Awami League leader Obaidul Quader believes democracy in Bangladesh is navigating turbulent times against a backdrop of escalating political tensions in the lead-up to the 12th national elections.
“Regardless of the global rhetoric about democracy, it is not perfect anywhere. Democracy has flaws. Even the major democratic powers, who present themselves as paragons of democracy and human rights, are not free from these flaws," Quader said after honouring anti-autocracy hero Shaheed Noor Hossain on Friday.
“We have built quite a robust democracy in our country. Under the leadership of Sheikh Hasina, we are trying to institutionalise democracy.”
Bangladesh is observing Shaheed Noor Hossain Day, a red-letter day in the struggle to restore democracy in the country from the autocratic rule of HM Ershad. On this day in 1987, pro-democracy activist Noor took to the streets with the slogans "Down with autocracy" and "Free democracy" inscribed on his body.
Noor was shot dead by police during the demonstration near the capital's Zero Point, which has been renamed Noor Hossain Chattar. But his sacrifice catalysed a mass upsurge that ultimately led to the overthrow of military strongman Ershad's government.
Quader, leading the ruling Awami League and its affiliate organisations, paid tribute to Noor Hossain on behalf of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at the Noor Hossain Chattar.
He reflected on the progress of democracy in the country, acknowledging the challenges posed by communal and anti-democratic forces with a history of undermining democratic values.
"Noor Hussain's sacrifice was a turning point in the struggle to restore democracy. Our democracy has since overcome many obstacles and challenges. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, then opposition leader, played a key role in the relentless fight against autocracy."