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Bangladesh: Need for an immediate participatory Parliamentary Election

By Faruk Ahmed : –

1. Government’s legitimacy crisis:

a. The present regime in power has not received majority people’s mandate to legitimately govern the country as 153 seats out of total 300 seats were declared elected without any contest. Remaining 147 seats had symbolic election that to- within the same alliance as the main 20 party alliance boycotted the election.

b. Out of total 90 million voters, over 55% were deprived from exercising their voting rights as no election was held in 153 seats. On the election day of 5th January 2014, the actual turn out of voters was less than 10%. It means, only less than 10 million voters have cast their votes and over 80 million voters did not participate in the election. Even the Prime Minister? President and the Speaker did not have to cast their votes
in this election.

c. As conduct of the election at the end of 5 year term is a constitutional obligation, preparing the ground for holding a free and fair election is also a constitutional requirement which was not followed here as the ruling regime wanted to hold an election without taking the opposition alliance in confidence. The opposition alliance wanted the election to be held under a neutral body as it has been a constitutional process followed since 1991 election and the outcome of those elections were accepted by all parties and recognised by the international community.

d. Result of this one- sided election was known prior to the scheduled date of the election because number of seats required to form the government were declared elected uncontested. Because of this reason, the international community has rejected sending their observers to monitor that unilateral and meaningless election.

e. This government does not represent the majority population as it has not received their due mandate through direct votes.

f. This unelected government does not deserve recognition by the democracy loving international community as it has not fulfilled the very basic definition of democracy, that is- ‘Government of the people, for the people and by the people. This government has not been formed by the people at all.

2. Suppression on the Opposition:

a. This unelected government has restricted the opposition alliance from exercising their democratic rights of organising any peaceful meeting or rally. The 20 Party Alliance leader, ex PM Khaleda Zia has been confined in her office, Her mobile and Internet connection has been cut off, most of the senior opposition leaders have been put under bar and charged with politically motivated cases, dozens of opposition activists have been killed extra judicially and over 100,000 opposition activists have been detained.

3. Suppression of Freedom of Speech:

a. Media also has been restricted for publishing news of the opposition activities. Prominent editor Mahmudur Rahman have been jailed and several media outlets have been closed for publishing and broadcasting news and scenes of indiscriminate killings by the government forces. Genocides were conducted by present regime after 28 Feb 2013 following the death sentence of a prominent politician through a controversial court.

b. Again, on 5th May 2014, a bloody armed assault was launched on a peaceful mass gathering of over a million supporters of Hefajat. Video footages showed dozens killed by that inhuman attack. Thus, Bangladesh has been turned into world’s largest prison under the autocratic rule of Sheikh Hasina led regime.

4. Present Turmoil Situation:

a. The democracy movement is going on in Bangladesh as the 20 party alliance
has called for endless cease demanding immediate resignation of this unreoresentative government. Country’s law and order has been shattered due to arson attacks, cease, strikes and government’s open order for ‘shoot to kill’.

b. Ministers have called upon the Police and their supporters to kill the opposition activists wherever they are found. As a result, several cases happened where ruling party cadres have even killed a daughter by not finding the father at home. Ministers openly vow to eliminate the opposition parties.

5. Human Rights Situation:

Due to violence and counter violence, hundreds of citizens have been killed and death tool is rising everyday, thousands got wounded and faced arrest and torture. Peace and stability is seriously in harmed as a civil war like situation in going on due to fights between the government forces and the opposition activists.

6. Government’s rejection of the
international community’s proposal:

a. UN Secretary General has personally written letters to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and opposition leader Khaleda Zia requesting them to sit for dialogue in order to solve the crisis but Sheikh Hasina has rejected such proposition vowing that the government will not now down to any pressure of the international community.

b. UN special envoy Mr Taranco’s mediation prior to that 5 January election also could not convince Sheikh Hasina for facilitating a fair and participatory election. The Election Commission also played a biased role by not accepting the withdrawal of nomination papers of the Jatiyo Party candidates and the government has compelled Jatiyo Party Chairman HM Ershad to participate in that election by forcibly taking him to the hospital.

7. RecommendatIon:

Based on the above mentioned situation, it is only the UN supervised election that can establish a
democratically elected government and bring peace and stability in Bangladesh.

We appeal to the international community to do their best in preventing a total civil war and anarchy in Bangladesh.

Ref: http://www.cnbc.com/id/102443524

Benglaseh Democracy Forum Lanunched in London

– Faruk Ahmed

Chairman- Bangladesh Democracy Forum (BDF) and
Convenor- Campaign for UN supervised election in Bangladesh

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