NewAge, November 4, 2007. Dhaka, Bangladesh
Academics, economists, politicians and activists jointly announced the formation of a people’s tribunal against the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and the Asian Development Bank on Sunday.
The announcement was made at a press briefing at the National Press Club in Dhaka, a few hours before the arrival of the World Bank president, Robert Zoellick.The tribunal’s national preparatory committee was convened after former justice, Golam Rabbani, announced its formation.
Anu Muhammad, professor of economics at Jahangirnagar University, briefly outlined the plan of action while presenting the concept note. He said in the next six months there will be investigations into the effects that the lending agencies have had on various sectors including jute, water, power and energy, health, education and agriculture.
These investigations will then be used to build up cases against the agencies at the tribunal which will be headed by former justices. He said the investigative process would naturally be as inclusive as possible and the tribunal would try to involve people from the entire cross-section of society.
The people’s committee would include researchers, economists, educationists, politicians and members of various professional bodies.
‘The policy prescriptions of the lending agencies have destroyed Bangladesh’s potential for development and are merely another form of colonisation. The People’s Tribunal will try to find the ways and means of breaking the shackles that the lending agencies have wrapped around our country,’ said Anu.
MM Akash, professor of economics at Dhaka University, said, ‘Through the work of the tribunal and the tribunal itself, we want to tell the lending agencies, “this far and no further”. It is time we turned around and resisted them.’
Golam Rabbani, who presided over the briefing, said, ‘This is a fight against capitalist imperialism that the agencies advance on behalf of their masters.’
M Anisur Rahman, a former pro vice-chancellor of Rajshahi University, expressed wholehearted solidarity with the initiative and urged the organisers to ensure that the tribunal is genuinely a people’s tribunal, because the involvement of the general masses was imperative to make it effective and its verdicts heard and regarded by everyone.
KAM Saduddin, a former professor of sociology of Dhaka University, said, ‘It is indeed the people’s demand that such a tribunal should be formed. The instances of secret and confidential agreements between the government and other parties in the name of the people are numerous. This tribunal will be one of the means to bring about some accountability in this regard.’
Faiz Ahmed, a noted journalist and writer, said although such an initiative could have been taken earlier, it is never too late. ‘We understand the harmfulness of the ill-motivated lending agencies. And the People’s Tribunal is only the outcome of that awareness.’
A number of noted citizens and intellectuals have expressed solidarity with the tribunal and agreed to be a part of it. They include Habibur Rahman, a former chief justice and also a former chief adviser of a caretaker government, Serajul Islam Chowdhury, a professor of English of Dhaka University, and Professor Muzaffar Ahmad, a former teacher of economics who is currently the chairman of Transparency International’s Bangladesh chapter. The tribunal also enjoys the support of a large number of progressive and left-leaning political organisations, business quarters, non-governmental organisations and intellectuals.