BNP on Friday strongly protested a recent article written by The Daily Star Editor Mahfuz Anam about the party’s role during the August-21 grenade attack, 2004 and branded him as a ‘kingpin’ of democracy killers' in Bangladesh.
"A big question has arisen in the public mind whether Mahfuz Anam's journalism is a mask for objectivity. We turn down with hatred the remarks Mahfuz Anam made on August 21 and our leader (Khaleda Zia) in his dictated and ill-motivated article,” said BNP senior joint secretary general Ruhul Kabir Rizvi.
He made the remarks at a press conference at BNP’s Nayapaltan central office.
On September 15, The Daily Star Editor wrote the article headlined ‘After 30 years of autocracy’s demise, democracy still remains a distant dream’, marking the International Day of Democracy.
In the article, Mahfuz Anam said, “For those who may have doubted the BNP chief's direct involvement with this dastardly act found themselves totally betrayed by the way this national tragedy was handled in which 24 citizens were killed, including Ivy Rahman, chief of AL's women's wing and the wife of Zillur Rahman, a highly respected veteran political leader, later to become president. Practically no attempt was made to hold a credible investigation—strengthening suspicion of the government's involvement—and what we heard on the floor of the parliament dominated by BNP at that time, was both contemptuous of truth and disrespectful of public intelligence, foreshadowing the shameful "Joge Mia" incident and the farcical judicial inquiry that were to follow.”
Rizvi termed The Daily Star editor's remarks "purely false, misleading, ill-motivated and inconsistent".
Referring to the role of Mahfuz Anam during the army-backed caretaker government in 2007, he said, "Though Mahfuz Anam, one of the masterminds of the 1/11 political changeover, outcries for democracy, he is in fact the ‘kingpins’ of democracy annihilators and a subservient follower of fascism to gain his personal interests.”
Recalling Shakespeare's quote, “There’re more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy,” he said, “I can't say what happened in heaven, but Mahfuz Anam is an example of multi-faced people who are involved in many incidents.”
The BNP leader said, Mahfuz Anam ‘subtly’ spit venom against the previous BNP-led government while talking about democracy which is tantamount to ‘yellow’ journalism and the ‘shameless’ praise of the current ‘midnight’ government.
He said The Daily Star editor has now indulged in a competition of appeasing the government after repeatedly apologising for running news based on ‘false and fabricating stories’. “The vision and mission of his writing is to publish fabricated and baseless stories against BNP. Whether it’s out of fear or out of a desire for personal gains, it’s now his wish to appease the Awami government which is engaged in undemocratic and reckless behavior. Mahfuz Anam now has become a worshiper of Awami neo-Nazism.”
The BNP leader said Mahfuz Anam and his a few associates from the so-called civil society were involved in a deep-rooted conspiracy to establish the unconstitutional rule of 1/11 by annihilating democracy in the country. “Not transparent journalism, he has been working as an agent of foreign financiers, masters and local intelligence agencies. Mahfuz Anam's evil efforts and role in the destruction of democracy and the rise of fascism in Bangladesh will remain as a stigmatised history.”
He alleged that The Daily Star editor had played a "significant role" in creating the background for the arrest of the country's politicians and implementing the ‘minus-two formula’ during the 1/11 political changeover.
In the eyes of Mahfuz Anam, Rizvi said all the faults lie with the politicians as if politicians are all extortionists and thieves, and only they have amassed huge wealth illegally. “A list of politicians bringing fabricated allegations against them had been published in The Daily Star (during the 1/11) and more than 150 leaders imprisoned.”
Stating that the country has now become a 'stage of executioners' under the present Awami League government, Rizvi said, “We think his (Mahfuz Anam) article is a new addition to yellow journalism and outcry for democracy. Remember, when a vulture cries, it cries for the cow, not for any tragedy of the animals.”
BNP on Wednesday greeted Yoshihide Suga for being elected as the Prime Minister of Japan.
In a congratulatory message, BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said, “I would like to extend my heartfelt congratulations and best wishes to Yoshihide Suga on taking over as the new Prime Minister of Japan.”
Stating that Bangladesh and Japan are countries of huge potentials, he said the two nations are bound with cooperation and harmony.
The BNP leader hoped that the historical ties between the two countries would be strengthened further during the tenure of Suga. “Despite facing many difficult situations in the past, Bangladesh and Japan have not stopped their journey (of mutual cooperation), but have moved forward without any hesitation.”
He wished the new Japanese Prime Minister good health, long life and success.
In another message, party Acting Chairman Tarique Rahman also greeted Suga.
In a tweet earlier in the day, Fakhrul said, “Heartiest congratulations to excellency Suga on becoming the 99th Prime Minister of Japan.”
He also wished him all the best for a successful incumbency.
Contacted, Fakhrul said he personally greeted the new Japanese Prime Minister through a message on his Twitter account while BNP did it formally.
Japan’s Parliament elected Yoshihide Suga as prime minister on Wednesday, replacing long-serving leader Shinzo Abe with his right-hand man. He was also confirmed in the upper house.
Shinzo Abe announced his resignation last month citing ill health.
Also read: Yoshihide Suga named Japan's prime minister
BNP on Wednesday alleged that a ‘ruling party syndicate’ has raised the prices of onion by creating an artificial crisis despite having a sufficient stock of the kitchen item in the country.
Speaking at a press briefing at the party’s Nayapaltan central office, BNP senior joint secretary general Ruhul Kabir Rizvi urged the government to take stern steps and strengthen the market monitoring to keep the prices of all varieties of onion normal.
"Even though there is a huge stock of onion in the country, unscrupulous traders have reduced its sales. So, an acute shortage of onions has been created in the market. This crisis is artificial. We know from various sources and media reports about the good stock of onion,” he said.
The BNP leader said their party thinks the government is also playing tricks regarding the onion price hike. “The ruling party-backed syndicate is behind the price hike. The importers in connivance with the business syndicate pushed up the onion prices. We express concern over this unusual increase in onion prices.”
He said India has stopped exporting onions to Bangladesh right after the government sent hilsa to the neighbouring country as a gift. “As soon as the news stopping onion export by India reached Bangladesh, the players of the market syndicate started playing games.”
Also read: Govt importing onion from Turkey, Egypt
Rizvi said the government-backed syndicate has created the onion crisis artificially to make a quick buck and amass more wealth. “But the low-income people, the destitute, day-labourers, farmers, landless farmers and the poor are the worst sufferers.”
Putting an emphasis on taking prompt step to cool down the overheated onion market, he recalled that the onion prices increased to Tk 300 per kg last year due to the government’s ‘apathy’.
“The main focus of the government which came to power without people’s votes is to amass huge wealth through corruption and plundering. As a result, they’re indifferent to the people of the country. They don’t care whether the people live or die. A strange darkness has descended during the tenure of this regime,” the BNP leader observed.
Jatiya Party Chairman GM Quader on Wednesday urged the government to allow traders to import enough onions to keep the market normal as it is not possible to control the growing prices of the popular kitchen item through only TCB’s intervention.
“It’s not possible to regulate the market by supplying onions through TCB. It’s possible to give relief to a section of people through the TCB. Again, it’s not possible to keep the market normal by importing onions through the Commerce Ministry,” he said.
The Jatiya Party chairman said, “Traders should be allowed to import onions to keep the market normal. The government may monitor the procurement and sales of onions by traders.”
He made the remarks while addressing a views-exchange meeting with the leaders of Jatiya Sarak Paribahan Motor Workers Federation at the Jatiya Party chairman's Banani office.
The Jatiya Party chief said some people have plundered huge money in the name of Workers' Welfare Fund. “Money from the Workers' Welfare Fund has never been spent on improving the lot of ordinary workers. So, it’s important to audit the fund.”
He said the government can collect money for the Workers' Welfare Fund and spend it on ensuring the welfare of the workers. “In that case, the government can talk to owners and labour leaders.”
Also read: Govt importing onion from Turkey, Egypt
GM Quader said many people have built buildings in the country and abroad and amassed huge wealth through extortion in the name of workers.
He said there have been incidents of murder over sharing of the money collected in the name of workers. “But there’s no improvement in the lot of the unlucky workers.”
The Jatiya Party chairman said the country's workers' organisations are so strong that the government cannot control them. “Instead, the workers' organisations are trying to control the government to a large extent. It’s unfortunate for us.”
Like other organisations in the country, he said the workers’ organisations should be kept under the full control of the government.
BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir on Tuesday said their party’s prime task is now to free Khaleda Zia from “house arrest”.
"We think keeping Khaleda Zia under house arrest is a big crisis. This’s now imperative to bring her out. This’s the number one task of our party,” he said.
Hours after the government issued an executive order extending the suspension of Khaleda Zia’s jail sentences for another six months on two conditions, the BNP leader came up with the remarks while speaking at a virtual discussion.
As per the conditions, the BNP chief will not be allowed to go abroad for treatment as she will have to stay home and receive treatment there.
Fakhrul said taking their acting chairman Tarique Rahman back and freeing lakhs of party leaders and activists from ‘false cases’ is their second priority task.
He said it is now necessary to forge national unity by uniting the country’s people and political parties to ‘restore’ democracy in the country.
“I believe that the people of the country are always in favour of democracy. They won the fight against dictatorship, the War of Independence and the struggle to restore the rights of their mother tongue. They’ll also win this time in the struggle for the restoration of democracy.”
Bangladesh Nationalist Research and Communication (BNRC) arranged the programme on the occasion of 'International Democracy Day'.
BNP standing committee member Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain said there is a tendency all over the world to destroy democracy and democratic norms by a vested group for their economic and political interests. "This is a matter of concern for us."
He said the current government has ‘destroyed’ democracy by ‘snatching’ people’s basic and voting rights. “There’s no alternative to a strong unity of political parties and people to get rid of the current situation.”
Another BNP standing committee member, Moudud Ahmed, said Khaleda Zia’s full release from jail is necessary to ‘get back’ democracy. “But we need to work out the proper strategy to free her. We must take to the streets by uniting people.”