"Poking Nose" in the Case of Human Rights is Everyone's Business
Bangladesh Information Minister Hasanul Haq Inu termed the U.S Embassy's rightful statement regarding the beating of students in the peaceful protests as "poking its nose in Bangladesh's internal politics in an indecent way" - that does not sound coming from a minister of a democratically elected government, representing a nation which is also signatory of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Here is what US Embassy in Dhaka had stated in its Facebook post: "Nothing can justify the brutal attacks and violence over the weekend against the thousands of young people who have been peacefully exercising their democratic rights in supporting a safer Bangladesh"
US Embassy as everyone one else has the right to speak against any brutal attacks and violence on unarmed middle school, high school and university students that did happen mostly from Saturday.
There was no need of this reprehensible crackdown. Students were protesting peacefully, then they were attacked without any provocation.
The ruling party, Awami League, is considered as a progressive liberal party, and it does hold some good reputation comparing to alternatives, especially for its historical siding with the people who were wronged. However, the recent brutality that the ruling party and its goon infested student wing had shown is nothing but shameful. I am aware that there might be some opposition element who might have tried to instigate the students, but overall from the news sources I have seen it seemed the student protest movement was not managed by any nefarious political agenda, but solely for the road safety.
Government tried to deny any attack on students, however, many videos and photos showing such heartbreaking episodes exist, and does look to be genuine.
Freedom of expression like free speech is the cornerstone of any democratic nation. Since Awami League proudly proclaims that it is the forefront bearer of democracy in Bangladesh, beating of journalists by government sponsored goons, and arrest of Shahidul Alam, a prominent photographer and activist in Bangladesh, does not exemplify democracy, but points toward an intolerant autocracy, ironically, that historically Awami League and its founding father Sheikh Mujibur Rahman had struggled against.
Awami League could have avoided the entire crisis if it were handled differently. Instead of sending armed police and equally armed political goons to spill protesting teenagers' blood, its all level leaders should have gone to the streets and could have protested side by side with the students, embracing their rightful demands with more open hearts. Its top level minister like Shahjahan Khan who had fumbled in the beginning of the protest by trying to diminish the protest while displaying uncaring attitude, should have been more careful and caring. Similarly, the home minister Obaidul Quader was arrogant when he said he didn't see how he could "kiss" the protesting students when they were agitating toward the central party's location. These all showed arrogance at its worst, where the best were expected.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina seemed to be more caring than her fumbling ministers, but she could have done better by ordering the law enforcement agencies not sheltering Awami League's political goons and only to protect the protesting students, not beating them.
I hope this is taken as a learning lesson for the ruling party in Bangladesh. The first good thing that the government of Bangladesh should do is releasing all prisoners, like Shahidul Alam and others who had dared to speak against the crackdown. They should not charge against any protesters unless they are indeed involved in any criminal activities. Protesting is not a criminal activity. However, the videos and photos that are widely available showing goons beating students while police stood standby doing nothing along with hooligans' shameful attack on US Ambassador's car, should be thoroughly and fairly investigated and anyone found guilty should be charged regardless of their political affiliations. That's what people expect from a democratically elected government in Bangladesh. Nothing less.