Teachers of Dhaka University on Saturday took classes wearing black badges as a sign of protest against the harassment of and repression on the two former prime ministers—detained Awami League president Sheikh Hasina and BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia.
The DU teachers will also observe half-day work abstention today as part of their two-day protest programmes and decide on their next course of action depending on the government’s response to the five-point demand they made at an emergency meeting of the Dhaka University Teachers’ Association on Thursday, leaders of the association said.
‘All the teachers irrespective of their political belief took classes wearing black badges and we will make the two-day protest programme a success,’ the general secretary of the DUTA, Professor Anwar Hossain, told New Age.
Theachers belonging to to allgroups—the blue panel supported by the AL, the pro-BNP white panel and left-leaning pink panel carried out the association’s decision.
A few teachers, however, took classes without wearing black badges.
The DUTA general secretary said that driven by their conscience, the teachers of Dhaka University had taken part in the programme although they had been asked by intelligence personnel not to stage protests violating the emergency rules.
The government has slapped a ban on all sorts of protest programmes, rallies and processions by any group under the Emergency Power Rules 2007, after the interim administration took over on January 12.
The DUTA leaders at their Friday’s meeting, attended by 223 of its members, observed that the interim administration of Fakhruddin Ahmed was acting beyond its constitutional mandate and demanded that the general elections should be held immediately and power handed over to an elected government.
The meeting also demanded unconditional release of Sheikh Hasina, arrested by the army-led joint forces on July 16 and detained in a sub-jail, and condemned repressive measures against Bangladesh Nationalist Party chairperson Khaleda Zia and other political leaders.
They also strongly protested at the reported government move to eliminate the two former premiers from the country’s political scene, and demanded removal of the law, justice and parliamentary affairs adviser, Mainul Hosein, from the council of advisers for his politically motivated statements.
Dhaka University students in general also expressed solidarity with the teachers’ movement.
‘We support the teachers’ protest against the government move to politically victimise the top leaders,’ said a final year student of mass communication and journalism. He said removing Hasina and Khaleda was not a solution to the political crisis.
Besides the teachers’ programme, a small group of students, mostly members of the Awami League’s student front Chhatra League, brought out a procession on the campus on Saturday morning amid tight security. They demanded immediate release of Sheikh Hasina.
They called upon the students to make today’s ‘countrywide strike in educational institutions’ successful and mobilise public support to free the Awami League president.
The authorities deployed additional security forces on the campus to avert troubles. No such incident was reported during the teachers’ protest programme.
Plainclothesmen remained active across the campus.
On Friday night, intelligence personnel quizzed three senior teachers on the campus. They also insisted that the teachers should call off the programme.
The DUTA general secretary alleged that an unknown caller on Friday night threatened to abduct his family members unless he called off the programme. He lodged a complaint with the university authorities asking for his security.
The president of the DUTA, Sadrul Amin, a pro-BNP teacher, however, did not turn up on the campus on the day.
‘I did not go to the campus as I have no classes today,’ Sadrul Amin, told New Age.