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Catholics decry political divisions

Calling general strikes to voice opposition 'is crippling the country' reporter, Dhaka

July 11, 2011

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Confrontational politics is counterproductive, is a threat to society and should cease as soon as possible, Bangladeshi Catholics say. “Political parties never agree or compromise. They always say decisions they make while they are in power should never be opposed with violence, but resort to violent means easily enough when they become the opposition,” said businessman Stephen Gomes. “When political parties call for strikes to protest government policies, we are fearful because of the negative effect they can have on families, businesses and the country,” he added. Gomes, managing director of a refrigeration company was expressing his frustration at a series of general strikes called by opposition parties which are angry at recent amendments to the constitution including the scrapping of the controversial caretaker government system. The system involved a selected interim government that ruled during a transition period from one government to another. A 48-hour strike by the Bangladesh Nationalist Party and its allies ended on July 7 with reports of sporadic violence taking place around the country. Several Islamic parties have also called another general strike for today and tomorrow to oppose the removal from the charter of  “absolute trust and faith upon almighty Allah” as one of its four main principles. “These strikes are extremely harmful to businesses,” said Margaret Baroi, sales executive at a handicrafts company that employs about 3,000 women. “This country is cursed. Politicians just won’t talk to each other – it seems it’s easier for them to organize street protests,” said taxi driver Shekhar Palma. “I can’t drive my car because it could be vandalized, so that means I’m unable to earn money just because a few people are looking for political gain.” According to housewife Sima Gomes, unscrupulous traders take advantage of the disruption by raising prices for daily essentials. “It’s always the common people who suffer most in a poor political climate,” she complained. Related reports Minorities denounce charter changes General strike call angers Catholics Forum demands action on violence
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