August 23, 2007Foreign Affairs

Too many rebels, too many causes

To avoid greater chaos, Bangladeshi politicians must be released

This is an archived blog post from The Acorn.

Drishtipat, a Bangladeshi blog, asks what are the protesters protesting about when all of the demands have been met? (via Rezwan/Global Voices). It is, of course, referring to the ongoing civil unrest in Bangladesh.

Courtesy: Rezwan/E-Mela/DailyStar

Photo: E-Mela/The Daily Star, via Rezwan

The protests and riots were triggered off by a clash between Dhaka university students and the soldiers stationed on campus. But they spread across the country. Surely, Bangladesh can’t have that many students?

Actually, there’s nothing really surprising about the protests. The country is under martial law, there is wide-spread media censorship, top political leaders are in prison and it’s quite likely that the crucial mid-ranking ones have been taken out of circulation by the military regime. Political discontent, with no safety valve, erupted into mass unrest: it’s not that the protesters don’t have a cause. They have too many of them.

The price of taking the leaders out of circulation is that the regime is left with no one to deal with in order to get the protesters to stand down.

Earlier this year, when the regime began putting political leaders behind bars, The Acorn wrote that creating a political vacuum would destabilise the country. Since Dhaka’s generals are so enamoured by the Musharraf model, they would do well to look at their idol in Islamabad and learn from his mistakes. Whatever they might say about their time-table for the restoration of democracy, releasing top political leaders is essential to keep Bangladesh from descending into chaos and bloodshed.

Update: The regime has now arrested two university professors, forgetting that when in a hole, it’s a bad idea to keep digging. They just don’t get it, do they?

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