Fear of Propaganda in Bangladesh Army

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Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at the Generals’ Conference.

Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina went to Dhaka Cantonment on Sunday and addressed the Generals’ Conference of the Bangladesh Army. In her speech, she made some observations and stated that a ‘vested quarter’ has been spreading ‘baseless information and rumors’.

He comment came at a time when Bangladesh is holding trial of a number of people accused in crimes against humanity during the 1971 war of liberation. The Prime Minister referred to the trial in her speech and said her government has brought the war criminals under the trial process, which was not an easy task and there were many obstacles.

Her indication is close to clear and it is quite simple who the quarter she meant. So she called upon the army to remain vigilant as ‘anti-state conspiracy is being hatched to resist the trial and creating anarchy to stop the trial process’. The Prime Minister urged them to remain vigil so that the junior officers are not victimised by the propaganda of the vested quarters who, what she said, ‘want to create confusion among the members of the armed forces through spreading baseless information and rumors’.

Not many months have passed that the Army had arranged a press conference for the first time in its history to tell the people through media that a number of junior officers were involved in a coup plot and their bid was foiled.

The trial for the crimes against humanity has seen smart information campaign on behalf of the accused and much less has been seen on the part of those who were holding the trial. Their campaign has seen a number of reporting in the international media questioning the process of the trial. Many international human rights organisations voiced concern and lately Turkey, known long as a friendly country of Bangladesh, openly spoke on behalf of the accused. So, the next area of showing strength is obviously the military for those who are against the trial.

In order to counter the information campaign, too little has been done. Just a small example could be lack of an official website. The International Crimes Tribunal has no website of its own and one may get more information from the website of Jamaat-e-Islami, the political party which has seen almost all its top brass on the dock of the tribunal. The info-sphere is full of information provided by those who are accused.

Now the Prime Minister is well aware that propaganda has been playing a major role. But what her government has done so far? Is it enough to call upon the Generals to remain alert so that their juniors do not fall prey to such propaganda? Try to learn something from the opposite camp.

Moral supports are more than huge for holding the trial. But such moral support in home and abroad could be augmented if the pro-trial side was bit smarter to realise the importance of propaganda. Without that her adamant attitude of holding the trial defying all odds may appear as a ‘political vengeance’ as narrated by her opponents.

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