Wednesday, June 19, 2024


Dhaka Tribune

Let’s not have a rerun of 2013

This is how politics should be done, through civil negotiation, not with sticks, bricks, and arson

Update : 04 Dec 2023, 09:23 AM

The run up to the January 5, 2014 elections were dark days for Bangladesh.

Rather than sit down with the government to try to reach an amicable agreement with respect to the upcoming elections, the BNP declared war on the Bangladeshi people and embarked on a shameful campaign of street violence including bus burnings, that left hundreds dead. 

Untold damage was done to the country, and we had hoped that, with another general election around the corner, that the days of political violence were finally behind us.

The last thing we wish to see this year is a repeat of the carnage of 2013 that was in fact repeated again in 2015.

This is not politics, it is criminality, plain and simple, and the country neither will, nor should have to, accept it.

Indeed, the early signs had been very encouraging, with the government holding sit-downs with different opposition alliances to iron out various disagreements.

This is how politics should be done, through civil negotiation, not with sticks, bricks, and arson.

The hope was that the relative calm of the last few years would continue through to the election, and that Bangladesh would finally have reached a point of maturity in our politics, whereby violence and street agitation were a thing of the past.

Sadly, we are already seeing violent clashes break out in the streets, with BNP supporters vandalizing vehicles and setting fire to a police pickup truck and patrol car in front of the party office in Naya Paltan.

This is unacceptable.

Whatever the provocation, there is no excuse for BNP activists to take to the streets, hurl brickbats, and torch vehicles; photographs of attackers jumping on top of cards or wielding weapons leave no doubt as to the guilt of these BNP men and their intentions.

Let us not see a repeat of this violence. The Bangladeshi people deserve better.

By the same token, we call on law enforcement to also comport themselves with restraint, and not take a heavy-handed approach with opposition members. 

Finally, it is incumbent upon the Election Commission to take an even-handed approach, and make it clear that election-related violence will not be tolerated, no matter who does it -- and to treat all parties equally and fairly.

We all want a free, fair, and credible election, and destructive activities on the street are not the way to achieve that.

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