Dhaka University authorities abruptly canceled a discussion on recent changes in the national curriculum just hours before it was scheduled to take place on December 13. This cancellation came after a reported call from a “special place.” The person in charge, a professor at the university, defended the move by stating that the panelists were suspected of discussing things that are “anti-government” and therefore could not be allowed at the university.
This situation in Bangladesh bears similarities to the idea of “thought policing,” where there is a trend of refusing to listen to any argument that does not support the regime, particularly within the confines of academia. Bangladesh is on the verge of flawed elections, and there is a palpable fear of the ruling party tightening its authoritarian grip over power in the months ahead.
In addition to repressive measures, there is an effort to mobilize a new society of submissive masses. The Bangladeshi state is not only restricting dissenting voices but also prescribing behaviors for its people. The ruling party’s political slogan has been declared the national slogan that students have to chant after daily assemblies at educational institutions.
There is concern that after the election, Bangladesh might turn into a full-fledged totalitarian state. Recent developments in the country have led to a downgrading of its rating to “closed” by the global civic space watchdog Civicus, further deepening the fear of a deteriorating situation in Bangladesh.