Tyranny of fascists in Bangladesh
Dr Firoz Mahboob Kamal
Demolition of democracy & tide of tyranny
Fascism has never been a sign of civilized living. It is a symbol of pure barbarity. It is the rule of political criminals who make robbery on people’s basic rights and annihilate all democratic values. In a democracy, power lies in the hand of people of all colors, races, and religions. The people execute the power through votes in elections, views in the media, rallies on the streets, and writing books or columns in the newspapers. But in fascism, such exercise of people’s power doesn’t exist. All tools of making opinions and influencing people are controlled by the despots. Fascism creates a milieu of immorality, oppression, dehumanization, and de-empowerment of the people. The despots in power execute the worst brutality to keep the people in tight control. This is why it is incompatible with the people of enlightenment, morality, and higher values. Bangladesh is in the grip of such a brutal rule of fascists Shaikh Hasina –the leader of Awami League. The people of Bangladesh suffered from the same fascism under Shaikh Mujiber Rahman –father of Shaikh Hasina in the first half of the seventies.
Shaikh Hasina –like her father Shaikh Mujib used and abused democratic rights to snatch people’s rights. Her party was defeated several times in fair elections. But fascists can’t tolerate electoral defeats, hence hate fair elections. This is why they take electoral tools into their own hands. Hence, after coming in power in 2008, Shaikh Hasina abolished the neutral caretaker government formula introduced in 1991. Institutions like impartial election commission, free participation in the election, free media, neutral state bureaucracy, basic human rights, and an independent judiciary are dismantled. The Army, the police, the election commission, and the party cadres were used to rob the general elections in 2014 and in 2018. She made it impossible to change the government in power through votes. Elections were used only to extend Hasina’s autocratic rule. In 2014, even 5 percent of people didn’t cast their votes and there was no polling booth in 153 constituencies of the parliament. But the enslaved Election Commission declared it a fair and legitimate election. On 30 December 2018, the ballot papers were robbed in the night before Election Day by the party hooligans and were cast in bulk in favor of Shaikh Hasina’s Awami League candidates. The Army and the police were deployed in the polling booth only to facilitate the robbery. Therefore the ruling fascists won in all seats except a few reserved for the pet opposition candidates.
Hasina runs the show of her own chosen model of democracy in Bangladesh. The absence of rule of law shows its awful manifestations in every nook and corner. The forced disappearances or extrajudicial killings of the political opponents, hanging of Islamist leaders by the fake judiciary, muzzling of the free press, closing independent TV channels, torturing people for protesting in the street, and impunity for the ruling party’s murderous hooligans are the new normal in Bangladesh. Laws are made and executed only to protect the ruling elites and punishing the opponents. Thousands of people are forced to take political asylum in foreign countries or to hide inside Bangladesh to avoid death or persecution in police custody.
The brutal fascism
The tribal barbarity never dies. It only changes its forms and brutality. It has returned back to Bangladesh with a new form and new intensity. It is Awami fascism. Instead of the supremacy and arrogance of an ancient pagan tribe, fascism is now practiced as the absolute supremacy and arrogance of a single political party. It doesn’t leave any space for other parties or beliefs. Here the rule of law doesn’t work; only the whims of the party leader get preference. Bangladesh’s 80 percent export earning comes from readymade garments. But the garment workers’ salary is lowest in the world. They are not allowed to do any trade union movement for better salary and improved working conditions A young man named Aminur Rahman faced forced disappearance –possibly death for attempting to organize garment workers.
Whenever human civilization makes some progress from fascism, the basic human rights and the rule of law return back. But for such civilizational progress, it requires some institutional build-up based on morality and higher human values. The human body can’t survive with non-functioning or dis-functioning vital organs like the heart, lung, liver, and brain. Similarly, a civilized society can’t survive with the absence of basic human rights and value-based institutions. This is why the right to free expression, the right to forming an organization, and the right of practicing religion are so vital for civilized living. Hence, free judiciary, impartial rule of law, free media, and unbiased state institutions are indispensable for it. But in Bangladesh, all such institutions are successfully dismantled. The imams are put behind the bar only for delivering sermons that don’t fit in Hasina’s political line. The media is allowed only to praise the government policy. Those who showed courage to reveal true stories either faced forced disappearance or death.
Like pagan beliefs, fascism survives only through the brutal forces of the power-addict rulers. It doesn’t possess any moral ground. They didn’t allow even the most peaceful man like Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) to preach Islam. They enforce their own sovereignty. Pharaoh is a classic prototype of such rulers. Mujib and Hasina appeared as mini Pharaohs in Bangladesh. Statues of Shaikh Mujib are installed to demand neck bending submission to his political and ideological narratives. Putting a floral wreath on the feet of his statues is taken as a marker of such submission. Idols are no more the stuff of temples; these are brought to streets, squares, and doorsteps of schools, colleges, and other public premises to make statue-worshipping a popular culture in Bangladesh. Thus, fascism has built a new cultural and ideological milieu that is 180 degrees opposite to the Muslims’ faith. Because of such ideological and political enslavement, fascism makes it impossible for a Muslim to grow up as a true Muslim. Enforced allegiance to autocrat indeed works as a bar to submission to Allah Subhana wa Ta’la. In fact, allegiance to an autocrat makes people slavish soldiers fighting for his or her cause and turn inimical to Islam. This is why those who are aligned with fascist Hasina show stern enmity against Islam and the Islamists.
The calamity of Awami immorality
Those who are the power-addict, find morality a big barrier against their whims. Therefore, they drop it in the bin on day one of their political careers. As a result, moral deprivation or immorality is the most distinctive element in their character. Because of such moral deprivation, Shaikh Mujib could easily bury multi-party democracy and impose a one-party brutal dictatorship. He didn’t hesitate to betray his own electoral promise of democracy. Shaikh Hasina showed the same betrayal against the caretaker government. When she was out of power, she fought for it. But when in power, she abolished it. In both situations, addiction to power was the guiding force and not morality. Whereas, holding the parliamentary election under a caretaker government was the consensus formula of all political parties in Bangladesh –adopted in 1991. It has its historical background. Since party-based government repeatedly failed to hold fair elections, an election under a caretaker government was preferred as the only option by all the political parties including the Awami League. Under such a caretaker government, elections were successfully held in 1991, 1996, and 2000. There was no post-election complaint against the fairness of the election. Such a successful experiment of the caretaker government indeed encouraged other countries like Pakistan to think about it.
Moreover, the constitutional legality of such a caretaker government was never challenged by any political leader, nor by any legal expert. Even Shaikh Hasina couldn’t openly raise any objection against it. She could take only a deceitful secretive route by using Chief Justice Abul Khair to abolish it. It is significant to note that even three previous Supreme Court Chief Justices didn’t consider it illegal to head the caretaker government. But Chief Justice Abul Khair unsettled the settled issue and opened the door of serious political instability in the country. He indeed served the agenda of power-hungry fascists. He was so desperate to serve his presumed beneficiary that nobody needed to ask him to deliver a judgment on it. In an unrelated non-constitutional litigation, he jumped on the issue of caretaker government and abolished it by making a casual remark on its constitutional legality. He didn’t allow any legal experts to make any argument on the subject. Whatever he had in his mind was announced as a final Supreme Court verdict. Thus, Shaikh Hasina was given a green signal to go ahead with her agenda. Later on, it came to the press that the same Abul Khair took one million Taka from Prime Minister Shaikh Hasina’s Relief Fund.
Now, there exists little doubt about the real beneficiary of his judgment. It gave the sitting Prime Minister Shaikh Hasina the opportunity to engineer an election coup in 2014. Thus it shows how the highest court of the country can be complicit to promote evil agenda of a power-addict autocrat. In such a forged election, Hasina didn’t need to launch any tiresome election campaign. Nor did she need to open polling booth in more than half of the country. She could easily manufacture a victory for her party only by appointing a compliant Election Commissioner and using the servile administrative machinery. And in December 2018, the enslaved electoral machinery helped her to make country-wide robbery on ballot papers. Through such election engineering the victory is so guaranteed for the ruling party that the party stalwarts could openly claim that Shaikh Hasina will stay in power till her death.
In fascism, sovereignty belongs only to the ruler. The people are made only tax-paying powerless subjects. In the name of election what gets imposed on the people is not democracy but slavery unto the ruler. In fact, the people of Bangladesh is now experiencing such a political slavery. In the past, Hasina met electoral defeats on multiple occasions. Since she couldn’t manipulate the election as the head of the government, she had to swallow those defeats. After the abolition of care-taker government, the whole election process has become a selection process to benefit the ruling dictator. In the past, no one could defeat even the most unpopular dictator like General (rtd) Ershad in any election while he was in power. Now, who can dare defeat Shaikh Hasina and her party while she is in power?
Bangladesh is back to square one. The people have to start afresh and a very difficult journey for democracy. Without a functioning heart, how can a body survive? How can democracy survive without a fair and free election? Here lies the crux of the whole political pathology of Bangladesh. As a result, the confrontational politics between the illegitimate fascist government and the democratic opposition forces stay as the permanent feature. The country thus enters into a war-like situation. Like drug addiction, power addiction also kills common sense. Because of that, the ruling Awami League leader fails to understand the simple fact that fake or robbed elections –even if held ten times, can’t solve the problem. It can only aggravate the crisis. Such an election can only cause a huge wastage of money.
Shaikh Hasina and her cronies also talk about democracy. But they conveniently forget that free and fair election is its lifeline. In the absence of a free election, democracy also dies. Then, the people are deprived of any tool to punish the government for its wrongdoing. As a result, the ruling party feels unaccountable and freely engages in corruption, atrocities, vote-rigging, and other barbaric evils without any fear. The people may have huge anger, but stand helpless to change the government. As a result, the government can freely use judicial and extrajudicial killing, torture, imprisonment, enforced disappearance, and politically motivated criminal cases to eliminate the political opponents. This is why under the rule of Shaikh Hasina, the killing and enforced disappearance of the opposition leaders is so rampant. and public meetings, free press, free election, and fair judiciary stand as a rarity. The government is using its weaponized media to smear the defiant leaders. Whoever exposes the government’s wrongdoings meets with harsh punishment or even faces death. The enslaved media is left with no option other than to support the government policies.
Elimination of fascism: an urgency
Islam makes people incompatible with the political and ideological project of autocrats. Autocrats never leave any space for Islam to play a political, ideological, and cultural role. Islam is kept captive within rituals. Hence, it is heinous treason against the Almighty Allah if a Muslim invests the Allah-given endowments in the service of any autocrat that restricts the practice of full Islam. In order to promote an Islamic cause, it needs a promotive environment. Therefore, the elimination of fascists is an indispensable Islamic necessity. It is an Islamic obligation on every Muslim that he must deploy his physical, moral, spiritual, and intellectual abilities to promote the cause of Allah Sub’hana wa Ta’la. This is why the history of Islam is the history of fighting against the autocrats. Through ages, it has always been the moral and ideological binding on every Muslim either to dismantle the autocratic rule and build an Islamic state or migrate from a devilish prison-state to a safer place –as did Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and his companions. It is indeed the greatest political sunnah (legacy) of the Prophet (peace be upon him) that shows how to play a civilizational role for mankind and please Allah Subhana wa Ta’la. In fact, such a prophetic legacy (Sunnah) made the Muslims the greatest civilizational power in the whole human history. It is indeed the gravest crime of an autocrat that puts a bar against such a great civilization march.
The only option
Holding a fair election is not space science. Even a country like Pakistan, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives can do that. It only needs an element of morality. But the fascist Awami League leader Hasina doesn’t have that. She feeds only on sadistic perversion. That creates a real crisis in Bangladesh. The fascists can never run a democracy. They are trained only to run brutal autocracy. It also a historical fact that fascists were never defeated by votes in any part of the world. Robbing or rigging the election is the craft they can claim expertise in that. So, killer Bashar al-Assad of Syria could manage 95 percent votes in the election. Hosni Mubarak of Egypt could get 98 percent of the votes. And Shaikh Hasina can win almost all seats in the parliament –as she did in the 2018 election. There are defeated only by people’s revolution. There exists no other option.
Now it is the time to change the vocabulary. Those who rob people’s voting rights and stay in power by the brutal force of the Army and the Police must be labeled as terrorists. Those who fight these terrorists must be applauded as freedom fighters. A fascist regime never gets support from the people. They survive only on the support of foreign countries. Shaikh Hasina enjoys such support. India, the USA, and the European countries now severely suffer from Islamophobia. Shaikh Hasina understands this western pathology and is taking full benefit of that. She smears the main opposition parties as to the promoter of Islamic extremism cum terrorism. She takes those lies to the foreign camps. She thinks such lies will help remove her own illegitimacy and allure the world powers to support her. On 28th May 2018, her government convened the foreign diplomats at Dhaka. She gave them a lecture eulogizing her own project and maligning the opposition. She manipulates the Islamophobia of the non-Muslims in western countries to pull them to her side. Her harsh policies towards the Islamic parties are projected as saleable credentials.
It is also true that the USA and its European allies have little love for democracy. Rather their love for autocrats and fascists is quite robust. So the brutal king of Saudi Arabia, the killer General Abdel Fateh Sissi of Egypt and the autocrats of the Gulf States thrive on their love. Their hatred is mostly against the Islamists –even if they are elected by popular votes. So in the Muslim countries, the USA and its allies are the real obstacles in the path of democracy. Bangladesh is not an exception either. Very recently, a population survey was conducted by Democratic Alliance Foundation on 50 thousand people in 53 countries. The majority of the respondents opined that the USA and its allies are the main obstacles in the path of democracy in the world. By dismantling the democratic process in Egypt, Algeria, and Palestine and rolling back the Arab Spring, the USA and its allies gave ample testimony to that. The democratic forces of Bangladesh must understand this stern reality. So the people of Bangladesh must fight their own battle. About 90 percent of the people of Bangladesh are deadly against fascist Hasina. No civilized citizen supports her evil rule. She is surviving only because of the disunity of the people. If the people stand united on the street, she will not find even a road to flee. Her foreign friends will not be able to protect her. 21.06.2021