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






Dhaka Youth Protests

You Rock! Hats off to you guys in Dhaka for standing up to the “system”. You are doing much more than street protests, you are changing the mindset of the whole society. I just hope you realize what potential you have stored within yourselves.

In Bangladesh the vicious cycle has been spinning for decades. Since the country’s independence in 71, it has been run by incompetent, inefficient, dishonest, corrupted administrators from the top to bottom. Exceptions can be found I’m sure, but they are “exceptions” not the rule.

Lets take traffic safety for example. Is there any way to expose the hidden alliance between the business owners and the traffic police? People know what goes on behind the scenes. They, the corrupted ones, think of everyone else as stupid, well let them. It is well known amongst common folks that transport owners have shareholding partnership with police officers or with civil servants. Through this dodgy connection, business thrives without having proper licenses and permits. Those who know transport owners will verify this claim easily.

Too many innocent people died already on the roads of Dhaka and other parts of the country. The blame is squarely on the transporters, traffic authorities and police officers. They all failed to do their jobs.

Seeing you guys on the roads brings courage in the hearts of those who keep suffering under the dark cloud of a corrupt system that seems to have engulfed the entire nation and its working generations till now. Young people hold the golden key of the future. You know what needs to be done, it is to be assertive about your rights. You are citizens of the state and these politicians and civil servants always depend on the taxes and votes that we people give to them with which they bully us after stealing from us.

Dhaka’s Youth are waking up and this is the best sign for the future of this beautiful country. All the best…