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|Volume 12 |Issue 06| February 08, 2013 ||
Say No to Hartals!
ANIKA HOSSAIN and TAMMANA KHAN
We, the people of Bangladesh are known to be resilient, but is that always a good thing? It's all well and good to be resilient against natural disasters and economic crises but does it make sense to let ourselves become casualties of political warfare? Ask yourselves, what it would be like to wake up one day, in a country without hartals. You don't have to worry about how to get to work without being killed on the streets, or your business closing down; your children can go to school and their school bus won't be burned down by arsonists in the middle of the road because someone wants to make a political statement. Classes at universities will not be cancelled and day labourers may earn the money for their meal at night. Imagine what it would be like, and now ask yourself again, why do we put up with it?
If you lived anywhere outside this country, a hartal would be completely unheard of. In most countries if a hartal was announced by opposition parties what do you think would happen? A mass uproar, that's what against such a ludicrous idea. In August 2011, the UK experienced unprecedented riots at the hands of underprivileged teenagers and opportunistic thieves for three nights. It shocked the nation into action from politicians to civilians, to ensure this never happens again. This was one isolated period of anarchy which was handled quickly and efficiently by local communities. We face this anarchy on a weekly basis and do nothing.
We cannot stop floods or earthquakes, but we should not treat this phenomenon of hartals the same way. Just because we live in this country doesn't mean we have to accept this as a part of our lives. Why have we become so submissive? At which point did we decide we have no control of our democratic rights?
We don't come out of our houses during the hartal because we fear for our lives. But think about it, nowadays, violent outbursts happen before as well as after the hartal hours or whenever political parties feel like protesting something, so what is the point of staying at home during a hartal? You'll get attacked another time anyway. You can't stay at home in fear forever.
If hartals were never announced by the media and we did not know one was in effect, would we not go about our regular lives without fear? We, the public outnumber pro-hartal activists by millions. If all of us decided together, to ignore hartals and go about living our lives, what could they possibly do? If we fought back, they wouldn't stand a chance, would they? It is our apathy that gives them power over us. Not a single one of us condone what has been going on, but we stay silent and silence is the same as giving them permission.
Innocent lives and valuable, hard earned property has been destroyed – this should serve to anger us rather than scare us, don't you think? So what do you say we all protest together and remind them that we have a voice? What do you say we come together and put an end to hartals?
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