Expressing mere concern contributed to demise of democracy30 April 2015 Editorial Desk
It is apparent that holding farcical voter less elections has become a habit with the present government and not finds it to be ashamed of. Only thing is, the second time, after 5th January general election the election engineers of the government became more brazen in not caring the presence of the diplomats and election observers or the journalists. Police in some cases, it is alleged, stopped journalists from going into the voting centers.
Thousands of police, RAB and other armed personnel were in place, not for the safety of the voters, but to keep them away. The press report is that police and party workers worked safely together for casting false votes. They had to use fake police also. So the vote riggers and surely not the voters decided the election results.
On other hand, the concern and anxiety expressed by the Western countries and in particular the Secretary of General of the United Nations Mr. Ban Ki-moon for observance of democratic considerations in holding the mayoral election received no attention. Under huge police protection, another farcical election was held showing defiance to the people of Bangladesh and ignoring the outside world's appeal to respect democratic values.
Now the US Ambassador and British High Commissioner in Bangladesh after visiting some poll centers emphasized investigating the reports of rigging of the election. The police and party men worked hand in hand for the government supported Mayors and Councillors. The Chief Election Commissioner is too obliging to the government and does not see anything wrong, not seen as wrong by the government. So the question is: Who will make the investigation is not understandable?
The US Ambassador Marica Bernicat was unhesitantly disappointed for the violence at the polling centers and absence of polling agents of the opposition candidates.
The impression given by the Western democracies were such that the opposition parties despite all the disbelief that the just concluded mayoral election would be fair, their leaders found it advisable to participate in it to test the government's sincerity about its belief in democracy.
The opposition leaders also expected some influence on the government for the anxiousness shown by the Western diplomats and the United Nations for democracy to function, while the reality is that active non-political elements in the government are determined to establish one-party authoritarian bureaucracy where police power will dominate politics. Thus the fear is, we shall loose politics to the police destroying both the police and the political leadership.
However piously many of us had liked to believe that the government would make the mayoral election reasonably free and fair for the opposition to have trust in election process and help rethink about violent street politics. The political violence does not cease if the government is intolerant of democratic norms.
But the vote rigging became such a free and violent affair that in the midst of election all the contestants in Dhaka and Chittagong supported by BNP withdrew from the contest. Almost all other candidates also followed for the same reason. The media also reacted sharply and confirmed the incidents at the polling centers with revealing pictures.
Like the general election of 5th January, the government got all its candidates at the mayoral election as "elected" in both Dhaka and Chittagong.
The well-meaning wishes of the foreign diplomats in Bangladesh seemed to be too simplistic and, not followed by any real constructive efforts to restrain democracy's demise.
Democracy is not an internal matter if violation of human rights is not. If terrorism is not an internal affair. Under the guise of internal politics, it is not necessary that the people of Bangladesh shall remain alone and isolated to be deprived of democracy and protection of human rights.
Democracy is deeply ingrained in our people's political thinking, they struggled long, and participated in the liberation war for democracy. The people's liberation war for democracy has become some people's liberation war for stealing democracy. It must not be.
Empowering police for politics shall only make the country more unsafe, violent and more chaotic.