In this episode of Head to Head, Mehdi Hasan challenges Gowher Rizvi, the International Affairs advisor to the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, on the state of the country’s democracy and whether it is heading towards authoritarianism.
Once one of the poorest countries in the region, Bangladesh’s economy has been booming over the last decade, with economic growth faster than its neighbours, India and Pakistan. It also boasts lower infant mortality and longer life expectancy than its peers.
However, human rights groups warn that the country is becoming increasingly autocratic, accusing the government of clamping down on any form of dissent and hounding and locking up its political rivals.
In recent elections Bangladesh’s ruling party, the Awami League, reasserted its power following a landslide general election victory. The opposition rejected the results, amid violence which saw 17 killed and allegations of vote-rigging and intimidation.
Our guest on Head to Head is Gowher Rizvi, close ally of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and advisor on international affairs. Mr Rizvi is also a renowned historian and former Oxford University scholar.
We challenge Mr Rizvi on Sheikh Hasina’s government’s record in office and whether it is increasingly trying to silence its critics. We also ask him about the ongoing Rohingya crisis, where over 1 million refugees have fled Myanmar and are living in camps in Bangladesh. Is Bangladesh doing enough to help?
We are joined by a panel of three experts:
Saida Muna Tasneem, Bangladesh’s High Commissioner to the UK and Ireland.
Abbas Faiz, South Asia analyst at Essex University, previously worked for Amnesty International for more than 30 years.
Tasneem Khalil, Swedish Bangladeshi journalist, author of Jallad: Death Squads and State Terror in South Asia.
Is Bangladesh a one-party state? with Gohwer Rizvi will be broadcast on March 1 at 20:00 GMT and will be repeated on March 2nd at 12:00 GMT, March 3rd at 01:00 GMT and March 4th at 06:00 GMT.
Head to Head is Al Jazeera’s forum for ideas, a gladiatorial contest tackling big issues such as faith, nationalism, democracy and foreign intervention, in front of an opinionated audience at the Oxford Union.
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