As we approach the press centre, we hear an unbelievable racket. I presume the BAPA-meeting is well on its way. When I get out of the car, however, I see most of the shouting and honking comes from protestors on the other side of the road. ‘The opposition’s political demonstration,’ Sharif explains.
Bangladesh saw much commotion over the last few months. The sitting government started a tribunal to finally try people suspected of having committed war crimes during the 1971 struggle for independence against Pakistan. The opposition party Jamaat-Islami organises protests against the convictions. Another opposition party, BNP, also calls for strikes in order to force the government to appoint a ‘non-party caretaker government’ to see to it that this year’s elections will be fair.
Sharif presses a piece of a banner in my hands and those of and his American guests, and then makes himself part of the human chain of environmental activists across from the political activists. He takes the microphone and tries to make his voice heard above the overwhelming torrent of political statements.
I admire his bold attempt, but doubt its chances of success, considering the number of megaphones on the other side. Their voices are literally louder here on the street. But Sharif’s attempt is not in vain, as it turns out. The next day, pictures of him and his Western guests are prominently featured in the national papers. Apparently, megaphones aren’t necessarily a ‘must’ for attracting attention; a couple of white faces do the trick as well.
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Blog / 2 April 2013Guardian of the River