Opposition to Neoliberal Policies in Bangladesh

By the CP of Bangladesh, Political Affairs, 6 October 2005

‘In the grip of imperialist treaties: How sovereign is Bangladesh?’

A national seminar by the central branch of Communist Party of Bangladesh on 2nd September came out with the opinion that Bangladesh is virtually being ‘recolonized’ by US imperialism. Discussing on ‘In the grip of imperialist treaties: How sovereign is Bangladesh?’ speakers cited three areas of interest by US imperialism towards Bangladesh namely:

(a.) using Bangladesh as a strong foot hold for encirclement and containment of China and other neighboring countries,

(b.) using Bangladesh as an instrument for ‘arm twisting’ against India when need for pressuring it to submit fully to US designs arises and also as a counter measure against the Red State Govts. of West Bengal and Tripura

(c.) exploiting the natural resources of Bangladesh.

These economic and military-political strategic interests of USA are behind the persistent moves over the past three decades to tie up Bangladesh in the net of dozens of secret and semi-secret ‘Agreements’. Many of these ‘Agreements’ contain articles which are clear infringements not only on the economic sovereignty of the nation, but also usurp the political sovereignty of Bangladesh.

The seminar paper presented by Hasan Tarique Chowdhury enumerated a long list of ‘Agreements’ signed in secrecy or semi-secrecy bypassing the parliament during the present and preceding regimes of BNP, AL, JP led govts. and cited the conditions of servitude towards USA that are included in these ‘Agreements’. These include:

(a.) Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA),

(b.) Humanitarian Assistance Needs Assessment (HANA)

(c.) Personal Identification, Secured Comparison and Evaluation System (PISCES)

(d.) Science and Technological Assistance Agreement

(e.) Peace Corps activity Agreement

(f.) Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) (g.) Immunity for World Bank Act etc.

Among other measures, these agreements allow the USA to move in its troops without permission of the Bangladesh govt. unilaterally without declaration about the arms carried by them and customs clearance of their cargo and baggage, setting up of intelligence and surveillance centers, penetration into the telecommunication system allowing interception and tapping of conversation etc. Establishing control over naval facilities in Chittagong port, and thereby gaining strategic presence in Bay of Bengal remains a strongly persued goal of USA. Speakers in the seminar called upon the Communists and other Left forces of Bangladesh to take the initiatives to unite and lead all patriotic and anti-imperialist forces of the country in the struggle against the neo-enslavers.

They also called upon to unite with the strengthening anti-imperialist movements all over the world and build up ‘Grand Global Rainbow Coalition Against Imperialism’.

Presided over by CPB Central Branch President Fariduddin Ahmed the speakers of the seminar included CPB President Manzurul Ahsan Khan, General Secretary Mujahidul Islam Selim, Prof. Sirajul Islam Chowdhury, Eng. Sheikh Md. Shahidullah, eminent journalist Syed Abul Moksud, Prof. Anu Mohammed and Prof. Imtiaz Ahmed.

Nationwide Hartal at the call of CPB

A Nationwide dawn to dusk Hartal (general strike) was successfully observed at the call of the Communist Party of Bangladesh to protest the govt. decision to raise fuel prices, the galloping increase in price of all essentials, the ultra-communal fascist armed perpetrators of the 17 August ‘Series Bombing’, the attempts to hatch political conspiracies, the anti-national connivance of communalism and imperialism and in support of the 11-point charter of urgent demands of CPB.

When the govt. declared a 23% increase in liquid fuel price, this for the eighth time during the 4 year rule of the present BNP-Jamat regime, CPB contacted AL and other opposition forces to declare a programme of Hartal against this on the 10th or 11th September. But AL, on the request of its allies agreed to a Hartal call for 18th Sept. CPB agreed to this proposal in the interest of coordinating the simultaneous moves of CPB and the AL-camp parties, though it considered that the delay was not helpful for the movement. CPB went forward with preparations of 18 Sept. Hartal, but on midway was approached by AL with the proposal of shifting the Hartal, citing as the reason an angry letter of the Australian High Commissioner ‘asking’ AL to shift the Hartal date because the Commonwealth Games Queens Baton Relay functions in Dhaka was scheduled on that day. AL shifted the date first to 15 Sept. and then to 21 Sept. CPB refused to do so, saying that frequent shifts of dates of such serious programme as Hartal effects the credibility and reflects adversely on the seriousness of the political parties regarding mass movement, which will be very harmful for future development of mass struggles, and that the Queens Baton Relay function can easily be given exemption from Hartal without changing the date. AL and its allies shifted the Hartal to 21 Sept. but CPB reiterated its call for 18 Sept. Hartal.

CPB carried on an extensive and vigorous campaign all over the country for 10 days in support of the 18 September Hartal and the economic-political issues for which the Hartal has been called. Police created obstruction in CPB campaign activities. 50 activists of CPB including many of its district leaders were injured in Bogra in police action on a procession there. The government resorted to repression in other places of the country.

Hartal was observed on 18 Sept. all over the country at the independent call of CPB alone. Shops, inter district road transport remained fully closed and most of the public and private offices were either closed were only partially attended. CPB activist brought out militant processions in all district headquarters and in many upajilla headquarters. Police obstructed the central procession in Dhaka and attacked it, injuring a city leader Dr. Sajedul Haq Rubel. Incidences of police obstructions and baton charges occurred in some other places also, including Syllhet, Khulna, Bogra, Jessore, Narayangang etc.

From Solidarity Network