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More Than 100 Schools Torched in Anti-Election Violence in Bangladesh

Written by পান্থ রহমান রেজা (Pantha)Translated by Rezwan On 5 January 2014 @ 10:57 am | 1 Comment

In Bangla, Bangladesh, Breaking News, Citizen Media, Education, Elections, English, Governance, Human Rights, Law, Media & Journalism, Politics, Protest, South Asia, War & Conflict, Weblog

Guards carry ballot boxes and equipment to a polling station that will be used for the 10th parliamentary elections. Image by Naveed Ishtyak. Copyright Demotix (4/1/2014) [1]

Guards carry ballot boxes and equipment to a polling station that will be used for the 10th parliamentary elections. Image by Naveed Ishtyak. Copyright Demotix (4/1/2014)

The eve of Bangladesh's 10th national parliamentary elections [2] saw a wave of violence as more than 100 schools turned polling stations in 20 districts [3] were set fire by protesters and a polling officer on duty was beaten to death [4] in Thakurgaon.

The elections scheduled for 5 January 2013 are particularly tense, with many opposition parties led by the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) boycotting [5] the vote and their supporters engaging in violent protests throughout the country [6]

Web users have harshly condemned the torching of schools. Farhana Azim Shiuly [7] wrote on Facebook:

নির্বাচন প্রতিহত করার জন্য দেশে অনেক ভোট কেন্দ্র পুড়িয়ে দেয়া হচ্ছে। এমন খবর শুনে টিভির সামনে বসে দেখলাম আগুনে যা পুড়ছে তা তো ভোটকেন্দ্র নয়। আগুনে জ্বলে যাচ্ছে সারি সারি স্কুল ঘর। বছরে ১ দিনের জন্য যাকে আমরা ভোটকেন্দ্র নামে ডাকি, বাকি ৩৬৪ দিনই তার নাম স্কুল। রাজনীতির নামে মানুষ পুড়েছে। এখন পুড়ে যাচ্ছে মানুষ গড়ার কারখানা।

Many polling stations across the country are being burnt to halt the elections. I heard the news and sat in front of the TV only to find that the burning houses are actually local government schools. Fire is engulfing an array of schoolrooms. What we call a polling station one day in some years are actually educational institutions. We have seen that people are being burnt for no reason in the name of politics. Now the labs for forming people are being burnt.

Writer and educationist Joydeep Dey Shaplu [8] denounced the arson and reminded that Bangladesh already does not have enough schools for its huge population:

যুদ্ধক্ষেত্রে স্কুল পোড়ানো হয় কিনা আমার জানা নেই। তবে যাই করা হোক, একবার ভাবা হয়, যুদ্ধের পর শান্তির সময় কি করে দেশ চলবে। এই বোধটাও আজ আমাদের নেই। দু'দিনের রাজনীতির জন্য তিল তিল করে গড়ে ওঠা শিক্ষাব্যবস্থাকে ধ্বংস করে ফেলা হচ্ছে। চোট পেলে সেরে যায়, বিকলাঙ্গ হলে তো কিছুই করার থাকে না। আন্দোলনের নামে পুরো জাতিটা বিকলাঙ্গ হয়ে গেলে কাদের নিয়ে দেশ চালাবেন আপনারা?

I don't know whether schools are burnt during war. But whatever is done, there is a thought, how the country will progress after the war. In our country, the developing education sector (in its own war of decreasing illiteracy) is being destroyed. A little sickness heals, but if you are crippled, you will suffer for life. If you cripple the nation in the name of protest, how will you take this country forward?

On Twitter, media worker Jabed Sultan Pias (@piasbd [9]) wrote that he lost his first school in his hometown to fire:

1. My first school, Madanpur Government Primary School, Netrokona. Yesterday they torched my beloved school.

Lawyer Shah Ali Farhad (@shah_farhad [12]) tweeted that this time the target are the schools by the opposition protesters:

Opposition party supporters set a van on fire at Shanti Nagar in Dhaka, ahead of the Bangladesh National Party led 18-Party Alliance’s countrywide 84-hours strike. Image by mamunur Rashid. Copyright Demotix (9/11/2013) [18]

Opposition party supporters set a van on fire at Shanti Nagar in Dhaka ahead of the Bangladesh National Party led 18-Party Alliance’s countrywide 84-hours strike. Image by mamunur Rashid. Copyright Demotix (9/11/2013)

Trees also became a target for protesters. Hundreds of trees across highways were cut down [19] to use as road blockades during recent political violence across the country. Sheikh Rokon [20] wrote in Facebook:

Yes, enjoy the ‘politics’ my friends. They had cut thousands of roadside trees for ‘blockade’. Now they have started burning the schools to ‘block’ the election. Claps! Claps! Claps!

Bangladesh has witnessed such opposition-less elections before, but the protests was not as violent. Arif Jebtik [21] reminded violent protesters:

[…] এরশাদের ১৯৮৮ সালের নির্বাচন ঠেকাতে আলাদা আলাদা অবস্থান থেকে চেষ্টা করেছিল বিএনপি, আওয়ামী লীগ, জামায়াত, বামদল সহ সবাই-কিন্তু সেই নির্বাচন ঠেকানো যায়নি।

খালেদা জিয়ার ১৯৯৬ সালের ১৫ ফেব্রুয়ারির নির্বাচন ঠেকাতে আলাদা আলাদা অবস্থান থেকে চেষ্টা করেছিল আওয়ামী লীগ, জামায়াত, বামদল-কিন্তু নির্বাচন বন্ধ হয়নি।

সুতরাং আগামীকালের নির্বাচন ঠেকাতেও বিএনপি-জামায়াত পারবে না।

কিন্তু এর আগের ঘটনাগুলোয় স্কুল পোড়ানো হয়নি।
এবার স্কুলগুলো পোড়ানো গেল-এটাই নগদ লাভ। জামায়াতকে কোলে তুলে নিয়ে রাজনীতি করে বিবর্তনে এই জায়গাতেই পৌঁছাল বিএনপি!

[..] In 1988 during President General Ershad's time, all the main political parties (Awami League, BNP, Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami and the leftists) tried to stop the elections but could not succeed.

During BNP's 15 February 1996 one-sided elections, Awami League, Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami and the leftists all tried to resist the election but failed.

So BNP-Jamaat will not be able to stop this election.

But in all previous incidents no schools were burnt.

This time BNP has gained this accolade. This is their politics of promoting Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami's cause.

Journalist Fazlul bari [22] blamed Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami for the arson of schools:

নির্বাচন ঠেকানো নিয়ে বিএনপি হাল ছেড়ে দিয়েছে’ এমন একটি রিপোর্ট ছাপা হবার পরই ‘হাল’ পুরোপুরি নিজের কর্তৃ্ত্বে নেয়া শুরু করে দিয়েছে যুদ্ধাপরাধীদের দল জামায়াত-শিবির! পেট্রোল বোমা, মানুষকে পুড়িয়ে মারার সন্ত্রাসের পর ভোট কেন্দ্রে আগুন দেয়া সহ অকল্পনীয় নানান সন্ত্রাস শুরু করে দিয়েছে দেশ বিরোধী এই অপশক্তি! […]

There was a report published recently that BNP has given up on resisting the elections. After that, the party of war criminals Jamaat entered the charade of showing who's in control. They have already used petrol bombs on people in buses, houses and are not below such extreme violence like burning schools.

Article printed from Global Voices: https://globalvoices.org

URL to article: https://globalvoices.org/2014/01/05/more-than-100-schools-torched-in-anti-election-violence-in-bangladesh/

URLs in this post:

[1] Image: http://www.demotix.com/photo/3607548/bangladesh-10th-general-elections-dhaka-prepares-polling-stations

[2] 10th national parliamentary elections: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bangladeshi_general_election,_2014

[3] more than 100 schools turned polling stations in 20 districts: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-25602436

[4] polling officer on duty was beaten to death: http://www.dhakatribune.com/bangladesh/2014/jan/05/assistant-presiding-killed-thakurgaon

[5] boycotting: https://globalvoicesonline.org/2014/01/04/why-the-opposition-is-boycotting-the-election-in-bangladesh/

[6] violent protests throughout the country: https://globalvoicesonline.org/2013/12/04/how-many-burning-bodies-will-satisfy-them-political-violence-in-bangladesh/

[7] Farhana Azim Shiuly: https://www.facebook.com/fazimshiuly/posts/10152238391577652

[8] Joydeep Dey Shaplu: https://www.facebook.com/shaplu/posts/10203055486333131

[9] @piasbd: https://twitter.com/piasbd

[10] http://t.co/A9KqZYstgO: http://t.co/A9KqZYstgO

[11] January 4, 2014: https://twitter.com/piasbd/statuses/419338273853423616

[12] @shah_farhad: https://twitter.com/shah_farhad

[13] #Bangladesh: https://twitter.com/search?q=%23Bangladesh&src=hash

[14] http://t.co/MIhBy3IEX0: http://t.co/MIhBy3IEX0

[15] #SaveBangladesh: https://twitter.com/search?q=%23SaveBangladesh&src=hash

[16] #Terrorism: https://twitter.com/search?q=%23Terrorism&src=hash

[17] January 4, 2014: https://twitter.com/shah_farhad/statuses/419459475435552768

[18] Image: http://www.demotix.com/photo/3181951/bangladesh-eight-vehicles-torched-ahead-opposition-strike-dhaka

[19] Hundreds of trees across highways were cut down: http://www.newagebd.com/detail.php?date=2013-12-28&nid=78367#.Ushk_vQW1kg

[20] Sheikh Rokon: https://www.facebook.com/SheikhRokon/posts/10202109276266388

[21] Arif Jebtik: https://www.facebook.com/jebtik/posts/10151827561566606

[22] Fazlul bari: https://www.facebook.com/fazlul.bari.9/posts/10152115619967590

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