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Silence of civil society

Edit Date:7/21/2010 12:00:00 AM


Shimul Chaudhury
26 April 2010

Before Awami League came to power in late 2008, a catch phrase that the people of this country heard again and again was ‘civil society’. Generally people in the upstairs in the social hierarchy with enormous privileges and foreign links use the banner of ‘civil society’ to wield power in Bangladesh without directly becoming involved in political parties. An objective research on the pros and cons of this group will show that, the loyalty of the members of this amorphous coterie is clearly divided. They are torn between their country of birth (Bangladesh) and the rich countries where their children are now comfortably settled. Many of them maintain second homes in other countries. A sad phenomenon in Bangladesh is that such people who choose foreign lands for their children seem to have a stronger say on the country’s policy matters. Unfortunately, this privileged group always dominates people who have wholeheartedly accepted Bangladesh as their country and are ready to die for it. 
Although the civil society cries neutrality and refuses to admit that they maintain favoritism for one political party or the other, their sympathy for Awami League and for the current regime in Bangladesh is undeniable. Consider, for example, their past cries about violations of human rights at the time of the previous political government in Bangladesh and their dead silence now when lawlessness and countrywide anarchy perpetrated by the affiliates of the ruling party has surpassed any such records of the last few decades. It seems that people in the rank and file of Awami League are heading to reach the level of crimes carried out by the Rakkhi Bahini during the first Awami government in the early 1970s. 
Murders, rapes and then threatening the victims and their families are now commonplace and taken-for-granted matters for the cadres of Awami League. Attacking people of opposition political parties, teasing women and raping them occupy big newspaper columns. Unfortunately, these do not seem to draw the attention of the co-called civil society. Nor can they elicit adequate statements of condemnation from them. 
Given these facts, I have one humble appeal to the ‘members’ of the formless civil society: If you think your loyalty does not belong to this country, please keep away from ‘our’ political and social debates. This poor country fares quite well without your undue intervention. However, if you love this country and if you think you are honest in your patriotic protestations, please be consistent in your concerns for civil rights. Your dead silence in the face of criminalities and wrongdoings of the affiliates of Awami Leauge really battles the nation.

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