Government owes explanations about Al Jazeera report allegations

Published: 00:00, Feb 05,2021


THE sharp reaction that the government and the ruling Awami League, the political leaders and activists who keep company with both of them and a section of intellectuals that support the ruling party have expressed and continue to express to a reportage, ‘All the Prime Minister’s Men’, that the Qatar-based international news channel Al Jazeera telecast on February 1 has so far mostly been renunciatory. The Al Jazeera reportage, an hour-long film with narration, has claimed that the army chief has extended illegal support for his brothers, who are convicted and absconding, to establish and run business overseas with government blessings of some sorts. The reportage alleges that the army chief has been in contact with one of his brothers, ‘still on the list of most wanted criminals’ who lives in Budapest, and another, who lives in Kuala Lumpur where he escaped after his murder conviction had been upheld in 2007 and that both the brothers visited Dhaka in March 2019 to attend the wedding ceremony of the army chief’s son which Bangladesh’s president and foreign dignitaries also attended. The reportage also alleges that the army chief’s brothers continue to make money with the collusion of high-ups in the government, even at least involving a minister, and the police force.

The foreign affairs ministry, the Bangladesh Army, the home affairs ministry and the Awami League have rejected outright the reportage and condemned it as being ‘unethical’ and a politically motivated ‘smear campaign’ by vested interests to harm the harmony among different government agencies to obstruct the growth and the development of the country. The reportage naturally went viral on social media soon after it had been released and gave birth to questions that have left people looking for answers. The string of events that the reportage brought to the fore with video clips, photographs and narration along with text reports on the channel’s web site could, if they are true, constitute a serious affront to the rule of law on several counts, including what could be considered abetment in the alleged crimes on part of many politically powerful people. In a situation like this, condemning and brushing aside the Al Jazeera reportage by questioning the intent and purpose of it would not dispel the doubts that it has cast on the government and it has created in people’s mind.

Given the photographic evidence of certain unacceptable events as they came up in the Al Jazeera reportage, only renunciatory efforts on part of the government and its agencies, the Awami League, the army headquarters and others close to the ruling coterie may not iron out the issues. The government is reported to be weighing a legal redress against Al Jazeera, but what the government now should come up with is a refutation, substantiated with credible explanations, if there is any, of the allegations that the reportage has brought forth. The government appears to owe the nation a few explanations.

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