Friday, November 24, 2017

Expats in Canada see Bangladesh politics hurtling towards communalism

  • Md Asiuzzaman, Toronto
    Published: 2017-07-18 00:38:12 BdST


Some Bangladeshi expatriates in Canada believe that the post-Hasina government will be a ‘communal one’ since both the major parties in Bangladesh are pampering the ‘fundamentalist forces’ to stay in power.

They also believe the country’s politics is now in a quagmire that will suck society and like landslides, the people will see ‘socialslides’ in future.

They find no difference between two major political parties as the BNP hobnobs with Jamaat-e-Islami and the Awami League panders to Hifazat-e Islam.

The Progressive Democratic Initiative, Canada, or PDI organised the roundtable for an open discussion on ‘contemporary Bangladesh’ in Toronto which has the largest Bangladeshi expatriate community.

The PDI was floated in 2014 as a progressive and pro-liberation platform of the expatriate Bangladeshis in Canada.

Around 20 of the 60 participants took part in the discussion that covered politics, economy, education, environment, social security, law and order, social change and expatriates’ contributions.

Azizul Malik chaired the meeting moderated by PDI Coordinator Mahbub Alam. The discussion continued for about three and a half hours at the Hope United church auditorium on Sunday evening (Monday morning Dhaka time) at the Main Street area of Toronto.

A petition for deportation of Noor Chowdhury, a self-confessed and convicted killer of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, was signed by the participants at the roundtable. The memorandum would be submitted to the MPs of Canadian Parliament.

The participants ranged from engineers to cultural activists, university professors to politicians, environmentalists to bankers and freedom fighters to former Awami League leaders.

Questions were raised about the relevance or effectiveness of the meeting at a place located over 12,000 km away from Bangladesh.

Most of the participants believe that they got involved in PDI out of deep-rooted ties with their motherland and patriotism. They want to convey the message to the ruling party leaders so that they can take the right decision for the next generation.

Moreover, Bangladeshi expats from across the world are the largest contributor to the country’s economy. 

Biddut Ranjan Dey, a joint- coordinator of the PDI, made the opening remarks.

He said, “Nothing is going right in the country. What have we gained using religion in politics – youths are being radicalised and innocent people getting killed.”

“In four and a half decades, our achievement is very little,” he said adding, “the social disparity has widened and black money has ruled the economy.”

PDI wants pro-liberation forces to run Bangladesh as a truly democratic country, he added.

Former DUCSU assistant general secretary Nasir Ud Duza told the roundtable that Bangladesh was heading for a ‘social catastrophe’ with unabated corruption, rising number of rape incidents and growing communalism.

“Like landslides, we are going to have social-slides,” he said, adding “today’s situation has developed from many years of undemocratic practice in the country.”

Using economic data, he said that "95 percent of the country’s resources are owned by 5 percent rich people. Parliament has 69 percent of the MPs who were businessmen.”

“Even after corruption and pillage of fund, the government has allocated Tk 20 billion to state-run banks. It would encourage more corruption.”

Giving a vivid description from anti-Ershad movement to today’s scenario, he said, “Bangladesh’s politics is in a quagmire. We have to come out of it.”

Freedom fighter Mohammad Elias Meah said, “Bangladesh has veered far away from the spirits of the independence war. We are also moved away from 1972 Constitution.”

“Fundamentalism is on the rise, and post-Hasina Bangladesh will become a communal country,” he said, and many in attendance nodded in agreement.

“We want that only pro-liberation forces should be allowed to do politics in Bangladesh – be as the opposition or the ruling party.”

Cultural activist Reza Aniruddha said: “Apparently, the Awami League tried to pursue all-inclusive politics. That’s why the cosiness with Hifazat.”

“Then what’s the difference? The BNP is with Jamaat, Awami League with Hifazat,” he questioned.

Among others, Kazi Zahir Uddin, Farzana Azim Sheulee, Shoumen Saha, Dr Arunendu Bhoumik, Niranjan Roy, Ferdous Azfar Ahmed, Solaiman Atul Robin, Dr AK Ahmed Kamal, Faizul Karim, Shibu Chowdhury, Nani Gopal Devnath and Omar Hayat spoke at the roundtable.