Friday, May 25, 2007

"quashing dissent"

"The leader of Bangladesh's military coup says he is happy to learn from media criticism, but critics are silenced," writes Timothy Sowula, a volunteer for an indigenous community rights NGO in Bangladesh. "General Moeen U Ahmed, who led Bangladesh's military coup in January and is widely seen to be pulling the strings of the interim government, told journalists earlier this week that he had no wish to enter politics formally, and did not intend to implement martial law.
He also admitted that there had been cases of media intimidation, but called them an "aberration", adding that "the government can learn from its mistakes, if there is any, from media criticism". The paradox is that there is no strong media criticism (because the military have blocked or banned it) so it would appear that the government is not making any mistakes. And so the state of emergency continues, and we all remain none the wiser.
"Bangladesh benefits from an intelligent media, and everyone has an opinion on current affairs. There has been plenty of comment on the proposed mechanisms for holding elections and the internal struggles of the political parties, but criticism of the current military leadership now exists almost solely on the internet. And while there is a passionate and highly dedicated network of blogs, these are nearly all maintained by expatriates, hosted on foreign servers and safe from intimidation but largely ineffectual in terms of proactively influencing debate in their home country. As so few Bangladeshis have access to the internet other than the urban elite, it can not be used as a tool for grass-roots political mobilisation." (Read full commentary)

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