Civil society must come together to ensure the upcoming parliamentary elections are free, fair and participatory in the face of a “fascist government”, Nagarik Oikya Convener Mahmudur Rahman Manna said on Monday.
The former organizing secretary of the ruling Awami League issued his stark warning at a seminar at the National Press Club in Dhaka.
“Bangladesh is following the global trend of the resurgence of fascism and the only way to stop this is through countrywide protests,” Manna warned.
Amid rumors of Nagarik Oikya joining a coalition with the BNP, Manna praised the party and said it had “unrealized potential and strength”.
‘Corrupt AL harming growth’
Other speakers at Monday’s programme said corruption within the AL is harming the country’s economic growth.
Professor Anu Muhammad, member-secretary the National Committee to Protect Oil Gas Mineral Resources Power and Ports, said the government is taking “huge cuts” for their mega projects.
“This corruption will soon cause their mega projects to become their biggest scams,” he said. “The government is showing a large sum of money is being spent for construction but a lot of that going in one pocket. In GDP numbers this might show as growth but it is actually increasing income disparity.
“The economy is being run by the remittance and labour’s money but some corrupt people are merely looting it.”
According to UNB, Anu said there are two groups of fundamentalists in the country: one which is religious and another which is in government. “The second group is not caring about the people’s demands for their rights,” he said.
‘Animal Farm’ situation
A former adviser to the caretaker government, M Hafizuddin Khan, compared the present political situation in Bangladesh to a scene from George Orwell’s short novel Animal Farm, claiming nobody could exercise the right to differ with the government in the country.
According to UNB, Hafizuddin described the country’s current political situation as nothing but an “electoral dictatorship”, suggesting a massive movement was required to bring about change.
Professor Dr Asif Nazrul of Department of Law of Dhaka University said the main reasons for the present corruption are absolute concentration of power and lack of accountability.
“I feel sorry when I hear that the corrupt are more vocal about the ideology of our Liberation War and I think those who are taking the advantage of the ideology, are, mainly, betraying that ideology,” he said.
“Presently the institutions of the government are totally under the power of a handful of people.”
Professor Anu Muhammad said government has kept Article 32 in the constitution to make sure nobody can speak against the government or its narrative.
Other speakers at the function included Zafrullah Chowdhury, founder of Gonoshasthaya Kendra; former governor of Bangladesh Bank Dr Salehuddin Ahmed; and former caretaker government advisor Barrister Moinul Hossain.