A call by Tarique Rahman – the acting chief of BNP convicted in a litany of cases including money laundering and the 2004 grenade attack on Sheikh Hasina – from London that “the fate of the country will be decided on the streets” has triggered criticism from rights activists and minority community leaders. This is an “an instigation to trigger a fresh spell of violence,” they said.
Moreover, they also pulled up Tarique for his address in which he sent “instructions to law enforcers and public servants.” “Such instructions from a fugitive are an act of treason,” they said.
With a photo a Tarique, a post shared from BNP media cell’s verified Facebook page reads: “The fate of the country will be decided on the streets.”
“What audacity on the part of a fugitive! This is blatant provocation!” – Prof Mizanur Rahman, eminent legal academic and former chairman of National Human Rights Commission of Bangladesh, remarked after Tarique Rahman’s video message was released.
In reference to the “fugitive life Tarique is leading in London for years, reportedly to evade justice,” Prof Rahman said, “The soil of a friendly democratic country cannot be used to conduct such unlawful acts.”
He stressed on the government to take up the issue with the British government. “Our mission in London should immediately lodge a strong protest with the British government. This cannot be permitted under the guise of freedom of speech.”
Advocate, rights activist and a leader of the minority community, Rana Dasgupta echoed a similar view and expressed concern.
Considering the violent attacks orchestrated by BNP in the past, “this current threat by Tarique is deeply concerning for the minorities in Bangladesh,” he said. “Any political party that complies with the basic tenets of democracy should have refrained from issuing such threats publicly,” Dasgupta, general secretary of Bangladesh Hindu Buddhist Christian Oikya Parishad, added.
In the run up to the 2014 national election, violence on the streets coupled with targeted attacks on minorities across the country still traumatize the victims, he observed.
“Between 2013 and 2015, over hundreds of families were attacked, properties were looted and places of worship were burnt, resulting in scores of deaths and destruction of property and livelihood,” Dasgupta said.
“When the country was ruled by Tarique and his mother, the scale of attacks on minorities orchestrated by BNP-Jamaat should be considered crimes against humanity,” he said.
Between 2001 and 2006, Tarique indulged in a series of gruesome crimes and high-profile corruption that resulted in his conviction in a number of cases including money laundering, as testified by an FBI agent, and the 2004 grenade attack to assassinate Sheikh Hasina.
Calling Tarique Rahman a symbol of “kleptocratic government and violent politics” in Bangladesh, the US embassy in Dhaka even recommended blocking his entry into the United States at the time.
The embassy believed Tarique was “guilty of egregious political corruption that has had a serious adverse effect on US national interests,” namely the stability of democratic institutions and US foreign assistance goals, a leaked US embassy cable said.