General Ershad: The Brutal Dictator or The Saviour of Democracy?

Noor Hossain:

It is ironic that I’m writing this piece on our Victory Day that marked the end of our quest for freedom in 1971 . This is the day we’ve achieved territorial freedom.  The history says, we have achieved our political freedom in 1990 when the autocratic regime of Ershad had fallen against years of mass movement.   After the fall of Ershad, we have achieved  freedom for democracy– the freedom of politics in Bangladesh.

Perhaps my narrative would hurt the memories of Noor Hossain or Dr. Milon, two iconic martyrs who were fallen in our struggle to democracy and freedom during the autocratic regime of Ershad.

However, the responsibility of insult, if any to the fallen martyrs, requires to be taken by Awami League, who in the name of democracy and freedom, confiscated freedom and democracy in Bangladesh, step by step, day by day, by force and by bullets –all in the name of freedom and democracy.

Ershad was brutal too. He ruled Bangladesh for about nine years. He curtailed freedom of media, picked up people, played with parliament and so forth. However, no body had seen Ershad or law enforcers were firing indiscriminately to the citizens of Bangladesh, months after months, with little care.

Indeed, Ershad did not declare war against the people of Bangladesh to save his regime. Not to the extent we’re seeing it today. This year, hundreds have been dead in political violence and more are to be dead as Awami League decided to crack down on the opponents with the help of law-enforcing agencies. They’re to launch the attack from December 17, according to reports by newspapers.

Yes you read it right, Awami League decided to crack down opponents. I suggest you to read that  Awami League would shoot down opponents with the help of law-enforcers in this case.

Imagine the picture, a group of civilians are going to kill civilians from opposition with support from state institutions of law enforcing agencies by subverting judicial procedures. It seems, we are in the dress rehearsal session for Afghanistan or Iraq in Bangladesh, where mercenaries are to join hands with militaries to counter oppositions. After all Chatroleagues are mercenaries, they are paid to avail socio-political privileges, in exchange of their dirty work to protect a monarchy or that type!

This means the judicial institution of the state is compromised. It has been done long ago but it is official now. Interestingly, extra-judicial killings of opponents by Awami League who are using state institutions to support its dirty agenda, is not without support from our public intellectuals as Facebook celebrity Zia Hassan or Prothom-Alo editorial member Sohrab Hosain, who publicly urged in separate forms, to support, ‘State Institution’ that  in reality  is compromised by a political party or ‘  Rab and Police to encounter opposition’ against the backdrop of mayhem and chaos, deliberately created by the ruling party to deviate public attention from election issue.

In this state when intellectuals are at their lowest ebb of morality and ethics and the government had pushed the country on the verge of a civil war with its agenda to go ahead with an  one sided election, surprisingly a man stood up in favour of political freedom and democracy–it was Generel Ershad.

As a repercussion of his decision,  Ershad was arrested for not supporting a sham election. He even divorced his wife in accusation of betraying for striking a dirty deal with the current government to support an one-sided election, at least publicly. Skeptics argue that Ershad is staging a soap opera to divert attention.

After 23 years of the fall of his tyrannical regime, it remains to be seen though how Ershad is to be evaluated in course of history.  Will we see him as a former autocrat who stood up against a present autocrat to save democracy in 2013?

Nevertheless, we need to agree that  Ershad is the rock n roll star of Bangladesh politics. Cause no body in the history of Bangladesh politics could rock and roll with the beat of political doldrums and sustain the way Ershad did.

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