The current election commission in Bangladesh is, in my view, the worst and most biased election commissions in the history of Bangladesh. Today, they hosted a grand voter roll completion ceremony. Guest of honor was the army chief Moeen, his personal Secretary AKA Chief Advisor Fakhruddin Ahmed and a corps of diplomats. There was no politician, not a single one ( except Gen Moeen U Ahmed). Politicians were not invited.
EC should be thanked for at least exposing who they consider their real clients are and where their allegiance is. In an ideal world, EC is there for dealing with political parties and politicians. But this SH ( Shamsul Huda, Shakhawat Hossain, Suhul Hossain) election commission does not believe in that. Their decisions are made in the military intelligence office and definitely their allegiance lies there and it is also getting clear that they don’t want the politicians to participate in the elections they plan to conduct. They don’t care what the politicians say. For them it is more important what the diplomats say. Hence diplomats instead of politicians were invited in today’s voter roll completion ceremony.
The government, the election commission and their trumpeteering media have been boasting, for months, that how many less number of voters are their in this new voter list. Inferring an easy conclusion, the message our government/EC/ media cronies want to spread is that in this 2008 voter list there are 12 million lesser voter and this means this government has prevented registration of 12 million fake voters.
Last week one political leader of southern town of Barisal, young and very popular in his community, Mr Moshiul Alam Sentu was picked up by the members of government law enforcement agencies and defense forces. Within several hours, he was shot and killed and his body was thrown street side in his locality for public viewing. It has been reported that sincce the undeclared martial law of 11 January 2007, Mr Sentu was hiding out in capital Dhaka out of fear of arrest. He was not able to go home. Like Mr sentu, there are hundreds of thousands of grassroots political leadership and activists who are living out of their locality as they are in constant fear of arrest by local law enforcement men if they go back to their locality.
Mr. Sentu was one of the 12 million less voter our ED is boasting of. Sentu could not go back to be registered as voter. Going to military camp meant risking life for him. The fact is that Sentu was not the only one citizen missing from the new voter roll. Those hundreds of thousands activists who are afraid to go back home are also missing from the new voter roll.
Additionally, there has not been any report on what percentage of rural- socially underprivileged citizens did go to the military camp set up for voter registration. And then also remained unreported is what proportion of the indigenous hill people, who are already in an uneasy relationship with the members of the armed forces, did go to the military camps to get enrolled as voters.
Before the attempted 2007 election, a strong and concerted effort was made to convince the nation that government was not ready for an election. Almost on daily basis, newspapers published stories stating the story of a remote corner of the country where many voters were not registered. TV cameras used to go to peoples’ homes and the members of the family used narrate dramatic stories on how no one ever came to their home for voter registration. As the election got nearer, a great hue and cry was started for printed voter list. Just research the print media of Bangladesh available online; you will see all these stuff. AL lead 14 party leadership, that murderer Ershad, civil society org Shujon/ CPD, some media all started the chorus, how dare you call for election schedule without ‘x’ number of printed voter list available for all the agents. And definitely we all heard, again and again and again that without participation all the major political parties, an election will never be acceptable.
Now let’s look at what happens at the present. Pro government media (These days in Bangladesh, there are hardly any anti government media) are giving daily headlines on how festive the nation is over the election. Military controlled TV outlets are starting their nightly news with elaborate and inflated images of the festive electioneering. Interestingly however, these time nobody talks about a printed voter list. We now have an election, but we do not have a printed voter list yet.
We also forgot the very premises this government is here. The premise was to ensure a fair, free and all party participated election. Isn’t this the reason 1/11 happened? And what we are having now, is it a fair, free and all participated poll? Where is our vocal minority, where is the media? Something has seriously gone wrong with this nations’ conscience.