Bourgeois political parties are unlikely to take steps for the welfare of ordinary people as they serve the interest of imperialism. The two big political parties, the Awami League and the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, which mostly ruled the country have always represented the same class of people. Ruling parties have always taken steps so that the rich became richer and the poor became poorer, Sheikh Muhammad Shaheedullah, convener of the national committee to protect oil, gas, mineral resources, power and ports, tells Moloy Saha in an interview with New Age
New Age: The ‘proclamation’ of Bangladesh’s independence, made on April 10, 1971, promised citizens ‘equality, human dignity and social justice’. Now, 44 years into the country’s independence, where does Bangladesh stand in terms of ‘equality’ — political, economic and cultural — of the citizens?
Sheikh Muhammad Shaheedullah: In its beginning, the war of independence had a unique ‘proclamation’ with pledges for equality, human dignity and social justice. But the pledges could not be fulfilled in 44 years of independence and no government has taken proper initiatives for its implementation.
Bourgeois political parties would never take steps for the welfare of ordinary people as they serve the interest of imperialism. The two big political parties, the Awami League and the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, mostly ruled the country and they have represented the same class of people. Ruling parties have always taken steps so that the rich became richer and the poor became poorer. So, equality could not be established in the country and in society. As a result, society now faces differences of class, communality and faith; and national minorities face repression.
New Age: Do you think that ‘human dignity’ of citizens, particularly of the poor millions, has been established in Bangladesh? If not, why?
Sheikh Muhammad Shaheedullah: Human dignity has not so far been established in the country. The poor here are always deprived by the rich and the rich exploit the poor in various ways. This is not acceptable.
But during the tenure of the Awami League-led government, the condition of the poor is improving slowly as the country has taken up some big development projects and the poor have benefited from the implementation of the projects.
The poor must be united and must carry on movements to realise their demands and changing their fates as the apparel workers did in the case of an increase in their wages. Left-leaning political parties should come forward to organise the poor to wage a united movement.
New Age: What is the state of ‘social justice’ in Bangladesh?
Sheikh Muhammad Saheedullah: Social justice has still not been materialised and the poor are deprived of social justice. The poor cannot to go to court for justice as it is costly for them and justice is often delayed. Successive governments have not taken adequate steps to ensure social justice for the poor. Incidents of extrajudicial killing and enforced disappearances have, rather, increased in the country.
New Age: What are your recommendations for materialising the ‘proclamation of independence’ at all levels?
Sheikh Muhammad Shaheedullah: For the implementation of the proclamation of independence, the government should first take steps to reduce the gap between classes. Difference between the rich and the poor must be reduced. The government should take more steps for the welfare of workers and should increased their wages.
The citizens should be given good education, treatment, housing and jobs so that they can have a better life. The formation of a permanent wage commission for the workers is also necessary. Cost in justice delivery system should be lowered so that the poor could have access to justice. Left parties should be united to wage movements against militancy, communalism, imperialism and fundamentalism. The state should ensure rights of minority people in accordance with constitutional provisions. The state should have no religion. Islam as the state religion should be dropped from the constitution.