Tuesday, December 11, 2007

STATEMENT:Election conducting Government officials right from the office of Chief Election commission up to Returning officer...

Adv. Shahanur Islam Saikot Programme Manager-Legal & Human Rights Since after the killing of the father of the Nation Bangabundhu Sheikh Muzibur Rahman on 15 August 1975 the following elections were held in Bangladesh: 1. Referendum of Military ruler Lt. General Ziaur Rahman was held in the year 1977. At best 2 % of voters turned out but the election-conducting officials in the presence of the Military showed 98% casting of the total voters and Ziaur Rahman achieved the peoples mandate to become the president simultaneously holding the post of Chief Staff of Army. There was no role of politicians in that rigging of election. 2. President election was held in 1978 under Martial law of Ziaur Rahman who contested the election against General (Retd) M. A. G. Osmani, who was C in C during 1971 war of liberation. Opposition candidate Mr. Osmani had to face obstacle everywhere throughout the whole country in his election campaigning meeting by the respective local administration under the direct direction of the military authorities. The poling centers were under the control of the militarized administration. Ziaur Rahman won the president election with huge margin of votes due to massive rigging both in casting and counting of the ballot papers. 3. Parliamentary election was held in 1979 under the Martial law of Ziaur Rahman. Two third majorities in the parliament was required to ratify all the Martial law regulations before lifting the said Martial law. So the fate of the election result was pre-decided by the militarized government mechanism. The political party of Ziaur Rahman was formed under the guidance of Directorate General Forces of Intelligence (DGFI), Zonal, sub-zonal and District Martial law Administration in the name of Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP). The BNP won the pre-decided number of seats in the parliament by massive rigging both in casting and counting of the ballot papers by the militarized election-conducting officials. In those three elections under military ruler Ziaur Rhaman, there were no scopes of participation in election rigging by a single political leader and worker. Rather those malpractices adopted by a military ruler could teach the civil & police administration how to manipulate election violating the service ethics with the hope of reward from the winning government party. 4. Hossain Mohammed Ershad, another Military Ruler, came to power as C. M. L. A. after the killing of Ziaur Rahman on 30 May 1981. He also followed same roadmap of his predecessor. He formed a political party in the name of Jatyo Party (J.P.) and held parliamentary election in 1986. This time his opponent Awami League could recover strong organizational strength under the leadership of Sheikh Hasina. So, J. P. had to face tough contest and could not win majority seats as declared by the election commission through Bangladesh Television for a few hours. So in the midway the declaration of the election result was kept suspended for three days. The military ruler Ershad needed two third majority of seats in the parliament to ratify the Martial Regulations. So, he started mechanism to rig the election both by sealing extra ballot papers and its recounting in the office of the returning officer in the district Head Quarter. Thus after ensuring two third seats in the parliament the election result was declared and J. P. won 2/3 rd seats. So no political leader and worker did have any participation in rigging the election of 1986. 5. The same military ruler held parliament election in 1988, which was not participated by major political parties A.L. and BNP. On the polling day the country including the capital city, Dhaka, was worst affected inn by 1988 devastating prolonging flood. So even 1% voters did not turn out to the polling center but the militarized election machineries showed above 60% votes to have been cast. J.P. won the voter-less election and claimed to have bagged above 60% of votes in their favor. Here not the politicians but the government officials having enriched with previous experience and practice could change the day in to night in their effort of election rigging. 6. Election in 1991 & 1996 were held under non partiesan care taker government as per demand of the political parties for free fair and neutral election. Those two-care taker government did not give any arresting power to the military authority. They were put under the command of civil administration as per criminal procedure code (Cr.pc). For that reason the military, deployed in election duties, were camped in district Head quarter and not allowed to visit any polling center without a magistrate in case of tackling grave situation out of control of police & Ansar. In absence of the arresting power to the military and restricted visit to the polling center the elections were held in those two terms more free, fair and neutral and voters were very happy to elect their representative as per their own will. 7. In 2001 the election was held under 3rd caretaker government of Justice Latifur Rahman. From the beginning of his power as chief Adviser he started to show adverse attitude towards Awami League and favor to BNP. The nation was surprised to see that the electric and telephone line of the residence of Sheikh Hasina a immediate past prime minister were disconnected by the care taker government immediately after oath taking ceremony. The care taker government started cleansing operation in the whole government machineries through massive transfer, suspension and putting officer on special Duty (OSD) i.e. sitting without any job or any office. The blueprint behind such cleansing operation of the care taker government were aimed creating panic within the government officials so that they would fear the caretaker government and implement any evil design of the government without any protest. Those care taker government re-imposed militarization the whole election process. They amended Cr.p.c. and empowered the military with arresting power to arrest anybody without any warrant and on mere suspicion while on election duties. Those military contingences were deployed to each of the Upazilas (police station) 10 days ahead of the polling days. The military started to give round to each of the polling center and surrounding localities to arrest and torture any person against their chosen contesting candidates for member of parliament. Thus a reign of terror was created in all the constituencies allover of the country. Mainly their actions were concentrated against the local leaders, workers and voters of Awami League because Awami league is always against militarization of the administration and the government to uphold the true democratic nation. On the other hand BNP took its birth in the cantonment by the military ruler Ziaur Rahman. So, all benefits of such design of militarization went in favor of BNP Jamat alliance. The military without encountering any protest either from panic-stricken A.L. supporter or same panic stricken civil and police administration could safely ensure victory of their chosen candidate from BNP-Jamat alliance as MP in a very peaceful manner in the eyes of the international community. In spite of massive rigging done due to militarization the A.L. alone got 40.24%, BNP + Jamat for BNP candidate got 41.14% and Jamat+BNP for Jamat Candidate got 04.50% of total counted votes. But surprisingly only for difference of 0.90% votes between AL candidates and BNP candidates, BNP won 196 seats and AL won only 62 seats. The Jamat candidates got 04.50% votes but won 18 seats. Is it not a magical distribution of seats in the parliament by a skilled and well architectured mastermind of the government machineries? From the above fact it is evident like daylight that no political party and politician are the main obstacle in the path of free fair and neutral election in Bangladesh. It is the politicalized military controlled election conducting government official who are main hurdle in the path of free, fair and neutral election But all the international communities including EU are pointing their finger towards the political parties and the politicians as a main obstacle in the path of free fair and neutral election and suggested to reform the political parties and preparation of photo-voter list in the tune with the military backed caretaker government as the only precondition of fair election. The real reformation should be concentrated to de-militarization of the election process. The military should not be given any access to the power of arrest without warrant through re-amendment of Cr.p.c. There must be rule of conduct of the election conducting officials and provision of punishment including the specific case, arrest, dismissal, suspension, and departmental proceeding as per gravity of offence committed against fair election. If the proper rules and regulation can be enforced upon election conducting government officials to force them to become neutral as proposed then holding of free, fair and neutral election as desired by the national and international communities will not be impossible with the present set of government machineries.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

STATEMENT:De-militarization of Bangladesh for the political stability and implementation of Human Rights

Adv. Shahanur Islam Saikot Programme Manager-Legal & Human Rights The legacy of militarization was acquired from Pakistan since after 1947, the de-colonization and independence of India from British Empire. Pakistan was partitioned from India on two nation Hindu-Muslim theory not on the basis of strong political institution as was happened in India under Indian Congress. The dictatorial attitude of Mr. Mohammad Ali Jinnah of Muslim League of Pakistan did not allow making a 2nd man in his absence to run the Government of Pakistan. At the death of Mr. Jinnah just after one year of independence of Pakistan in September 1948 no able political leadership was found to lead the country. Army Beurocrat up to September 1958 occupied that vacuum of political leadership. Whenever a political government tried to run the country the Army Beurocrates deposed that government. There were several precedence of frequent changes of the government of Pakistan in those time even twice in a day. Off late full martial law was imposed by Commander in Chief General Eshkander Mirza in October of 1958 and became the self-declared president. Within a short time field Martial Ayub Khan, C in C forced Eshkander Mirza to leave the country and became the president. He ruled Pakistan up to 23rd March of 1969 and handed over power to the next C in C Gen. Yahia Khan. Under national and international pressure the general was compelled to hold general election of the members of Pakistan National assembly in 1970. Awami league under the leadership of Bangabundhu Sheikh Muzibur Rahman won 167 seats out of 300 seats in National assembly. The martial law president Gen. Yahia Khan denied to hand over power to the majority party Awami League and its leader Bangabundhu Sheikh Mozibur Rahman. He waed war against the people of Bangladesh on 25th March 1971 mid night. The liberation war of Bangladesh was started and victory was achieved on 16th December 1971. Bangladesh was liberated from Pakistan through 9 months bloody war of liberation and a democratic government was formed by Awami League under Bangabundhu Sheikh Muzibur Rahaman after having long suffering from military rule of Pakistan. But the Pakistan trained Generals of Bangladesh military did not leave away the foot prints of their masters, the Generals of Pakistan military. While the democratic Bangladesh under Bangabundhu Sheikh Muzibur Rahman was deeply absorbed in building up war ravaged Bangladesh the General of Bangladesh under the clandstam support of Pakistan and some counter revolutionary Pakistan oriented Muslim fundamentalists elements were engaged in deep conspiracy to restore military rule in Bangladesh like Pakistan. On 15 august 1975 some military personnel with the support of Dy. Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Ziaur Rahman assassinated Bangabhandu Shiekh Muzibur Rahman, his whole family members present in the residence, some cabinet Ministers, senior Awami League leaders and arrested many senior cabinet ministers. The democracy again went to the hand of the military and its ruler Lft. Gen. Ziaur Rahman. He was assassinated on 30 May 1981 in another coup by the military and Ltf. Gen. H.M Ershad appeared in the scenario of power. He continued as Chief Martial law administrator and became president until he was thrown out by the mass upsurge on 06 December 1991. Since 1991 up to 2006 for 15 years, in 3 terms the democratic government ruled the country. It is a bare fact the true practice of democratic norms of the people of a nation cannot be achieved over night through a revolutionary path. It is a psychological evolution to make the citizen to be tolerant to others opinion. That is why it requires a few generations through practicing democracy to achieve a real democratic government. So, only 15 years of democracy in Bangladesh is too a short period to establish a real democracy. The present military backed caretaker government with a plea of caoatie situation among the parties took over power on 11 January 2007 under constitution Article 58 © with the compulsion to hold election and hand over power within 90 days. But an invisible government, the Directorate General Force of Intelligence (DGFI) within the CT government, like ISI of Pakistan, is not willing to allow the CT government to hold election and want to prolong the military power with the plea of prolonging process of photo-voter list and ID card. They are making various blue prints to de stabilize the popular two political parties Awami League and Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and putting the political leaders in to prolong detention in the name of so called corruption cases without fare trial by open court although the Hon’ble High court has rejected many of such cases. The prime purpose of such cases as instituted illegally and convicted in camera trial is to put the political leaders in to disqualification of future politics and the gap will be filled up by retried military personnel so that the parliament can be a rubber stamp parliament under the dictation of the military. That is, in disguise, the military will rule the country as per the road map of Pakistan military rulers. To get rid of the military intervention in the path of democracy which is a topmost priority for protection of Human Rights in Bangladesh the following measures may be taken immediately: • State of Emergency must be lifted immediately • Political activities should be restored • Military should be taken back to barrack • Political leaders under detention should be bailed out and let them face trail under normal court not under any special court of camera trial. • Election should be held within January to February of 2008 under updated voter list as per verdict of the Supreme Court instead of waiting for long process and expensive photo voter list. • Military intervention to disrupt the democracy must be restricted by a resolution of all international communities under UN. • If there is non proliferation treaty to save the human civilization from nuclear weapon then why there is for protection of human rights to save the world citizen of our beloved small earth from the atrocities of the military at the threat of their might of military arsenal.