A Fervent Appeal to Dr. Fakhruddin Ahmed, Chief Adviser, Caretaker Government of Bangladesh
Release the Arrested University Teachers Immediately
Published on August 28, 2007
1. Saidur Rahman Khan 2. Harun-or-Rashid
3. Anwar Hossain 4. Abdus Sobhan
(Picture source: Daily Star)
Dear Honorable Chief Adviser,
We are horrified to learn that no other than but your caretaker government, which we consider as most gentle and civilized government of Bangladesh in recent past, arrested as many as five senior university professors of Dhaka and Rajshahi Universities on the alleged suspicion that these teachers holding distinguished academic posts (such as erstwhile VC, dean, head etc.. ) in the university were involved in organizing anti-government demonstrations and agitation outside the university campus. The arrested teachers are:
- Prof. Anwar Hussain, Chairman, Dept. of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology and General Secretary, Dhaka University Teachers Association (DUTA).
- Prof. Harun-or-Rashid, Dean, Dept. of Social Science, Dhaka University
- Prof Saidur Rahman, Former Vice-Chancellor of Rajshahi University
- Prof. Abdus Sobhan, Convenor of Rajshahi University Progressive Teachers Society
- Prof. Moloy Kumar Bhowmik, Dept. of Management, Rajshahi University
Honorable Mr. Chief Adviser, barring the arrests of several teachers during Pakistani occupation period in 1971, before or after no government in Bangladesh (including governments of Pakistani days) had arrested any university teacher for criticizing a sitting government or even participating in anti government movement(s). Sir, in this respect your government certainly made a history when it had picked up five senior professors in the dead night in a Gestapo style by the disciplined force in civil dress and put them under police remand for interrogation. By arresting several university teachers in this way, and closing down the university your government has shown little respect to the academic community and university autonomy. Certainly criticism of a sitting government or even participation in a non-violent resentment against the government should be treated as offence amounting to arrest. Your government treated these professors, each one is distinguished in his own field, as if they were criminals of third grade. In no way we are convinced that they are anti-state elements, anti-socials, but might be critic of your government on many policy issues, but certainly they could not be held responsible for organizing, least participating in violent public demonstrations held out side the campus from 22 August on wards in the country. On the contrary, it is interesting to note that you picked up those teachers who are known to be progressive, believer in liberal democracy, secularism, anti-communalism and anti-fundamentalism; pro jamat & pro BNP teachers, though participated in the present agitation within the campus remained untouched so far. Was it not a motivated political step taken by your government, sir- we beg to ask?
We all know the current military-backed CTG took over power amid chaos, unrest and rampant corruption created by the previous BNP-Jamat government, politicians and bureaucrats country wide. We hoped the CTG�s main focus would be - taking all necessary steps to create a level playing field to ensure a free and fair election although Bangladesh has many other pressing issues of irregularities. Unlike the past governments, we thought for the first time we saw some rays of hope for a progressive, free and corruption-free democracy. But as time progressed, it seemed to us, the CTG became more political than necessary and in many ways, deviated from its chief mission. Despite his repeated utterances that army has no interest in politics General Moeen himself continued issuing explicitly politically biased speeches on several occasions. We believe General Moeen�s role in controlling and influencing the CTG to some extent has given a wrong signal to military personal that they are somewhat �the masters� of the people. Or else, how does one account for so many cases of gross human rights violations since the CTG came to power? The recent example of army and police force�s brutal attack on students in Dhaka only reaffirms us of army and police�s arrogant and imperious attitude. Although it is true that you as chief adviser have expressed sorrow and took some actions to appease the agitated students and people nationwide, the unwarranted and unjustified arrest of five respected university teachers makes your sincerity a suspect in the public eye.
The details of the arrest of five university teachers remind us of how through a deeply-planned conspiracy to cripple the nation some of our greatest heroes including many university teachers, were kidnapped, tortured and murdered by the Pakistan army and its local collaborators in 1971. We don�t wish to see the repetition of such vicious act in independent Bangladesh and that too, in 2007. The people of this country do not want the police or any other security force personal behave like a master. That said, we submit the following demands before the CTG government of Dr. Fakhruddin Ahmed:
- Release the five arrested university teachers immediately. Also, of the tens and thousands of people arrested country wide, set all those free against whom no legal charges are pending.
- Ensure the release of the report of inquiry commission set up to investigate recent incidence at Dhaka University among public. Merely setting up an Inquiry Committee to appease the masses is not enough.
- ASAP, punish those army and police personal who physically attacked the DU students.
- Withdraw all kinds of censorship and ban on the new and communication media. Every citizen of Bangladesh, whether at home or abroad, is entitled to know what is going on in his/her country. This is their inherent and inalienable right, not any mercy from any government.
Last but not the least-
- Ensure a free and fair election as the first priority of the CTG and inform the citizens this government�s exit strategy and time table for hosting the election for the sake of transparency.
We sincerely hope it is still not too late for you to set up a good precedent for the future governments. That said, we submit to you sir, as chief adviser of the CTG - taking the above-mentioned steps would only help the government achieve its long term goal; at least this is what we believe.
Mukto-Mona Humanist Forum
August 28, 2007
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