Al Jazeera report: A smear campaign for regime change

Published : 06 Feb 2021 07:37 PM | Updated : 07 Feb 2021 01:03 AM

When Al-Jazeera TV's hour-long documentary uses the title "All the Prime Minister's Men", they made their intent clear. That they were gunning for Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina was no longer in doubt.

That also drove home another point -- under the facade of exposing corruption, the AJA network is playing the politics of regime change, acting as a force multiplier for external and internal players who want to topple Sheikh Hasina's government that has presided over Bangladesh's golden decade of economic and human development.

And the game of regime change, initiated last year, is all about orchestrating a 1975 ouster of a legitimately elected government, if necessary and possible by using elements of the military.The main thrust of the Al Jazeera report focuses on two areas:

(A)  The first episode of the report attempted to defame the Bangladeshi Army Chief citing his unethical activities to rehabilitate his brothers abroad.

(B) The second episode sought to defame the Prime Minister claiming her relationship with some people wishing to make money through unfair means.  

Before commenting on the report, I must expose the history of Al-Jazeera, which published many fabricated stories on Bangladesh to destabilize the government. 

Founded in 2005, with more than 150 jobless middle-eastern journalists, the channel sought to become popular publishing fictitious news on different countries.

During the Hefazat-e-Islam's movement in Dhaka in 2013, the channel broadcasted counterfeit news of thousands of madrasa students' killings. 

They also showed a graveyard in which they said the dead bodies were buried, and also aired an interview with one person who used to dig graves to prove their claims. 

However, investigative reports of a different electronic outlet found that the person who was claimed to dig graves was a dumb. 

Even they took an opposing stand when the Government of Bangladesh carried out the trail of war criminals forming the International War Crime Tribunals. 

When the government executed the war criminals' death sentences, the news was titled "the execution of the opposition leaders in Bangladesh". It highlighted the war criminals and extremists in Bangladesh and elsewhere, as Islamic political figures. 

They broadcasted other misleading stories about the courts' integrity and sought to build an opinion against the government's decision to complete the trial of war criminals. 

Based on this news, the documentary can be said to be a classic example of yellow journalism. This was also a criminal offence as they wanted to offer distorted information about Bangladesh's political history.Therefore, it can be said that the channel holds an anti-government policy about Bangladesh.  

By reverting to the documentary they showed off, journalism's core values have clearly been violated and should thus be referred to as yellow journalism.

The story started with a sentence that the Army Chief's movement watched as he left Singapore to attend a conference. Of course, the journalist has the right to carry out investigative reports. However, they must seek the persons' opinion before airing any news about his involvement in any immoral activities. 

Even the principle of natural justice demands that "a man cannot be punished unheard" which means that someone needs to be able to defend himself. 

It is not expected from an 

international media centre to deal with an Army Chief's informal activities beyond his professional responsibilities. 

Unfortunately, based on some imaginary interview, the TV channel tried to defame the Chief of Army of Bangladesh, which the Army has rightly objected. Therefore, it seems that the report is intentional. 

The crucial flaw of the report is that it is based on Mr David Bergman's commentary, who had once been convicted by the International War Crimes Tribunal. 

Mr David Bergman has a family relationship with the chief of the opposition alliance in Bangladesh which has not been professed in the documentary.

From this perspective it is clear that the documentary is politically motivated. Therefore, the trustworthiness of other commentators is also questionable as they have a controversial past. 

For instance, from Sami's interview, it has been learned that he helped Mr Aziz's brother settle in Hungary. The pertinent question is why did he do that? The underlying causes might be that he had some vested interest. It isn't easy to trust what he said in the documentary. It is an effort to divulge the country's military leader. 

The third person is the editor of an infamous news portal called "Netra News" that has already been controversial for publishing fake news about the government. Most importantly, the claims that the commentators made about our Prime Minister is bogus and baseless. 

None of the commentators could provide any substantial evidence against the prime minister's supposed complicity in any scam. 

By airing fabricated news, the channel has sought to divulge the reputation of the Prime Minister, who is working hard to take the country in the next level of development. 

One of the most important factors is that a group of anti-government people residing in exile, who cannot come back to Bangladesh due to their alleged corruption involvement, is trying their best to harm the government's credibility. 

Another worst part of the report is that without providing strong evidences, the journalists, without providing strong evidence, claimed that the prime minister maintains relationships with some corrupt people.

Thus, they would be able to earn money in a way they would like to make things happen. However, they did not try, though to get to know the prime minister's opinion on this issue that indicates that the report is one-sided and inaccurate. 

The report has lost its credibility by publishing news of the Mobile Interceptor device's procurement from Israel. The reality is that the equipment was purchased from Hungary for deploying in the UN peacekeeping missions. Since the equipment was Israeli origin, Al-Jazeera claimed that the equipment was purchased from Israel; certainly a baseless story. 

This has been clarified in the protest letter issued by Bangladesh Army. Being an international broadcasting organization, Al-Jazeera should follow journalism's ethics while airing any news on any country. Unfortunately, they did not comply with the rules. Instead, they broadcasted a malicious documentary to tarnish the credibility of the government. 

We have witnessed different global scams, including the Watergate scandal, which was highly criticised globally. Even WikiLeaks has uncovered various news of corruption against different Bangladeshi political families. 

However, there is hardly any allegation against our Prime Minister about her involvement in corrupt practices. 

Therefore, we strongly condemn the intention of Al-Jazeera to defame the government and Prime Minister. The international media houses should also raise their voice against such criminal offences of the Al-Jazeera. The Foreign Ministry of Bangladesh has rightly objected the monstrous act of the Al-Jazeera.

Finally, this news can be termed as the continuation of a group's efforts to destabilize Bangladesh, obstruct its development, and break the bonding among different state organs. Such a concocted report will not be able to influence public opinion.

These rumour mongers are trying to spread rumours over every issue, including country's development, COVID-19 Pandemic, and vaccine. The efforts of Al-Jazeera and the attempts of rumour mongers do not make a difference to me. I would expect that the Al-Jazeera would refrain from making yellow journalism to defame a country's Prime Minister's credibility. On the part of the government, they should make a lawsuit against the Al-Jazeera in the international law court for defaming the government and Prime minister. 

Dr.Pranab Kumar Panday is a Professor of Public Administration at the University of Rajshahi.