Eye-Wash Election-No Any Political Solution: Impact on Upcoming Election and Violence in Bangladesh

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Eye-Wash
Election-No Any Political Solution: Impact on Upcoming Election and Violence in Bangladesh

Eye-Wash Election-No Any Political Solution

Introduction:

Bangladesh, a South Asian nation with a tumultuous political
history, has been grappling with a recurring problem – the inability to find
lasting political solutions through elections. The country’s political
landscape has been marred by allegations of election irregularities, violence, and
a lack of accountability. This article will delve into the issue of
“eye-wash” elections in Bangladesh and their impact on the upcoming
elections, as well as the escalating violence that often accompanies these
political processes.

“Eye-wash elections,” a term that has become all
too familiar in many political contexts, describe a situation where the
electoral process appears to be democratic in theory but lacks substance in
practice. In such elections, the key elements of transparency, fairness, and
accountability are often missing, giving the impression of a mere facade of
democracy. These elections may feature irregularities, voter suppression, and
political manipulation, ultimately leaving citizens and political opponents
questioning the legitimacy of the results.

The consequences of “eye-wash elections” are
far-reaching and can severely impact a nation’s political stability and public
trust. When people perceive that their votes don’t truly count, they become
disillusioned with the democratic process, leading to increased polarization
and a lack of faith in democratic institutions. As a result, genuine progress
and political stability become elusive, and the cycle of problematic elections
and discontent continues, undermining the very essence of democracy. Addressing
these issues is paramount to ensuring that elections reflect the true will of
the people and maintain the integrity of the democratic system.


Unpacking the 28th October Political Violence in Dhaka:

In a world where brutal political violence leads to the loss
of innocent lives, the perpetrators are seldom held accountable. Such
individuals are rare, and their actions are universally condemned. The
political violence that unfolded in Dhaka on the 28th of October left us all
deeply disturbed. However, comparing this incident with the relentless
brutality of Israeli incursions in Gaza, it becomes evident that the two
scenarios are fundamentally different. The ongoing struggle of the Palestinians
for freedom, marked by countless sacrifices and continuous human rights
violations, stands in stark contrast to what happened in Dhaka. In light of
this extreme discrepancy, one may question who can be compared in the Dhaka
incident. This article explores the events of the 28th of October in Dhaka,
examining the differing viewpoints of the government and the opposition, as
well as the role of the police and the need for accountability.

Individuals who become victims of brutality and lose their
lives are indeed rare, and their tragic fate is a stark reminder of the
inhumanity that exists in our world. The brutality in any form is not just
reprehensible but also a reflection of the darkest aspects of society. It is
the moral responsibility of every person to condemn such acts unequivocally.
The recent outbreak of political violence on October 28th and the subsequent
chain of violent events have understandably left all of us deeply troubled and
agitated.

In this current climate, it is evident that there is a stark
absence of a political resolution. Even in the face of lives being lost, it
seems that no one is taking the necessary steps to ensure the safety and
well-being of the general population. The political parties’ confrontations and
attacks on one another have created an environment where the lives of ordinary
citizens are far from secure. In such a turbulent time, it is imperative that
an election takes place, and all political parties engage in dialogue to reach
a compromise for the greater good.

We must collectively address the alarming lack of political
resolution in our society and work towards a solution with urgency. While the
world around us is evolving rapidly, the absence of compromise and consensus
from the political parties is a cause for great concern. There is also no
evident contingency plan to deal with such emergencies. The time has come to
hold an election and establish a sense of stability in the midst of this ongoing
crisis. As a society, it is essential that we focus on the issue of brutality
and come together to help find a solution. The need for compromise and
agreement among political parties has never been more pressing, and in these
trying times, we can all share the sentiment of being deeply concerned and
agitated for the future of our society.

The Events of October 28th:

The events of the 28th of October in Dhaka were met with
divergent narratives from the government and the opposition. The New Paltan
area and its surroundings witnessed clashes, and while direct information was
scarce due to internet disruptions, images and videos from various social media
platforms allowed a glimpse into the unfolding events. Questions arose about
the role of the police and whether they upheld their duty to maintain peace.

Protest and Accountability:

The Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) has organized strikes
and protests in the aftermath of the 28th of October incident. While these
actions are seen as a part of democratic dissent, some of their strategies,
such as hartals (strikes) and blockades, have contributed to additional
tensions and clashes with the police. These tactics may also have contributed
to the perception of the police as being heavy-handed. The BNP’s actions should
be analyzed in the context of responsible opposition politics, as they play a
significant role in shaping public perception and influencing government
policies.

The Need for Accountability:

In the aftermath of the 28th of October incident, there is a
pressing need for accountability. The police’s actions and strategies must be
examined to determine whether they acted in accordance with the law and human
rights standards. Additionally, the government and the opposition must engage
in constructive dialogue to resolve their differences and avoid further
escalation of violence.

The Problem of “Eye-Wash” Elections:

“Election” is a term that should signify the
embodiment of democracy, a fundamental process for a nation’s citizens to
choose their representatives. However, in Bangladesh, the term
“election” has often become synonymous with irregularities, alleged
fraud, and a lack of transparency. The problem of “eye-wash”
elections refers to the perception that the democratic process is not genuine
or meaningful but rather a facade to legitimize the existing power structure.

1. Electoral Irregularities:

One of the most significant issues with elections in
Bangladesh is the consistent presence of electoral irregularities. These
irregularities range from voter intimidation to ballot stuffing and vote
manipulation. Allegations of electoral fraud have plagued the country for
years, undermining the legitimacy of the electoral process. Political parties
often accuse each other of manipulating elections, making it difficult to
ascertain the fairness of the results.

2. Lack of Transparency:

Transparency is a fundamental requirement of a fair
election. In Bangladesh, the lack of transparency during elections has raised
serious concerns. The absence of credible independent election observers and
the limited access to electoral information have created an environment where
citizens and political parties are left in the dark regarding the legitimacy of
the results.

3. Political Violence:

Political violence is another grim facet of elections in
Bangladesh. The period leading up to elections often witnesses a surge in
political violence, including clashes between opposing political groups, arson,
and even loss of life. This political violence not only disrupts daily life but
also threatens the integrity of the electoral process.

The Impact on Upcoming Elections:

The prevalence of “eye-wash” elections has a
profound impact on the country’s political landscape, especially in the lead-up
to future elections. There are several ways in which these issues influence the
electoral environment.

1. Erosion of Public Trust:

The continued presence of electoral irregularities, lack of
transparency, and allegations of election manipulation erode public trust in
the democratic process. When citizens perceive that their votes do not count
and the elections are predetermined, they may become disillusioned and
disengage from the political process.

2. Polarization:

Election-related violence and allegations of election fraud
often lead to heightened political polarization. As parties accuse each other
of wrongdoing, it becomes increasingly difficult to find common ground for
dialogue and compromise. The deepening political divisions make it challenging
to build a stable and inclusive political environment.

3. Undermining Democratic Institutions:

The credibility of key democratic institutions, including
the Election Commission of Bangladesh, can be undermined when allegations of
election irregularities persist. This erosion of trust can have long-term
consequences for the stability of the country’s democratic system.

4. Economic Impact:

Political instability and violence related to elections can
also have a negative impact on the economy. Investors are wary of putting their
money into a politically unstable environment, and economic growth can suffer
as a result.

Solutions to Address the Issue:

Addressing the issue of “eye-wash” elections in
Bangladesh is not a simple task, but several steps can be taken to improve the
electoral environment and restore faith in the democratic process.

1. Strengthening Electoral Oversight:

Efforts should be made to enhance the independence and
effectiveness of the Election Commission. The appointment of credible and
neutral individuals to oversee the electoral process is crucial to building
public trust.

2. Transparency and Accountability:

Greater transparency in the electoral process is essential.
This includes allowing independent election observers, providing access to
information, and ensuring that electoral laws are enforced consistently.
Additionally, electoral violence should be met with swift and just legal
action.

3. Voter Education:

A well-informed electorate is less susceptible to
manipulation. Voter education programs can help citizens understand their
rights, the electoral process, and how to identify irregularities. This can empower
voters to hold political parties accountable.

4. Dialogue and Compromise:

Political parties in Bangladesh should prioritize dialogue
and compromise over confrontation. Finding common ground on electoral reforms
and the broader political agenda can contribute to a more stable political
environment.

5. International Engagement:

The international community can play a role in encouraging
fair and transparent elections in Bangladesh. International observers,
diplomatic pressure, and support for civil society organizations can all help
to create a more conducive electoral environment.

The Police’s Role and Accountability:

The actions and strategies employed by the police in
handling the situation on the 28th of October must be scrutinized. Were they
prepared for maintaining peace and ensuring the safety of the citizens? The
deployment of police forces with riot control equipment and the readiness to
handle mass gatherings should have been a priority. Instead, the scenes of
police action were reminiscent of harsh brutality, the use of batons, arrests,
and clashes with the demonstrators. This leads to concerns about the police’s
approach to maintaining law and order. Did they adhere to the principles of
using force appropriately, and were they adequately trained for handling such
situations? A critical examination of the police’s actions is necessary for
accountability.

The Use of Force and the Consequences:

The utilization of force as a means to disperse gatherings, while sometimes deemed necessary, is seldom an ideal approach. In numerous situations, resorting to force creates an atmosphere fraught with tension, potentially escalating conflicts rather than resolving them. Even when driven by well-intentioned motives, the optics of using force can significantly influence public perception, shaping the narrative around the incident. The international human rights community, exemplified by entities like the United Nations Human Rights Council, underscores the crucial need for adherence to principles of proportionality and necessity when deploying force. The events in Dhaka on the 28th of October have raised legitimate concerns about whether these principles were duly upheld in the manner in which force was employed.

The aftermath of the events in Dhaka prompts a reflection on the broader issues of accountability and responsible political opposition. It is imperative that authorities and the police are held accountable for their actions, ensuring that incidents involving the use of force are thoroughly investigated and that corrective measures are implemented to prevent their recurrence. In a democratic society, constructive dialogue should be the preferred avenue for addressing differences between the government and the opposition. Instead of resorting to violence and confrontation, a collaborative approach that prioritizes peaceful solutions is crucial. This entails a shared commitment from the government, the police, and the opposition to engage in meaningful dialogue, seek common ground, and find solutions that align with democratic principles.

Moving forward, the key to ensuring Bangladesh’s progress towards a more peaceful and stable future lies in fostering accountability and a steadfast commitment to democratic values. By upholding these principles, the nation can overcome challenges, build trust among its citizens, and establish a foundation for political discourse that is rooted in dialogue and mutual understanding. In doing so, Bangladesh can navigate its democratic path with resilience, ensuring that the use of force becomes the exception rather than the norm in addressing political differences.

The Need for Adherence to the Rule of Law in Practice:

 In recent times, there has been a notable incident involving
an attack on the residence of the Chief Justice of the country, as highlighted
in the United Nations’ statement, which implicated individuals associated with
a powerful political party. The description of the events that transpired on
that day reveals that various locations, including the Chief Justice’s
residence, Fakirapul, and the police hospital, were subjected to criminal
activities. However, the question arises as to whether the impartiality of the
investigation remains intact, as it has chosen not to safeguard any other
location, labeling only the central office of the political party in question
as a “crime scene.”

 Yet, it is important to emphasize that the political party
in question is not the only alternative, and by sidelining one of the two main
rivals in politics, any participation or legitimacy crisis in the upcoming
elections is unlikely. The idea that only the United States is exerting pressure
for an inclusive, fair, and impartial election is not accurate, as this
principle has been explicitly endorsed in a joint statement by seven countries.
Among these seven nations, Japan and South Korea, two economic powerhouses in
Asia, have also signaled their concern about the upcoming economic challenges.

 Following the announcement of a political strike (hartal) by
the political party, the police commissioner’s statement in a contemporary
context stresses the importance of democratic rights while avoiding any
disruption. However, when observing the use of force by the police during
protests, it becomes clear that this is far from a normal state of affairs. The
attempt to quell the protestors using the full power of the state instead of
allowing them to express their grievances through legitimate means can never be
a workable solution.

 Allegations have been made that the party with diminished
power is using the police to suppress the political opposition. Such incidents
have been reported at various times, and these allegations only serve to
further exacerbate the prevailing tensions. The actions of the police in the
run-up to the election will undoubtedly raise concerns regarding their
impartiality and accountability.

 Even if the government’s aim is to compel the political
party in question to participate in the election through arrests and
intimidation, it is important to note that the use of excessive force and
actions contrary to democratic principles will not lead to a constructive
outcome. How the Trinamool leaders and activists, who are victims of arbitrary
detention and harassment, will reconcile with the police remains to be seen.
The 2018 election also witnessed similar instances of intimidation and
violence, and Aved Ali’s remarks about his reluctance to participate in the
elections are a reminder of how challenging the process can be.

The violence that has been discussed in the context of
political violence since October 28, the fact that it has not occurred, and the
lack of a solution to the electoral crisis do not provide a clear picture. When
political parties have not been able to agree on electoral rules and have
instead opted for violence, what will be the outcome of an election conducted
in an environment without agreed-upon rules? The Prime Minister’s statement at
the October 31 press conference, in which he said that elections would not take
place in the current manner, hints at the potential crisis.

 The Election Commission has also made it clear on the same
day that there are no alternatives available. Elections will be held on time.
The Commission’s stance in this regard appears more promising. While they did
not register as a commissioner a few weeks ago, Abdus Sobhan registered as a
commissioner in the Election Monitoring Forum, despite their strong objections.
The Election Commission’s all-encompassing meeting invitation to 44 parties,
which had previously refrained from engaging in dialogue with political
parties, has left it unclear what the Commission’s aim is. If the government has
indicated that it will not engage in discussions with any political party,
including the BNP, and political allies have refused to engage in discussions
outside the scope of the government of technocrats, what solution will be found
in an election environment devoid of a level playing field?

To ensure a fair election, our Election Commission has
received a certificate from the former and current commissioners of neighboring
countries in the last week, and they are perhaps feeling quite satisfied with
it. It has not been a matter of doubt regarding their competence in this
regard. Instead, the accusations against them by their political opponents, who
accuse them of partiality and dependency on the ruling party and its
administration, seem to be the focus of their attention.

 The most concerning issue is that the Election Commissioners
have not been invited by the Election Commission. They have come as observers
and have been invited to the Election Monitoring Forum, which was accused of
electoral manipulation and harassment. While Abdus Sobhan did not register as a
commissioner a few weeks ago, he has been given a special privilege in another
capacity. There has been no doubt about their competence, but instead, the
accusations against them by their political opponents, who accuse them of
partiality and dependence on the ruling party, are being taken as their credit.

 It is worth noting that no political party in the
neighboring countries has invited the Election Commissioners, yet they have
come as observers and have been invited to the Election Monitoring Forum for
allegations of electoral manipulation and harassment. The fact that they have
not been invited directly but have been given a special privilege in another
capacity is far from being insignificant.

The sudden emergence of multiple “Kings Parties”
and their loud demands are hard to ignore. However, they acknowledge that the
BNP is not the only alternative, and by sidelining one of the two main
political rivals, there is no doubt that their participation and the legitimacy
of the election are not at risk. The idea that only the United States is
exerting pressure for an inclusive, fair, and impartial election is not
accurate, as this principle has been explicitly endorsed in a joint statement
by seven countries. Among these seven nations, Japan and South Korea, two
economic powerhouses in Asia, have also signaled their concern about the
upcoming economic challenges.

 The recurring problem of “eye-wash” elections in
Bangladesh has far-reaching implications for the country’s political stability,
public trust, and economic development. The issues of electoral irregularities,
lack of transparency, and political violence are deeply entrenched, and
addressing them requires a concerted effort from both the government and the
opposition.

Ultimately, a commitment to genuine democratic principles,
including free and fair elections, is essential for Bangladesh to move forward
as a stable and thriving nation. It is only through meaningful reform and a
sincere dedication to democratic values that Bangladesh can hope to escape the
cycle of eye-wash elections and political violence that have hindered its
progress for so long.

Conclusion:

In conclusion, the imperative to uphold the rule of law stands as a cornerstone for the integrity of democratic processes, particularly in the context of elections. The coming months are poised to witness a meticulous scrutiny of the roles played by key entities such as the Election Commission, the police, and the government. It is paramount that these stakeholders demonstrate unwavering commitment to conducting elections in a manner that is not only free but also fair and impartial.

The Election Commission, as the custodian of electoral procedures, shoulders a significant responsibility in ensuring the integrity of the electoral process. Its actions will be closely observed, and the public will be looking for transparency, accountability, and a steadfast commitment to upholding democratic values. Similarly, the conduct of the police and the government will play a pivotal role in shaping the electoral environment. Their role in maintaining law and order while respecting the rights of citizens is crucial for fostering an atmosphere free from violence and intimidation.

The collaborative effort of all stakeholders is indispensable in creating an environment where the authentic voices of the people can resonate through the electoral process. By working together, these entities can contribute to the establishment of an electoral framework characterized by openness, inclusivity, and the genuine representation of citizens’ preferences. It is only through such a commitment to the rule of law and an unwavering dedication to democratic principles that the foundation for a truly democratic election can be laid. In doing so, nations not only safeguard the integrity of their democratic institutions but also reinforce the belief that every citizen’s voice matters in shaping the future of the country.

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