The regime in Dhaka “tilts at windmills”
The dictatorships in the subcontinent have had to contend with public unrest due to the global rise in food prices. They’ve done it in characteristic style. The Burmese generals cracked down hard on protesters. The Pakistanis sent troops to warehouses and flour mills, acting rather late in the day. The Bangladeshi regime, meanwhile, is caught between going the repressive way and the costs of being bracketed with the ill-reputed juntas of the region.
Mashuqur Rahman writes that they blamed ‘a foreign body’ for stoking labour unrest, arrested Mehedi Hasan, a trade unionist, and forced him to confess. Confess what? Well, that he did his usual job of collecting information of collecting information about worker’s problems and reporting it to Workers Rights Consortium (WRC), which “represents 178 American colleges and universities who buy garments from brands with factories in countries like Bangladesh. WRC defends the rights of garment workers against abuse. Its reports hold the garment factories’ feet to the fire”.
Meanwhile food prices are rising, and calls for subsidies are becoming louder. Bangladesh’s generals know that they need international assistance in order to make food available and affordable. So it is not surprising that they decided to release Mr Hasan.