Freedom Is For The Captive

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Freedom Is For The Captive

Nala Wheeler, Reporter

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Starting with an accident in Dhaka that led to the death of two schoolchildren on July 29, caused by a bus driver that was racing another to pick up passengers, Bangladesh’s students decided that changes needed to occur regarding road safety. The youth soon started to check licenses and vehicles to makes sure they were up to proper standards as well as  organize lanes so that traffic would not completely halt. Things escalated on August 4, when the police started to combat the students with tear gas and rubber bullets, the students then being further attacked by the Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL), a student organization directly tied to the Awami League Party, the present form of government in Bangladesh. This situation has brought forth a variety of new topics to discuss: road safety, the right to protest, and, even, the right to free speech.

News about Bangladesh is slightly difficult to receive. This is because Wi-Fi and cellular data has been cut and many people are blaming the government for this occurrence. To add, foreigners and prominent journalists have also been beaten to stop the information from reaching the rest of the world, cameras smashed as well so that there’s no photographic evidence of the situation (though, images have managed to slip out occasionally). Twitter hashtags have also been blocked from trending and, when they do trend, they suddenly stop.

These incidents spark a discussion about free speech and censorship. The right to free speech is something that the people of America take for granted very often, hearing about the situation in Bangladesh made that very clear to understand, but in some odd way, it also is something that Americans do not truly have either. The meaning of free is “not subject to the control or domination of another,” according to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, but with the censorship that the society faces, can a person say that they truly have that right? Honestly, the answer is no.

Freedom of speech is more of a concept than it is a reality because, by the definition above, nothing an individual will say will ever really be “free.” There are rules and regulations to everything; to dialogue, to tone, even body behavior while speaking. Everything is (and will be) scrutinized and managed by the general public. Nonetheless, does that also make the actions of the Awami League Party in response to this conflict just? Of course not. The Bangladesh government is no longer censoring its people but, rather, bullying them into silence. They no longer have the right to “free” speech because they don’t even have the permission to speak.