How come does David Bergman claim himself an impartial and unbiased commentator on Bangladesh issue while his father-in-law Dr Kamal Hossain represented Khaleda Zia and Tarique Rahman during the last general elections?
Why did Zia family pick Dr Kamal against the will of senior BNP leaders to lead the alliances against Awami League? It is because they knew the decades-long vendetta of this former Awami League man against people’s leader Sheikh Hasina. And the Zia family wanted to capitalise his so-called secular and progressive political views he claimed to represent during his life-time.
This was not the first time that Dr Kamal put aside his principles for grabbing power nakedly. In 2006, Dr Kamal rushed to give legal cover to an illegal takeover by the military which was backed by Dhaka elites and the international community. As a brutal state of emergency was declared trampling the country’s constitution, Dr Kamal publicly defended the indefinite postponement of elections which the Awami Legaue were projected to win by a landslide. His daughter and David Bergman’s wife, Sara Hossain, a human rights lawyer, privately exhorted the benefits of illegal arrest of Sheikh Hasina and other political leaders while the military was ‘cleaning up politics’.
Before arriving in Bangladesh, David Bergman had no career in print journalism. But due to being the son-in-law of one of Bangladesh’s most famous lawyers, he was given the type of access and influence that few other foreigners could rely on. However, he ended up in a fluctuating career at the top English newspapers in Bangladesh, each stint usually ending in acrimony. But he was always given a second, third or even fourth chance due to being Dr Kamal’s son-in-law.
He did not speak a Bangla word and his main sources of information were the wealthy Bangladeshis he met at diplomatic cocktail parties who mirrored the narrow, interest driven and elite-centric political views of his father-in-law. He used to live in his father in law’s sprawling compound. Regarding his earnings, it is a fair question to be asked whether he was also financially dependent on Dr Kamal Hossain or not.
Dr Kamal’s political views undoubtedly put a colour and biasness in David Bergman’s perspective on Bangladesh. He has been fighting on behalf of his father-in-law and a smear campaign and obsessive coverage against the Prime Minister and her family is a testament to this. What else has he written about except this propaganda? Any organisation that recruits David Bergman to write about Bangladesh has an ethical duty to flag up this clear conflict of interest.