Our Politics: External Interference And our Compliance

February 21, 2013 12:41 pm 23 comments __
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 6292_231793340242_4768360_nBy Manirul Islam

Interference of foreign diplomats, particularly from the first world countries, into our internal affairs, often crosses borderline of diplomatic etiquette. But these blatant violations are well received by our tamed and leashed political leadership, partly due to emergence of mono-centric new world order and mostly due to moral corrosion of our political institutions.The elite Ambassadors mutually determine their esoteric roles and rites to implement their grand design of hegemony. Covertly Western belligerency in Bangladesh affairs initiated soon after victory of 1971 to settle an old vendetta percolated by the humiliating defeat of the West-Arab alliance in our blood-drenched liberation war that also bisected Pakistan, the most trusted regional partner of the West. Second imperative for this protracted furtive operation was the necessity to politically correct the secular-left deviation of the post-liberation government of a Muslim populous country which necessarily spilled blood and obliterated our history of politics imbued by patriotism and sacrifice.After the phase of bloody corrections, foreign interventions into our politics in various forms and facades, from Arab goodies to syrupy sermons on democracy and human rights to Padma Bridge, became shamelessly visual and brazen. Our tail wagging intellectuals, civil society,business Moguls and even religious leaders scramble with politicians torelish a little slice of pie and to raise the goblet of red wine to toast gratitude and allegiance to the foreign Master. Master is always right.

To make politics difficult for the politicians in our country, to turn politics into a mercantile tool by opening floodgate of dollar and Riyal and, last but not the least to assist, choreographed return of faith based politics in our politics by reinstating unrepented wartime enemies –these were the objectives achieved through the proliferation of 1975 coup d’état on the political landscape of our nation. This seismic political change was devised by the USA to keep Bangladesh bleed by perpetuating political anarchy through dysfunctional democracy. Initially ideologically dislodged freedom fighters, army officers and bureaucrats repatriated from Pakistan, collaborators of 71 and Maoist extremists executed the plan but whole nation fatefully succumbed to it. In the process, gradually history, national heroes, even national anthem became deadly contentious and the nation has been reshaped to become lab guinea pig for western experiments. Eventually, for the sake of survival in the new global reality, our pro-liberation political forces crawled past the apocalyptic tragedy, waved their frail hands clasping olive branch in allegiance to the new global guardians, virtually to the past exterminators, as a survival strategy. This is the status quo of our politics with precarious political equilibrium between two domestic wartime enemy camps and external guardians overlooking from the top. Now let us bring into context few instances, when these guardian angels or their diplomats issue directives and instructions on our complex national issues, particularly on democracy and human rights, which are fraught with contradictions and fallacies.

In Saudi Arabia, association with or formation of any sort of political party, even Islamic, is punishable to medieval death. In Bangladesh Saudi Embassy is the logistic and spiritual mentor of Islamic politics and they provide all sorts of security to the Islamic juggernauts to physically exterminate secular genesis of Bangladesh.

EU has been given the portfolio of overlooking our human rights. During recent one-eleven seize, UK played the role of a mastermind to carry out infamous ‘minus two’ political reform.  On 27th October 2010, European Union Ambassador Stefan Frowein at his farewell meeting at Dhaka Reporters Club reiterated his demand for world class fairness and transparency in the trial of our war criminals and also urged pro and anti-liberation-war political forces to work in harmony under the canopy of democracy. The recent history of Europe stands in stark contrast with the Ambassador’s farewell sermon. In Nuremberg trial the Nazi war criminals were denied their right to appeal against their verdict, but in our trial war criminals have the right to appeal. The bodies of the war criminals executed by Nuremberg verdict didn’t get any burial. The Nazi or Fascist ideology, till today, sixty seven years past the war, is a punishable offence; leave alone the fundamental political rights of the supporters in the democratic process of EU. In the most recent US orchestrated ‘War on Terror’ EU member countries unlawfully executed US sponsored ‘extraordinary rendition program’ by brazenly violating international  law, Geneva Convention and UN Human Rights Charter. Initial clamor of dissidents like Portuguese MP in EU Ana Gomes triggered few mind-soothing setups of investigations which eventually were buried in the oblivion. All these historical references have been drawn in to prove how disingenuous was the comment of HE Ambassador Frowein in the context of Bangladesh and the record of EU in the global context on issues like human rights and democracy.

The sacrilegious intervention and unsolicited advice of the US Ambassador in almost all the affairs of our government has been increasingly louder and visual as the time passes by. Surprisingly our politicians, business leaders, intellectuals, journalists, NGO kingpins and civil society stalwarts have been in a frenetic race for compliance with this sort of ’Yankee Bullying’. In the world after 9/11 war on terror, invasions, extraordinary rendition, Guantanamo episode etc. have exposed USA as morally bankrupt with respect to international human rights issues and protocols. US pedagogy on democracy also turns incongruous irony when you compare two recent actions of the USA. First, the US military expedition to Iraq to replace secular dictator Saddam with democracy and it’s after-effect. Second, the first state visit of Obama to Saudi Arabia, the fundamentalists’ bastion, when he unequivocally declared that the demand of democracy is the internal affair of Saudi Arabia under it’s theocratic dictator.

In the wake of a spate of labor unrest in Export Garments sector in 2009; the government handling of the situation vis-à-vis the rights of the garment workers came under scrutiny in a FBCCI sponsored seminar held on 15th September, 2009 and  addressed by, among others, the then Ambassador of the USA, our Commerce Ministerand business stalwarts. Ambassador Moriarty went on rumbling at length on axiom of democracy and guarantee of workers right and admonished the government for police intolerance to wild cat street protest and vandalism. Beguiled Commerce Minister Col. Farook agreed quixotically to issue trade union license indiscriminately for every factory but moaned his feeble opposition to wanton vandalism in the name of street protest.  Ambassador Moriarty’s comment sounded holistic but hollow in the context of the glaring fact of fast diminishing labor movement in the US democracy.

If we take a quick insight into the history of labor union movement in the USA, the reality is appalling antipathy of the enlightened message of the honorable US Ambassador.  Under the torch of freedom and democracy, USA has become a paradise for reckless growth of capitalists where corporations and business houses are being transformed into defiant ‘exploitation machine’ of workers. When the US government turns it back to the countrywide foreclosures of houses of poor and disadvantaged citizens and mobilizes all national resources to bailout corporations from sinking into their sins, then democracy turns nemesis to human rights. As a consequence, today USA has become a graveyard of labor union movement.

To feel the pulse of the health of US trade union we can refer to recent statistical reports comparing percentage of unionized workers against total workforce – the pick was in 1953 when public sector had 32.5% unionized workers and private sectors 35.7%. The membership levels suffered a precipitous decline over the past four decades; public sector union density in 2007 has fallen to a very low of 12.1 percent, private sector has plunged even more steeply dropping to dismal 7.5 percent. If the decline continues at this rate, trade unionism will disappear in the US private sector pretty soon. For all those who support trade unions and see them as key to defending the rights of workers, this is a very worrying trend. In 2005 Hart Research Surveys conducted an opinion poll showing that 53 percent of US respondents would definitely or probably vote for a union if given the chance. In last decades, many North American business houses when moved to Asia, took undertaking from workers not to form union.

According to 2010 survey by Forbes, Wal-Mart of USA is the largest corporation in the world with about 2.1 million employees; also the largest employer in America has a strong anti-union policy. Wal-Mart spends millions in legal fees to fight the workers movement for labor union. It also maintains largest IT network primarily dedicated to deceive workers of rightful compensations and benefits. Wal-Mart has been consistently accused of locking night-shift workers at night, poor working conditions, paying workers below minimum wage, inadequate health care, exposing workers to health hazards and so on. Wal-Mart’s high employee turnover rate, 70 percent of it’s employees leave within first year, is the crystal clear evidence that this best success story of the free market system is founded on serious and systemic exploitation of it’s vast unhappy workforces. Same is the story of global giant fast food chain McDonald which also does not allow formation of any labor union, rather denial of rights is rampant. These are the showcase of capitalism where workers are virtual slaves under the shroud of their glittering success stories.

Wildcat strike (walk out of work without prior notice) is illegal in the USA and Canada, even for unionized workers. Seeking permission for a strike is often a long drawn complex legal wrangling and notification time varies on the status of the employer in the government priority list. To the contrary, the process of lay-off or lock-out of workers by the North American employers is an arbitrary and simple unilateral process. These factors along with increasingly difficult preconditions and processes of registering a new union and many other hostile elements have evidently contributed to the slow death and extinction of workers organized movements in North America. US political system or capitalist democracy has been designed to protect only corporate interest and therefore cannot sustain even the basic rights of the workers. But,so called repressive communist system like China is rapidly opening doors for collective bargaining power of the workers. In other words, the western democracy has redefined the status of workers as virtual slaves of capitals without guarantee of any basic right.

 

The reality is, US system cannot sustain any sort of labor movement. But we are taught by the USA to recognize wildcat strikes which meanstearing and gutting down of factories by our garment workers are their democratic tool to press home their demands. This is heck of a travesty when none other than the US Ambassador calls upon our government to be more tolerant to the anarchism and vandalism of the workers of our biggest national economic machine. Therefore HE the Ambassador’s cry for workers right sounded duplicitous, but naïve compliance of our politicians and business community to this undiplomatic rhetoric will certainly have a far reaching impact to cripple our national economy. Self-reliance of a third world country is not the objective of assistance program or the sermon of the West.

(Manirul Islam, recluse and nomadic by nature, travels from place to place without any permanent footprint, abode or address. More than three decades away from Bangladesh, he still clings to the root spread deep into the body of the Mother, yet nourished by the waves and winds of Kirtonkhola, where he was raised through infancy to youth. He writes both in Bangla and English and rarely published in our newspapers and periodicals. Far from being neutral, he vividly upholds the spirit of 1971 ideologically and politically.)

 

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