stop free and fair elections, Hasina has abolished the Caretaker Government (CTG) Formula -the consensus formula that was endorsed by all parties in 1991. It was the outcome of a long political struggle. Previously, the election used to be held by the party in power. Hence the ruling party enjoyed all opportunities to rig the election in its favour. Free and fair national elections have been held on four occasions by the Caretaker Government since 1991. Because of its success, the political parties in Pakistan copied the same Bangladeshi CTG system. But while Hasina came in power in 2008, she abolished it despite strong opposition from all opposition political parties. She used a subservient Supreme Court judge named Abul Khair who abolished CTG formula as non-democratic by a casual remark in another non-relevant judgement. Thus, he opened avenues for Hasina to commit electoral rigging. Later, the same judge was awarded 10 lac Taka from the Prime Minister’s relief fund. That was published in the press.
Hasina is not in a mood to accept her electoral defeat. She understands that in any free and fair election, she has no chance of a victory. In previous elections, she was defeated in two constituencies by even two opposition lightweights. Since then, she has had tremendous election phobia. Therefore, she held an election only to rob it. The Election Commission stands ready only to endorse it as free and fair. The country’s police and judiciary stand silent, as if they have seen no wrong.
In the history of electoral robbery, Hasina has beaten even the records of the brutal dictators like Egyptian Abul Fatah al-Sissi and Syrian Bashar al-Asad. On 30 December 2018, ballots were cast by her police on the night before the election day. The crime was committed all over the country. Since the Police as an institution was complicit in the crime, so no case was registered against such a grotesque robbery. On that day, the genuine voters arriving at the polling stations were asked to return home as their votes were already casted. This was the level of Hasina’s arrogance and fraudulence against the people. Through such robbery, she could capture 293 parliament seats out of 300. In fact, she could easily take all 300. In the 2014 election, in 153 seats, there were no electoral booths; her party candidates were elected uncontested. Even 10 percent of voters didn’t cast their votes. This is Hasina’s style of election. And the Election Commission declared it free and fair. To avoid ratifying such electoral rigging, the opposition parties boycotted the election in 2014.
The destruction of institutions
Since Hasina captured power in 2008, she successfully destroyed the electoral system -the basic institution of democracy. Hence, the people no longer can exercise their voting rights. Not even the basic human rights. People arrested, tortured, and killed for even peaceful protest. Hundreds of Islamist people of the Hejat-e-Islami Party were killed on 5 May in 2013 in Dhaka for holding a peaceful rally. She has also successfully captivated the judiciary. She can hang or jail anybody if she likes. She easily hanged many leaders of Jama’at-e-Islami and Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP).
The Army and the Police personnels are no more than her private servants. They protect only her rule, not the people’s lives and their constitutional rights. The media now stands fully tamed. She has introduced a Digital Security Act to jail any critique of her government. Criticising her government is labelled as an anti-state act, hence get arrested and punished. For protesting the visit of the Indian Prime Minister, 16 people were killed by the police in the eastern district of Brahmanbaria. No one was arrested or punished for that acts of murders. The news on that massacre faced complete blackout. So, the news couldn’t get published in the print and electronic media.
The state: an institution of terror
The state of Bangladesh runs Death Squads constituted by Army and Police personnel. This is called RAB -the Rapid Action Battalion. These are the institutions for terrorising people to keep them submissive to Hasina’s fascist rule. They run hundreds of extra judicial killings and forced disappearances. The victims are the anti-government political activists, journalists, and the intellectuals. The RAB kidnaps people in dark nights without any court warrant. The whole country stays hostage to such Death Squads. They run horrendous torture cells inside the Dhaka cantonment. Torturing and killing people has become a state-run enterprise in Bangladesh. Some international media networks like Deutsche Welle, Al-Jazeera, Netro News published documentaries on such state-run institutions.
The police and the judiciary torture people in other ways. Hundreds of thousands of false cases are registered against the opposition leaders and workers. So, to avoid arrest, they go underground or leave the country to seek political asylum in foreign countries. Those who get arrested stay behind the bars for years without trial. They are also forced to pay huge amounts of bribes for getting a rightful bail.
Hasina: the viceroy of India
Hasina is not only the worst form of fascist, corrupt, and anti-Islamic thug, she has also made Bangladesh a perfect colony of India. She has given a free corridor to India to access its eastern 7 states. Hasina has given India access to the Bangladeshi ports. The country is the captive market of India. Most of the goods in a Bangladesh shop and in a household are Indians. Most vehicles like buses. trucks, scooters, bicycles come from India. Since about 10 million Bangladeshis live overseas, the per capita income and the purchasing power of a Bangladeshi is higher than an Indian. India can’t leave such a competition-free captive market. The market of Indian goods in Bangladesh is larger than the combined market in several populous Indian states like West Bengal, Assam, Bihar, and Orissa. To protect such Indian economic and security interests, Hasina works as the viceroy of the ruling clique of Delhi. So, India will do everything to protect her rule. They are ready to fight even a war-as fought in 1971. Therefore, fighting against Hasina is indeed fighting against India.
Hasina was installed through a rigged election in 2008 by a joint conspiracy of the USA, the UK and India to bulldoze Islamic resurgence in a country of 180 million. She was taken as a partner in the war on Islam. This is why when the Islamists in Bangladesh faced judicial and genocidal murder, these conspiratorial powers stated silent. Now she continues to enjoy full support of India, China, and Russia. Because these countries earn billions of dollars in the name of different development projects in Bangladesh. The Indian, the Chinese, and the Russian companies pay millions of dollars as kickbacks to Hasina and her cronies to get the contracts.
The next parliament election is in 2024. Hasina is preparing for another robbery on people’s votes. She can’t think of losing it. If she is out of power, she can’t escape the punishment for her numerous murderous crimes. So, for her own survival, she has no other option but to launch another robbery on people’s constitutional rights. It is indeed a great test for 180 million people of Bangladesh, how long they will tolerate such an enemy as the ruler. 09/04/2023.