Bangladesh Elections: Growing turmoil and fragile human rights situation

06-01-2014

After 5 years of Awami League rule, the parliamentary elections held on 5th of January 2014 created a worse situation compared to the turmoil Bangladesh endured during former elections. In 2008, the election was held in a highly polarised environment and under the military-backed caretaker government. The clashes between political activists and police resulted in forceful dispersion of peaceful rallies, and detention of and injuries among demonstrators. Hartals (strikes) and street violence engulfed the nation. Despite these increasingly frequent violent incidents, Awami League and Bangladesh National Party reached an agreement and elections were held without any boycotts. The current situation in the country has deteriorated: rule of law and democracy have been undermined by political interference, fragile institutions and negligence of human rights.

The opposition boycotted the elections and consequently 154 of the 300 seats were won by uncontested ruling alliance candidates. The fairness and legitimacy of the elections are questionable; no votes were cast at all in 41 voting centres, and minorities refrained in many instances from casting their votes. 19 opposition activists were killed during violent clashes and more than 100 polling stations were torched. Minorities continue to be one of the most vulnerable groups during rising election violence. On 5th of January, Hindu houses were vandalized in Malopara village after the villagers cast their votes. Almost 600 Hindus fled to take refuge in neighbouring villages. Minorities faced intimidation from the opposition parties throughout Election Day. Due to the boycott and fear of attack by the opposition, the voter turnout was low.

The EU, the USA and the British Commonwealth declined to send election observers to Bangladesh and stated their disappointment Bangladesh's political parties who were unable to reach a consensus regarding the 2014 election date. GHRD's partners in Bangladesh observed the elections in various divisions such as Dhaka, Chittagong, Khulna and Barisal. GHRD firmly condemns the lack of democratic participation and the violation of fundamental rights in the country during the elections. The questionable credibility of the election represents a serious threat not only for democracy and stability in the country, but also for the human rights of Bangladeshi people as a whole.

Sources:

Subscribe to our newsletter

Subscribe to our newsletter