Bangladesh politicians and social acticvists maintain silence on `Cyclone Sidr’ tragedy

November 20th, 2007 - 8:09 pm ICT by admin  

By Shakhawat Liton
Dhaka, Nov.20 (ANI): It’s a human tragedy that Bangladesh will take a long time to recover from, but what is most shocking about the aftermath of “Cyclone Sidr”, is the distance and the complete lack of involvement of politicians and social organisations in rescue and relief operations.
Five days after the cyclone, representatives of political parties, social and student organisations have opted to maintain a distance from the tragedy, waiting to see how effective and efficient the interim administration would be in providing succour to the deprived.
It is an attitude and an approach that is completely out of character, for in the past, such tragedies have prompted people from all walks of life, to join in relief and rehabilitation efforts, providing the dispossessed with essentials like food, water and medicines, besides other types of assistance whereever needed. Even as helicopters carry food and other essentials to survivors across coastal Bangladesh and rescuers struggle to reach remote areas devastated by the worst cyclone to hit the country in a decade, the confirmed death toll was pegged at 3,113 on Monday, while 3,322 are injured and 1,063 missing.
Foreign news reports quoted Lieutenant-Colonel Main Ullah Chowdhury as saying that two C-30 aircraft of the US Marine Corps have arrived in Dhaka with medical supplies.
Other media reports say that the death toll has already reached 3,500, and is likely to rise further. An estimated three million people have been affected by the cyclone, and aid workers now fear an outbreak of disease.
The opinion makers in Dhaka are of the view that political parties, social organisations and student outfis are indifferent to the disaster because of the caretaker government’s excesses against them under the present state of emergency.
The emergency has been on since January 13 this year, and has resulted in a crackdown and detention of hundreds of politicians, including former Premiers Sheikh Hasina and Khaleda Zia. Student organisations’ are unhappy with the interim government since they were brutally tortured by the army-led joint forces in August.
Political and student leaders say that in the present environment, it is next to impossible for them to launch relief operations.
“We need to collect money from other businessmen or other people to build our fund for relief operations. We don’t dare to seek money from anybody,” said a top political leader who was speaking on condition of anonymity.
Food and Disaster Management Adviser Tapan Chowdhury, however, has urged political parties to come forward with whatever they have to help the cyclone-affected, some of whom have been starving since November 15, but the response to this plea has been mute.
Senior leaders of major political parties like the Awami League and the BNP have urged their party cadres to help the cyclone victims in their individual capacities. The parties themselves, however, have no plans of launching relief operations in the affected areas.
Can the current widespread apathy among political parties and social forces bring anything good for the nation?
The media would say that the answer to this question lies with those are running the show, the commoner would say they can’t survive the ongoing crisis, while the government spokesman would say “Everything is going smoothly and polls will take place on time.” (ANI)

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