FB   
 
Powered bysps
        Society for Policy Studies
 
 

 
Dissenting voices are crucial to the health of a democracy
Posted:Jun 10, 2017
 
Print
Share
  
increase Font size decrease Font size
 
When people like Sultana Kamal and Afsan Chowdhury do not have the space to voice their opinions, all individuals are under threat
 
Is freedom of speech under threat in Bangladesh?  Recent events make it clear that the answer is most certainly yes. Prominent human rights lawyer Sultana Kamal was threatened by Hefazat-e-Islam with physical violence after making hypothetical comments on a television talk show.
 
In the meantime, a legal notice was served demanding the arrest of veteran journalist Afsan Chowhdury, who has been accused under the ICT Act of defamation in a Facebook post. Both cases point to a deeply disturbing trend in Bangladesh — the slow and steady clamping down of our fundamental, democratic right to free speech.
 
But as the two examples show, the threat to freedom of speech is coming from two different directions, one from extremists trying to hit at the constitutional freedoms of the country, the other from the government itself.
 
Because of these forces, the free press of Bangladesh is also under attack: Journalists routinely find themselves under fire for simply doing their jobs, and there are countless accounts of media personnel being assaulted by law enforcement agencies or politically-connected goons.
 
It is no wonder that Reporters Without Borders ranks as as one of the worst countries in the world for press freedom, ranking 146 in the Press Freedom Index. We do not wish to live in a country where freedom of speech is merely a myth, where freedom of speech exists in principle but not in practice.
 
When people like Sultana Kamal and Afsan Chowdhury do not have the space to voice their opinions, all individuals are under threat. For the sake of our democracy, we must stand up for and protect not only those we agree with, but also unpopular speech and dissenting opinions.
 
 
 
 
 
Print
Share
  
increase Font size decrease Font size
 

Disclaimer: South Asia Monitor does not accept responsibility for the views or ideology expressed in any article, signed or unsigned, which appears on its site. What it does accept is responsibility for giving it a chance to appear and enter the public discourse.
Comments (Total Comments 0) Post Comments Post Comment
Review
 
 
 
 
spotlight image Since Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina assumed office again in Bangladesh in 2009, bilateral relations between New Delhi and Dhaka have been on a steady upward trajectory.
 
read-more
Senior representatives from the US, China, Pakistan and Afghanistan met in Muscat, Oman, on Monday to revive stalled peace talks with the Taliban, but the insurgent group failed to participate in the meeting being held after a year.
 
read-more
Ruskin Bond’s first novel ‘Room on the Roof’ describes in vivid detail how life in the hills around Dehradun used to be. Bond, who is based in Landour, Mussoorie, since 1963, captured the imagination of countless readers as he painted a picture of an era gone by.
 
read-more
India’s foreign policy under Prime Minister Narendra Modi has attained a level of maturity which allows it to assert itself in an effective manner. This is aimed at protecting the country’s national interests in a sustained way.
 
read-more
Braid-chopping incidents have added to the already piled up anxieties of Kashmiris. Once again they are out on the streets, to give vent to their anger. A few persons, believed to be braid-choppers were caught hold by irate mobs at various places. They were beaten to pulp.
 
read-more
Communist parties everywhere gather the ranks every five years to review the past, set future direction, renew political leadership and rejig organisational structure.
 
read-more
In a move lauded worldwide, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud recently issued a royal decree allowing women to obtain driving licences.
 
read-more
The death toll from Saturday’s twin truck bombs in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu has crossed 300.
 
read-more
It is a privilege to be invited to this most prestigious of law schools in the country, more so for someone not formally lettered in the discipline of law. I thank the Director and the faculty for this honour.
 
read-more
Column-image

Title: The People Next Door -The Curious History of India-Pakistan Relations; Author: T.C.A. Raghavan; Publisher: HarperCollins ; Pages: 361; Price: Rs 699

 
Column-image

Could the North Korean nuclear issue which is giving the world an anxious time due to presence of hotheads on each side, the invasion of Iraq and its toxic fallout, and above all, the arms race in the teeming but impoverished South Asian subcon...

 
Column-image

Title: A Bonsai Tree; Author: Narendra Luther; Publisher: Niyogi Books; Pages: 227 Many books have been written on India's partition but here is a firsthand account of the horror by a migrant from what is now Pakistan, who ...

 
Column-image

As talk of war and violence -- all that Mahatma Gandhi stood against -- gains prominence across the world, a Gandhian scholar has urged that the teachings of the apostle of non-violence be taken to the classroom.

 
Column-image

Interview with Hudson Institute’s Aparna Pande, whose book From Chanakya to Modi: Evolution of India’s Foreign Policy, was released on June 17.

 
Subscribe to our newsletter
Archive