Ethnic communities of Bangladesh should set aside their differences and unite to bring an end to the repressive rule of the incumbent government, speakers told a discussion on Friday.
They said ethnic communities stood starkly divided as part of a blueprint of the ruling class afraid of losing their advantaged position in society in case of mass unity.
‘The ruling class has been pushing the people into darkness for a long time,’ said Socialist Party of Bangladesh general secretary Khalequzzaman.
‘The people of the country who are deprived of their rights need to unite to stand against this exploitative ruling class,’ he emphasised.
He observed that the lack of interest among people to vote in the [recent] elections highlighted the political bankruptcy of the class that is ruling the country.
Bangladesh has drifted away, Khalequzzaman further observed, from the spirit of the Liberation War that promised to build a discrimination-free just society where all people were supposed to live a dignified life irrespective of their religious, racial and other identities.
Jatiya Mukti Council organised the discussion on the current political situation in the Chattogram Hill Tracts at National Press Club in the capital.
Hill Women’s Federation general secretary Monty Chakma viewed that the undemocratic situation that has been pervasive in the hill tracts region for long has also gradually spread to the plains.
Referring to her being kidnapped last year, she said anyone protesting any wrongdoing by the government could be subjected to ‘punishment’ in ways that they have never imagined.
‘The media is helping the government run its propaganda to keep people divided,’ said Monty.
She opined that indigenous groups are clashing with each other instigated by state mechanisms.
Ganatantrik Jubo Forum member Suprity Chakma exclaimed that he had been arrested in connection with a case in which he was never accused.
He viewed that arbitrary arrests came as part of repressive measures employed by the government to create an atmosphere of fear in the society.
‘The entire country has turned into a prison,’ he observed.
Pahari Chhatra Parishad general secretary Sunayan Chakma said political killings in the CHT have reached a new height after the creation of United People’s Democratic Front (Democratic Faction) in 2017.
‘UPDF has become the target of politics of division for its record in speaking in favor of the people’s democratic right,’ said Sunayan.
Rights advocacy organisation Odhikar director Nasiruddin Elan said as many as 3,543 people became victims of extra-judicial killing in the country between 2001 and 2019 while 519 became victims of enforced disappearance between 2009 and 2019.
‘Most disappeared people are still untraced,’ he said.
The discussion was attended by Jatiya Mukti Council secretary Faizul Hakim and Biplabi Chhatra Maitri president Iqbal Kabir, among others
Want stories like this in your inbox?
Sign up to exclusive daily email
More Stories from Country