19 January 2010

Article: The Freedom Industry and Student Politics in Bangladesh

An author who has repeatedly written critically about democracy and seeks to draw attention to what democracy and the violence it promotes have done to his native Bangladesh is Iftekhar Sayeed.

While his short essays may appear somewhat repetitive over the years, employing the ever-same quotations and examples, and lacking in focus, a good overview of his major concerns is offered by the 2006 article "The Freedom Industry and Student Politics in Bangladesh", published (with an introduction by the editor) in the e-zine "Axis of Logic":


Excerpts: "The role of students in establishing and maintaining democracy in Bangladesh has never received careful scrutiny. Student politics has been a deadly, internecine affair. Today, student groups are used by political parties as private armies: they are given guns, told to extort money – 'taxes' and 'tolls' – and bring down the government through [violence]. They have become a highly criminalised group. [...] The headlines reveal that around 4 student activists are murdered by other student activists every month in gangland wars. [...]

"The role of foreign donors, such as USAID and DFID [UK], in promoting such a state of affairs deserves careful scrutiny. These organisations fund local NGOs. [...] The total silence of the NGOs on the subject of student politicians killing each other over turf can be explained in terms of their eagerness to please donors: the students are an integral part of the democratic process. If these boys did not take to the streets [...], the parties would not rotate in power. [...] The disturbing picture of a 'freedom industry' emerges, with crime (on the part of the local parties) as the base of the pyramid and the donors as the apex."

Iftekhar Sayeed is a widely published poet and freelance journalist as well as a teacher of English and Economics.

Remember also the recent article by Jalal Alamgir (University of Massachusetts at Boston), "State(ments) of Emergency: Anti-Democratic Narratives in Bangladesh", published in the collection
"Anti-Democratic Thought", ed. Erich Kofmel (Imprint Academic, 2008).

The full text of the paper can be read here:


From January 2007 through early 2009, Bangladesh stood under military rule after "the norms of democracy had decayed so much that the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), the centre-right party that was in power, began openly to change electoral rules and institutions in order to engineer the coming national elections in its favour". The elections were held only in 2009. "The state of emergency that gagged independent political voices and action was accompanied by statements of emergency, essentially anti-democratic narratives marketed deliberately to discredit democracy as a political system in the context of Bangladesh. These narratives emanated from a variety of sources that sprung up to take advantage of the political void. These sources included the military patrons and their clients, regime collaborators or 'reformists' within political parties, and sections of the urban civil society."

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous20 May, 2010

    Experienced Peoples are in opinion that Bangladesh can not face the track of advancement of Science and Technology like other Asian Countries nearby Bangladesh

    Even Bangladesh will not be able to dream the face of digital world with existing colonial laws and legal system.