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International support sought to fight violence, misinfo

Staff Reporter:

Experts at an international webinar have described violence and misinformation as the two main barriers to Bangladesh’s ongoing socioeconomic development led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, and sought wholehearted support from global friends to Bangladesh’s fight against violence and misinformation.
In the webinar held on November 6, they opined that sustainable democratic process, as well as partici-patory and acceptable elections is only viable when the culprits of violence and disinformation are ban-ished from the political process, urging the US policymakers not to make an Afghanistan-style spoil out of Bangladesh.
Pointing out Bangladesh’s rapid progress, especially in the big infrastructure sector, like the Padma Bridge, Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant, Karnaphuli Tunnel, Metro Rail and Dhaka Elevated Expressway, the panelists of the webinar have given full credit to continuation of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina-led government for 15 years.
The webinar titled “Violence and Misinformation: Barriers to Economic Prosperity in Bangladesh” was presided over by Councilman, Freedom Fighter, and Prominent Writer Dr. Nurun Nabi, according to a press release from US-based Global Forum for Violence-Free Secular Democratic Bangladesh received here yesterday.
The five internationally recognized panelists who joined the event were: Professor Abdur Chowdhury, Professor ABM Nasir, Security Analyst Chris Blackburn, political analyst Seth Oldmixon, and senior researcher Dr. Mazharul Islam Rana.
The speakers simultaneously highlighted the significant progress of Bangladesh in expanding the social safety net by introducing the allowances for the valiant freedom fighters, elderly and disabled people, widows and the women abandoned by their husbands to bring millions of Bangladeshis out of poverty.
They also observed that Bangladesh could experience more progress if the Jamaat-BNP-led opposition would not commit anarchy and violence during the period.
In this context, the panelists referred to the 28th October BNP-Jamaat-sponsored anti-government rally in Dhaka, and said they unleashed mayhem in the capital by killing a policeman, torching and vandaliz-ing several public and private vehicles and ambulances in the hospital, attacking the house of the Chief Justice, and injuring several journalists on the day Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the Banga-bandhu Tunnel, the first-ever underwater road tunnel in South Asia, in Chattogram.
About the demand of the BNP-Jamaat led political parties for a caretaker government in Bangladesh, the speakers wondered why did those parties asked for something unconstitutional?
They referred to the constitution and reminded that the elections should be held under the supervision of the Election Commission.
Professor Abdur Chowdhury mentioned that Goldman Sachs & Chase identified Bangladesh as one of the next top ten emerging economies of the world and this is amazing advancement coming from the war-ridden country in 1971.
He, however, said Bangladesh has some challenges because of the current global socio-political situa-tions, for example, the wars in Ukraine and Middle East and advocated for economic and political stabil-ity in Bangladesh especially for continuous and diverse-sectors foreign investments.
Chris Blackburn in his remarks cited a recent survey conducted by the International Republican Institute (IRI), and said that despite all of the current economic issues, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has 70% approval ratings.
Blackburn noted that Jamaat-BNP-led monopolized misinformation online has a real effect on the econ-omy of Bangladesh, so both the European and American partners should come forward to fight the dis-information campaign against Bangladesh.
He further mentioned that Tarique Zia is a well-known symbol of violence. The UK government is shel-tering some Bangladesh war criminals besides Tarique Zia and they need to have solution to this problem other than kicking the problem down the road.
Misinformation in social media is hurting Bangladesh both socio-economically, and the BNP is continu-ing its campaigns of arson & disinformation, he said.
Dr. Mazharul Islam said that the anti-liberation evil forces had created the plot of Bangabandhu murder by spreading continuous misinformation, disinformation, and the same anti-liberation forces are still active in present days under the guidance of convicted BNP leader Tarique Zia, the convicted killers of Bangabandhu, and Jamaat-e-Islam.
He said they helped by spreading disinformation regarding imposing sanction on the Rapid Action Bat-talion and visa restriction on some Bangladeshi nationals by the US government.
Prof ABM Nasir urged the American policymakers not to miss the golden opportunities to resist the rise of Islamic militancy and support the wheel to make Bangladesh an example of progressive democracy and a role model of the moderate Muslim country.
Citing the examples of series of violence soon after the BNP-Jamaat-led coalition came to power in 2001, he mentioned their five-year misrule from 2001-2006 was the darkest chapter in the country’s his-tory.
The BNP-Jamaat activists committed crimes against humanity during 2013-2015 by attacking the pro-liberation activists, law-enforcement agencies, religious and ethnic minorities, and progressive bloggers, while similar pattern of violence has reappeared since the start of BNP-Jamaat’s nationwide agitation programs on October 28, 2023, he said.
Prof Nasir urged the US policymakers that a sustainable democratic process and a participatory and ac-ceptable election are only viable when the culprits of violence and disinformation are banished from the political process-otherwise, it will end up in an Afghanistan-style spoil out.
Seth Oldmixon cited a study from the University of Dhaka and warned that the violent extremists are quite active to use the social media platforms to recruit people and instigate violence in Bangladesh.
To fight this misinformation campaign, he suggested starting a campaign with the positive information such as the 70% approval ratings of the current government as mentioned by the International Republi-can Institutions.

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