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Thoughts on BAKSAL, Mahmudur Rahman and the media
Sunday, 27 January 2013
The first Awami regime after the birth of Bangladesh introduced a one-party political system in the country by banning all other political groups and shutting down all opposition news outlets. This is a fact and not a fiction. That regime committed a criminal act and waged a war against democracy, for which Awami League has never apologized. People of the country including those belonging to Awami League know this very well.

The political strategy the current Awami regime is following gives us a clear signal that Sheikh Hasina’s government wants to remain in power for a very long time by re-establishing the one-party political system in Bangladesh; and that is why she is stifling political dissents and disallowing opposition rallies, which she may dare to believe will lead to the perpetual rule of her party.

Despite this blatant undemocratic stance of Awami League, both domestic and foreign media are largely silent about Awami brutalities. Since the media largely influence public opinion, people of the country are thus kept in oblivion about the fascist nature of the current regime in Bangladesh. What a section of media usually highlights, for example, is Jamaat-e-Islam’s political stance of 1971 in favour of a united Pakistan. After about four decades of the liberation of Bangladesh, Jamaat’s political stance in 1971 can be interpreted in two ways: firstly, it was totally wrong to espouse to retain a united Pakistan given all the inequalities that existed between West Pakistan and East Pakistan; secondly, the way Indian BSF personnel are killing hundreds of Bangladeshis every year and given other Indian economic and political exploitations of Bangladesh may vindicate the Jamaat fear of 1971 that a Bangladesh axed from Pakistan would be subject to Indian hostilities, which is actually the present day reality. However, this is a matter of political and historical analysis and should be done in an academic way.

Nonetheless, if Jamaat’s stance was wrong (and I believe it was), it can also be interpreted as its right to hold a political opinion. What is important to note is that Jamaat leaders have wholeheartedly accepted Bangladesh and shown loyalty to the state. I do not know any Jamaat leader who has said that Bangladesh should rejoin Pakistan. In terms of the gravity of crime, establishing BAKSAL was not a lesser offense. What is more, Awami League has not yet declared that it would never pursue such a political goal and their current activities suggest that they do not tolerate any opposition parties or dissent voices. The current Awami government has practically turned many police stations in Bangladesh into torture cells for the opposition party people and for the ones like Mahmudur Rahman who expose the regime’s misdeeds.

Unfortunately, the Awami BAKSAL crime is not highlighted in the media. The line of reporting of a section of Bangladeshi newspapers seems to meet the ‘wishes’ of a neighboring country that is bent on scoring political and economic dividends from Bangladesh while Awami League in power. Shutting down electronic and print media is now deemed to be taken for granted. While an editor is being tortured most inhumanly in police custody, many media agencies are turning blind eyes to the regime’s fascist inclination. Tortures on Mahmudur Rahman have now become a normal practice and many media people are not using their influence to rescue him.

Let us imagine that an editor of one of the many newspapers ‘loyal’ to the neighboring country is tortured in the way Mahmudur Rahman is, what would be the reaction of the local and international media? The leverage of our neighbouring country in international politics and in the media world may be the main reason why global media is largely silent about the tortures on Mahmudur Rahman. It is true that being a poor country we may not be able to exercise such leverage in the near future. But what is frustrating is that a section of our local media is also keen on going along with outside instructions in its reportage.

Mahmudur Rahman’s patriotism is now being tested, and I believe he will remain firm and true to his country in the face of all these state persecutions. We pray to God so that we will see him alive and unharmed after the inhuman remand tortures he is going through at the moment. Mahmudur Rahman’s love for the country has set a target which is beyond the reach many editors who are busy earning the pleasure of the regime.

We know about a number of sweet sounding international organizations like Amnesty International, PEN, Article 19, Reporters sans frontier and Human Rights Watch that are supposed to defend free speech and human rights. Unfortunately, we may not see their intervention to stop the tortures on Mahmudur Rahman, and that is perhaps because he does not fit in their international political agendas. However, I strongly believe that a Mahmudur Rahman – alive or dead – after these tortures in remands will have a greater claim on the gratitude of the people of Bangladesh. A true national hero is in the making, while editors of many newspapers are carousing in the kitchen and pantry of Awami League and its foreign patrons.