During this first half of 2020, the world has come to a standstill. All countries in the world have isolated themselves in desperate attempts to prevent the COVID-19 pandemic, a novel coronavirus disease for which humanity is yet to find any vaccine or cure.
The battle against this disease has simultaneously brought along another adversary; its economic consequences. The anticipation of a great financial recession in the near future is looming.
People have been losing their jobs and governments have been trying to support their citizens. Almost all countries are currently fighting with these two challenges; health and economy.
However, the government of Bangladesh has concentrated its effort on fighting a different enemy; information, in other words, truth and reality.
It all started with something completely different. Bangladeshi government had previously announced the year 2020 as the ‘Mujib Year’, in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the birth of Sheikh Mujib, the founder of the ruling party Awami League.
This was a year-long mega project with a budget of more than 1 billion Bangladeshi takas, equivalent to about US$12 million.
On 10 January 2020, the government organised a national event in a Dhaka stadium to inaugurate this celebration. When several countries had already started the isolation process and a scary death toll was emerging from the Wuhan city of China as well as various other places, the government in Bangladesh ignored all those warnings.
Fast forward to 21 April, the Secretary-General of the Awami League and the Minister of Bridges said, “We are more powerful than coronavirus, so no need to get panicked by this rumour.”
For more than a decade, this party has occupied the state power by all possible means, claiming that the economy has been transforming into a developed country from a poor one. Anything that might be deemed as a failure or crisis is not allowed in Bangladesh in order to keep this development narrative intact.
Therefore, like all other challenges, the ruling classes of Bangladesh face, they have decided to encounter the challenge of coronavirus with the same strategy; accusing the opposition of sabotage and using the judiciary to suppress them.
At the same time, the government has been actively minimizing the number of COVID-19 tests and hiding the death toll from the pandemic.
BBC Bengali service has already published a report that mentioned more than 50 people were arrested country-wide due to their alleged ‘crime’ of spreading the ‘rumour’ about coronavirus.
The state machinery has been targeting social media, primarily Facebook due to its popularity among Bangladeshis, and has been arresting users if they write about coronavirus death.
A number of ministers and MPs have already died from COIVD-19, as a result of mistreatment or lack of medical treatment in the hospitals, something the government would not get publicised.
Unfortunately, this natural disaster cannot be suppressed by that conventional fascist method, rather the people have become the ultimate victims of this strategy, who are now suffering and dying in Bangladesh without minimum medical care, or even any recognition of their suffering.