The Daily Star has urged the Government to allow BNP/opposition parties to exercise their freedom of assembly. How is this appeal of the Daily Star at all relevant? With this appeal, it seems, as if BNP were not allowed to hold any public gatherings.
This politically motivated The Daily Star Editorial Statement begs some imperative counter questions:
Question 1. Hasn’t the BNP been allowed to exercise their freedom of assembly?
Question 2. Did The Daily Star not see that –
(a) BNP and other opposition parties have been doing rallies and public gatherings almost every other day – often on busy roads creating public trouble;
(b) BNP routinely organises long divisional public rallies in all the divisional cities;
(c) The Government offered BNP the scope to organize its final Divisional public rally in the most appropriate venue – the Suhrawardy Uddyan which was also one of the options of the venues that they sought;
(d) The Awami League shifted its planned national council of the Student wing for BNP’s benefit.
Can The Daily Star truthfully respond to the queries?
Question 3. Can The Daily Star the following measures undertaken by the BNP:
(a) BNP’s proposed date to hold the public gathering was on the 10th of December 2022. Moreover, on an agreed venue, law enforcement agencies were ready to provide full security to their event. Yet, BNP started taking a position on Naya Paltan Street by blocking it without any permission.
(b) When the police requested them to clear the street, they started throwing hand bombs and bricks etc.
(c) Many hand bombs were found in the BNP office – and were recovered by bomb squads and later destroyed.
(d) Essential commodities like rice, onion, vegetable oil, and thousands of water bottles were piled up in the BNP’s office and were also found with many oversized pots full of cooked food as if the preparation for war was taking place.
It is one thing to allow the opposition to exercise their freedom of assembly, but it is fundamentally illegal to suggest that any organization will be allowed to assemble for three consecutive days without permission when that party in question has a long history of cruel political violence against ordinary citizens and law enforcement agencies.
Consequently, it is pertinent that The Daily Star rather urges BNP to respect the Rule of Law and take full advantage of the democratic space to exercise their freedom of assembly in the venue which has been permitted -Suhrawardy Uddyan.
It is also imperative for The Daily Star to avoid acting like a BNPs political leaflet and uphold its journalistic neutrality by urging everyone to abide by the rules of law.
Writer- Mohammad A. Arafat
Chairman, Suchinta Foundation