The US sanctions on RAB and the international community's voice against human rights violations in Bangladesh have helped rejuvenate the BNP rank and file to take to the streets fearlessly, as reflected in its recent rallies, according to the opposition party's secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir.
He also said that the law enforcement forces are not as aggressive towards the BNP's programs as they were in the past because it is a universal practice that civil and military bureaucrats do not stand against the people when they put up resistance with just demands.
In an interview with UNB this week, Fakhrul talked about many other issues, including BNP's plans for the simultaneous movement, the Dhaka rally on December 10, the Election Commission, the next general election, the proposed national government, and its relations with Jamaat and India. This is the first part of the interview.
"When the government was continuing all misdeeds at an unstoppable pace without facing any resistance and a loud voice from inside and outside the country, the US sanctions on RAB naturally instilled new hope in the democracy-loving people of Bangladesh. It has also inspired BNP," he said.
The BNP leader also said their party leaders and activists got a message through the sanctions that the democracy-loving international community would no longer accept such activities, especially the incidents of human rights violations.
"The US in its reports was voicing concerns over Bangladesh's human rights situation for several years. But this time they not only raised their voices against human rights violations, but also they acted (through the sanctions). It's undoubtedly encouraged us greatly. On the other hand, the visit of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michele Bachelet to Bangladesh and her subsequent statements on the issue definitely inspired us," he observed.
Mass awakening begins
Fakhrul said the most positive side is that people are now coming forward to put up a resistance against the government's repressive acts.
Citing past instances, he said when people start showing their guts defying barriers, the state institutions that the government is using may not always obey its unjustified instructions confronting the masses.
"We know very well our civil and military bureaucracies. When people will stand up with resistance then the civil and military bureaucracies do not take positions against the crowds. It happened in Sri Lank and it happens everywhere," he said.
Fakhrul said the law enforcers are now not showing an aggressive attitude like in the past, especially after Bhola, Narayanganj and Munhsiganj incidents of police firing that killed four opposition activists.
Asked whether it is a strategy to bring BNP to the polls, he said. "I don't feel so. We think they're (law enforcement agencies) probably doing it out of their some sense of responsibility towards people."
Desire for peaceful political changeover
Fakhrul said people are waking up against Awami League as its misrule has reached such a level that they now cannot think about anything but a change in the government.
As a political party, he said they want to bring about a change in power through a peaceful mass upsurge and it is possible since the nation did it in the past, including in 1990. "We're a liberal democratic party and we want to see a mass uprising involving people in our movement in a peaceful manner."
In response to a question of what the BNP will do if the problem is not resolved in a peaceful way, he said no government in the past wanted to concede to people's demands till the last minute. "But when they don't find any option to cling to power, either they make their own escape routes or people create a new path."
The BNP leader, however, said that moment has not yet come. "A movement was carried out against Ershad for nine years. But that moment didn't come before the killing of Dr Milon in 1990. We're noticing that people are now gradually going to the point of no return and people are joining our programmes defying all barriers."
He said the masses consider the current regime as an anti-people and they feel Awami league is working only for their own welfare. "They're also fed up with the unusual price hikes in essential commodities, utility services, and the gas and power crisis."
Besides, the BNP leader said the leaders and workers of the political parties have been persecuted so much that they are also not able to do any political activities freely. "The government is also obstructing rallies and meetings and attacking the opposition activists. Under the current economic and political circumstances, people think an immediate change is necessary and a healthy atmosphere won't be created if Awami League stays in power."
Polls-time neutral govt main target
Fakhrul said BNP's main target now is to establish a non-party polls-time caretaker government ousting the current "fascist" regime so that a credible national election can be held in the country.
"We'll think about going to polls once the caretaker government is installed. From our past experience, we strongly believe that a fair and acceptable election can't be held under the current government. So, our present goal is to intensify the movement together with other opposition parties to force the government to quit and establish a caretaker government," he said.
Mirza Fakhrul Islam alleged that the state agencies are spreading false campaigns that the BNP will go to the polls after reaching an agreement with the government. "They're doing it to weaken our movement and mislead the people. BNP in no way will take part in any election under the current government. That is taken for guaranteed."
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