Shahidul Alam on Al-Jazeera

5 minutes. That was how long the distinguished photographer had spoken on his Skype interview. It was enough time to summarize the on-going student protests in the city. One would expect such spot on, precise and honest opinion from a Cambridge graduate and a well known personality, especially for the man’s outspoken stand for liberalism.

First of all, the Dhaka protests are more than about safer roads. The agitated students, and the hidden masses behind them, have come into the open to show their anger, coming from deep inside peoples’ hearts, at the ruling strongmen.

Only few weeks ago Dhaka University students championed the cause of equal opportunity under the banner of “No Quota” movement. They were assured that the “Quota” system would be terminated. Within a month the brutal (and bloody) ending of the movement created resentment, fear, frustration and desire to “get back” at the establishment. Moreover,  “promises” made and promises broken went a long way to discredit the trustworthiness of the political elites. No more relying on fake promises.

A government must have the mandate of the people to run the state machinery effectively. Brut force can provide only so much as pain relief but never will the “use of force” be enough, ever, when it comes to long term sustainability and credibility amongst the people. Special circumstances not withstanding.

Finally, the dust under the carpet is coming out. The country’s fairy tale story of the “economic” miracle and the “flood” of development is like that boring drama being aired every hour on TV for 360 days for 10 straight years. Please stop that nonsense “ministry of truth”.

The development story looks good on paper but not so for the working classes, the tax payers and the voters, for them its longer hours, less purchasing power and increasing privatization of education and healthcare.

Current account and trade deficit are at all time highs. Non performing Loans have broken all previous records. Currency facing pressure for depreciation against the USD, 150,000 tons (not Kgs, TONS!) of coal missing from power station, gold in the central bank found adulterated, drug abuse going out of control, and the list goes on. To top it all, the country’s level of corruption has remained not far behind in remaining amongst the worst possible in the world.

So, yes, the people are frustrated, as rightly pointed out by Mr Alam in his short talk. But why should that endanger him?

#Wewantjustice #Dhakaprotests






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