Tension is mounting in Bangladesh over elections to be held by January 2014. In 2011 the ruling Awami League (AL) cancelled the previous "caretaker government" system.According to this system, three months before the elections neutral leaders had to take over and oversee the freedom and fairness of the polls. The current government refuses to step down and the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) is now calling for strikes and rallies, while also threatening to boycott the elections.
There have been mild developments on this front recently. On Friday of 18th of October Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina proposed to form an all-party election-time government to oversee the next general election. On Monday 21st of October, BNP leader Khaleda Zia offered an alternative formula to the suggested election-time government, adding that it should be headed by a respect person appointed by consensus between the ruling and opposition parties. It is a welcomed sign of openness to dialogue, paving the way for an opportunity to discuss a mutually agreed path towards free, fair and peaceful elections. However this year various mass protests held by opposition supporters in Bangladesh ended in violent crashes and deaths. The upcoming elections scheduled for 2014 also presents risks and safety issues for minorities in the country.
GHRD is supporting Bangladeshi civil society through a pre-election and election monitoring project, focusing on minority rights. The purpose is to bring attention to the situation of ethnic, religious and sexual minorities in relation to their ability to participate in the democratic process. GHRD, notably in the pre-election phase, also works to ensure that their issues and needs are heard and taken into account in the political agenda.
Photo source: bdnews24
For more information contact: Naz Tuncay, Human Rights Officer