Continuing Protests and the Eating of Sweets: The two sides to our adventures in Bangladesh

Today the team spent a majority of the day at the hotel as a working day for our project and a chance to catch up on some things now that we had steady access to the internet being back in Dhaka. It was nice to work on the balcony of the hotel and soak in some much needed sun before we head back to Ithaca, which according to the internet is only about 2 degrees.

Of course being in Bangladesh, one can’t keep working all the time without a break.  We decided to spend the afternoon on a rickshaw exploring some more of Gulshan and visiting a park.  It was nice to walk around and observe some of the daily life in Dhaka. Of course the night ended with us buying some sweets, the desserts here are probably some of our favorites!

Of course the political situation here in Bangladesh is becoming increasingly intense.  Today they found makeshift bombs at the University of Dhaka and the foreign affairs advisor to opposition leader was shot as he was leaving her office in Gulshan. The atmosphere is becoming increasingly oppressive. The government is refusing to allow a space for democratic protest and because of this frustration levels are high for everyone.  With power constantly alternating between the two parties whenever one is in power they will do everything possible to limit the other.  However, this is not the way to strengthen democratic governments. The Awarmi League, the current government refused to step down from power and set up a neutral caretaker to handle the elections. This automatically gave them the ability to rig the elections and caused the opposing parties to refuse to participate.  If the government had originally followed procedures I feel like most of this situation could have been avoided.

Of course the practice of protesting is hurting no one but the average citizen who can now no longer go to work.  Based on a UN survey, the country losses about 0.3% of GDP each day the protests continue. The textile industry has already been begging for the protests and blockade to end because they are loosing so much profit and can’t gt supplies or ship orders. Some are saying that they may need to shut down if this continues.

As the situation continues it is always touch and go for us and our meetings. We just meet every morning to see how the situation is and if it is safe for us to travel. Fingers crossed that we can make our last two meetings tomorrow!

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