Bangladesh charges more than 1,000 in border guards mutiny

Police in Bangladesh March 1 charged more than 1,000 members of the paramilitary Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) in last week’s border guards mutiny, which killed dozens of top BDR officers, including the force’s commander. The government plans to organize a special tribunal to try the organizers of the revolt. Among those charged are six accused of planning the revolt, including four deputy assistant directors. The government said that a previous offer of amnesty from Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina would not apply to those directly involved in the mutiny. The revolt was motivated by disputes over pay, conditions, and the selection of top officers from the regular army rather than from within the BDR.

The incident comes in a time of difficult transition for Bangladesh. Bangladeshi voters elected Hasina in December 2008, ending two years of military rule. In January, Justice Minister Shafique Ahmed declared his government’s desire to restore Bangladesh’s 1972 constitution. Prior to the elections, interim Bangladeshi president Iajuddin Ahmed signed the Emergency Powers (Repeal) Ordinance of 2008, lifting a two-year state of emergency to allow for political campaigning. The state of emergency, declared in January 2007, suspended democratic rights throughout the country. (Jurist, March 1)

See our last post on Bangladesh.

  1. Media provocates social unrest
    The BDR carnage was a systematic preplanned killing of the best collection of army officers who were national assets. Nothing can replace this damage. This has severely affected the morale of all members of the armed forces particularly the junior officers. They became so emotional that they only think of military action could have been the best option given the fact the rebels were too afraid to run away if army moved in. However, the Prime Minister of Bangladesh wisely opted for a peaceful solution rather than purely military action, fearing it could mess up the conflict into a full-blown bloodbath within the BDR compound. The decision was very critical, which is now proved to have been handled with remarkable political wisdom and foresight, resolve and equanimity. The army has also shown remarkable good sense, they remained absolutely steadfast to the unified command though there were many agitation and anger under the uncertainly of the situation and external provocation. While the officers were struggling to comfort each other from the grief, its very unfortunate that some strong media shows sympathy to the rebels and their colaborators. This kind of journalism adds more scars to our wounds and creates unrest in the society.