Bangladesh

In the past four days, Bangladesh has completely changed. Since Thursday, the Sheikh Hasina government has drawn a veil of darkness over the entire country. Under the cover of a telecommunications blackout, it has committed the worst massacre Bangladesh has seen since the 1980s, if not since the 1971 war of independence. With it, the last drop of legitimacy has expired from the Awami League (AL) and Sheikh Hasina’s government.

Massive anger has erupted across Bangladesh, after the Awami League government of Sheikh Hasina sent police and paramilitary forces to murder students protestors. 39 were killed in the slaughter, conducted beneath an internet blackout. What started as a student protest movement after the government reintroduced a hated quota system for sought-after public sector jobs that would favour ruling supporters of the ruling Awami League, has now turned into a bitter struggle against a murderous regime.

Bangladesh, the eighth most populous country in the world, is being rocked by political and social upheaval. Opposition leaders have been arrested. Tens of thousands have clashed in the streets with police, leading to the deaths of two protestors.

Police and state authorities in Bangladesh have once again resorted to brutal repression. Allied with thugs like the Chhatra League, they unleashed an attack against protesting students at Shahjalal University of Science and Technology (SUST) in Sylhet. The students were protesting for basic demands and a representative body to look after their affairs in their hostel, but were met with police brutality unleashed by the university administration. The protesting students were beaten up on the campus, and attacked with stun grenades, tear gas and batons.

On Thursday 8 July 2021, around 16:30, the five-storey Hashem Foods factory in Narayanganj, Bangladesh went up in flames. Fire Service officials reported that they were not informed about the fire until around 17:50.

As the second wave of COVID-19 wreaks havoc across the country, the plight of the working class in Bangladesh is worsening. The situation has not yet reached the proportions seen in India just yet, it could soon get to such levels as the ruling class hasn’t taken any measures to provide basic health facilities and vaccines to the millions of workers who live in poverty.

The ruling class in Bangladesh announced a nationwide lockdown following 10 days of Independence Day celebrations, in which they cosied up to the reactionary Modi regime of India. Meanwhile, workers are facing death and infection on a massive scale, and the health sector is in a parlous state. Anger beneath the surface is building towards an eruption.

The workers and poor of Bangladesh are crushed between the COVID-19 pandemic and a severe economic crisis, while the government throws money at big business and wades in a swamp of corruption. For millions of people, winning a better society is a matter of life or death.

In the last week, over 20,000 workers took to the streets of Bangladesh to demand their wages after clothes factories stopped paying their staff due to a lack of orders. With the global coronavirus pandemic causing fashion retailers such as H&M, Walmart and Tesco to cancel their orders, many workers in Bangladeshi factories have gone up to two months without receiving any income. Now, in defiance of the nationwide lockdown, workers have organised massive protests demanding their money and risking infection to fight the bosses.

Massive student protests have been ongoing in Dhaka, Bangladesh related to road safety demands. On 29 July, two buses, with unlicensed drivers, crossed a footpath and collided, killing two students and injuring dozens of people. Since then, various neighbourhoods in Dhaka and neighbouring highways to other towns, such as Tangail and Narayanganj, have seen protests by students demanding justice and safer roads.

Forty-four years ago on 16 and 17 December 1971, Dacca fell and the Pakistani army surrendered East Pakistan in a humiliating defeat. Lieutenant-General A. A. K Niazi, Martial Law Administrator of East Pakistan, surrendered to Lieutenant General Jagjit Singh Aurora, Joint Commander of the Bangladesh-India Allied Forces.

Since 21st September 2013 up to 200,000 Bangladeshi garment workers have been demonstrating and taking strike action to demand an increase in the minimum wage from $38 to $100. As the protests entered their fourth day the militant mood of the workers was apparent and the weakness of the politicians, the bosses and the trade union leaders in the face of a mass workers’ movement is being revealed.

Following the collapse of the nine-storey Rana Plaza at Savar near Dhaka last week, the death toll of workers killed in the disaster had reached 501 by the morning of Friday 3rd May. Many people fear that the death toll will rise above 1000. While a large number of workers are still missing and feared dead, their relatives have taken to the streets to protest against the brutality of the Capitalist economic system that caused this tragedy. This latest incident took place just five months after the Ashulia tragedy near Dhaka in which more than 110 garment workers were burnt to death in a Tazreen Fashions factory after a fire broke out. No-one has yet been held responsible, let

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Ever since a recently established war crimes tribunal came to the verdict of a life sentence against the Jamaat-a-Islami chief, Abdul Qadir Mullah, on 5th of February for crimes against humanity during the civil war in 1971, Bangladesh has been embroiled in clashes and unrest in which several people have been killed and wounded.