A GROUP of citizens from various professions has rightly stood against the Dhaka University Teachers’ Association, asking it to offer apologies, for its defaming Dhaka University international relations professor Akmal Hussain ‘by distorting his speech’ that he made on July 19 in protest at attacks by leaders and activists of the Chhatra League, the student wing of the ruling Awami League, on general students seeking reforms in public service recruitment quota. The professor on July 19 addressed a rally that a group of teachers held to condemn the Chhatra League attacks on an earlier programme of protesters where two of his colleagues were also attacked by rowdy Chhatra League activists when they demanded reforms in the quota system, withdrawal of cases filed against the protesters and the release of the arrested protesters. The teachers’ association, which found Akmal Hussain’s speech to be derogatory to Bangladesh’s founding president Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and the incumbent prime minister Sheikh Hasina, in a crudely partisan manner, demanded action, from the ministry of home affairs and the University of Dhaka authorities, against the professor.
The statement that the teachers’ association made, seeking action against Akmal Hussain, appears to be an expression of what the government that the Awami League presides over thinks and does about the quota reforms protests and other citizens sympathetic towards the cause, in a national environment where the creation of jobs, in both the public and the private sector, has almost stalled, pushing the students who would need to look for jobs soon into uncertainties. This seems to be manifest as it is this association that stood, by earlier making a statement, for the cause of the students, terming the student demands ‘just.’ The teachers’ association coming to brand, by taking speeches out of the context, people — and that too teachers who are morally guardians of the students — sympathetic towards the quota reforms protests as going against the spirit of the liberation war reeks of the same efforts as the government made to brand the student protesters as being against the spirit of the liberation war and the university vice-chancellor who likened the protesters with international religious extremists of the likes of the Taliban and al-Qaeda. The teachers’ association chiming in with what the rowdy Chhatra League leaders and activists have done reflects a high lack of professionalism and a high degree of partisanisation, which it should have avoided to uphold the academic and moral excellence of the university.
The Dhaka University Teachers’ Association, under the circumstances, would do well in abstaining from toeing the partisan line and from having the institution of higher education mired in further moral depravity. It has already been deplorable that the association, instead of responding to the call of the moral duty of standing beside the students and teachers in a fight for a just cause, has stood against the students and some members of the association.
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