Friday, April 19, 2013

Of De-Mock-Rat-Tick Demons, Fright Might and Hartal Hostages

Mac Haque

“Believing our politicians is equal to disbelieving God. If there is anything called ‘atheism’ in Bangladesh, this is it” - Author

“Desher obostha kemon bujhtesen” or what do you make of the situation in the country is a pertinent question that we have been asking ourselves quite frequently of late. The predictable reply “kharap, khubi kharap” or bad, very bad, has by now become a ritual in expressing our contempt to the ongoing crisis in Bangladesh. However even in the very best of times, the situation in the country has always been “kharap” and the word is used not because it is in the habit of the ever complaining and argumentative Bengali race, but stems more from dismay, despair and disgust that has been dovetailing us since the nineties, when ‘democracy’ or a semblance of it, was finally restored after years of brutal military dictatorship. 

The disappointments are for as much as it reflects the citizenries’ helplessness to the unending lawlessness and violence that constitutes politics; it stems from a sense of insecurity that has albeit been involuntarily thrust upon us. More so, we are powerless to do away with the de-mock-rat-tick demons and what makes our problem acute is, it is none but us citizens who are responsible for our own fate. It is none but us that backed and propelled these criminalized demons to power and glory, these rats and poisonous ticks to be our rulers, decision makers i.e. the very harbingers of our own continued misfortune. The world perhaps knows of no other country where politicians voted by its own people have ever made a bigger mockery of polity and propriety. 

In as much as there are no easy deliverance rescue mechanism or ideas in place, we are being led to believe, there are no easy options are available for us to extricate ourselves completely from the mess we are in. In our date with fate, our tryst with destiny and coping with the many shameless dynasties that have come and gone, our problems continue unabated, and worse; we do not have the faintest of clue as when, or  IF ever they are likely to end.  

Questions: is this going to be our permanent fate? Are we going to have continued and contentious repeat performance of what has come our way in the last forty-two years? Will our politicians continue to lie, cheat, kill and steal, or is there still hope that an apolitical uprising of citizens will render existing politics redundant, unpopular and unfashionable? Are there at all any alternative leaders anywhere that can bring in a difference to the status quo?  

Hello, do we have any answers there? 

Not at all, because the citizens of Bangladesh have been brain-numbed and paralyzed into inaction and the sore septicemia inflicted into our soul is been replaced by hideously gangrenous decay. It will not be before long that the stink of dying, death and rotting, will render our skies dark and heavy with vultures. Most of the scavengers will be unable to fly for their will not be no dearth of corpses to feast upon. 

Unfortunately, these realizations and soul searching in fact makes our uncertainties more profound for we have traditionally failed to control our leaders or even talk sense into their ‘beings’. Ironically, we ourselves are the victims of our own ‘success’, as history records we thought by voting them (our politicians), we and the nation in turn will have a ‘win win’ situation, and an end to what was ailing us in the immediate past. For Bangladesh tomorrow has perpetually been the day after the day before! The clock had jammed and stood still in milieus we have lost track of. 

The fault and battle lines are glaring. To even think that the leader of the Position and Opposition take different entry and exits at public functions, never see each other face-to-face, and when in an unlikely ‘accident’ they do see ‘eye-to-eye’ the simplest of greeting “may peace be with you” makes national headlines, gives us a clear indicators as to the pungent arrogance, impertinence and irresponsibility of those that we have voted to power. Thus what we have been ‘gifted’ with is nothing more than a roulette game, and to call these ‘humans’, politicians or whatever, in reality these preposterous elements share power ever five years at our peril, not their own. 

In fact in this business of politics, they ‘profit’, as do their sycophants, their families and friends, as also assorted shades of stake holders in the backdrop; everything from civil contractors to religious bigots, to stock exchange and bank loan looters, to scamsters to drug dealers to murder merchants, the list is disdainfully long. The hard reality, every five years we uncork a genie from a bottle, that in turn pays us punishingly back for what we did to them in the first place – a ‘favor’. 

So how does the equation work and what is the source of power and our politicians notoriously pandemic fright might? Do we readily have any options available to set ourselves free? Do we really think any suggestions will be up for the grab that just about any citizen/s of the country may have, to chase these demons to destruction, and in turn be spared ignominious abuses of being either ‘un-democratic’ or ‘autocratic’ or both? 

Let us take a look at the limited ‘weapons’ of our politicians and get a fix on their lethality, and disarm the hyperbolically overcharged and clinically sick  thought process of our politicians that are backed by these ‘weapons’ which in reality benefits no one. Citizens on the flip side, do have a right to self-defense, and in my estimation, the least we can do is share our precious thoughts with each other, and hope that things can then be brought to an ‘end-game’ conclusion. Clearly, I am not here to gun for ‘partisan positions’, nor am I one who thinks that men in khakis and camouflage are adequately qualified to turn the tide in favor of the citizens of Bangladesh.  

For instance, there is none who will disagree that hartals (general strikes) have devastated Bangladesh and I do not want to bore readers by writing one extra sentence on the same. Neither will it be prudent to compile data’s on how much we have lost and will continue to lose in the days ahead simply because by some act of providence hartal also happens to be our ‘constitutional right’. The citizens of Bangladesh have unfortunately to make a few unpopular decisions, some risky and conscious choices, and concede to give up some so-called ‘rights’ and the first one is call for a ban on crippling hartals. 

Each and every citizen is acutely aware of the losses not only in man hours, but also the cost in terms of arson, violence, destruction of public property and the cost in human lives, given this ‘right’ that is exercised not by the citizens of Bangladesh but are the domains of whims and caprices of villainous politicians.  Therefore how ‘unconstitutional and autocratic’ can it at all be, if we, the citizens were to demand a complete ban on hartals before Polls 2013? 

Really, what is the long and short of hartal games that our politicians love playing mercilessly, other than holding citizens hostage at home with threats of violence, threats of death? If hostage taking is a crime, if threatening anybody’s life is a crime in Bangladesh, I think it justifies that hartals also be termed a seditious crime - indeed a crime against humanity. 

To imagine that politicians hire a handful of professional agitators, arsonists and unleash murderers out on the street to ‘enforce’ hartals and call these acts ‘constitutional’ is pushing our imagination way off sensibility – and equals to calling psychopathic lunacy as perfectly admissible conducts in public. Since politicians know of nothing more ‘creative’ in terms of protest, have next to zero rate of tolerance, are as arrogant as jackasses, are opportunist par excellence, they have in turn set out on a vile agenda for years to constantly fool the people. This has to stop.

Take for instance the ‘shock’ felt by the Government in recent violence by Opposition protestors in league with religious bigots assaulting and seizing weapons from the police. The crocodile tears being shed shamelessly is ah….look how they don’t even spare innocent policemen out to protect citizens or the more sadistic charade, innocent children injured in bomb attacks, how inhuman, how cruelly insane, as if this is the first time in our history such outrages have occurred? Note the key punch word ‘innocent’ which is so innocently pulverized by our seemingly coochie coo ‘innocent’ politicians into descriptions that suits them. 

In addition, just because the police have to fire upon violent protestors to save lives and public property, it is termed ‘genocide’.  The hard reality is all political parties are guilty of the same crime, as much as the citizens are guilty of short-term memory losses. If one just cares to flip back at newspapers from the early nineties, the scenes are eerily familiar and repetitive. To attack police officers or other men in uniform has always been ‘heroism and bravery’ combined for political workers. Easily forgotten is attacks by non-state actors on state actors are never considered acts of civil disobedience or even terrorism, it is an act of WAR! 

Thus, to be fair to the memory of the hundreds upon thousands killed in propping these parasites to power in the last forty-two years, ‘genocide’ is not only a misnomer, it is nothing new – indeed, it has been around for as long as our memories can be stretched back. Unfortunately, it is the citizens, who are, were and will be the ultimate victims of ‘genocide’, the fodder for the murder canons, - not politics or politicians, so it is high time that we wake up. 

What are the strategies citizens can employ to overcome the crisis?  Here are a few pointers for public rumination. Together with a ban on hartals, let us make a clarion call to enact laws where summary capital punishment (death penalty) is meted in full view of the public for the following crimes: 

a.) Destruction of public property i.e. buses, cars, auto rickshaws and rickshaws, b.) Murder pogroms passing off as political programs, c.) Blocking of communication/traffic i.e. roads, railways, waterways and airports, d.) Attacks and destruction of public utility infrastructures i.e. gas, electricity and power plants, police stations, Internet and telecommunication, e.) Armed attacks on state actors – including use of IEDs, sticks and machetes, f.) Misuse of religious sites for politics or their destruction/desecration, g.) Attacks on listed minorities, whether they are religious or indigenous - and last if not the least f.) Proven cases of corruption whether they are in the public or private sector/s.

Indeed, it is point f.) Corruption, the creed of greed, which is the biggest enemy of Bangladesh. So how do we go about ‘enforcing’ citizen’s demands? 

Quite simply by calling upon the media to black out politicians, political news and views until our demands are accepted. It is after all the media, the fourth estate that has made politicians ever so ‘powerful’, as almost ninety percent of what we get to read, hear and see is ‘political’. I wonder where politicians have such opportunities to indulge in the kind of megalomaniac luxury as they do in Bangladesh. 

I can sense a lot of raised eyebrows and a lot of red flags going up among readers to the above points/suggestions, but let us remind ourselves that ‘draconian’ is not always a word that can be used only ‘against’ citizens. If citizen’s demands are not equally draconian, this nation will slide into further anarchy. 

The level of civility and decency we expect has clearly eluded our pathologically perverse politicians. These need not merely be ‘addressed’, but no-nonsense efforts ought to be in place, to guarantee that they either perform up to citizen’s expectation – or quite simply, perish! Therefore, the easiest way to handle issues is ask others to compile equally tough points but ones that are democratic and logically fair to citizens – the teaming millions. 

This is not a call from a voice in the wilderness, or a minority tit-for-tat, but a call by the majority – the citizens to oust a minority – our self-seeking politicians. This is not a time for any humiliating in-betweenie solutions for times are up, even if the game is not. Our hands are cruelly shackled against our will, and we have been flipped into and asked to swim a mighty river of despair for far too long.  We are barely breathing, we are gasping.

This is no time for an unequal or uneven fight. It is time to unshackle ourselves from fears of the ‘powerful’, the gluttony of the greedy, for there is nothing more powerful than the combined will of the citizens – the people, the majority.

New Age Op-Ed, Friday 19th April 2013

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