Awami League seems to follow UN's Neoliberal Absolutism.

Gives some understanding of causes of Islamic extremism and a possible solution to religious/secular divide to allow religous political parties to play a greater role in the public domain by adopting ethical human rights as an ethical base.

Awami League seems to follow UN’s Neoliberal Absolutism

Anthony Ravlich MA, BSc, Dip Crim (Hons)
Human rights author and activist (25 Years)
Human Rights Council (New Zealand)
10D/15 City Rd.,
Auckland City.
(0064) (09) 940.9658

The following is a draft chapter three from my forthcoming book, ‘The Global War on Truth’. Two other major chapters can be located on Anthony Ravlich Google+ which would enable a better understanding of this chapter.
I consider the following provides some understanding of the causes of Islamic extremism which is often anti-secular.
It offers a possible solution to the religious/secular divide which would enable religious political parties to play a greater role in the public domain if they adopted ethical human rights as their ethical base.
I have not included the bibliography as it would make it too long to post but it will be included when the book is published.
Chapter one proposes to replace both neoliberalism and neoliberal absolutism with an ethical approach to human rights, development and globalizations. It also exposes much of momentous and profound importance which has been hidden from the public behind a global iron curtain.
I consider the UN is responsible for a global crime against humanity which is seeing the decline of the West as well as global freedom.
I am calling for the West to boycott the UN until it removes its ‘hidden’ collectivist agenda. Also, expressing a similar view, an NGO, UN Watch, recently told the US Congress that the US and democracies should fight back against the UN (see Anthony Ravlich Google+).
In chapter two I also describe the ‘low cunning and gross deceit’ of the leadership of the liberal collectivists, in my view, the domestic and globally dominant elite, when they hijacked the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 ‘by and for’ a left minority to accommodate the UN’s ‘hidden’ collectivist agenda.
The UN’s ‘hidden’ collectivist agenda is designed to crush potential, domestic and global, while States maintain a mediocre middleclass, ‘rock star’ economy (and the country’s image) with minimal development of human knowledge.
In my view, world leadership and the leadership of the global establishments, including human rights establishment, with rare exceptions, have devolved into mediocrity with the obedient replacing the ‘best and brightest’.

Chapter Three

Awami League seems to follow UN’s Neoliberal Absolutism

It appears that the Awami League, the government of Bangladesh, has been implementing the UN’s neoliberal absolutism which extends the domain of secularism to include economic, social and cultural rights i.e. all human behaviour covered under the Universal Declaration, which seems to have led to an extraordinary eruption of violence by Islamic extremists.
At the UN in 2008 Bangladesh was regarded as part of the emerging sub-regional bloc along with India and Sri Lanka i.e. part of Developing Asia.
At the time Bangladesh was under military-backed caretaker government (2007- 2008) and certainly seems to have supported the Optional Protocol (OP) to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights which, in my view, created neoliberal absolutism (State Positions Chart, 2008).

This was in contrast to America, which is only one of six countries not to have ratified the covenant on economic, social and cultural rights, which was the major opposition to the OP throughout the discussions at the UN from 2004 to 2008 seemingly wanting to retain the ideological status quo i.e. neoliberalism.
While Bangladesh has not ratified (or signed) the OP it appears to have adopted “a secular plan” based on an article, “Stemming the Rise of Islamic Extremism in Bangladesh”, in the Harvard International Review in November 2008 co authored by Sajeeb Waed Joy, the Prime Minister’s son and advisor (Islam, 2011)

I consider neoliberal absolutism was effectively created on 10 December 2008 when the UN General Assembly adopted the Optional Protocol (OP) to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights which is a complaints procedure allowing complaints of violations of the latter right to be taken to the UN.
Neoliberal absolutism, as with neoliberalism before it, contains the UN’s ‘hidden’ collectivist agenda (see chapter one) which enabled the rise to dominance of the secular liberal collectivists whose political representatives in Bangladesh seem reflected by the Awami League.
In accordance with the UN’s agenda the secular liberal collectivists promote collective dominance, aim to culturally cleanse the world of individual self-determination e.g. seeking of truth, hopes and dreams and thereby remove dissent, while also further replace creativity as a means of growth with exploitation which is permitted by omission under international law (see chapter one).
In my view, virtually completely unknown to the general public, the ‘equal status’ of both sets of rights resulted in a major rebalance of global ideological and economic power from the West to other regions (Ravlich, 2013).
The then UN High Commissioner of Human Rights, Navi Pillay, stated: “The entry into force of the Optional Protocol will also finally help place economic, social and cultural rights on an equal footing with all other human rights,”.
Pillay added. “The Protocol makes a strong and unequivocal statement about the equal value and importance of all human rights and the need for strengthened legal protection of economic, social and cultural rights in particular,”, (Pillay: 6 Feb 2013).
Further confirmation of the UN decision to give equal status to both civil and political rights and economic, social and cultural rights can be found in chapter one.

Consequently, the adoption of the OP established the equal status of civil and political rights and economic, social and cultural rights and thereby extended the domain of secularism to cover all human behaviour under the Universal Declaration.
Neoliberal absolutism by extending the domain of secularism enabled the Awami League to return the country to its secular roots and to adopt a ‘secular plan’ seemingly as a political weapon to criminalize Islamic-based anti-secular political parties perceived as extreme, in particular, Jamaat-e-Islami.
And also it seems, the ‘secular plan’ involved the ‘de-Islamization’ (see below) of the predominantly Muslim population.
Freedom House states: “An important part of the Awami League’s agenda was the restoration of the 1972 constitution, which would re establish Bangladesh’s character as a secular republic. In a key step toward that end, a February 2010 Supreme Court decision nullified elements of the fifth amendment to the constitution, effectively paving the way for a reinstatement of the principle of secularism and a ban on religiously based political parties (Freedom House: 2012).
The ‘secular plan’, which is described more fully in a separate section below, appears to have resulted in an extraordinary eruption of violence. ABC news reports a total of 507 people being killed in political violence in Bangladesh in 2013, ‘making it the deadliest year since the country’s independence four decades ago’ (ABC news, 1 Jan 2014).
Islamist militants continue to target secular activists, journalists, and religious minorities in the South Asian country involving machete attacks against secularists and religious minorities in homes and on the streets of the overwhelmingly Muslim nation (Vasilogambros, 2016).
While the Editorial Board of the New York times describes Bangladesh’s descent into lawlessness:
“Since 2013, more than 20 people in Bangladesh have been murdered by Islamist extremists, many hacked to death. Among the first victims were bloggers who had criticized Islamic fundamentalism. Then, two foreigners, an Italian aid worker and a Japanese farmer, were struck down last year. In just nine days last month, five people were hacked to death” (New York Times: 8 May 2016).
The situation in Bangladesh bares some similarity to what happened in France where Islamic terrorists may have targeted France for its ‘radical brand of secularism’.
In 2010, the French Senate banned public wearing of face-coverings, including the Muslim face-veil, the niqab. And in 2013, the government launched what it called a Charter for Secularity in School, a set of guidelines on 15 key points of secularism to be posted in classrooms as an attempt to keep religion out of school, (Power, 8 Jan 2015).
According to the Global Terrorism Index (2015) only 3,329 terrorism related death occurred back in 2000, but over the course of less than a decade and a half the number had risen to 32,658 deaths in 2014, an almost tenfold increase.
The index added that research suggests that nearly 32, 600 died in 2014 due to acts of terror, a marked 80% increase from 2013. However, 78% of global terrorism related deaths occurred in just five countries – Iraq, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Syria.
Bangladesh is ranked 25th on the index (countries most affected by Terrorist attacks) but this is far better than its neighbours India which is ranked 6th and Pakistan which ranks 4th ( Global Terrorism Index, 2015).
Bangladesh is a parliamentary democracy which gained its independence from West Pakistan on 16 December 1971. It has a population of 168, 957, 745 (July 2015), Muslims make up 89.5%, Hindu 9.6%, and other 0.9% (2004). There is an urban population of 34.3% of total population (2015), (CIA World Factbook, 1 Sept 2015).
Sheikh Hasina leader of the Awami League promotes the concept of Bengali nationalism, which…makes the Bengali language [the official language] the central reference point for national identity. Khaleda Zia leader of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), on the other hand, adhere to the concept of Bangladeshi nationalism formulated by Zia, which puts much greater emphasis on the Islamic identity of the nation ( Lorch: 2 Feb 2014)
The UN’s collectivist agenda (see chapter one) meant that individual self-determination was replaced with collective self-determination covering the whole Universal Declaration enabling a focus on ‘political and national unity’.
I consider the latter enabled the purging of dissent, while also completing the task of the cultural cleansing of individual self-determination which began under neoliberalism.
Also, rather than individual self-determination, which is in the Universal Declaration, collective self-determination, which is not in the Universal Declaration, is supported by Part 1, 25(2) of the Constitution of Bangladesh which describes the right of ‘every people’ i.e. collective self-determination, rather than individuals i.e. individual self-determination. It states:
‘Uphold the right of every people freely to determine and build up its own social, economic and political system by ways and means of its own free choice’ (Bangladesh Constitution, 17 May 2004).
A major casualty, at least in part, of the cultural cleansing of individual self-determination seems to have been Bangladesh’s famed microloan scheme (see below).
The core minimum obligations of the State were not included in the OP as grounds for complaint and consequently because there was no socio-economic bottom-line exploitation was permitted by omission under international law.
With exploitation permitted under both neoliberalism and neoliberal absolutism it appears to have meant that Bangladesh, with a vast cheap workforce, was barely affected by the global financial crisis of 2008/9 and has also made remarkable strides in reducing extreme poverty although poor working conditions often persist.
Because of the UN’s ‘hidden’ collectivist agenda secularism is based on politics, reflecting the interests of the secular, liberal collectivists, whereas, in my view, if it had been based on universal human rights truth such secularism may have proved more acceptable to the Islamist extremists, which are anti-secular, because it could be said to be reflective of God’s Universal Truth.
The possibility of religious political parties having ethical human rights, which is firmly based on the Universal Declaration, as their ethical base would permit religions a greater role in the public domain and is discussed more fully at the end of this chapter.
About forty years after the ‘crimes against humanity’ were said to have taken place Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina established an International Crimes Tribunal (ICT) in 2010 to prosecute individuals who stand accused of committing atrocities and colluding with Pakistani militias during the 1971 war that saw Bangladesh (formerly East Pakistan) secede from Pakistan and become an independent nation (South Asian Studies, 8 March 2013).
Jamaat-e-Islami the political party at the centre of the court cases, is said to have ‘sided with Pakistan and opposed the 1971 founding of Bangladesh’ (Ahmed, 16 Feb 2013).
Peter Custers, who in 2010 was granted an award as Human Rights Defender and Friend of Bangladesh by the country’s current government, states: “…whereas the government in the past seemed very lukewarm - to say the least - about de-legalizing the Jamaat-e-Islami, on Feb. 17 the Parliament dominated by the Awami League passed a bill enabling the International Crimes Tribunal to put the party on trial – in line with what the post-World War II Nuremberg trials did with Germany's Nazi party” (Custers, 3 March 2013).
Describing the events at the time of the court cases Peter Custers states that activists belonging to a network called ‘Blogger and Online Activist Network' occupied a key intersection in the centre of the capital Dhaka known as Shahbagh, and started protesting the verdict pronounced by the International Crimes Tribunal in the case against Abdul Quader Mollah, the assistant general secretary of the country's main fundamentalist party, Jamaat-e-Islami.
According to the Tribunal, Quader Mollah amongst others actively participated in the massacre of large numbers of civilians committed in a locality near Dhaka at the very start of the liberation war. At the time he was a member of the Jamaat-e-Islami's student wing. The victims perished when their houses were set on fire (Custers: 3 March 2013 ).
The verdict was the second one pronounced by the court's judges, and it was considered too lenient by the activists. Rather ‘they demanded capital punishment, nothing less’.
According to Custers ‘Within no time, the demand for capital punishment reverberated throughout the length and breadth of the country….’ (Custers: 3 March 2013 ).
Custers sees a relationship between the Bangladesh’s people’s upsurge and the Arab Spring. He states: “ It is possible to consider the dynamic interconnection between Bangladesh's people's upsurge and the Arab Spring. Given the fact that the country's population is overwhelmingly Muslim, it is only natural that the Bangladeshi citizen closely follows the changes taking place in Egypt and the Middle East.” (Custers: 3 March 2013 )
In 2013, the International Crimes Tribunal handed down nine verdicts, including six death and three life sentences. The convicts include some of the most influential leaders of Jamaat, such as the party’s secretary general, Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid, its assistant secretary general, Abdul Quader Mollah, and Ghulam Azam, the Jamaat’s main spiritual leader which led to large-scale protests and extensive violence including massive post-poll violence against the Hindu minority (Lorch: 2 Feb 2014).
Following the verdicts against its leaders and particularly the execution of Quader Mollah, Jamaat and the ICS [Islam Chhatra Shibir, Jamaat’s student wing] staged large-scale protests around the country, marked by extensive violence including the use of crude bombs.
According to Jasmin Lorch forces connected to Jamaat were responsible for many of the atrocities committed in order to disrupt polling on 5th January as well. Lorch added that apart from this, Jamaat and its affiliates reportedly also engaged in massive post-poll violence against the Hindu minority, several members of which are prosecution witnesses in the war crime trials, (Lorch: 2 Feb 2014).
A country case study by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office states: “NGOs suggest over 500 people lost their lives in political violence in Bangladesh in 2013, with many more seriously injured. 215 were reportedly shot dead by law enforcers. Minority communities were once again the targets for vandalism and intimidation” (country case study: 10 April 2014).
The Hindu minority seem to have been a major target of the violence. Hindus are described as having been ‘traditionally seen as supporters of the Awami League, which brands itself as a secular party – in addition to many deaths ‘the burning of temples, houses, looting of businesses and rapes’ are attributed to Muslim militants’ (Zeenews Bureau, 14 March 2013).
Narayan Charmaker, a Hindu and well-known Dalit activist and lawyer (see below) describes how many Hindus have left the country to escape the violence, often it seems inflicted by Islamic extremists.
A graph by Human Rights Defence International show the huge decline of the Hindu population from 31 per cent of the population in 1947 to 9 per cent in 2012 seemingly wanting to escape the violence (Human Rights Defense: 1947 – 2012)
Dalit Rights activist and lawyer Narayan Charmakar is the Country Representative and founding member of the International Commission on Dalit Rights, Bangladesh, Washington DC and was one of the first to publicly (on the internet) support ethical human rights.
Narayan is a Hindu from a Dalit background and it was at his request that I have written about Bangladesh.
Narayan makes frequent use of Facebook, fighting for Dalit Rights and during the violence in Bangladesh has frequently appealed to Hindus not to convert to Islam, not to leave the country, to be united and ignore casteism.
Narayan considers what he calls ‘communal riots’ (meaning ethnic/religious riots) is a ‘plan of ISI’ (Pakistan’s Inter Service Intelligence) a viewpoint supported by the Bangladesh Home Minister, Saharah Khatun (IST agencies: 25 July 2011).
Narayan considers the ISI wants to spread anti-Indian (and anti-Israel) sentiment and considers there are more than 200 madrasa and orphanages in Bangladesh where they are providing education in jihad.
Narayan says he has been appealing to many international human rights organizations for assistance given the seeming targeting of the Hindu minority.
In August 2013 in a landmark judgement the Bangladesh High Court deregistered the Islamic fundamentalist party, Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI), thereby banning it from participating in future elections (Kumar, 7 Aug 2013).
Jasmin Lorch, of the Institute of Asian Studies, states that ‘while there is huge public consensus in Bangladesh that those found guilty in the war crime trials are in fact culpable of massive human rights violations during the War of Independence, the judicial processes were marred with legal flaws and have therefore been criticized by human rights organizations around the world (Lorch, 2 Feb 2014).
In June 2011 the government, seemingly concerned to establish political unity, banned five militant organizations with the Prime Minister stating, “ that acts of militancy and terrorism will not be allowed on the soil of the country” (South Asia Terrorism: 201l)

America promotes ‘Political and National Unity’ in Bangladesh
President Obama assumed office on 20 January 2009 shortly after the UN’s creation of neoliberal absolutism which America had opposed.
With respect to Bangladesh the Obama administration seemed to align itself with ‘political and national unity’ required under neoliberal absolutism (also see chapter one) but opposed the latter’s denial of ‘bottom-up’ development i.e. Bangladesh’s politically out of favour ‘self-help’ microloan scheme (see below).
So when the then Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, visited Bangladesh in May, 2012 she urged political and national unity.
She was speaking at a time Bangladesh had been paralyzed by weeks of strikes and protests, and at least five people have been killed as well as the recent disappearance of a prominent opposition leader.
Clinton told a town hall meeting in Dhaka, the Bangladeshi capital: "There needs to be total rule of law, with no impunity……."What you need is national unity," she said. "The people have to demand that." (infostridesfinland, 6 May 2012).
Also, during the visit, she also asked for political unity and ‘urged Bangladesh’s feuding political leaders…to work together and end their most recent bout of discord for the good of their impoverished country’ (Lee: 6 May 2012).

The Decline of Bangladesh’s famed microloan scheme
Bangladesh’s microloan scheme was ‘politically out of favor’ when the U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Bangladesh in May, 2011 and she warned Bangladesh’s government ‘not to undermine pioneering microlender Grameen Bank, saying it was a key driver in the South Asian’s slow climb out of poverty’ (Quinn: 6 May 2011).
Around 10 million Bangladeshis, mostly poor women, are said to have benefited by small credit offered by the Grameen. The beneficiaries say the money immensely helped them fight - and largely come out of – poverty (Aljazeera news: 6 May 2012).
The Grameen Bank which states that ‘of the borrowers, 97% are women and over 97% of the loans are paid back, a recovery rate higher than any other banking system’, (Grameen Bank: 1 Jan 2013).
Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus was the founder of the Grameen Bank. In 2007 he attempted to form his own political party, seemingly backed by the army, but was ‘ousted’ in 2011 from his position of Managing Director in the bank by the Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasinda’s administration ‘in a heavily criticized step’ (Lee, 6 May 2012).
In November 2013 Bangladesh introduced a new law which Yunus considered would pave the way for the ‘ultimate destruction’ of the Grameen Bank. The government had increased its stake in the bank to 25% from around 3% and Yunus considered the new law “created the opportunity for the government to take 100 percent control of the bank”.
Yunus stated: "Grameen Bank was created as a bank owned by poor women, and managed by poor women. Its legal structure did not allow any government interference of any kind, except for regulatory oversight…".
He added: "These amendments fundamentally change the character of the bank. With these amendments, the government has opened the door for its ultimate destruction. What a shame for the nation, and the whole world!"
"I feel extremely sorry that the nation has to go through the unnecessary traumatic experience of seeing a great global iconic institution, created by this nation, be brutally harmed by a group of irresponsible and thoughtless people," he added in an article entitled: ‘Yunus flays Bangladesh’s ‘destruction’ of Grameen Bank’, (‘Hindustantimes’: 6 Nov 2013).
Secularism in the Constitution
The 1972 Constitution of Bangladesh had secularism as one of the pillars of the State, but Islam was declared the State religion in an 8th Amendment to the Constitution in 1988 although it also guaranteed that all Bangladeshi citizens have the right to freedom of religion (International Dalit Solidarity Network: Feb 2009).
Laihufar Yasmin, Professor of International Relations at the University of Dhaka, states that in October 2010 the Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution restored 'secularism' as a state ideal by asserting that the spirit of the war of independence should be restored.

She states: “The Supreme Court of Bangladesh, the apex legal body of the country, restored Bangladesh's secular credentials by annulling the Fifth Amendment and re-establishing secularism as one of the four principles of the country. In October 2010, the High Court declared, Bangladesh is now a secular state as the Appellate Division (of the Supreme Court) verdict scrapped the Fifth Amendment to the constitution. In this secular state, everybody has religious freedom, and therefore no man, woman or child can be forced to wear religious attires like burqa, cap and dhoti”. (Yasmin, Oct 2013).
It seems, that it was with considerable global support at the UN which adopted neoliberal absolutism that the Awami League embarked on a ‘secular plan’ for Bangladesh to address ‘Islamic terrorism’.
Saidul Islam, Assistant Professor of Sociology, Singapore, describes what he calls a de-Islamization of Bangladesh stating that it ‘is abundantly clear that the regimes objective is nothing but the eradication of Islamic influences from the political and social area’ (Islam, 2011).
He considers the secular plan ‘has produced a dangerous culture of disappearances and extrajudicial killings, infringements of freedom of speech and the stifling of dissenting voices, and the interception of opposition programs and the torture of opposition leaders and activists’.
Saidul Islam describes the de-Islamization of Bangladesh which he considers can be traced back to the prime minister’s son and advisor, Sajeeb Waed Joy, who along with Carl J. Ciovacco, published an article, “Stemming the Rise of Islamic Extremism in Bangladesh”, in the Harvard International Review in November 2008. The essay is believed to be the blueprint of the current regime’s plan of action, which it calls “a secular plan” for Bangladesh (Islam: 2011).
As part of the secular plan on 6 Febuary 2010 it was announced that Awami League planned to reintroduce a secular education system after being backed by the apex court that ruled illegal a 1979 constitutional amendment that facilitated the flourishing of religion-based politics in the country (‘Press Trust of India’, 6 Feb 2010).
Saidul Islam describes further aspects of the secular plan targeting Muslims: “Supported by the Awami League-led regime and several non-governmental organizations (NGOs), ongoing efforts are also being made to target Muslim women and turn them against Islamic principles. Internationally well-known NGOs that bear Islamic names, as well as Islamic banks, are also being targeted on the basis of spurious accusations that they fund terrorist activities” (Islam, 2011).

Further Restrictions on individual self-determination
There are other developments which indicate a serious decline in individual freedoms and the ability of individuals to help themselves and voice dissent.
In a Statement by the Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC) in June, 2014, it describes ‘Big Brother Law for NGOs’ following cabinet approval for the “Foreign Donations (Voluntary Activities) Regulations Bill 2014”.
ALRC states: “The Bangladesh government wants to quash human rights activism. The Bill empowers bureaucrats to decide the fate of NGOs and voluntary activities. All individuals or collectives, from NGO's to volunteer groups, receiving foreign funds for implementing projects will be under constant surveillance under this law ( Asian Legal Services, 13 June 2014).
Also, the United Nation Development Program’s focus on the rule of law, police, security appears to have been trialled in Bangladesh before its adoption in many countries.
From 1 Jan 2009, shortly after the creation of neoliberal absolutism, to 31 December 2015 the UNDP, with the major financial backing of the EU, has been promoting the rule of law, police, security and criminal justice system in Bangladesh by activating village courts (Village Courts: 2015).
However, in my view, as described in chapter one the rule of law is based on international human rights law which contains the UN’s ‘hidden collectivist agenda’.
So I consider that rather than addressing impunity, equal rights for women, or addressing extreme poverty as is often claimed by the UNDP the focus on the rule of law and the requirements of compliance seems primarily to culturally cleanse society of individual self-determination and is likely to criminalize and/or label as mentally ill large numbers of self-determining individuals e.g. entrepreneurs, and the creative who often need to ‘go against the flow’ and challenge authority.
I consider the stigmatizing of individuals would seriously impair their ability to dissent and/or engage in entrepreneurial activities.
The UNDP states that 350 village courts were created in communities to grant a greater access to justice. A cumulative total of 26,949 cases have been reported to village courts since 2010, of which 20,103 have been resolved.
While according to Freedom House Bangladesh’s media environment remained relatively open in 2010 with a press freedom rated ‘partly free’ (which remained in 2013) it appears to have deteriorated since then (Freedom House, 2011).
Indicating the suppression of dissent an article entitled ‘Journalists fear crackdown in Bangladesh’ describes rising tensions after media houses critical of the ruling party are shut down – “ two Bengali daily newspapers and two television channels, all reportedly with links to the country’s opposition movement have been shut down “temporarily” over the past year” (Chowdhury, 29 Jan 2014).
In October 2015 Amnesty International describes an ‘horrific pattern of violence against freedom of expression’. Amnesty States:
“The brutal attacks against two publishers of secular writers, including the slain blogger Avijit Roy, and their colleagues in Bangladesh today is further chilling evidence of the horrific pattern of violence against people exercising their freedom of expression in the country” (Amnesty International: 2015).
In Nov 2015 the BBC reports a series of deadly attacks on writers and publishers. The BBC states: “Hundreds of people have taken to the streets of the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka, to protest against a series of deadly attacks on secular writers and publishers in the country.
The BBC adds: “A publisher of secular books was recently murdered, and four writers have been killed in machete attacks in 2015……It has been suggested that the attacks may have been carried out by Islamist extremists, but there is little clarity about who may have been behind the killings” (BBC news: 2015).
Bangladesh benefits from exploitation
Bangladesh, able to exploit a vast workforce, seems to have been a major beneficiary of the UN’s failure to protect against exploitation.
Coinciding with the onset of neoliberalism income poverty has been declining in Bangladesh since the 1970s. According to the Market Facilitation Initiative there has been continued reduction in the proportion of people living in income poverty - 75% in 1970s to 40% in 2005 to 31.5% in 2010. Although the latter figure of 31.5% in poverty and the 17.6% in extreme poverty in 2010 are described as ‘still very high’ (‘Market Facilitation Initiative’: 21 Sept 2012).
Bangladesh was barely affected by the global financial crisis, in fact, comparing the periods 2002 to 2008 and 2009 to 2012 there was actually a 1.6 per cent growth in average GDP whereas, by contrast, the average GDP of the European Union decreased by 106.8% during the same period (Global Finance: 2015).
That it is more the capacity to exploit a vast workforce than improvements within the country which explains Bangladesh’s relative success in terms of growth is indicated by Shah Alam Nuir writing in the Financial Express who states: “In real terms Bangladesh's economy has grown 5.8% per year since 1996 despite political instability, poor infrastructure, corruption, insufficient power supplies, and slow implementation of economic reforms. Bangladesh remains a poor, overpopulated, and inefficiently-governed nation. Although more than half of GDP is generated through the service sector, 45% of Bangladeshis are employed in the agriculture sector with rice as the single-most-important product. Bangladesh's growth was resilient during the 2008-09 global financial crisis and recession. Garment exports, totalling $12.3 billion in FY09 and remittances from overseas Bangladeshis, totalling $11 billion in FY10, accounted for almost 12% of GDP (Nuir: 25 Feb 2013).
Also external factors such as the global free market and removal of protectionism by the West seems to have enabled ‘the export-oriented Bangladeshi garment manufacturing industry to boom into a $19 billion dollar a year industry following the expiry in 2005 of an international agreement on textiles and clothing import quotas in place since the early 1960’s, duty-free access offered by western countries, and low labour costs’.
‘The Bangladeshi textile and garment manufacturing sector is fuelled by young, urbanizing, workers many of whom are women. With the majority of production destined for U.S. and European markets, Bangladesh’s ready-made garment industry now accounts for approximately 78% of total exports, second only to China as the world’s largest apparel exporter’ (Safety Accord: 2015).

Bangladesh’s Success in reducing Extreme Poverty
Bangladesh has been placing a strong emphasis on achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), whose goal 1 aims to eliminate extreme poverty.
The MDGs are not defined in human rights terms so are not universal and only target the poorer regions. 2015 is the final date for the achievement of the MDGs however the post-2015 agenda makes the elimination of poverty, not just extreme poverty, their major objective (UN: 2015) (Sustainable Development, The 2030 Agenda, United Nations, )
The MDGs are evident in the national planning framework. The revised National Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper has adopted a holistic approach to reduce poverty and improve other social indicators to achieve the MDGs, with special attention to the lagging regions (Mercurio: 28 Feb 2011).
The United Nations Developing Programme (UDHR) states that out of the 52 MDG targets, Bangladesh is on track on 19 of them; and 14 of them need attention (MDGs: 2011).
A report by Oxford University's poverty and human development initiative found Bangladesh to be among a few ‘star performer’ nations in global poverty reduction initiative….and where “deprivation could disappear within the lifetime of present generations…”(McVeigh, 17 March 2013).
According to the CIA World Factbook while Bangladesh’s unemployment rate is given as 5% (both 2013, 2014 est) ‘about 40% of the population is underemployed, many participants in the labour force work only a few hours a week, at low wages’ (CIA World Factbook, 2013/2014).
Youth unemployment, ages 15 to 24, is 9.3% has a remarkably good ranking: out of 129 countries with only 23 countries performing better (Index Mundi: 1 Jan 2012). However, these youth figures are also likely to be grossly distorted by the high level of underemployment.
The World Factbook states that 45% of Bangladeshis are employed in the agriculture sector with rice as the single-most-important product while garment exports accounted for almost 12% of GDP (The World Factbook: 3 April 2013).
While the MDGs, such as the goals to ‘end poverty and hunger’, those relating to ‘child health’, ‘maternal health’ help address a number of ‘survival rights’ it fails to ensure freedom from exploitation (UN: 2015).
Also, the goals fail address ‘self-help rights’ to enable individual self-determination as seen with the undermining of the ‘self-help’ microloan scheme

The MDGs could also have included a goal, at minimal cost, for the poor to have a voice of their own in the mainstream. This is especially because in Bangladesh the people are seriously debilitated by an illiteracy rate which varies between 57.7% (urban centres) and 39.1% (rural areas) (Pandian et al, 1997).
Especially given the high illiteracy rate the introduction of community radio seems likely to be a very poor substitute for the mainstream media which can reach the democratic majority.
In Bangladesh, following the adoption of Community Radio in many other countries (e.g. the Promethius Radio Project, Philadelphia, April 2013), there are now 14 stations but they only reach 4.6 million listeners in Bangladesh’s population of 168, 957, 745 (July 2015), (Rahamn, 26 Feb 2013).
Exploitation and Dangerous Working Conditions

However, it would seem that while very large numbers are released from extreme poverty they will very likely be exploited in the slave economy and sometimes in working conditions which are life threatening.
The NGO, ‘The War on Want’ describes exploitation and the ‘fashion victims’: ‘In Bangladesh over three million people, 85% of whom are women, work in the garment industry. The NGO’s 2011 report ‘Stitched Up’ into conditions in the garment industry found:
A garment factory helper’s wage starts at just £25 a month, with sewing operators earning just £32 a month – far below a living wage; 80% of workers work until 8pm or 10pm, after starting at 8am – in excess of the legal limit on working hours; Three quarters of the women workers we spoke to had been verbally abused at work and half had been beaten (The War on Want, 2011).
However, giving an alternative viewpoint although admitting that working for $2 dollars a day ‘is not a lot’ is Benjamin Powell, visiting professor and director of the Free Market Institute at the Rawls College of Business at Texas Tech University, senior fellow with the Independent Institute in Oakland, CA, and author of the forthcoming book, Sweatshops: Improving Lives and Economic Growth (Cambridge University Press, 2013).
He describes some 4,500 garment factories in Bangladesh which employ approximately 4 million workers. He states: “In the grand scheme of things, they are better off with the factories than they would be without them; the benefits outweigh the risks.
“In fact, compared to other opportunities in Bangladesh, the garment industry pays reasonably well. As I discuss in my forthcoming book, Sweatshops: Improving Lives and Economic Growth, while 77 percent of Bangladeshis live on less than $2 a day – the international poverty standard – and 43 percent live on less than $1.25 a day, workers at the much-demonized Bangladeshi “sweatshops” average more than $2 a day. Granted, that’s not a lot. But it’s more than they would earn elsewhere” (Powell, 2 May 2013) Also, Bangladesh has a long history of health and safety tragedies in garment and textile manufacturing. Garment factory fires and collapses have killed at least 1800 workers since 2005 (Safety Accord: 2015).
“The Tazreen Fashions fire on 24th November 2012 and the unprecedented disaster of the collapse of the Rana Plaza factory complex on 24 April 2013, together resulting in the tragic death of over 1,200 garment workers are examples of the most recent and highly publicized disasters” (Safety Accord: 2015).
The exploitation described above seems to contradict a relatively recent amendment to the Bangladesh constitution included in the Fundamental Principles of State policy is ‘socialism and freedom from exploitation’ which states:
‘A socialist economic system shall be established with a view to ensuring the attainment of a just and egalitarian society, free from the exploitation of man by man’. (Substitutes for the former article 10 by the Constitution (Fifteenth Amendment) Act, 2011 (Act XIV of 2011) Section 10, Part II ‘Fundamental Principles of State Policy’, 17 May 2004).
Bangladesh, as with many other countries, has begun to experience an increase in income inequality. It ranks 25th out of 133 counties with a gini coefficient of 32.12 (0 represents perfect equality, while a 100 perfect inequality) in 2010 so outperforms many countries in terms of income equality (Pasquali: 22 Aug 2012).
However, in comparison with its past, the income gap in Bangladesh has been growing leading Rizwanui Islam to state that apart from the past five years ‘Bangladesh can now be regarded as a country with high income inequality’. He states:
“During the 1970s and the 1980s, the degree of inequality in income was not very high in Bangladesh, and there was no major increase either. Indeed, compared to other developing countries of Asia (e.g., Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand), Bangladesh was a country with lower degree of inequality. That situation continued till 1991-92. But there was a sharp increase in inequality between 1991-92 and 1995-96. And there has been further increase during 1995-96 and 2005” (Islam: 19 March 2013).
The Dalits

The lack of progress in dealing with caste discrimination at the United Nations, in my view, appears to be the major problem faced by the Dalits.
The situation of the Dalits (sometimes called the ‘untouchables’, ‘the crushed people’, and the ‘downtrodden’) would, in my view, reflect the UN’s ‘hidden’ collectivist agenda’s vision for much of humanity.
The Dalits are a population almost completely culturally cleansed of individual self-determination i.e. or in the words of Maxime Verhagen, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Netherlands unable ‘to take their fate into their own hands and improve themselves’ (see below).
The International Dalit Solidarity Network (IDSN) describes the social conditions of the Dalits whose dreams often seem limited to ‘street cleaning, manual scavenging and burying the dead’:
According to the International Dalit Solidarity Network: “Dalits exist far below the poverty line with extremely limited access to health services, education and employment. They live in ‘colonies’ with very poor housing and work almost exclusively in ‘the service sector’, doing unclean jobs in urban areas such as street sweeping, manual scavenging and burying the dead…….. A large number of child labourers in Bangladesh are Dalits…..girls and women from Dalit communities often fall victim to prostitution and trafficking of bonded labour” (IDSN: 31 Oct 2014).
IDSN adds: “Dalits are not allowed to rent or build houses outside those designated local titles. They are regularly denied entry to the temples and religious activities of non-Dalits to tea shops and restaurants, and to houses of non-Dalits” (IDSN: 2015).
Christian aid states: “Such discrimination means the majority of Dalits are trapped in poverty with extremely limited access to adequate housing, health and education services. Dalit women face multiple forms of discrimination and violence as a result of both their caste and gender.” (Christian Aid: Nov 2014) ( ‘Trapped in Poverty: caste-based discrimination and employment’, Christian Aid, Nov 2014, p13 ,
IDSN describes caste discrimination as a chronic human rights condition, which involves massive violations of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights and that it is estimated to affect more than 260 million people in all geographical regions, in particular, Asia and Africa, (IDSN, 2015) (‘Caste discrimination and human rights, IDSN, 2015,
IDSN states that the estimates of the number of Dalits in Bangladesh vary from 3.5-5.5 million. And adds that: “They have been much overlooked in the development and rights discourse and have only recently been able to raise their voices. Having started to engage with government and international donors, they have now managed to place the issue of caste discrimination on the agenda” (IDSN, Aug 2015) (IDSN, 2015, )
Christian Aid describes a lack of statistic data: “There needs to be greater attention paid to gathering accurate disaggregated data concerning the numbers of socially excluded, men and children from different communities, or for many other small communities who collectively fall under the Dalit or Harijan category’ (Christian Aid, Nov 2014).
It seems the government has been slow to recognize the presence of the Dalits which may explain a lack of statistical data on the human rights situation of the Dalits. Consequently it is unclear to what extent the Dalits have benefited from Bangladesh’s ‘success’ in reducing extreme poverty but because of the persistence of caste discrimination crippling their ability to help themselves it may not be much.
Mukhul Shikder, President of The Bangladesh Dalit and Excluded Rights Movement states: “The Government of Bangladesh has paid more attention to the Dalit issue in recent years, including allocating funds for their welfare. ‘However, it is not yet fully recognized the scope of human rights violations based on caste, work and descent in the country and has not yet taken any comprehensive action to address the situation” (IDSN, 30 April 2013).
IDSN states that Bangladesh’s Constitution prohibits caste discrimination (article 28) but adds that ‘although constitutional and legislative measures to protect the rights of Dalits have been enacted in most affected countries, implementation of such laws remains alarmingly weak and insufficient’ (IDSN: 2015).
The Chair of the country’s Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Mizanur Rahman stated the Dalits were the most vulnerable of marginalized communities today. He added: “The NHRC is involved in the process of drafting the anti-discrimination legislation which will be subjected to a national consultation and presented to concerned ministries…... The non-discrimination provisions of the constitution have not proven to be effective and there is a need to shift to a different gear” (IDSN, 30 April 2013).
Also Christian aid describes a number of constitutional safeguards but states: “The constitutional intention to eradicate discrimination does not seem to have succeeded. There is a need for new policies to address discrimination linked to caste hierarchies, which affects both Muslim and Hindu populations in Bangladesh” (Christian Aid: Nov 2014).
However, the lack of progress in dealing with caste discrimination may well stem from the lack of progress at the United Nations.
IDSN states that caste discrimination has been defined as ‘discrimination based on work and descent’ by the UN Sub-commission on the Promotion and protection of Human Rights, (IDSN, Aug 2015).
Maxime Verhagen, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Netherlands, speaking at Gelegenheid at the 13th session of the Human Rights Council, Geneva, on 3 March 2010 describes the lack of progress at the United Nations on discrimination on the basis of descent or work. He describes how certain societies deny people individual self-determination i.e. ‘do not allow them to take their fate into their own hands and improve themselves’. He stated:
"In terms of issues, I think the Council's agenda does not yet reflect all the substantive issues that need to be addressed. Discrimination on the basis of descent or work, for example, is still missing from the non-discrimination agenda. There are approximately 260 million people in the world that suffer such discrimination. For these men and women, it is impossible to escape grinding poverty because the society they grew up in does not allow them to take their fate into their own hands and improve themselves. The High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms Pillay, recently wrote: 'Caste is the very negation of the human rights principles of equality and non-discrimination', and I couldn't agree more. The Netherlands supports the efforts being made by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to come up with a set of principles and guidelines on this issue. We would like to see the Human Rights Council tackle this form of discrimination more fervently, for example by facilitating an exchange of best practices" (Verhagen: 3 March 2010).
When conventions were devised to deal with non-discrimination with respect to race and gender they seemed to have global and almost immediate effect (for example, see the New Zealand section). However, there appears to be no such equivalent convention dealing with descent-based discrimination.
Non discrimination with respect to descent is included in Part 1, Article 1(1) of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (OHCHR: 4 Jan 1969).
And General Recommendation XXIX, No.29 makes recommendations for States on its implementation e.g. ‘Consider the incorporation of an explicit prohibition of descent-based discrimination in the national constitution’ (OHCHR: 11 Jan 2002).
However, the above are only recommendations and there is no equivalent convention on descent which is legally binding. At present there are ten Core International Human Rights Instruments each with their own monitoring bodies. For instance in the New Zealand section I describe how the ratifications of the conventions with respect to race and gender, which is included amongst the ten core human rights instrument, had almost immediate effect in New Zealand and most likely was also the case globally (Core Instruments: OHCHR ).
Consequently, although some progress has been made at the UN with respect to non-discrimination on the grounds of descent it has not been enough to translate such grounds of non-discrimination into domestic human rights.
What, in my view, may be slowing progress at the UN is that caste is only one form of social discrimination which creates social stratification and is the ‘tip of a global ice burg’. Others are discrimination with respect to social origin (which permits both social class discrimination and socio-economic discrimination i.e. wealth) and birth. All of these forms of discrimination seem required to fulfil the task of cultural cleansing of the world of individual self-determination.
In the New Zealand section I describe how social class discrimination assisted in the cultural cleansing of individual self-determination and how it may be in general use in many countries largely, it appears, because of the lack of progress at the UN in dealing with such forms of discrimination.
While caste discrimination is sanctioned by religion and is publically talked about social class discrimination is often hidden. For example, economic, social and cultural rights, which deals with class exploitation, has often been dealt with at the United Nations away from the view of the general population which I consider are often to a large extent nurtured ‘class blind’ (see chapter on New Zealand).
IDSN states that the term “caste’ does not appear in the non-discrimination provision of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights however IDSN states that ‘an examination of the travaux preparatories [official record] of the UDHR shows that caste was explicitly contemplated by the drafters as being encompassed in some of the more general terminology in the UDHRs foundational non-discrimination provision’. Furthermore, several treaty bodies have stated that caste discrimination falls under the terms “descent”, “social origin”, “birth” and/or “other status” in recommendations or general comments, (IDSN, Aug 2015).
The IDSN aims, it seems, to overcome this problem by having caste discrimination treated separately, excluding other forms of social discrimination. It states:

“It is a distinct form of discrimination which warrants separate attention by UN human rights mechanisms, because of its unique nature, the severity of violations, and the high number of persons affected by this form of discrimination (IDSN: Aug 2015).
However, in my view, to address the cultural cleansing of individual self-determination, which has kept the Dalits oppressed for so long, all forms of discrimination should be addressed.
Ethical human rights requires all should be ensured, at least, all the core minimums of the rights in the Universal Declaration which means both sufficient ‘survival rights’ and ‘self-help rights’, with no forms of discrimination, to enable individual self-determination.
Dalit Rights activist and lawyer Narayan Charmakar (see above) was one of the first to publicly (on the internet) support ethical human rights.
Some of his comments are as follows: "You are working on a very important issue for a free World of humanity. I shall write on your ethical human rights approach in the media" (27 September).
Also he stated: “Ethical human rights theme can ensure freedom of life in any corner of the World. United Nations should take ethical human rights as “movement for change” in the MDGs [millennium development goals]” (30 September).

Secularism based on ethical universal human rights truth

Laihufar Yasmin (cited above), describes secularism as delineating á clear separation between the political and spiritual spheres’: “Secularism, as it originated in the West, clearly demarcates a distinction between the state and the church. In major Western countries such as the US and the UK, religion is still visible in state practices, but the ideal understanding of secularism delineates a clear separation between the political and spiritual spheres” (Yasmin, (‘The tussle between secularism and non-secularism in Bangladesh’, Lailufar Yasmin, p66, ),
However, ethical human rights only requires a clear separation between universal human rights truth and the spiritual spheres and this, in my opinion, should be acceptable to religions as universal human rights truth can be seen from a religious/spiritual point of view as reflective of God’s Universal Truth which is vastly different from secularism based on politics.
Supporting the view that universal human rights truth can be seen as reflective of God’s Universal Truth is that ethical human rights, although secular, seems to virtually equate with the Golden Rule (see below) espoused by the major religions for thousands of years.
(Also, its my personal experience that by doing my best not to compromise my universal ethical human rights beliefs I have remained connected to God or the Eternal which may also be the experience of others who adopt ethical human rights as their belief system).
With the criminalization of Jamaat-e-Islami and other Islamic groups perceived as extremist as well as the suppression of individual freedoms meant that lack of a voice by Muslims may have contributed to the eruption of violence
However, religious political parties if they adopted ethical human rights as their ethical base would make them secular parties, and therefore legal, while also enabling religion, such as Islam, to play a greater part in the public domain.
Such an ethical base may also enable greater rational discussion between religions and foster tolerance.
Under ethical human rights it is ultimately the duty of the State, acting on people’s behalf, to ensure both survival and self-help rights for all however all others, individuals and associations, also have duties.
Ethical human rights by ensuring all the core minimum of human rights in the Universal Declaration protects people from extreme violence (including extreme poverty) while it also involves duties to the community which includes not depriving others of their ethical human rights
Consequently, in my view, if extreme violence is not in self-defence, in addition to being a criminal offence the payment of some form of compensation would be justified from individuals/groups which violate the ethical human rights of others.
The Golden Rule states: “One should treat others as one would like to be treated oneself” (Teaching values: 6 April 2013).
Ethical human rights describes the specific major concerns of humanity e.g. life, food, shelter, a voice, discrimination etc. to which the Golden Rule would apply i.e. how each one of us would expect to be treated in such situations.
Although individuals can choose to forgo their ethical human rights e.g. for the greater good, however it is, in my view, a matter of choice not force.
According to ethical human rights if you do not have both sufficient survival rights and self-help rights you would be enslaved because you would be subjected to extreme violence (including extreme poverty). So according to the Golden Rule if you do not want to be treated as a slave then you should not treat others as slaves.
The latter is remarkably similar to the Golden Rule of the ex-slave Stoic Epictetus (c. 90 AD) who writes: "What you shun enduring yourself, don't impose on others. You shun slavery - beware of enslaving others!" (see below Golden Rule Chronology cited in Hiker, 2013).
Harry Hiker in his Golden Rule Chronology gives examples of the Golden Rule in religions and from philosophers throughout history (Hiker: 2013).
In Christianity (c. 4 BC to 27 AD) Hiker states: “Jesus proclaims love (of God and neighbour) and the golden rule to be the basis of how to live. Luke 6:31 gives the golden rule in the context of loving your enemies, later illustrated by the Good Samaritan parable. Matthew 7:12 says: "Treat others as you want to be treated, for this sums up the Law and the prophets."
Hiker states that ‘many Christians (c. 150-1600) seeing the golden rule's wide acceptance across religions and cultures, view the golden rule as the core of the natural moral law that Paul saw as written on everyone's heart (Romans 2:14f)’.
Also he gives examples of the Golden Rule in the Jewish religion (1450 BC to 450 BC); Buddhism (c.563-483 BC); Jainism (c.500 BC); Taoism (c. 500 BC); Hinduism (c. 400 BC); and Islam (c.610).
Hiker gives the earliest religious reference as being in the Jewish Bible:
c. 1450 BC to 450 BC The Jewish Bible has golden-rule like passages, including: "Don't oppress a foreigner, for you well know how it feels to be a foreigner, since you were foreigners yourselves in the land of Egypt" (Exodus 23:9) and "Love your neighbour as yourself" (Leviticus 19:18).
The following lists the golden rule which is relevant to those religions found in Bangladesh - Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism:
c. 1230 Muslim Sufi thinker Ibn Arabi sees the golden rule as applying to all creatures: "All the commandments are summed up in this, that whatever you would like the True One to do to you, that do to His creatures." (See my §3.1c.)
c. 1093 Muslim Abu Hamid al-Ghazali in his Disciplining the Soul (the section on discovering faults) uses the golden rule: "Were all people only to renounce the things they dislike in others, they would not need anyone to discipline them."
c.610 Muhammad receives the Qur'an, which instructs us to do good to all (4:36) and includes the golden-rule like saying: "Woe to those who cheat: they demand a fair measure from others but they do not give it themselves" (83:1-3). Several Hadiths (Bukhari 1:2:12, Muslim 1:72f, and An-Nawawi 13) attribute this golden rule to Muhammad: "None of you is a true believer unless he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself."
c. 650 Imam Ali, Muhammad's relative, says: "What you prefer for yourself, prefer for others; what you find objectionable for yourself, treat as such for others. Don't wrong anyone, just as you would not like to be wronged; do good to others just as you would like others to do good to you; that which you consider immoral for others, consider immoral for yourself."
c. 563-483 BC Buddha in India teaches compassion and shunning unhealthy desires. His golden rule says: "There is nothing dearer to man than himself; therefore, as it is the same thing that is dear to you and to others, hurt not others with what pains yourself" (Dhammapada, Northern Canon, 5:18).
c. 400 BC Hinduism has positive and negative golden rules: "One who regards all creatures as his own self, and behaves towards them as towards his own self attains happiness. One should never do to another what one regards as hurtful to one's own self. This, in brief, is the rule of righteousness. In happiness and misery, in the agreeable and the disagreeable, one should judge effects as if they came to one's own self." (Mahabharata bk. 13: Anusasana Parva, §113)
c. 1400 Hindu Songs of Kabir (65) teach the golden rule: "One who is kind and who practices righteousness, who considers all creatures on earth as his own self, attains the Immortal Being; the true God is ever with him."
Consequently, in my view, by adopting ethical human rights religious political parties could remain connected with God’s Universal Truth while secularism would pose much less of a barrier to religions playing a greater role in the public domain including in Bangladesh.


Commenting has now closed on this article.

The Indymedia Network

Latin America
United States
East Asia
South Asia
West Asia