by Tanvir Ratul, Lecturer, University of Liverpool, UK
Once I went to a democratic vigil at the iconic Bangladesh Parliament Building, very nice vibe… for a while. Then it got ugly, though it wasn’t because of the riot police… People lit candles, gave speeches, read poems, sang songs. Someone asked me to wave a Bangladeshi flag and, though I personally consider myself only an earthling, not a national of any temporal state, I shook it with a big smile. The police kept at bay, while Bangladesh’s politicians hurtle through religious warmongering and anti-Other rhetoric. Fact.
Then another group of protesters showed up, blaring horns like police sirens, screaming that they did not want discussion or dialogue, but that the govt should ‘Fuck Right Off’. Odd. Like in the US or the UK, the current or any other previous Bangladesh govt, like them or not, always hold an illegitimate mandate. Corruption at the polls, direct interference from outside that we know of, illegal election spending, mad political party systems that meant only offspring, with all the criminal intentions, gets to be the next ‘Monarch’.
But ‘Fuck off’ to where? Law and Justice are just opinions in practice. Only thing is, they represent the leadership of the religious, the political and of course the business elites… Screaming at them won’t win over voters, or challenge the illegality of what they have been doing for years. It’s laughable to their massively reinforced power base – which is clearly unethical, undemocratic and unconstitutional. But when I try to say this, even to friends, citing factual evidence, I am all too often ignored, insulted or attacked.
Walking home through ‘Ramna Park’, however, I saw a young stray
dog running along the footpath – there’s a lot of them in Dhaka, because of the
cultural concept ‘pest, not pet’. Thirsty blighters. I followed it at a safe
distance. It was so beautifully cuddly and graceful and fragile, for all its
supposed fur. I thought about nature, about the millions of years of
development that we’re all part of, predator and prey. And I knew it will all
be alright in the end – evolution, brothers and sisters of all colours and
creeds, has always worked and will always work one fundamental way. like it
Such a sweet, such a prickly, such a vulnerable place, Bangladesh.
I hope it comes to terms with its fears soon enough, and starts practicing cool and concentrated programs of collective actions, instead of praying, preying or panicking. Before more trains of history come along to crush the vulnerable, young flesh of its democratic body politic…