boat1_74505Julian Francis

In the media recently, there was a suggestion – perhaps tongue in cheek – that foreigners ‘enjoy’ hartals. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The current situation of non-stop ‘oborodh’ and ‘hartal’ is annoying, depressing, and frustrating. Nearly all foreigners are in Bangladesh because of the work that they do. They may be diplomats, businessmen, teachers, development workers, or volunteers. That they cannot go about their daily work safely is frustrating. They are witnessing huge losses, death, and destruction all around them. Losses of income and losses of future opportunities. Losing opportunities of assisting Bangladesh’s development.

In Bangladesh, the poorest are suffering the most. The daily labourers who live from hand to mouth, be they construction workers or agricultural workers, are not getting as much work as usual. Farmers cannot get their produce to market and in some cases are not even lifting the produce from the field. Garment factories are not receiving as many orders because the buyers are hesitating to place orders if delivery schedules cannot be guaranteed.

In 1971, while coordinating OXFAM’s refugee relief programme in India covering about 600,000 Bangladeshis, I saw many refugees arriving in the refugee camps with severe burns on their bodies. In most cases, the burns were caused when the Pakistan Army and their collaborators set fire, usually at night, to whole villages. Now, nearly 44 years later, Bangladeshis are burning Bangladeshis, their own countrymen, to death in buses, trucks, and trains. Over the years, in spite of confrontational politics, Bangladesh has developed and progressed so much since Independence. Why are some leaders wanting to press the self-destruct button by ordering and encouraging terrorism?

I can still see a golden future for Bangladesh, but if terrorism is given a chance, I see nothing but darkness. Everyone should join hands to ensure that all countrymen and women and children prosper in ways that are clearly possible.


Julian Francis has been associated with relief and development activities of Bangladesh since the War of Liberation. In 2012, the Government of Bangladesh awarded him the “Friends of Liberation War Honour” in recognition of his work among the Bangladesh refugees in India in 1971.
FEBRUARY 8, 2015


About Ehsan Abdullah

An aware citizen..
This entry was posted in CHALLENGES, CURRENT ISSUES, DEFENCE & SECURITY, LAW & ORDER, POLITICS - GOVERNANCE and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Enayet Mowla says:

    I had never thought how, in the eyes of a foreigner,a hartal will look like. Theoretically, the concept of a hartal is a good, a fine idea of a peaceful protest to let the authorities to know when the people do not approve of something being imposed on them. The old theory of hartal however has changed now. Instead of a peaceful protest, parties are now trying to impose their own ideas of what is good, forcibly on others. It matters little if their idea does not suit or acceptable by others and that leads to violence. We are having a similar situation like that now. We want a secular state where people of all colors and creed can live peacefully. Unfortunately, some people do not like that and because of that they are killing people, burning public buses and damaging national property worth of millions to make the government and people to agree to give them what they want. Right now, they are trying to blackmail the nation with the people in it as their hostage.


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