Deception in Democracy: Unmasking Fake Experts Threatening Free Speech in Bangladesh
East and South Asia Human Rights Researcher
Global Human Rights Defence
Al Jazeera has reported a deeply concerning trend within Bangladesh, where an unsettling phenomenon has come to light - the proliferation of fake experts lavishing praise upon the government. This revelation shines a stark spotlight on a situation that not only raises questions about authenticity but also poses significant human rights concerns.
It has unveiled a disconcerting pattern: a multitude of articles and reports, seemingly authored by experts, extol the virtues of the Bangladeshi government. These so-called experts, however, have questionable credentials, employ fake photos, and in some instances, may not even exist. The sheer scale of this phenomenon is staggering, with hundreds of such articles surfacing in both national and international media outlets. Chinese state news agency Xinhua, along with numerous prominent Asian media organizations, have featured these dubious reports. Even the South Asia Brief, a publication linked to Washington's respected Foreign Policy magazine, has cited these questionable sources.
At its core, this orchestrated campaign of fake experts represents a clear and grave violation of human rights. It strikes at the heart of democratic principles by manipulating public perception and undermining trust in information sources. The right to access accurate and credible information is a fundamental human right, vital for informed decision-making and a functioning democracy. By inundating the media landscape with deceptive praise for the government, this campaign infringes upon individuals' rights to make informed judgments. Moreover, it compromises the integrity of the democratic process itself, as it seeks to influence public opinion ahead of key elections.
In the face of this deeply troubling phenomenon, it is incumbent upon the international community and concerned individuals to take decisive action. The principles of democracy and human rights are universal, and violations of these principles should raise alarm bells for us all. We urgently call upon governments, international organizations, and civil society to condemn this campaign of fake experts and exert diplomatic pressure on Bangladesh to uphold the principles of transparency, truth, and credibility in its media landscape. The international community must stand together to ensure that the right to access accurate information is protected and that the democratic processes in Bangladesh remain free from manipulation. In this age of disinformation and misinformation, it is paramount that we safeguard the foundations of democracy and human rights. By taking collective action, we can strive to ensure that authentic voices and genuine expertise prevail over deceit and manipulation.
AlJazeera. (7 September 2023). Fake experts praising Bangladesh gov’t in media before elections: AFP probe. Available at https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2023/9/7/fake-experts-praising-bangladesh-govt-in-media-before-elections-afp-probe.